Business Management

On Leadership, Southeast Asia & Building a Legacy Global Brand: In Conversation with Dr. Richard Helfer

Episode 1- Series - Market Insights from Asia

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In this webinar Joshua Gan, regional director of Asia Pacific for the EHL Group, is joined by Richard Helfer, Chairman at RCH International & Creo Lifestyle Inernational. In this webinar, Joshua and Richar discuss leadership, building a brand and also Southeast Asia. Richard is orginally from Michigan, upon graduating from Michegan State University, Richard embarked on a career in hotels. He started out as an intern and then a opening assistant, he progressed quickly into the Head of Rooms division. He then moved onto becoming a hotel manager, and even dabbled as a real estate broker before returning to hotel opening and finally the founding Chairman of Raffles. His career took him from the U.S. to Canada, to Hawaii and finally Singapore, where he joins us from today, and where his long and fruitful career has taken place for the last 34 years.

The Raffles Hotel conservation project

When we took over the hotel, it looked quite different because there were additions made on the property over the years. We went back and focused on the year 1915 and on the Raffles Hotels of the passed. That was really a payday. That was when it really stood for all the fables of the exotic east and going back to that guided us. We tracked down the original cast iron molds from Glasgow and reproduced from the original molds. Before the hotel was restored, it had had a ballroom built when the front had been built on in the 1920s and it really obscured all of the ground floor. We also found around other places that were buildings have been added on since 1915 and we removed those. We also tendered and bought the property behind Raffles. And we built a new building, but inkeeping with the same style. We were required to build it in the same style as Raffles hotel architecturally, which is now the Raffles arcade. So that's how Raffles grew in that period between 1989 when we closed the property, through 1991 when we reopened the hotel, actually room wise went down in size. It went down from about 130 rooms to just over 100 suites.

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