Our series of online people profiles covers a wide range of backgrounds, careers and personalities of individuals in Hong Kong. In this instalment, we meet Dutch expat Marcel Holman, managing director of The Langham, Hong Kong, and regional VP of operations for The Langham Hotels and Resorts in China. Marcel’s career in international hospitality has led him from the Netherlands to New Zealand, and Australia to the UAE and China, and included leadership roles at Shangri-La hotels for over 11 years. Most recently, he’s made Hong Kong his home.
When did you arrive in HK for your current post?
I came here in February 2020. Although this is my first time actually living here, I’ve been to Hong Kong zillions of times for business and leisure! My first was in 1996 when Kai Tak airport was still operating.
Give us an insight into a typical working day for you.
I’m in the office just before 8am; I either walk around the breakfast operations, meet guests for breakfast or clear a number of emails in my first hour. At 9am, we have our Showtime, which is a daily briefing with the senior leadership team, and division heads to go through the important parts of the day ahead. This is followed by lots of meetings, sit downs and one-on-ones to guide the teams and assist their projects and planning. Lunch is mostly business entertainment and in the early evening I always spend some time in the restaurants to meet people or observe the hotel operations.
What have been some of the surprises and challenges of doing business here?
No surprises in HK! It’s always a fast, efficient and extremely comfortable city to live in. As for the challenges, naturally COVID has made things more complex, to say the least; however, together with the teams, we are coming out of this different, stronger and more focused on quality and guest experiences.
What neighbourhood do you currently live in, and why did you choose it?
We live in Mid-Levels West, Sai Ying Pun. We chose it because it’s a great combination of local life, convenience and some great options for expats. The best part is that you can just walk down the hill to the MTR station or up the hill to the Peak, continuing to Pok Fu Lam, Chi Fu and Aberdeen via the morning trail.
What are three things you like about your neighbourhood?
The greenery, the convenience and the accessibility to other parts of Hong Kong.
Outside of work, what are your hobbies here?
I love the water sports and boating, hiking and enjoying a good meal.
Quick questions about Hong Kong: what’s your favourite …
Casual restaurant? Club Rangoon or La Paloma
Local food? Ap Lei Chau seafood market – you can buy the seafood and get it cooked upstairs; or some of the larger dim sum restaurants with trolleys
Thing to do with visitors? Visit Sai Kung or Tin Hau and go for hikes
Thing to do with kids? Ocean Park
Nearby holiday destination? Currently, whichever city with borders that have opened!
See more in our Hong Kong people series in our Living in Hong Kong section