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There’s a famous Italian expression that goes like this: “Mangia bene, ridi spesso, ama molto”. The saying means “eat well, laugh often, love much” in English, and it is how Cavaliere Giovanni Viterale, General Manager of The Fullerton Hotels and Resorts, approaches life and work.
It was under this very-European style of leadership, that The Fullerton Hotels and Resorts rose to icon status, becoming one of Singapore’s most distinctive and prized landmarks. Two of its properties – The Fullerton Singapore and The Fullerton Bay Hotel – have consistently been placed among the most prestigious hotels in the region, ever since Viterale took over the reins in 2010.
And now, there’s a third Fullerton Hotel that is about to join its portfolio this October in Sydney, Australia, marking the operator’s first foray overseas; with a fourth to be rolled out in Hong Kong in the next couple of years.
For Viterale, a hospitality veteran who is familiar with the uncertainties of foreign cultures, having spent the better part of his career abroad – 24 years to be exact, these international additions provide opportunities for the company to showcase its unique brand of global-yet-local experiences.
In this exclusive one-on-one, Viterale shares with us candidly about the new Fullerton Hotel Sydney, the company’s future expansion plans, and even gives a few words of advice for budding hoteliers.
You have spent the last 10 years in Singapore at the helm of The Fullerton Hotels and Resorts. How has the experience been leading one of the most iconic landmarks in Singapore?
It has been almost a decade since I arrived at the Lion City in 2010 to take on the role as General Manager of The Fullerton Hotels and Resorts.
I find it a tremendous privilege to oversee the growth and expansion of this homegrown Singapore brand, which today owns and manages two award-wining hotels, namely The Fullerton Hotel Singapore and The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore, as well as the Fullerton Heritage waterfront development here in Singapore.
Today, when people think of the Singapore skyline, they think of the Fullerton Building, which is home to The Fullerton Hotel Singapore. The National Monument has been a majestic presence thgoughout Singapore’s development. The cityscape evolved, the world-famous skyline arose, and The Fullerton stood strong through it all. In many ways, The Fullerton is at the centre of the Singapore story.
How would you describe the specific DNA of The Fullerton Hotel?
The Fullerton Hotels and Resorts is a collection of luxury hotels founded upon a simple premise: Live Life to the Fullerton. We encourage our guests to embark on journeys that we promise will be deeper, more colourful, and more rewarding, when they stay close to our one-of-a-kind national treasures and much-loved city landmarks.
The upcoming Fullerton venture in Sydney has been described as a “first-of-its-kind”. Could you share with us more about its launch?
The Fullerton Hotel Sydney will be the city’s newest luxury heritage hotel in the heart of the Central Business District (CBD) located at No. 1 Martin Place, at the historic General Post Office (GPO) – one of Sydney’s oldest landmarks.
We begun remediation works on the facade of the building in April, and it is expected to be completed in time for the hotel’s opening on October 18, 2019.
We have earned our reputation as custodians of heritage through our transformation of The Fullerton Hotel Singapore. Similarly, in Sydney, we hope to advocate heritage preservation and shine the spotlight on the unique characteristics of the historic building, especially one as iconic as Sydney’s former GPO. It is our desire to retain the soul of the building and share it with locals and global travelers.
When The Fullerton Hotel Sydney opens, guests can look forward to an elevated hospitality experience steeped in character, culture, and heritage that is synonymous with our company.
What ratio of Australian guests versus international guests do you envision coming through the doors?
We believe that The Fullerton experience resonates well with certain international markets, and expect to see growth in the number of leisure guests and Incentive Groups, especially from markets such as the US, the UK, and continental Europe. At the same time, we envision the strong demand from the domestic Australia market to continue.
How “Australian” will The Fullerton Sydney be in terms of service, cuisine, comfort, activities, and decor?
As part of The Fullerton Hotels and Resorts’ unique brand of showcasing experience-based travel and local colours, Fullerton Experiences, a bespoke programme created for The Fullerton Hotels and Resorts, allows guests to discover a different side of the city they are in, through a range of guided activities, excursions, and experiences.
Each of our properties delivers an authentic and rich cultural experience, based on both its location, and its heritage. Our commitment to experience-based travel connects our guests with the distinctive characteristics of the cities in which we operate, through local arts, cultural, and culinary adventures.
In terms of our design approach, uniquely different curatorial styles will be injected in each property for a fresh experience in every city. The same goes for The Fullerton Hotel Sydney. We want to champion locals from the city’s buzzing art and culinary scenes. We are in talks with the City of Sydney council for collaborations to activate the iconic Martin Place street.
In the mid-20th century, Sydney-siders dressed to the nines and came into town to meet under the GPO clock. The building was long known as an iconic rendezvous point. The Fullerton Hotel Sydney aims to recreate this upon its opening, with plans currently underway to host several community events at the Hotel, starting with launch celebrations in October.
Will the Sydney experience be reproduced in other parts of Asia? There have been rumours of a Fullerton Hong Kong opening in the coming two years. Real, or fake news?
Our next expansion would indeed be in Hong Kong, where we will see the debut of The Fullerton Ocean Park Hong Kong.
On a different note, how would you describe your management style?
Have you heard of the famous Italian words: Mangia bene, ridi spesso, ama molto? It translates to “Eat well, laugh often, love much”. I advocate to my associates and guests to live life to the fullest, even in the midst of challenging work or life circumstances.
To end this interview, tell us one secret that you have never shared about the Fullerton Hotel? Perhaps a secret location or a secret experience?
My favourite spot in The Fullerton Hotel is none other than The Lighthouse rooftop bar which occupies the exact location where a beacon once guided mariners into the safety of the Singapore port in the 20th century. There is something about lighthouses which attracts and fascinates me. It’s probably the romanticised idea of a light in the midst of darkness that gives hopes and saves all those souls out at sea.