This story was first published in Prestige Malaysia May 2019 issue
A familiar face in the hotel, General Manager of The RuMa Hotel & Residences Guido Farina never fails to drop by to say a warm hello every time we happen to be at the hotel as a patron, whether it is for a meal at the Atas Modern Malaysian Eatery whose reputation among gourmets is soaring or at the Seven Lobby Bar and Lounge for its well-stocked gin and craft tonic.
The first time we met was over a casual soiree at his residence, a few months before the hotel’s opening. It was our first taste of the hotel’s ethos as an ambassador of Malaysian culture be it culinary or hospitality, in which it is unique amongst an ocean of chained-brand hotels in the heart of the city that thrive on the customary.
There was a light dinner prepared by Chef Tyson Gee comprising an array of modern canapés partly made from unmistakeable local ingredients as a prelude to what’s to come at ATAS and topped off with a homemade risotto, cooked by Guido himself, who was playing host to all of us at the comfort of his own home. The “hosting” part is a concept that will resonate with and be experienced by every guest who has been to the hotel, as Guido explains below.
Having studied medicine, moving to the world of hospitality was a major turning point in my life: It is a journey that began more than 28 years ago. It cultivated my passion for working with people and experiencing different cultures and traditions from countries all over the world. Ultimately, I was following an instinct and pursuit of excellence in my craft; it has always been exciting, unpredictable, and colourful, and I enjoy every bit of my time here.
In some ways, Malaysia is like Italy – both are surrounded by the sea and inhabited by friendly people from a variety of ethnicities. I am impressed by the abundance of flora and fauna; it makes it easy for people to connect with nature. When it comes to food, I have embraced Malaysian flavours quite well. I am also gradually adapting to the spiciness that seems to be pervasive in local cuisine.
We met in 2010, while she was working at this magical place called The Datai Langkawi. We started dating and our relationship quickly flourished. We decided to leave Langkawi for Vietnam and then India. We eventually married in 2014.
The RuMA’s concept of creating an urban retreat thrilled me, particularly because of my background of working in resort hotels. It was an intriguing proposition to realise this vision in a bustling city. The RuMa was created by Urban Resort Concepts (URC) to offer an elevated level of hospitality that is more relaxed, personal, and intuitive. It empowers us to establish close relationships with our guests and deliver true HostmanshipTM. From that, I immediately knew that I was joining the right company.
As with all properties under URC, The Ruma is bespoke for Kuala Lumpur. Imbued in every detail of the hotel is a contemporary retelling of Kuala Lumpur’s past; from its origins as a tin mining and rubber estate, to its colonial influences and charm. We are also proud of our culture of HostmanshipTM which endeavours to ensure a very personal and emotive stay with us – this truly differentiates The RuMa.
The RuMa entered into an already competitive market and we knew it would not be easy. Last year witnessed the opening of several renowned hotel brands in Kuala Lumpur. It will take us some time to build brand recognition and properly position the hotel in this market. We are happy to note that our guests have shown great support and have shared wonderful feedback about their stay. I do believe, how our guests feel is a reflection of our service and I am proud to say that many of our guests have now become our ‘ambassadors’.
As I have related to you earlier, our ‘ambassadors’ have been actively sharing images of their experience at The RuMa – from the historical nuances of the hotel’s design, to the culinary delights served at our ATAS and SEVEN establishments. I believe Datuk Seri Bernard Chandran’s grand ‘Kebayaku’ showpiece at the lobby was probably one the most photographed parts of the hotel in recent months. We have also received positive reviews from our Trip Advisor page with guests thanking my colleagues by name! I think this is a testament to the level of quality and service that we bring to our guests.
A really identifiable trait of all Malaysia is its warm and genuine hospitality; this echoes with our philosophy of Hostmanship™. Every guest will be welcomed as if they’re returning home and greeted as if they were a family member or a close friend. It is a very genuine approach and it is instrumental in our aim of creating a relaxing urban escape in the city.