A relative newcomer to our shores, hotelier ROBERT C. HAUCK moved here last year to launch a new hotel in Singapore. We chat to him about what he’s enjoying so far, his goals for this Duxton hotel, and his recommendations on what to do in Singapore.
Where are you from originally? What do you miss about it?
I’m from Munich, Germany. I don’t miss much from home because Singapore is such an easy place to live; I can walk from one location to another easily. It’s also such a safe country, so perhaps one thing I miss is being exposed to a little bit of risk or danger – the kind of edge that gives me excitement.
What brought you to Singapore, and where have you lived and worked before?
I was brought here by the exciting opportunity to launch a new hotel in Singapore – the Mondrian Singapore Duxton – which is the first Mondrian hotel in Southeast Asia. This is the 15th country I’ve lived in; places I’ve called home in the past include Hong Kong, Malaysia, Shanghai, Cambodia, Ecuador, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Taiwan, Thailand, Switzerland and Portugal.
Tell us a bit about this new hotel in Singapore.
Mondrian is something out of the ordinary – it’s one of the fastest growing lifestyle brands that originates from the Hollywood strip in LA. Mondrian is known for being slightly provocative, so we are definitely pushing the envelope and doing things differently. One of the highlights of this Duxton hotel is the rooftop pool, cabanas and bar, which take you back to 1970s Hollywood – and the view of the Singapore skyline is sensational.
Any hotel is only as good as the people who bring it to life, and a big part of my job so far has been cultivating a team of mavericks from lots of different backgrounds such as hospitality, cuisine, design, fashion, nightlife and art. In a saturated market like Singapore, with lots of wealthy clients, we have to ask ourselves how we can create a special guest experience for them. In my view, you need to forge true authentic relationships and engagement, and this comes from our team. Sometimes it’s the simple things that are luxury or ultra-luxury.
What does a typical working day look like for you at this Duxton hotel?
In the life of a hotelier, a typical day does not exist – that’s what makes hospitality exciting! A constant in my day would be being an orchestrator and conductor who forges the right team together, identifying unexpected talents who have not found their calling yet.
Any surprises or challenges you’ve found living and working in Singapore?
Singapore is relatively predictable, which is another reason it’s easy to live here. One surprise has been that, despite its reputation as one of the safest countries in the world, Singapore bursts with creativity – I constantly discover this in the most unexpected people and places. I’m also impressed by the sense of entrepreneurship in people here.
What are a few things you like to do in Singapore when you’re not working?
My hobby is photography and I like to explore the offbeat areas with my camera. These are the places where I discover the most about the country, the people, the culture and the history.
What are your goals or aspirations for the future?
Each Mondrian hotel is at the heart of the cultural scene of its location; the original hotel is in LA and we want to bring some of that energy to this new hotel in Singapore. It’s all about gathering a true community of creatives and free-thinkers, and provoking conversations, imaginations and culture. My goal is to establish Mondrian as the beating heart of this extraordinary city, a catalyst to forge connections with like-minded people, innovators and the wild at heart. We will very much be a destination for the local scene. We’ll bring art, glamour and culinary flair with our fantastic collection of bars and restaurants.
Tell us about some of your Singapore highlights; what is your favourite…
Casual restaurant? Tiong Bahru Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice, which is worth the queue!
Date-night restaurant? I like to surprise, and it’s a hidden gem that I would not like to give away (*laughs*)! Bar? There are so many in the area, but my favourite has to be No Sleep Club at Keong Saik Road.
Local food? Char kway teow.
Nature space? The Rail Corridor.
Thing to do with visitors? Show them the real Singapore by bringing them to the offbeat areas that many visitors may not explore. The Duxton area where the Mondrian is located is on the edge of Chinatown, with lots of places for curious visitors to explore, and some of the best bars, restaurants, nightlife, boutiques and galleries in the city. Duxton has such a rich history. That’s why we’re really looking forward to showing our guests everything it has to offer.
Nearby holiday destination? Cambodia, Maldives and Phuket come to my mind. But it really depends on the purpose. Some places are great for parties while others offer spiritual connections. Some are great for adventures in nature while others make great romantic getaways.
This article first appeared in the April 2023 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!
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