International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate some of the luxury hotel industry’s most inspirational women.
Whether they have risen from challenging circumstances or spent decades chasing their dreams within the luxury hotel industry, many women are achieving massive success within all hotel groups in this space.
The luxury hotel industry has typically been dominated by men, particularly in high-level positions. But things are changing, and so many women are rising to the top of their fields within their careers.
It is an industry that can be more challenging for women as they balance their personal lives with long working long hours, physically demanding jobs and jobs where they must travel a lot.
From London to Paris, Bali, Vietnam, New York and more, these are some of the Inspirational Women Behind the Global Luxury Hotel Industry.
Hotel Name: The Beaumont
Location: London, England
Who: Samantha Rieu
Job: Hotel Manager
Samantha Rieu has over 20 years of experience in the luxury hotel industry. She has been the Hotel Manager at the prestigious Beaumont Hotel in London’s Mayfair Since January 2022, joining from Dukes London, where she was the Hotel Operations Manager for four years.
In 2019 she was named GM of the Future by the Master Innholders at the Independent Hotel Show Awards.
Her inspirational story extends to her home life, as she is a mother of three daughters under ten and is focused on helping them and others to understand the importance of promoting diversity in the workplace.
Samantha is driving the growing Food & Beverage Department at the Beaumont hotel with the recently launched Magritte Bar and terrace.
Samantha is also a mentor to women in the luxury hotel business, allowing her to support talent from underrepresented communities to gain confidence and use their voice and, of course, encourage more women in the hospitality field.
Hotel: Hotel Le Meurice, Dorchester Collection
Location: Paris, France
Who: Franka Holtmann
Position: General Manager
Franka Holtmann has been general manager at the prestigious Le Meurice Hotel in Paris for 17 years.
She is one of Europe’s leading women at the top of the luxury hotel industry.
Her extensive experience includes working at the Ritz Paris and Hotel De Crillon, a Rosewood Hotel in Paris. In an interview with Four, she says her favourite part of her role at the Hotel Le Meurice is always knowing that every day she has learnt something and met interesting people.
Above all, her teams are her most important asset, and she always supports those around her.
Franka was raised in and around Essen, Germany, but with her father working in France while she was growing up, she developed a love for French culture. She always knew she wanted to live in France. It all started with a trip to the seaside Hotel du Palais in Biarritz with her best friend at 17.
With a passion for France, she also developed an interest in French cinema, some of her favourite movies by Claude Sautet, François Truffaut, and Claude Lelouch.
Franka loves to fully immerse herself in French culture and provides a fantastic experience to her guests at the Le Meurice. From new adventures with her team at work, or taking a long stroll through Paris, no two days are the same for her at Hôtel Le Meurice.
Hotel: The Carlyle, a Rosewood Hotel
Location: New York, USA
Who: Marlene Poynder
Position: Managing Director
With 30 years experience in the Tourism and Hospitality industry, Australian Marlene’s ambition continues to be recognised throughout the global hospitality industry.
She is the first woman to lead the prestigious rosewood Carlyle hotel in New York.
She is one of the most significant representations of women in the luxury hotel industry, breaking the barrier that has become a turning point for women in hospitality.
Marlene represents the values that women can bring into leadership roles, including caring and nurturing employees and visitors, both required skills in the industry.
She believes in dreaming big. Grit, determination, an upbeat demeanour and self-belief are critical traits she recommends for women in the hotel industry to pursue their dreams.
Marlene has worked in a variety of roles leading luxury hotels in Australia, Asia, and the U.S.
Some of these fantastic achievements include serving as the pre-opening and operating general manager of the Hilton Queenstown and Doubletree Hotels in 2010 and 2013 and becoming the General Manager of the upscale Waldorf Astoria Beijing.
She lives in New York with her partner and their very well-travelled pooch.
Hotel: Capella Ubud
Location: Ubud, Bali
Who: Devina Hindom
Position: Director of Marketing & Communications
Devina Hindom grew up in Papua, Indonesia and went to college in Bali. After finishing college in 2003, she was supposed to return to Papua but was offered a position at the prestigious Ritz-Carlton, Bali and believed it was her destiny to stay.
This was just the start of her exciting and extensive career in luxury hotels; she is currently the first and only Director of Marketing & Communications for Capella Ubud, Bali, which launched in 2017.
Under her leadership within marketing and comms, Capella Ubud was voted #1 Hotel in the World in Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards 2020, a highlight of her career.
Outside of her remarkable 19-year career, her most significant achievement in life is being a
Mum. She is a mother to a 20-year-old son who currently studies fashion design at the Bali Design Institute in Denpasar. She truly is an inspirational woman, a proud female leader who works hand in hand with the best colleagues and contributes to the hotel’s success.
Hotel: The Goring
Location: London, England
Who: Paula McColgan
Position: Director of Sales & Marketing
With over 25 years of experience, Paula McColgan leads the way at London’s famous hotel, The Goring, as Director of Sales & Marketing. A favourite of the royal family, The Goring is the only family-owned and run five-star hotel in London, and part of Paula’s job is to drive people there and deal with their many VIP clients.
Paula grew up in the wilds of County Donegal in Ireland. At 18, she packed up her life in Ireland and moved to London to get a start on her career and hasn’t looked back.
Her first taste of true luxury was during a work trip to the Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok. She admired how attentive, and knowledgeable the staff were to each and every guest. Paula loves travelling and is grateful to call it work. She just recently returned from meeting travel partners in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and Virginia in the USA.
Paula has a diverse background across various sales and marketing disciplines, alongside her natural ability to recruit, manage and support a highly motivated team. Within her current position in London, she inspires others in the luxury hotel industry, bringing ambition, positivity and a new point of view to The Goring Hotel.
Her impressive career includes being Director of Sales and Marketing at The Lanesborough from 2004 to 2016 and Director of Sales & Marketing at The Carlton Tower Jumeirah and Jumeirah Lowndes Hotel, London, ahead of their June 2021 relaunch.
Where she thrives in the luxury hotel industry, she has also found her prince charming at the age of 49 and is a lucky step-mum and granny with two beautiful step-granddaughters, Isabelle and Sophie.
Paula continues to inspire women in the luxury hotel industry and is a perfect addition to The Goring family.
Hotel: Intercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort
Location: Da Nang, Vietnam
Who: Ms Nguyen Thi Hien
Position: Executive Housekeeper
Ms Nguyen Thi Hien, 36, is the Executive Housekeeper at the Intercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort.
Hein has been working in the hospitality industry for 13 years, for 11 at the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort.
Hein is an ambitious and optimistic woman who was born and raised in Saigon. Growing up in a traditional family, she was taught to embrace her culture. But she realised she had a different vision for her life.
Hein completed her studies in hospitality and tourism, then continued to join the University of Languages and International Studies. Here she learnt English, an essential advancement in her career, immersing herself in the culture of English-speaking countries.
Today, Hein is highly successful in the hospitality industry with remarkable success, including the prestigious IHG SEAK Housekeeping Impact Award 2022.
Seif Hamdy, General Manager at InterContinental Hotels Group, says “Not only is Ms. Hien a dedicated and knowledgeable employee, but she is also an exceptional leader. As the head of a large team of female staff members of varying ages, Ms. Hien goes above and beyond to encourage, support, and take care of her team.”
She goes above and beyond to show support and teach her team at the Intercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort.
Hein continues to inspire other local professionals who aspire to break through cultural barriers and achieve success in the industry.
Hotel: The Oberoi Beach Resort
Location: Lombok, Indonesia
Who: Cecilia Michelle
Position: Assistant Manager Food & Beverage Service
Cecilia Michelle says, “I came from a humble background, a little girl from a small province that dreamed big. If someone had asked me a few years ago whether I would have this career, having travelled to few different countries, I would not have believed it.”
Michelle is the assistant manager for food and beverage service at the prestigious Oberoi Beach Resort.
Growing up in a small province in Sumatra, Jambi, she has always dreamed big. Travelling worldwide and meeting high-profile people was at the top of her list.
One of the most significant decisions she has made was moving to Bali for college.
During her studies, she completed an internship in the United States, one of her career’s most significant breakthroughs. She learned that every food, every drink and every tiniest detail within a luxury five-star hotel is art.
Since she started at the Oberoi Beach Resort, Lombok, she has skyrocketed in her career.
She often ventures outside to see exciting places the Island has to offer, including experiencing the local cuisine. Converting those local touches into luxurious experiences is part of the new world of luxury hotels essential.
As one of the very few women in operation, especially in food and beverage, she is a role figure that inspires other women.
Hotel: The Mandarin Oriental
Location: Jakarta, Indonesia
Who: Carina Tan
Position: Hotel Manager
Carina Tan says her secret to success is simple: “Empathy is a powerful tool if we can harness it well.”
Carina is the hotel manager at the Mandarin Oriental, Jakarta. She is constantly juggling life as a hotelier, a wife, and a proud mother of two teens.
Carina’s experience in the luxury hotel industry started as a part-time job while studying. Her experience as a banquet server and all-day dining casual was just the beginning of her successes and fantastic career.
This is her second time working for the Mandarin Oriental, Jakarta. She worked at the Mandarin for a year and left to answer “the calling from the island of the gods, Bali” as she puts it, and joined the Hyatt Resorts Bali then took a break from work to have two children.
She then re-joined the Hyatt, this time in Jakarta for 2 years before returning to The Mandarin in 2014 and hasn’t left since. After her IT studies in 2022, she spent time doing programming jobs. After realising she would talk to her computer, she realised that she needed to be in a more fast-paced and engaged environment.
Carina is an avid lover of interacting with people and experiencing new things. In 2003 Carina applied to dozens of hotels around Jakarta.
As one of the inspirational women in this industry, she recommends investing in yourself to keep yourself growing.