An Interview with Jan Goessing, General Manager of The Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok | TravelResearchOnline


An Interview with Jan Goessing, General Manager of The Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok


The Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Bangkok is the hotel that all luxury hotels aspire to be. Few properties are so storied. Entire books have been written on the property, its history and culture. Consistently rated in “Best Of….” lists, the Mandarin Oriental , Bangkok is truly in a class of its own. The history of the hotel dates to as early as 1864, but the “official” date is 1876. Why the discrepancy? That’s just one of the hundreds of stories woven into the fabric of the property. Kings and Queens, explorers and actors, writers and diplomats have all called on this magnificent hotel on the river Chao Phya. I met with Jan Goessing in the famous Author’s Wing of the property where he provided me with a graciously large slice of his busy day to discuss his relatively new position as the General Manager of the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok.

Goessing is a life-long veteran of the hotel industry. The last 15 years have been at properties managed and in part owned by Mandarin Oriental throughout Asia and The Americas. From 1998 to 2006, Jan was the General Manager of the Kahala Mandarin Oriental in Hawaii having previously been the General Manager of Mandarin Oriental, Jakarta. From there he moved on to the decidedly different venue of being the General Manager of Mandarin Oriental, Washington DC. Then, in June of 2009, he took over the General Manager’s position from legendary hotelier, Kurt Wachtveitl, whose own tenure lasted a short 41 years at the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok.

TRO: You are here at the absolute pinnacle of your profession. What is it like to find yourself as the General Manager of the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok?

JG: I am fortunate indeed, but I have been a part of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group for many years now. The values of the company are very much in line with those of the legendary “Oriental ” Bangkok. Extraordinary service delivered by extraordinary people. My background with the company and many years of experience in the hospitality industry across various cultures have prepared me well. I am truly excited to be a part of this legendary hotel.

TRO: What is the quality that makes Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok the property that it is?

JG: Very simply, the staff. You can see truly lovely properties springing up in Bangkok, wonderful buildings and facilities. But it is the culture of excellence that distinguishes this property like no other. The staff cares deeply about what they do here.

TRO: You arrived at the hotel in a very challenging time, in the midst of a global financial crisis.

JG: Timing is truly everything (laughs). Certainly these are challenging times and accommodations must be made, but never can it affect the quality of the property or the experience of the guests.

TRO: What is your greatest challenge?

JG: Transitioning to serve new generations of guests while never diminishing the high levels of service rightfully anticipated and expected by those guests that have stayed with us for literally decades. Each generation, for all it has in common with the last, also has its own sensibilities and expectations.

TRO: Has the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok seen a new generation of guests over the past years? What changes have you seen in the expectations of guests?

JG: Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok has, since recent years, welcomed an influx of families and honeymooners. Some family groups even comprise members from three generations. Also on the increase are young couples who appreciate what the hotel has to offer in terms of a variety of culinary choices at our restaurants. The hotel has also recently upgraded the communications system including installation of the next generation wireless technology which ensures fast and effortless internet connection for guests throughout the premises. The “Sanuk Sanuk Kids Club ” (on the 3rd floor), yet another “first” by Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok caters to families with young children..and the list goes on, whilst the unparalleled service from the heart, and with a genuine smile, by the staff has never been compromised.

TRO: Tell me about the additions of the Oriental Spa and Ayurvedic Penthouse.

JG: Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok is known worldwide as an urban resort. Meditation and yoga sessions by our own yogic lifestyle trainer and Ayurveda expert, Ms. Neelam Khatri direct from India, are very popular. An increasing number of guests seek “peace of mind and body” from their otherwise stressful corporate lives, and they tend to spend most of their time in the peaceful, holistic sanctuary across the Chao Phraya River for an invigorating “Jetlag Massage” a t the Oriental Spa or a blissful Ayurvedic experience.

TRO: Recent events in Thailand, and in particular Bangkok, have been much in the news. How has the Mandarin Oriental been affected?

JG: Fortunately, this property and the immediate vicinity has not been affected since the demonstrations began and continues to remain a calm and peaceful enclave. The protest sites are now confined to Rajprasong and Saladaeng Intersections, two of Bangkok’s principle shopping venues which are located some distance away from the hotel. Additionally, the route to and from Suvarnabhumi Airport to the hotel is not at all disrupted and this situation is not expected to change.

TRO: How will you maintain the legacy and the heritage of the property amidst so much change?

JG: The first priority of this property will always be our guests. The future of this beloved hotel is completely and absolutely the product of their loyalty. The engine for that loyalty is our amazing Thai staff. They are the ones who apply their outstanding individual talents to create a memorable guest experience.

  One thought on “An Interview with Jan Goessing, General Manager of The Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok

  1. Mike Caplin says:

    Richard — Kris and I stayed at the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok for five nights back in the early 90’s. It was and will always remain one of our top travel memories of a lifetime! The staff and experiences at the hotel are unlike any elsewhere in the world.

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