Rey Moraga, a 2012 BS International Hospitality Management graduate of Enderun Colleges, was named one of the finalists under the category “Front Office Hotelier of the Year” in the prestigious Stelliers Awards 2020.
Moraga represents the Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia at the highly respected Stelliers Awards 2020. The Stelliers is the only accolade in Asia that gives recognition to the most talented and dedicated professionals in the hospitality industry. Rey joins 98 leading hoteliers in Asia recognized across 20 different award categories. The winners will be announced in the grand awards ceremony on Dec. 4, 2020 in Macau.
His rise through the ranks has been extraordinarily swift. After completing a Bachelor of Science in International Hospitality Management degree in 2012, he joined the pre-opening team of the Raffles and Fairmont Makati in Manila. He started as a concierge and eventually gained membership into the prestigious Les Clefs d’Or, an elite society of the world’s leading concierges, in two short years.
Moraga credits his success to his determination, focus and genuine curiosity for the world of hospitality. To deepen his understanding of the rooms division, he decided to transfer to housekeeping, considered to be the backbone of every hotel.
“It was during this time when our parent company, AccorHotels, one of the world’s largest hospitality groups, noticed my work and named me as ‘The Most Outstanding Heartist in Asia Pacific,’ a distinction which recognizes the most outstanding employees across the group’s 80,000 employees in 825 properties in the 22 countries of the region,” he says.
In 2018, Moraga relocated to Siem Reap after being promoted as front office manager of the Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor, arguably Cambodia’s most distinguished and storied hotel. As a department head, he leads a team of over 40 hoteliers—front desk agents, butlers, concierges, doormen, bellhops, telephone operators, duty managers and retail assistants.
“It has been an exhilarating experience. Each day is different. You can be welcoming heads of state, royalty or rock stars. Our job is to make sure that their experience of Siem Reap, the site of the majestic Angkor Wat, is something they’ll never forget,” he says.
His dedication to his work is in part fueled by a lifelong inspiration of Chef Alain Ducasse. “I will always remember his words back when I first met him at École Ducasse Manila at Enderun Colleges. He said, ‘work harder, faster, and smarter.’ I have always admired him for his appetite for excellence and perfection, and his passion for sharing his savoir-faire [know-how]. For him, ‘knowledge is worthless if it isn’t shared’,” he says.
“Over the years, I’ve met him again in Paris, Milan and in Manila, and the same message resonates: ‘excellence in practice.’ I have also been most fortunate to work with many aspirational leaders in the industry—Tom Meyer, David Batchelor, and Oliver Dudler, as well as Philippine Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat who has become a friend. I am grateful to them for showing me what inspiring leadership and true excellence looks like,” says Moraga.
Training also played an important part in shaping Moraga’s work ethos. Some of his fondest memories during college years include his internship in France where École Ducasse Manila at Enderun Colleges, led by chefs Marc Chalopin and See Cheong Yan, arranged for an internship in two of Alain Ducasse’s acclaimed Parisian restaurants—Rech, a celebrated seafood dining institution and Le Jules Verne, then located on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower.
“At Enderun, we were instilled with the values of excellence, respect, creativity, rigor and curiosity but through the internship program, we got to live it, harness it and breathe it. It was the most ideal setting to really prepare students for the real world. It was an incredibly life-changing experience,” he says.
For young Filipinos who also dream of a career in hospitality, Moraga has some advice to share: “Hospitality is not only an industry but also an attitude. First, stay curious, learn as much as you can, be flexible and willing to move around and try different disciplines within our field. Second, be creative, open-minded and think out of the box.”
“There will be many challenges along the way but creativity can solve anything. Finally, and the most important part is to have fun and enjoy what you’re doing. Hospitality is about caring for people, and creating exceptional moments both for our guests and colleagues, and if you’re having fun, this will definitely echo in everything that you do,” he says.
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