News for the Hospitality Executive
Breakfast with Liam Lambert, President
of Oberoi Hotels & Resorts
by Andreas Augustin, August 2010
I am having breakfast with Liam Lambert, President of Oberoi Hotels & Resorts:
What is your preferred breakfast, with whom do you love to share it (the preferred one!) and how often can you have it?
L.L.: Mary, my wife loves Eggs benedict and my preference is Irish pork sausages, black pudding, two eggs over easy rashers washed down with great mugs of Irish Breakfast Tea. We enjoy this only once a week. Can’t handle the cholesterol so for the rest of the week it is muesli and fruit.
One year ago you were appointed President of the Oberoi Group, a hotel chain with a very, very good name in Asia. I have met you as the General Manager of the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong, later we met again in London, where you managed the Hyde Park for Mandarin. Now you are running a group – The Oberoi Group, founded in 1934, with 28 hotels and three cruisers in five countries. Do you consider this a logical step in your career?
L.L.: Absolutely, as I felt I had hit a ceiling with my previous company combined with the fact that I wanted at least one last great career adventure. Working with Mr. Oberoi is truly inspirational and even at this time in my career he is teaching me many things.
Do you miss the opportunity to leave the office, take the lift to the lobby and chat with your guests?
L.L.: Yes indeed, even now at about 12.00 noon every day I snap to attention to do my rounds of the restaurants ... but sadly instead of taking one or two hours it only takes 5 minutes as there are no restaurants in head office. Meeting guests is the single thing I miss most at this point in my career.
Rai Bahadur Mohan Singh Oberoi, the father of Indian hotel business and the founder of the group you manage, was born on 15th August, 1898. He is the Mahatma Gandhi of hospitality. Do you feel like the curator of a museum?
L.L.: Curator not, museum not ……. but guardian, champion, cheerleader, standard bearer yes …… as we build properties and populate them with the finest of hoteliers. Rai Bahadur lived in three centuries, the 19th, 20th and 21st and his spirit lives on within the culture of our company.
What was your first step in your hospitality career?
L.L.: Dublin, 1968, cold, damp, dirty, depressed city, unemployment
19% and no hope for the future in my eyes. I needed to get out and feel
the sun, investigate new cultures, taste new food and experience the colourful
world of the 60s. The only way out I could see was the hospitality industry
as there are hotels and restaurants in every city in the world, therefore
jobs and food.
I recall interesting conversations with you - in Hong Kong, in Berlin, London ... you were - in my eyes - always a philosopher. I expect something special from you when I ask you: what is a hotelier?
L.L.: We do not make beds ... we weave dreams for you.
How would you describe your management style?
L.L.: Benign, consultative dictator
How would you like a perfect guest to behave?
L.L.: To laugh aloud, to interact with happiness, to enthuse about our offering, to notice the little touches.
Recognising the importance of quality training in hospitality management, The Oberoi Group established The Oberoi Centre of Learning and Development in New Delhi in 1966. If you would restart the individual Liam Lambert, which direction would you give him?
L.L.: I would certainly have benefited from attending the OCLD where we have teach three disciplines: Housekeeping, Kitchen and General Management. OCLD has such a wonderful reputation that when I worked at Mandarin Oriental there was a policy that if anybody applied for a job who had graduated from OCLD we hired them immediately.
The Mena House in Egypt is A Select member of The Most Famous Hotels in the World. One of my greatest adventures was to research the history of the Mena House - an Oberoi hotel and to (after weeks in dusty Egyptian archives) confirm its opening date with 1886. We have given this hotel a great historical identity, if you allow me this little commercial about my job.
Here is my question: How important is history for a hotel?
L.L.: I think the history of an hotel is all important, a hotelier should also be an archivist obtaining famous signatures and photos as this reflects the very life of the establishment.
I have a selection of quick questions:
Q. What’s your motto in life?
Q. What do you want to have accomplished in the next ten years?
Q. To whom did you listen in the past week?
Q. Is it too much or too little courage that sometimes makes you
Q. How often do you reflect about your own life?
Q. What books do you read at the moment?
Q. How do you balance business life and private life?
Q. Which hobbies are absolutely essential for you?
Q. Which languages do you speak?
Q. What was the most important advice you ever received?
Q. For the same budget, would you rather afford the smallest room
in the best and most famous hotel of a destination or the best room in
a lower-class hotel?
Q. When you visit other hotels what do you observe/judge in the first
Q. Were you named after anyone?
Q. Do you polish your shoes yourself?
Q. When did you last refill a fountain pen?
Do you like being asked questions like in here?
Just one word as an answer:
Black&white or colours: coloursThank you so much for your valuable time.
Liam Lambert presides over the Oberoi Hotels & Resorts, with a total number of 4,000 rooms.
The Oberoi Group, founded in 1934, operates 28 hotels and three cruisers in five countries under the luxury ‘Oberoi’ and five-star ‘Trident’ brands. The Group is also engaged in flight catering, airport restaurants, travel and tour services, car rentals, project management and corporate air charters.
|Also See:||A Breakfast Conversation with Horst Schulze, CEO Capella Hotels and Resorts at the Hotel Schloss Velden, Austria / Andreas Augustin / October 2009|
|A Breakfast Conversation with Michel Rey, General Manager of The Baur au Lac, Zurich, Switzerland / Andreas Augustin / May 2010|
|Breakfast with General Manager Michele Frignani at The Westin Excelsior, Rome / Andreas Augustin / December 2009|