This month we had the pleasure to meet with Gerard Walker - General Manager of EQ Kuala Lumpur - who shared with us insights about the industry and his hotel & destination.
1000M - Can you tell us more about yourself and your career?
GW - The hospitality profession is able to open up the world to the people who work in it, and I am a primary example. I dove straight in and never looked back.
I’m Australian, born and raised in Sydney. I began my career with Sydney Hilton Hotel in 1998 as Bar Manager of the Marble Bar, and proved my mettle by winning the hotel’s 1999 Employee of the Year award. At that moment, I knew I could do well in this career and continue to love it for a long time.
I’ve worked in various countries, including Australia, Mauritius, China, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia. I carefully selected where I would go next to get new experiences and challenges; and each hotel received my dedication and passion in delivering high guest satisfaction and revenues.
1000M - What do you like the most about being a hotelier?
GW - My profession has brought me to some of the most exciting cities in the world, allowed me to work with a range of talented, interesting, quirky, creative people from all walks of life, and underscored the fact that there are different ways to do things right. The pleasure I still get when the hotel guests gain a mind-blowing experience is something that never gets old.
1000M - The world has changed, what are the main challenges you face nowadays as a hotelier?
GW - These days hospitality begins even before a prospective customer become a guest. Internet penetration, the profusion of content creators, the number of online booking sites, has got the industry on our toes because we now engage at a much greater depth with customers than we ever had before. Finding a voice on our electronic marketing, ensuring a corresponding follow through in our above and below the line marketing, training sales personnel to sell through both our attributes and hardware, as well as the soft touches, is challenging. But when you hit the sweet spot, it really is a thing of beauty and wonder!
Further to that is the ever-increasing importance of the delivery of the service promises. Saying we are The Best of The Best may get views on our socials and reservations, but it is proving through our service and deliverables that we are as good as we say we are, which is the crux. I believe it is of paramount importance to do as we say.
1000M - Can you tell us more about your hotel and destination?
GW - EQ, currently ranked number 1 in TripAdvisor and winner of the Best City Hotel in Malaysia 2022 by Travel + Leisure Asia, is the newest five-star luxury hotel in Kuala Lumpur. We have had a long tradition of hospitality, being one of the originators of luxury hospitality in Malaysia as the Hotel Equatorial and celebrating our 50th year of operations. In this redux, we deliver opulence, luxury and indulgence with a gorgeous, sustainably-engineered property. The hotel is also Green Building Index (GBI) Gold-certified, making it one of the most energy and resource-efficient buildings in the country.
The city is vibrant, buzzy and cosmopolitan, but go down a side street, and you find yourself in older times, where history continues to happen alongside the progressive city. I feel that KL is the perfect juxtaposition of historical culture and modernity, a hotbed of frenetic energy from the flashy retail offerings and entertainment venues and simultaneously overlaid by the peaceful green spots scattered around the city.
EQ takes that dynamism, and crafts it into superlative comfort, exemplary food options, a tranquil spa, as well as vibrant fine-dining and entertainment with some of the best city views, including unobstructed views of the Twin Towers and KL Tower.