Young Filipino makes it to the Stelliers Awards 2020

Published July 27, 2020, 6:18 PM

by Jules Vivas

Rey Moraga, one of the finalists of ‘Front Office Hotelier of the Year,’ gives advice to the youth who pursue a career in the hospitality industry

Rey Moraga, at the backdrop is Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor

Being friendly, warm, and welcoming has been trademarks of Filipinos. As a matter of fact, Forbes has acknowledged the Philippines as the eighth friendliest country in the world, and the first in Asia. Pinoys are known all over the globe for our hospitality. And the best of Filipino hospitality is set to shine on the world stage this December.

Rey Moraga, a graduate of Enderun Colleges, is one of the finalists of “Front Office Hotelier of the Year,” where he represents the Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia at the highly respected Stelliers Awards 2020. Another Filipino finalist in the same category is Esther Evangeline Cabusao of Conrad Manila.

The Stelliers is a leading awards platform, and 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.

Rey swiftly rose through the ranks. After acquiring 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 attained membership into the prestigious Les Clefs d’Or, an elite society of the world’s leading concierges, in two short years. Rey credits his success to his determination, focus, and genuine curiosity for the world of hospitality.

To deepen his understanding of the rooms division, Rey decided to transfer to housekeeping, the backbone of every hotel. It was during this time when AccorHotels, one of the world’s largest hospitality groups, noticed Rey’s work and named me him 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.

In 2018, Rey 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.”

Rey’s dedication to his work is in part fueled by a lifelong inspiration of the 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. For him, ‘knowledge is worthless if it isn’t shared.’ Over the years, I’d met him again in Paris, Milan, and Manila, and the same message would resonate: ‘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 look like,” Rey explains.

Chef Alain Ducasse

Training also played a significant role in shaping Rey’s work ethos. Some of his fondest memories during college 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,” Rey mentions.

For the youth who dream of a career in hospitality, Rey has some words of advice. “Hospitality is not only an industry but also an attitude,” he beams. “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!” Rey says, before concluding, “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.”