Mr Neil Jacobs appears to be like surprisingly well-rested for a person who spends most of his time on the street.
The chief government of the luxurious Six Senses chain of resort accommodations spends 70 per cent of his time travelling for work, going between completely different properties and cities for conferences and web site visits. But the rest of his time is spent enjoyable and invested in wellness, which, he says, is what retains him grounded and provides his life stability.
The affable 67-year-old quips that his relaxed manner is because of per week spent at a wellness retreat in Austria earlier than heading again to Singapore final Monday. He spent days consuming healthily, omitting alcohol and getting in 10km walks across the scenic countryside.
“I’m a big believer in the importance of wellness and making time to reconnect with yourself and your surroundings,” he tells The Straits Times in an interview on the Six Senses’ new resort in Duxton Road, which is the resort chain’s first city property.
“When I get time off, I try and go on a wellness retreat or focus my energy on alternative and traditional medicine such as Indian ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine.”
It is obvious that he’s a person who walks the speak.
How we work together with the group is necessary in relation to constructing a business with sustainability in thoughts. Our dedication is in direction of growing our individuals – we rent native the place attainable and we allocate half a per cent of our income to at-large group initiatives. We name this our Social Responsibility Fund and decide to that cash remaining native.
MR NEIL JACOBS on the significance of respecting and interesting with the communities by which the Six Senses model operates
Known for its eco-friendly sensibilities and properties in far-flung locations, Six Senses was began greater than 20 years in the past by Indian-British hotelier Sonu Shivdasani, however was purchased over by non-public fairness agency Pegasus Capital in 2012.
Mr Jacobs, who has greater than 30 years of expertise within the hospitality trade and in addition owns a small stake within the company, got here on board as chief government as a part of the acquisition.
When he took over the business in 2012, the model was recognized for its natural and rustic resorts and had 11 properties in primarily secluded areas comparable to Con Dao island in Vietnam.
Since then, it has revamped and now has 15 properties, with greater than 50 initiatives within the pipeline. This 12 months alone, accommodations have opened in Bhutan, Bali and Cambodia.
The company is predicated in Bangkok and in addition has an workplace in London, however Mr Jacobs works out of Singapore, the place he lives with Sandra, his Singaporean associate of 12 years.
He first moved to Singapore in 1998 when he took on a task with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts as senior vice-president of operations for Asia Pacific and ended up staying for 14 years.
And although he did depart for New York for a brief stint after, he says he was glad to maneuver again to Singapore when he obtained the chance to go Six Senses.
The model’s Singapore resort, which opened final month with one other Six Senses Maxwell opening within the third quarter of this 12 months, marks its first foray right into a metropolis resort – a transfer it plans to proceed by opening in cities comparable to New York, the place its resort is slated to open by the top of subsequent 12 months.
“When we acquired the brand in 2012, we knew we had to make changes moving forward, including taking it from being a South-east Asian brand onto a more global platform. Part of that move was to have more urban executions for the Six Senses brand, which gave us presence in key cities that offered a leisure component,” says Mr Jacobs.
Besides venturing into cosmopolitan areas, he additionally noticed the significance of evolving the look of the accommodations to change into extra design-centric.
Compared with the country vibe of the model earlier than the acquisition, the brand new properties are rather more design-focused to cater to the expectations of consumers who pay greater than US$1,000 (S$1,340) an evening at a few of them.
In Singapore, the model introduced on board famend British inside designer Anouska Hempel to design the 2 properties, which is able to collectively function as Six Senses Singapore. Both properties are situated in heritage shophouses owned by native real-estate developer Satinder Garcha.
“Opting to operate within conservation properties ties back to our commitment to sustainability,” Mr Jacobs says. “Instead of building a brand-new hotel in a built-up city like Singapore, we saw potential to re-engineer an existing space and re-imagine how it can be used.”
For him, the Six Senses model’s drive in direction of sustainable practices is one thing he’s very invested in.
“For many hotels, trying to be sustainable means putting up a card to remind you not to put your towels on the floor if you want to use them again the next day. But we need to do more,” he says. “It’s not easy. You often need to sacrifice some of your revenue to do things with the distant future in mind. But it is important and the consumer is also becoming more aware. Today, sustainability and wellness go hand-in-hand.”
For the daddy of two, it’s his expertise within the hospitality trade that has clued him in to the calls for and wishes of the luxurious travel shopper. His son Kieran heads growth for the Hilton chain in Southeast Asia and his daughter Talana not too long ago left a job doing advertising and marketing, gross sales and operations for boutique luxurious resort Chiltern Firehouse Hotel in London to start out her personal media and advertising and marketing company.
While Mr Jacobs was with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, he was liable for the operations of 16 accommodations within the Asia-Pacific area.
Besides managing accommodations in locations comparable to London, Rome, Sardinia, Paris, Sri Lanka, Bali, Barbados and Los Angeles over his lengthy profession, he has additionally dabbled in resort property growth in addition to non-public fairness, the place he helped dealer offers inside the trade.
Having this 360-degree understanding of the hospitality world is what has helped him home in on the wants of at present’s traveller.
“Luxury, to me, is all about subtlety and experience – offering our guests a chance to interact with the community around them in a way that feels genuine and authentic,” he says.
“Our role is to make a difference in people’s lives where they feel rested and rejuvenated and leave with an expanded world view.”
It was this similar ardour to be taught extra and see the world that impressed his personal foray into the world of accommodations. He says rising up in London within the vibrant 1950s fuelled his youthful curiosity, sparking a need to be taught new languages and shun the trimmings of a “conventional” life. He is fluent in French, German, Spanish, Italian and Bahasa Indonesia.
The resort trade grew to become his avenue to see the world and increase his love of language.
Today, he counts individuals like Mr Adrian Zecha – the Indonesian founding father of Aman Resorts – as each inspiration and competitors.
“There are few hotel lines that trade in our kind of world. I consider brands like Aman, Rosewood and Auberge both inspiration and competition to us. But I’m very proud that Six Senses has really created a niche for itself and pushed forward in the areas of wellness and sustainability, which is part of our DNA today.”
Mr Murray Aitken, 48, common supervisor of Six Senses Singapore, says it’s typically simple to neglect that Mr Jacobs is their boss.
“He is so inclusive and down to earth that he never comes across as a boss per say – someone who we would hesitate to approach,” he says. “He’s more like our guide, really someone who includes us in discussions and is an example to follow because he truly lives and breathes the ethos of the brand.”
And, certainly, for Mr Jacobs, it’s the innovation of rising a model that continues to encourage his work, three a long time on.
He is fast to dismiss any notions of retirement. “When you’re employed on this trade, you’re employed with individuals and expertise a slice of their life. That adrenaline of not understanding what will occur that day is what retains me going.
“Plus, there is so much more we can do and so much more opportunity for us to grow and get better – so why stop now?”