Saturday, 20 October 2012

Resort Hotel

Resort Hotel

Initially when i first started working at the Resort Hotel I was assigned an office next door to the General Manager, Robyn Stevens, which was fine at the time, as it was he that I worked closest with.At this stage there was no inkling that the parent company Dainford Holdings was having liquidity difficulties.

It took  weeks  to come to grips with a full scale working hotel, convention centre, shopping centre and office tower, that  was still a work in progress.Other factors added to the mix such as their construction company, head office and the hotel departments sometimes stymied progress.

Dainford Constructions still had their project manager and some trades on site, working from a house next door to the Hotel. This was a godsend as they filled me in on the building perspective time lines, rooms handovers, anticipated completion of areas, contacts with  service providers, dates when they expected levels completed .

Liaising  with Simon Wan the MD and head office of the Resort Hotel Group was a weekly sometimes daily occurrence  They had their offices in Bondi Junction and were managing another three hotels already operating and another being built on Bondi Beach. 

Getting to know the hotel's management team, their systems and head offices and the priorities which were all different :

  •  Housekeeping, understandably had more bitches than most, the rooms being handed over were still not finished. 
  • Marketing, from another point of view had theirs, such as  : "when can we start selling the executive suites ? "what about the  convention centre, when will the audio visual room be ready?" 
  • Rooms Division were equally frustrated, as they were receiving the flack from dissatisfied guests who were complaining about cleanliness or services not working.
  • Food & Beverage wanted a pastry kitchen installed near the main kitchen.
  • Head office wanted all profit centers operationable and generating funds as quickly as possible, that was accelerated by pressure from the parent company Dainford Holdings.Who were being pressured by the bank ,Westpac.

 The group was starting to bleed as they now had another large weekly pay roll of hotel management and staff to pay, with little income as yet coming from the hotel.

Rooms were being brought into the hotel inventory,in fact they were all suites,two rooms instead of one, that faced Botany Bay which were prematurely sold to guests.The marketing department and the rooms division were not on the same page.The suites had not had a final 'construction clean' ; the sliding glass doors still had spattered concrete and paint on them, the tiles on the balconies had concrete and paint on them.Rooms smelt stale from water penetration,at that stage not detected, so the carpets were as hard as boards. No room had that pristine atmosphere you expect from a five star hotel,even though they were being sold at "construction rates" they were still not ready to be sold.This was an early indicator that there was  trouble ahead.

The assistant housekeeper Chitra Chandrasari was made my personal assistant.The first job we did was  a 'defects and rectification' check, of the one hundred and thirty suites being used by guests.Taking out five suites at a time, we employed a team to acid clean the windows, balconies, carpets and attend to finishestill they were sparkling.Chitra would have the rooms assigned over and back in a professional and orderly manner.It was her job to liase between all the departments.Leaving a paper trail with the departments ; what rooms could be sold and what ones could not and when those would be available.

My office was on the ground floor and all the work to be done was on the top levels,
our time was wasted travelling between.  We organized one of the hotel suites which needed a lot of work to be done, in the mid level, to be used as our office.The jobs kept piling in. Fortunately the hotel had an engineering department of five tradesmen on the hotel payroll to which some work could be handed to.They similarly had so much to do, just keeping the services going, fine tuning the air conditioning was a mammoth task. Lifts kept breaking down of which there were five, as did the escalators that went from level two to the shopping centre. To be expected  in a newly constructed hotel. !!!

The builders did not have the same urgency as the hotel so we negotiated works  taken out of the builders scope of works and handed over to my department which consisted of me and Chitra. 

After we completed a "D&R" for rooms and suites, there was the rest of the complex, which was all hemorrhaging from leakage and water penetration.Including the restaurant, the health spa, the main bar.Marble tiles were spitting of columns and walls at the Porte Cochere and Lobby, air crew rooms needed double glazing, levels ten and eleven still were not completed, all being executive suites, penthouse bar not complete, car park required a cohesive signage and the pastry kitchen needed tiling and services, so the list continued.
These all required  three quotes, assembling a data base of trades and consultants and tabling jobs to be costed.

Three months after I had been there in March 1991, the hotel went into receivership with Dainford owing about $450 million, enter Prentice Parbury Barilla (PPB) receivers.Who provided another dynamic into  the managing, administration and rectification.Now, we all reported to PPB and ultimately the bank, which was Westpac. 

I explained to PPB at this stage that I would not stay as  the responsibilities I had signed up for had multiplied by 500%. We then negotiated another rate for myself and I continued on with the job, reporting to all three entities : Westpac, PPB and Hotel.

 Their representative,Rob Davis, took up residence in my old office and saw the dilemma with making the whole complex complete and a fully functioning entity.

Winter with rainy months was ahead.No sooner had we completed the rooms when word was coming back to us from housekeeping about rooms with water penetration. As mentioned previously, we  identified some one hundred or so rooms  where the balconies had to jackhammered up and a waterproof membrane laid and later new carpets.

 We steamed ahead over the next eighteen months. Completing the interiors to a standard of finish for a four star hotel, which is where  PPB positioned the hotel and the market to target.

Max Prentice enjoyed owning a hotel and decided on a make over for the two public levels and to change the external paintwork from apricot to a very pale green. This was no small job to be done, as the building had to be covered and scaffolding erected. He also was concerned about the interior decor and the bad press it was receiving so he retained interior designers to redo the restaurants, bars, demolish the lagoon, recarpet rooms and build a night club. At the end of '92 when the occupancy was approaching 75%. After two and half years of trading, the hotel was closed in January 93  for an $8 million makeover. 

Westpac found a new owner,  Accor a French group.

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