by Dr. Iain
The General Manager of the Amari Orchid Resort in
Pattaya is Michael Vogt. Like so many hoteliers, he is a man married to
his job, but conversely, unlike so many hoteliers he has not flitted from
hotel chain to hotel chain jumping another rung on the ladder of success.
Michael was born in the unpronounceable (unless you are
German) town of Moenchengladbach. He was an only child, jokingly referring
to himself as, “I’m unique - a one-off.” By the time he was
finishing his schooling he still had no idea as to where his career path
lay. In the insecurity of those days, the ‘safe’ haven of the banking
world was considered to be an ideal choice, but held no interest for him.
By chance, his class was invited to see the workings of a local hotel run
by the Dorint Group and it was that day that Michael also made up his
mind. “The hotel industry was what I wanted to do.” He was 18 years
wrote to the hotel he had visited asking for a job and was offered a
position as a management trainee at the Dorint Hotel - at Bad Kissingen -
a short 400 kilometres from the paternal home.
Amid the usual scenes of an only child leaving the
nest, he went off to become a trainee. There at Bad Kissingen he learned
to make beds, scrub out deep freezes and all the other thankless tasks
that trainees endure. In the 2 1/2 years he was there he also discovered
his own metier. “I found that direct contact with the guests was my
baby. In fact, I still need direct contact with them.”
No longer a trainee he moved up to be a receptionist in
a 5 star hotel, but still in Bad Kissingen, and from there promotion to be
the front office manager. Along with this change there was another. A
young woman caught his eye at the Xmas party and Michael and Marion were
married, a partnership that is still strong today.
With the advent of their daughter, Michael made his
only move away from the hospitality industry, to become director of sales
and marketing for a newspaper. Why the change? “The money was better.”
However, after four months he had returned, not just to the hotel
industry, but to the same Dorint Group, rising to become a resident
manager in one of their hotels in two years.
However, in December 1987, and with an ambitious streak
in him (which is still present today, I might add) he felt it was time for
a change for the sake of further and new experiences, so he decided to
find a post outside Europe. A Swiss hotel chain was looking for a
management couple to run one of their hotels in Mombassa, Kenya. This was
all the opportunity needed and Michael, with wife Marion and young Daisy,
their daughter, landed in Africa. They spent 2 years with the hotel and
then another year to open another hotel in Mombassa for the same Swiss
Out of Germany for 3 years, they returned to find the
bleak, miserable European weather. This was not for them. The local travel
agent had a special covering Bangkok and Phuket and they took the trip -
and loved it. The next fateful step was waiting in the international
departure lounge in Bangkok, where the Tourism Authority of Thailand was
screening a promotional video on a place they had never heard of -
Pattaya. That video was good enough to spark their interest and this was
mentioned to Michael’s father-in-law, Heinz. By a very circuitous route,
whereby Heinz had a colleague who had a friend who owned a hotel in
Pattaya, Michael was introduced and sent to Pattaya as a “tourist” to
see if they wanted to be here or not. They did and took over running a
family style resort here for the next 10 years.
In the time they have been here, they have found
Pattaya to be a very convenient location and safe. It was also an
environment that was stable for daughter Daisy, a factor very important in
Michael’s mind. He is very much the family man, even though they only
have one child. “We never had the time for another,” was his humorous
reply to my questioning. Anyone who has met their daughter will realise
the Michael (and Marion) have done a fantastic job in parenting, which he
puts down to communicating, involving the whole family in decision making.
However, times change and after a decade it was time to
move again. But this time it was not across continents, but just down the
road to the Amari Orchid Resort, to present new challenges for the
dedicated hotelier. “It was time for me to refocus and return to the
corporate way. It is correct and the right way to do it. It is good to
work with superiors who have already been there and done that.”
Success for Michael Vogt comes from personal reward.
“Being a hotelier is a way of life, not a job. A 24 hour ongoing
experience that is incredibly rewarding if you do it right. You have done
things correctly, the staff are happy and enjoying their working time and
guests are returning and say it’s nice to be home.”
In that busy lifestyle there is little time for
hobbies, but Michael does enjoy music (he sings and plays keyboards),
computers, taking photographs and a little tennis for fitness. He also has
a prized collection of 12 tobacco pipes to offset the tennis!
He finished the interview by saying, “I am a very
loyal person. Loyalty is extremely important - you can still have
different opinions, but you remain loyal.” For a man who spent 20 years
in the service of only three hotel groups, this speaks volumes. Pattaya
has been made richer by this man’s loyalty.