“My life is Full of fond & exciting memories”
Born and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland, 36 year old Morgan Layberry is Executive Assistance Manager, F & B of Holiday Inn Resort, Patong. After leaving university in Edinburgh, Scotland, he started working full time in hotels. His experience includes working at top Edinburgh hotel, The Caledonian, where he held a number of different positions. In 2005 Morgan decided to start traveling and has since then he has lived and worked in Cyprus, Dubai, Vietnam, Malaysia and finally arrived in Thailand on 6th January this year to work where he took up his position at the Holiday Inn Resort, Patong. Morgan has a wife, Catherine, and a daughter Charlotte who is 8 years old and still lives in Northern Ireland.
Morgan’s position as Holiday Inn’s Executive Assistance Manager, F & B is a very busy one and Phuketindex.com are grateful to Morgan from taking time out of his busy schedule to answer some of our questions.
Why you chose your chosen career?
At university I was actually studying pure mathematics and psychology, and the original intention was to graduate and take a high-powered, high-salary job in the financial sector. However, I had always worked in the hospitality industry on a part time basis to earn my “pocket money” at school and university, which was an experience I enjoyed immensely. When it was time to make a career decision, my mother, who is a very spiritual person, advised me to choose what I enjoy the most. My mother is always right, of course, so I took her advice and started working full time in hospitality. 14 years later I am grateful, but not surprised, that her advice was right. Through this industry I have been to places and met people I would never have had the opportunity to see or meet otherwise and my life is full of fond and exciting memories.
Why did you decide to join the hotel and tourism sector?
I started off working in cocktail bars and clubs which was great fun and I made a lot of friends, but the working hours were very anti-social and after a while the lifestyle can become quite demanding and unhealthy. Then I started managing a bar that was franchised to a five star hotel and as I made friends with people in the hotel I discovered a different aspect to the industry as well as a great opportunity for a more balanced life and personal development. I made a strong relationship with the General Manager, who remains my mentor until today, and investigated the possibility of moving through into the hotel operation. Eventually I was given an opportunity to manage the main hotel restaurant and quickly realised the hotel business was a great match to my personality and outlook on life. I worked hard to make the most of the opportunity I was given, and the hotel business quickly became my life.
I have had some wonderful experiences working in Food and Beverage, particularly with having travelled within so many different countries and cultures. Some of the highlights, apart from the many wonderful friends I have made from all corners of the world, include: organizing and coordinating a concert in Dubai headlining some big names such as Jamie Cullum, Mika and Madness – and of course getting to meet the stars back-stage; serving dinner to the Queen of Norway during a state visit to the Vietnamese President in Hanoi; and eating lunch with native Iban “head-hunter” warriors deep in the primary rainforest of Borneo. My favorite and longest lasting memory, however, is from the first hotel I worked in and I was fortunate enough to get a private concert from Burt Bacharach, who wanted to practice for his up-coming concert on our grand piano. I was the manager on duty at the time, so I opened up the piano room for him and he played and sang while I enjoyed a glass of wine. Priceless
What are the necessary skills for F & B management?
First and foremost you must love people. Having a healthy love of food and beverage is important, but if you are not a “people person” “We have all the bases covered here” you cannot succeed. The real nature of our industry is people and unfortunately people are unpredictable. Every team member is different, every boss is different and most importantly every guest is different. We spend a lot of time putting “solid” plans and strategies in place, but at the end of the day, once the “people factor” is introduced, the plans often go out the window and you have to deal with every individual guest, team member and situation in the context of the moment. You need to be able to empathize, you need to be flexible with your time, you need to be patient and you need to be able to make quick decisions. If you are naturally resilient and people oriented, the hospitality industry will provide a varied, fun and satisfying challenge.
Why must people dine in Holiday Inn Resort Phuket?
Phuket is super tough place to run any food and beverage operation, and especially in Patong where the restaurants and bars are literally wall to wall. There is an enormous choice here, from street stalls to five star boutique hotels and everything in between. The attraction to me of the Holiday Inn Resort Phuket is that it is a real oasis – an escape from the insanity of the beach front area. Once you step inside the Holiday Inn Resort Phuket you have a great choice of dining options, but all are under-pinned by consistent, friendly and enthusiastic service from team members who have been trained to international standards. Most importantly, you have the absolute peace of mind that only an international brand can offer in terms of service delivery, product quality, safety and value. And with 4 restaurants, 3 bars, televised sports and live entertainment you have a venue and ambience to suit every possible occasion.
What are the benefits of each restaurant?
I am proud to say that we have all the bases covered here. “Charm Thai” offers great traditional Thai dishes and fresh seafood throughout the day in a relaxing and friendly Thai style setting, overlooking the pools and fountains of our Busakorn villa wing. “Terrazzo” gives you the opportunity to watch the energetic activity of Patong beach front from a relaxing open air terrace style restaurant and bar serving the best Italian food all through the day and until late in the evening (in February it gets even better as we will be offering a complimentary cold draught beer with every pizza!). Sam’s Steakhouse offers a classic “fine dining” experience – prime cuts of the best imported beef, table side service and a great wine cellar make it the perfect venue for a special family occasion, an intimate evening for two or simply an any day treat! Seabreeze offers a great international a la carte menu throughout the day and we are currently running a series of themed dinner buffets at really competitive prices – the seafood buffet on Tuesdays and Saturdays is excellent, with a great selection of the very freshest fish and shellfish.
Who are your customers?
Every nationality, age, shape and size! Predominantly hotel guests, of course, but we have a very loyal following from within the Phuket community and a lot of “friends” who we love to see coming back again and again! We offer a good variety, great quality, excellent value and of course a level of service that people just love. We are surrounded by a lot of good restaurants, but as a destination dining experience in Patong nothing else comes close to the Holiday Inn Resort Phuket!