Masanori Hosoya of Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, On How To Create A Travel Experience That Keeps People Coming Back For More

An Interview With Savio P. Clemente

Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine

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Safety is top of mind for people during a recovery period. Safety means avoiding conflict and we will not face any pressure when traveling. Everyone wants a seamless travel experience. Travel well = safe travel.

As part of my series about “How To Create A Travel Experience That Keeps People Coming Back For More”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Masanori Hosoya.

Masanori Hosoya arrives in Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Ubud, Bali following his General Manager tenure at The Ritz-Carlton, Nikko. Masa will oversee all operations and the resort’s business strategy for Mandapa — the third bespoke resort in the prestigious Ritz-Carlton Reserve portfolio. Masa has spent most of his time in the luxury properties within Marriott International and brought a deep understanding of the Ritz-Carlton brand from Spain and Japan.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Thank you for the opportunity!

Honestly, when I was a student, I did not think to be a hotelier. When I was young, my father had a golf course business in Spain. All weekend, I was on a golf course to practice lessons, and help my father with his job, including helping in the restaurant.

I’m very passionate in many things. I wanted to be a dentist when I was in high school, but finally I decided to study biochemistry at university because I liked science and joined the sustainability community for environmental protection. Until the end of my university journey, I did not have a dream to become a hotelier. But, since I am used to handling guests on the golf course and it is related to the hospitality industry, technically I was already exposed to the hospitality industry. When I finished university, I wanted to do something that I can only do (I’m Japanese and have many years of experience in Europe). I love the restaurant business and I was thinking to make a Japanese Restaurant in Spain. At that time, Japanese food was very popular in the world. Then, I came back to Japan to learn more about Japanese food and started to work in a hotel, one of the best hotels in Tokyo back in the day, specifically working in a very famous restaurant in town, as a restaurant waiter. So, that’s my first touch in the hotel industry.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

The journey that did not work out as planned. I mean, from a golf player to a dentist, I studied biochemistry but I was not good enough at science compared to others, then decided to own a Japanese restaurant (which also did not happen), and while studying Japanese cuisine, I finally got my first step working in a hotel restaurant. Interestingly, they did not accept me when I applied for the job, but I insisted to work in the best restaurant in Tokyo, demonstrating my passion. They finally accepted me after the second interview. Took a long process in my career to be where I am right now ☺

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Well, I don’t know if it’s funny or not, but on the first day when I was working at the hotel in Japan, I did not even know to carry and polish the glass, even with the tray, I was very terribly stiff and did not know what to do with all this stuff. Then my supervisor came to me and said “Look, you can’t even polish the glass properly, you are not for this business, you better do something different rather than being in the hospitality industry.”

That situation pushed me to challenge myself more and not give up, even wanting to become something else.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person whom you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I do consider myself a “very fortunate person”. I had good bosses and everyone helped me professionally and to be a better person. Also, I should thank The Ritz-Carlton and Marriott for the opportunity for many years as I did my all background career with them.

If I have to mention one person, the specific person whom I am grateful to is Rivero Delgado, the Area Vice President for Marriott International. She was my General Manager when I was working as a Director of Food & Beverage in Hotel Arts Barcelona. Thanks to her, I had the opportunity to go back to Japan (Tokyo) and grew in my career. She is a great woman leader, and she is strong as a man (Iron woman ☺). I learned a lot from her — discipline, anticipation, luxury vision, and always taking care of the people.

Thank you for that. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?

For me, nothing is good innovation if it does not meet our guest’s needs. You can introduce innovation, but if it does not have a great add value, there is no innovation. We need to adapt to the guest’s needs, the guests’ experience and satisfaction should be improved.

Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation and how do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?

As we see the trend is changing in the travel industry, we need to be creative by crafting new offerings for the guests and be flexible by making them curate their own experiences. As I mentioned earlier, nothing is good innovation if it does not have an added value. Our innovation is, we need to look for options based on the guests’ needs.

As you know, COVID19 changed the world as we know it. Can you share a few examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers will prefer to travel?

Our challenge is not the same as before the pandemic, it is about how to exceed their expectation. They want to have more quality travel. You know in our company, we say, “It’s not a matter of well travel, it’s a matter of travel well.” It is how luxury hotels and industries are where people are aiming to spend their time. In a few years, we need to adjust to upscale the quality, not only the quantity of travel.

You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?

By working in the hotel business, I always have the chance to travel to many countries. How I describe my perfect travel is, I decided the destinations, I book the hotel, but I hate making plans. I just want to walk around comfortably and see the people who will recommend to me some places to see and food. I do not need to visit famous places, but I always visit local places, especially markets (fish markets, vegetable markets, local markets, local craftsmanship & artisans, and local shops), that is how you can understand the culture of the people who live in the country also, their habits, and how they spend their daily activities. I like living like a local.

Travel is not always about escaping, but about connecting. Have you made efforts to cultivate a more wellness driven experience? We’d love to hear about it.

I think wellness has become the top luxury segment in this industry nowadays. People are more concerned about wellness, so when they travel they will think about how to continue to be healthy. For me, wellness is not about physical treatment (can be a spa or other experience), but it also needs to maintain our mental health.

I love to visit places where you can put your mind reset. Where your mind can be recharged, wellness is not always from the outside, it is also from the inside. (your mental being)

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a travel experience that keeps bringing people back for more? Please share a story or an example for each.

Hotel service — Just as an example when you have good food without good services, you will not enjoy the food.

First-time experience — It is important when you have a new experience. When I travel to a new destination, I always love to learn something about the culture, and so many moments are created while traveling. You need to fulfill with first-time experience when you go travel.

A morning routine: coffee — I can’t start my day without a good cup of espresso. A person must have a morning routine to boost the day.

People — With the people surrounded and the new people you will meet. To share the passion and to learn other cultures are important.

Safety — Safety is top of mind for people during a recovery period. Safety means avoiding conflict and we will not face any pressure when traveling. Everyone wants a seamless travel experience. Travel well = safe travel.

Can you share with our readers how you have used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I am a person who is always driven by challenges. I need the challenge to inspire and be inspired in my daily life. If you are facing challenges, you will achieve higher success. What the company gives to me, I always try to achieve 200%.

Therefore, I want to challenge my team every day, if they can continue with some efforts, they will achieve success. Both for the hotel’s success and for personal development.

As my favorite quote says “Great things never come from comfort zone”

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

When I was young, I tried to learn a lot from different people and from my mentors. At this point of time, I wish I could return it to other people. I like to teach the leaders here, educate the whole team, and inspire young people. Be an inspiration and at the same time be a person that aspires, as I want to follow the mentor leadership style.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Just follow @mandapareserve on Instagram ☺

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine

TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor