With over 20 years of experience in hotel operations, Olivier Lordonnois has been the General Manager of The Mark Hotel since January 2011, where he has played a significant role in the development of the brand as well as the many facets of the hotel’s structural organization and day-to-day practices. Over lunch at Café Grey, we sit down with the charming French gentleman for some travel inspiration.
What is your previous experience with Hong Kong?
I’ve been here many times. Hong Kong has always been very dear to me on so many levels. I think there’s little bit of New York here which is what I like – a hectic city – but it’s in a much more civilized way. New York can be a little bit messy and tricky but here there is something that resonates with me because of the service and the culture of hospitality I think, that is quite developed. I also love the culture here.
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What’s your opinion on the hotels in Hong Kong?
I love The Upper House and I stay here every time I’m in town – I see a lot of similarities between this and The Mark. I like urban hotels that have a sense of style and aren’t copycats of hotel chains. This is what Andre Fu did – he has created something truly unique here.
What was the brief you guys gave to the designer when conceiving The Mark?
The brief was that it needed to be different and it needed to be unique. So it was a matter of using more contemporary furniture – Jacques Grange is very famous for assembling different styles. The rooms and the suites we have combine art deco with modern sensibilities, and the mix of artwork around the hotel is spectacular.
It must have been an interesting, collaborative experience?
Yes, it has been very interesting to work with someone who hasn’t done any significant public projects. I think that’s what helped us to create something completely unique. I have travelled to a lot of places and stayed in a lot of hotels but I have never seen something like this, which gives the hotel a true sense of place. You wake up jet lagged at 3 o’clock in the morning and you know where you are.
I am always dreading the trips where I have got to go to, (and I am not going to say any names) where I have to do like 3 or 4 hotels in a row in different cities that belong to the same brand. The layout of the bathroom is going to be the same, the bedding is the same, the view…..well it’s the middle of the night so you don’t know. You are a bit lost and then you only realize where you are after thinking about it for a bit. This is the opposite of what we do at The Mark.
What’s your recommended itinerary for visitors staying at The Mark?
Once you’ve had your third or forth meal at Jean-Georges, you can step out and walk around – you don’t even need to get into a car because everything is like ten minutes away from the hotel. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a must see – there are some excellent curated exhibitions and even exhibitions on the roof where you can have a drink overlooking Central park – spring, summer, autumn any time of year it’s amazing. En route to The MET, there are also so many galleries that are recommended and you can go on private gallery tours. You can also visit The Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Lloyd Wright which is architecturally very interesting but the exhibitions are a bit hit and miss, unlike the MET which is solid. I just can’t get enough of it.
How long have you been in New York now and does it feel like home to you?
Just over six years and yes, it does. It has been so intense and busy I have never felt like I was home sick and the immersion was total and almost immediate. It’s always exciting in this line of business when you take on a property with so much character. I was not given a manual to follow, but the freedom to create which has been fantastic.
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How do you decompress on your rest days?
I like running a lot. It’s always nice during the weekend to do a bit of exercise. But recently, my wife created this charity that’s involved in rescuing animals – we have a farm upstate an hour and a half away from New York and we’re in the middle of co-ordinating everything. Basically it’ll be a place where animals can go because nobody wants them – the three-legged goat, pitbulls, and so on. I think going forward, that’s going to take up a lot of my time during my rest days.