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October 20, 2011

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GM who started as bellboy knows the importance of flair

A typical day for Rauf Malik starts in the gym rather than his general manager's office at the five-star Shanghai Marriott Hotel Changfeng Park.

Waking up at 5am, Malik works out for an hour and a half, and at 7:30am or so he is refreshed and energized, stylishly turning out and greeting guests in the hotel lobby.

"The hotel business is all about service but it's also about flair," says the 30-year veteran of the hospitality business. "As a general manager, I have to be a role model, making a good appearance in front of the associate. And I need to make sure that when I make decisions my mind is very clear."

Growing up in a diplomatic family with six sisters and four brothers, the Canadian got an early taste of what a good hotel experience should be like. The whole family traveled along with his father, a diplomat.

More important, he recalls now, he learned a lot about hotels from his own home, which he describes as a small hotel, with his mother as general manager. He himself was in charge of housekeeping, while his siblings had different responsibilities.

"According to my education, I would be a lawyer, but my dream was to be a pilot," he says. "I decided to become a hotelier largely because of the way we were brought up.

"And I love people, which always appears to me to be the most attractive part of this job."

Whether working as a bellboy at the beginning of his career, or as a five-star hotel manager, the hospitality business was and remains something that Malik treasures and relishes.

"The best part of being a bellboy was that you bear no responsibility except carrying the luggage for customers, receiving a smile or perhaps a little tip. And what makes me happy about being a general manager is that I have gotten a lot of followers and friends through the years."

A truly international hotelier, Malik has left his professional footprint in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Malaysia. Malik has spent 22 years in China, commanding hotels in Hong Kong, Guangzhou in Guangdong Province, Shanghai and Beijing. Malik has been with Marriott International for 24 years.

"Working in a hotel is like (working in) a small country, and the most important thing is to be international," he says. "How we deliver our service and how we anticipate our customers' needs remain vital to defining a unique and great hotel."

Malik spends a significant part of his time walking around the hotel, meeting customers and seeing to their needs - gastronomical to technical. In his office there are rows of business cards, collected from guests on his daily rounds.

Passing on his knowledge and skills to local employees and helping his associates grow with the company are also important in his mission. He makes a special effort to retain people, since keeping good people has become a major challenge for general managers in China where the hotel market is expanding fast.

"We really need to treat people right to retain them and retaining is not just about giving them salaries," Malik says. "Building up people, respecting them, creating more managerial positions and transferring them to new properties will help keep them within the company."

His retention and mentoring efforts have paid off. Shanghai Marriott Hotel Changfeng Park was recently given the "Lowest Turnover Award" in the Asia Pacific region in the Marriott system.

A gym addict and cigar aficionado, Malik also enjoys travel, collecting ties and watches, and appreciating good wine.

"My business is a journey," he says. "You reach a destination and you start a journey again. That's the general manager's satisfaction I get from my job."


Shanghai Marriott Hotel Changfeng Park offers a tremendous package until December 31. Rates start from 1,188 yuan/US$186 (weekend) and 1,688 yuan (weekday). The package includes: Deluxe Room upgrade to Deluxe Park View with compliment; welcome amenities; daily breakfast for two persons; extra bed for complimentary; in-house dinning credit valued 300 yuan net; complimentary internet access; complimentary use of health club and swimming pool.

For reservations please call 2215-6666, or email to

Favorite Dish

General Manager Rauf Malik is a fan of Shanghai cuisine especially the dishes of Jesse Restaurant. This restaurant is one of his favorite dinning places in town. The Toast Deep Water Fish Head with Scallion is his favorite dish. The fish head tastes very fresh and juicy with rich flavor of fried scallion and yellow wine. It is a famous dish in this restaurant on their own recipes and cooking method.


July 2009 ~ present: General manager of Shanghai Marriott Hotel Changfeng Park

December 2007 ~ July 2009:General manager of Beijing Marriott Hotel City Wall

January 2006 ~ November 2007: General manager of Shanghai Renaissance Yangtze Hotel

November 2003 ~ January 2006: General manager of China Hotel, Marriott Hotel Guangzhou

February 1992 ~ November 2003: Hong Kong New World Hotel


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