Kathmandu Marriott Hotel has recently opened in Nepal, marking the debut of the flagship brand in the kingdom. The hotel, which strikingly features a 500-kilogram Nepalese praying bell from its ceiling, offers a good base for visiting many UNESCO World Heritage Sites and access to the historic capital city.
In this exclusive interview, we speak with the hotel’s general manager Jean-Louis Ripoche, to learn more about the hotel’s design inspiration, the MICE market in the mystical country and more.
TD: Could you tell us more about your background both professionally and personally?
JLR: With over 40 years of experience in the business of hotels, restaurants and hospitality, I’m currently the general manager at the recently launched Kathmandu Marriott Hotel, where I’m responsible to lead a team of very passionate and hard-working individuals.
My journey started in 1982 in the Middle East – Abu Dhabi as a chef, post which, I was given a chance to begin my F&B management career in Boston, USA.
At 23, the industry was a bit challenging when I was working as an assistant F&B Manager, but meeting new people everyday and learning to value them, taught me a lot about the industry. From restaurant developments, I was able to elevate my skills into hotel management projects and I took up my first general manager assignment in 1998, and I thoroughly enjoy this multi-skilled position and my overall work. Since then, I have gotten the opportunity to work with some of the renowned hotel brands such as the Sheraton, Starwood Hotels & Resorts and Movenpick Hotel to name a few.
“Meeting new people everyday and learning to value them”
In my career, I have travelled and worked across many countries including France, Kuwait, Thailand, Maldives and now Nepal, but my heart has always been in Asia.
Sharing a little about my hobbies and interest. I love listening to music of varied genres and indulging myself in adventure sports. One can always call me up for a game of tennis and I’ll be willing to join!
How did the region inspire the design of the hotel?
Nepal is very rich in its tradition and culture. We truly believe and respect the tradition of a country and like to adopt the local themes in our hotel, be it design, architecture, food or people. Kathmandu Marriott is a contemporary hotel but with a twist of local culture that is depicted across the hotel property.
“We truly believe and respect the tradition of a country”
Upon entering the hotel, guests will see thoughtful touches paying tribute to the country. A 500-kilogram Nepalese praying bell hangs from the ceiling while local paintings and crafts adorn the walls. The patterned carpets mimic the detailed weaving seen in the Dhaka Topi, a brimless cap that is part of the traditional Nepalese national dress.
You have one of the biggest MICE facilities — how’s business tourism and tourism in general in Nepal?
The MICE market in Nepal is really picking up. Most of the business tourists are from India, China and Japan, who often like to extend their stay for leisure purpose.
From the tourism front, Nepal earlier saw guests mostly from South Asian countries, but in the recent years, we sew a lot of Europeans as well as Americans visiting the country. Overall, the tourism industry has seen a transition and people like to explore unique places and countries, that are untouched or not spoken much about. Authentic and experiential travel experience has become a significant travel trend today and travellers like to get introduced to new cultures and traditions of different countries and people.
Nepal is also on top of the list of mountaineering enthusiasts and trekkers.
For those who haven’t been to Nepal, how would you describe the region? What’s in store for guests of the hotel?
A mystical country that stretches across wide mountains and rich culture, rooted with humble Buddhist values and boasting panoramic views; Nepal has something for every traveller.
The guests of Marriott Kathmandu can look forward to staying at the elegantly appointed rooms with warm colours that add the overall charm, making it a comfortable stay. Home to an inviting range of restaurants, the hotel takes a fresh approach to dining experiences. Thamel Kitchen offers multi-cuisine offerings while the modern Asian specialty restaurant, Edamame serves contemporary interpretation of Thai, Japanese and Chinese cuisine. Raksi Music Bar and its extension to the waterfall terrace is an amazing option to enjoy the evening, with an exotic collection of beverages coupled with great food. Centred on holistic well-being, the hotel incorporates an M-Wellness concept, with a range of offerings for all its guests, including a fitness centre, spa, swimming pool and other personalised services.
“Historic and cultural treasures”
Travellers can take in the historic and cultural treasures within walking distance from the hotel, including the nearby former royal residence Narayanhiti Palace Museum; visit the cafes, galleries and shops along Durbarmarg Street; or escape to the scenic Garden of Dreams, a tranquil green spot in the buzzing capital. Meanwhile, Tribhuvan International Airport is a short 20-minute drive away.