Setting the Standard

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While most of us spend our working weeks stuck in claustrophobic cubicles, Olivier Robinet goes to work every day to an office that is beautiful beyond belief: a 16.5-acre valley enveloped by towering limestone hills that features an amalgamation of natural caves, pristine jungle, waterfalls and geothermal hot springs.

Since June, this French-born Director of Operations for Sunway International Hotels & Resorts has been gleefully sequestered at The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat outside Ipoh, Perak where he has been tasked with developing the business of this five-star wellness sanctuary and spa. Olivier manages and oversees the day-to-day operations of The Banjaran, working in a location that is seamlessly integrated with the surrounding environment. A palpable atmosphere of perfect serenity pervades the luxury retreat that serves as his office.

Though Olivier is there to work, guests continue to stream to the resort to be transported into another dimension both physically and mentally, far away from the frenetic pace of everyday existence; The Banjaran has become the ideal bolt-hole for those who tire of the busy life in the cities. “Most people don’t take the time to stop in their everyday lives,” says Olivier, “but when people come here to The Banjaran, they just stop. They stop and they retreat, relax, reflect and rejuvenate.”

It is almost impossible not to relax in such stunning surroundings, and while the lush tranquility of The Banjaran seems natural and effortless, the serene environment is actually the result of hard work and painstaking attention to detail on the part of Olivier and his team. The staff of more than 100 never stop in their tireless efforts to make The Banjaran “a masterpiece of excellence of service”, and anyone lucky enough to have stayed at the resort will know just how successful their aims have been.

Olivier employs an innovative management style at The Banjaran. He looks at things from both “macro” and “micro” perspectives, balancing his bold plans and visions with a hands-on approach that sees him involved in all aspects of the daily operations.

To see him in action is akin to admiring a swan on the water: he glides gracefully about the lavish landscape of the retreat, attending to the various needs of guests, while simultaneously teaching and training the staff. “When you work at a hotel, there is the challenge of meticulosity of delivery of service,” Olivier explains, and with its world-class features and facilities, The Banjaran no doubt meets his exacting standards.

Olivier has spent over 30 years cultivating and honing his expertise by working in numerous hotels and resorts, having been attracting to the industry at a young age because “it offered a means of getting out and exploring the world.”

He studied to be a hotelier, and quickly ascended the professional ranks, following his passion all over the globe and racking up an impressive résumé of both short stints and extensive tenures at hotels in various countries.

Although he has held high positions in some of the biggest and most prestigious names in the industry, Olivier still retains an authentic humility and a youthful charm that is surely the secret to his success at The Banjaran. “Managing is a matter of communication and building effective relationships” he says, explaining how he has a responsibility to personally “instill a vision and values of service” into his employees.

When the opportunity to come to Malaysia and head up the operations of Sunway International Hotels & Resorts knocked on his door in 2011, Olivier jumped at the chance, and thus far, the Frenchman has found that the pristine environs of this holistic wellness sanctuary and spa in Perak suit him well. Olivier himself is a nature lover, “inspired by the energy” of his surroundings, and is also a staunch proponent of living a “healthy lifestyle” (he has practiced Ashtanga yoga for almost 10 years and claims that it “influences the way [he] thinks and manages”). It is clear that, personally and professionally, Olivier is in his element at The Banjaran.


Olivier’s career in the hospitality industry has afforded him the opportunity to travel the world just as he dreamed as a teenager. There can’t be many more beautiful and interesting places to work than a luxurious retreat in the limestone hills of Perak. With his high standards, cosmopolitan charm, and boundless energy, Olivier will no doubt leave his indelible mark on The Banjaran long after he has moved onto the next adventure, whenever that day may come.

For now, though, this luxury retreat is certainly in capable hands.

This article was written by William Citrin 
Source: The Expat December 2011 

This article has been edited for
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