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Garth Solly | General Manager | Holiday Inn Cochin


Editor: First of all, many congratulations on your new role. How are you finding India? 

Thanks! I am truly loving India. The rich culture and heritage that you are exposed to on a daily basis is a privilege to be a part of, especially as I come from such a young country as New Zealand. My family and I are settled well into Cochin now; mainly thanks to the warm and generous reception we have received from everyone we have met so far. 

Editor: Tell us about your journey. how did it all start? 

I had not always worked in hotels. Previously I worked in the health and fitness industry in New Zealand. Then eleven or so years ago one Christmas I was having dinner with my (at that stage; soon to be) sister in law and she was telling me all about her time away from home at Hospitality School. She had just completed an industry placement in a large resort style hotel in Australia and was speaking with such passion about her experiences that it got me thinking that perhaps I was in the wrong profession. I sat listening to her and it made me realise that maybe hotels were for me too. So, I took a leap of faith, resigned from my job and took a position as a Baggage Porter at an International hotel in Auckland, New Zealand. I never looked back. 

Editor: What do you think it takes to succeed in this industry?

By their very nature Hotels are a very operational, hands on industry. With this in mind you cannot be afraid of hard work! You should be ready to get in and try all departments, learn as much as you can from those who have been before you. Be the person that never stops asking questions. Above all though you should have a passion for people. Whether it be your colleagues, your guests, your suppliers or your owners you should be genuinely happy dealing with people of all walks of life. Genuine Passion is Key. 

Editor : What are the attributes you look for while selecting or hiring? 

I look for two main things. One, as I have previously mentioned is passion. If someone is talking to me and can display a genuine passion for something then I can tell that they have the capacity to transfer that passion to their work life. Someone who is uninterested in life will not be successful in any role. Secondly I look for someone who has a genuine interest in learning, and learning about hotels. Inquisitive people will be successful because they will ask, and even though they may make mistakes they will learn. These two qualities are generally in-built and are hard to train. Other skills we can teach but passion and desire are usually there or not.

Editor: What according to you can trainees do while they are training at hotels to make it a win-win for them & the hotel/unit?

In the past trainees in hotels have had tough, thankless roles where they get shoved in the background to polish cutlery for 12 hours a day. Times are changing. Now we are looking for trainees who will still work hard but will challenge us and bring their own style and personality to a business. We want people who will ask us why we do things like we do and not just accept the status quo. In my experience most of the best ideas come from those who are dealing with our guests for 10 hours a day and that’s where our trainees contribute now. 

Editor: Tell us a little about your average day 

My day right now is a little different from a regular day as my hotel is not yet open. In a pre opening hotel; in the final stages we are concerned about finalising our trial runs and simulating various scenario’s so that when the doors open we are ready for our guests. With this in mind most of my day is spent with my team and owners making sure our products and services are being executed in the same manner in which we planned them. That involves trialling various menu items (I know, tough right!) with the Chef, checking on room cleanliness with my Housekeeper, monitoring the maintenance of the hotel with the Engineer and generally making sure that the team are engaged and getting ready for opening. A lot of time is spent during this phase also working on marketing and ensuring that we are generating business for the hotel. 

Editor: Last but not the least, what can we expect from the Holiday Inn Cochin in the near future? 

Big things! This is the first time that Holiday Inn has entered into the Kerala market and we will be bringing a fresh new style of hotel that Kerala has not seen before. Holiday Inn Cochin will become Kochi’s fresh destination for everyday people. We will offer authentic Kerala style cuisine with international quality and standards. Our genuine team offer real Service and unparalleled local knowledge. The hotel itself has 212 rooms, all with Work Smart facilities and within the five restaurants and bars our guests will find everything from authentic Kerala cuisine to home-style Italian offerings. We also bring Cochin’s only Sports themed bar to relax and unwind. All this under one roof!