Interview with Mr. Michael Ziemer, General Manager of Mandarin Oriental, Taipei
With more than 30 years of extensive experience in hotel management, over 13 years in Asia, and a comprehensive knowledge of the region, Michael Ziemer is well-placed to ensure Mandarin Oriental, Taipei’s continued success as one of the best hotels in the city.
His most recent role was General Manager of The Excelsior, Hong Kong, a Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group property. During his five-year tenure there, he oversaw the successful execution of numerous development projects in the hotel.
As an Australian citizen of German ancestry, Mr Ziemer is fluent in both English and German, he joined the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group in 2003 as Resident Manager at Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, was then promoted to General Manager of Mandarin Oriental, Munich in 2004, and in 2007, assumed the General Manager role at Mandarin Oriental, Macau, before returning to Hong Kong and The Excelsior in 2010. Prior to joining Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, he was General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong. He has also held managerial positions in several hotels in Australia, Germany and Saudi Arabia.
SpaChina interviewed Mr Ziemer, to learn more about Taiwan, and about Mandarin Oriental, Taipei.
Mr. Ziemer, how do you find living in Taipei?
Taipei is highly spirited with a variety of events and activities from a creative art scene, performing arts culture, dynamic shopping, renowned museums, and great restaurants along with stunning nature scenery. I enjoy living in the city very much. My favorite place is probably the Songshan District because the Min-shen Community has a mix of chic boutiques, hipster cafes, and antique shops. Songshan Airport and Taipei Arena are also nearby, and of course, the best hotel in Taipei is there, with luxurious accommodation and great restaurants. The most impressive and unique characteristic of Taiwanese people is their amazing hospitality. They always go the extra mile just to give you a hand and they are also very passionate in sharing what they love. Quality of lifestyle and health, I think, are definitely top priorities for the Taiwanese market. Not only is there an increasing number of fitness centers in the city, but also organic shops that offer fresh and seasonal produce. The evolution of technology has reached a point where people are extensively occupied with the busy hassles of everyday life, so the balance and quality of life has become a significant concern for everyone. How to find a healthy equilibrium between success on the professional front while maintaining a well-rounded personal life will be the target and objective for many in the future.
Mandarin Oriental, Taipei is a beautiful blend of traditional and modern design. What are the unique points of the hotel?
The most unique feature of Mandarin Oriental, Taipei is its remarkable architecture. The design has been created with iconic architecture reflecting European styles, and has become one of the city’s prestigious landmarks. Many visitors stand outside and admire the building and photograph it, whether it is to capture the beautiful façade, the central courtyard, or the landscaping. Mandarin Oriental, Taipei’s interiors include exquisite accommodation which adds a new dimension to luxury accommodation in Taipei. They combine elements of contemporary luxury with classic style whilst offering the city’s most spacious accommodations. Undoubtedly, the gourmet focus of the hotel has helped make it a very exciting destination within the city and has quickly established itself as the place to be for local residents; our culinary team includes many skillfull and talented chefs with wonderful backgrounds. Most importantly, it is the people that make the biggest difference. Taiwanese hospitality is very genuine, warm and helpful. By combining this with Mandarin Oriental’s legendary service, it makes for very engaging service experiences.
What makes your guests choose Mandarin Oriental, Taipei?
Our key markets in the region are China, Hong Kong, Japan as well as the local Taiwan market. Europe and the US are also important target groups. In the past, there were mainly business visitors from Europe and US but we are looking at a growing trend of discerning leisure travellers coming to explore the delights of Taipei and Taiwan. Normally, they will spend at least three days at the hotel. For a long time, Taiwan has been well-known in the Asian region as one of the most exciting world food destinations, but it has so much more to offer beyond gourmet delights. Rich culture, stunning landscapes, extensive hot spring experiences and of course the renowned warmth and friendliness of the Taiwanese. I think Mandarin Oriental, Taipei is the combination of all these fantastic aspects of Taiwan plus a sense of luxury and exclusivity.
How do you see the importance of a good spa as part of a luxury hotel or resort?
The spa is an essential part for any luxury hotel and resort because the spa represents healthy living and well-being, which are important features for global travelers and local residents. Therefore, Mandarin Oriental’s Signature Spa Therapies aim towards addressing guests’ increasing desire for simple, effective and authentic spa experiences. Spanning two floors, The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Taipei, is more than 3,500 square meters in size which is the largest spa centre among the Mandarin Oriental properties in Asia. The spa offers 12 individual treatment rooms, including two glamorous VIP suites and four couples’ spa suites. Furthermore, The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Taipei offers guests a series of innovative and restorative spa journeys inspired by Asia’s local culture and wellness rituals. These complete body journeys last up to three hours, and encompass a range of various treatments. On a monthly average, about 60% of in-house guests, 20% of spa members and 20% outside guest will come in for spa treatments.
If a friend of yours has only 36 hours in Taipei, what agenda will you recommend to them?
To start the day, I would recommend a visit to the National Palace Museum located in Shilin. The National Palace Museum has a permanent collection of nearly 700,000 pieces of ancient Chinese imperial artifacts and artworks, making it one of the largest of its kind in the world. After a rich cultural adventure, guests can take the Taipei Metro (MRT) to Tamsui District. Home to a variety of Western colonial, Japanese, southern Fujianese, and native Taiwanese cultural and architectural attractions, Tamsui is a must-visit location for all visitors to the Taipei area. Most renowned for its amazing sunset views, Tamsui offers a wide range of restaurants, cafés, shops, hawker stalls, street performers, traditional cultural performances, and is the getaway to Taiwan’s scenic North Coast.
Afterwards, guests may de-stress at The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Taipei by enjoying the 2-hour 30-minute Formosa treatment where the body is layered in white mud which hydrates and remineralises the skin. A fusion of butterfly massage techniques and warm oil is applied during a full body massage to relax and rejuvenate the skin thoroughly. The Formosa therapy is priced at TWD 9,800.
After the spa, guests may enjoy delicious and authentic Italian food at Bencotto or classic traditional Chinese cuisine at YaGe. And for guests who seek more diverse dining options, Café Un Deux Trois provides a variety of cuisines from all over the world. After dinner, the hotel’s M.O. Bar offers excellent cocktails and premium champagne, as well as live DJ performances for guests to wrap up the night on a swinging note. Mandarin Oriental, Taipei provides the most luxurious and spacious guestrooms in the city, so I believe the guests will definitely enjoy a good night’s sleep in our elegantly designed and modernly equipped rooms.
The next morning, guests may kick off the day with a delicious and traditional breakfast at Min-shen Community which is 5 to 10 minutes away from the hotel, where an eclectic array of coffee shops can be found. A slow stroll along the beautiful tree-lined boulevard of Fujin Street while taking in the enchanting charm of Taipei city will definitely leave guests mesmerised. Also, Huashan 1914 Creative Park offers a variety of exhibitions, including experimental performances, and an intriguing choice of venue that will take guests’ imagination to the next level.