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'Hotel princess' with a passion for people business

By Edith Lu in Hong Kong | China Daily | Updated: 2018-07-21 01:16

Winnie Chiu Wing-kwan, president and executive director of Dorsett Hospitality International. Provided to china daily

A scion of a Hong Kong construction and hotel family, Winnie Chiu Wing-kwan adorns the "hotel princess" label as president and executive director of Dorsett Hospitality International.

"I like people-related industries and the hotel business is related to people," she tells China Daily.

Chiu became involved in the hotel sector while she was still at the University of London pursuing a business management course. She joined a two-month summer internship program at the Ritz-Carlton in Hong Kong, rotating with different departments, from the front office to operations, sales, guest services and even housekeeping.

But, the young entrepreneur did not embark on a hospitality career immediately after graduation. At first, she worked at investment bank Credit Suisse before joining the family business and taking charge of a project in her father David Chiu Tat-cheong's property business in Malaysia — Malaysia Land Properties under Far East Consortium International.

"I just follow my heart and passion in doing it and I love what I do."

In 2007, Chiu even started her own business, founding Freshness Burger — a chain of Japanese-style fast-food restaurants — in Hong Kong. She was quite into the brand and helped in the kitchen every day.

"I have to say I was very young and curious at that time. But the experience did help me in my career in the hospitality business as both of them are quite human-related. I felt comfortable making the move into the hotel business," she says.

Ultimately, Chiu took what she had learned through the years to her family business Dorsett. She believes the process of creating a new hotel is adding value to it.

"You buy an asset, build it, put into good management and then you realize it. For me, it's incredible."

Chiu does not deny her father influences her a lot in the way she looks at hotels. She strives to make the best of every area and maximize every square foot. For example, she has rented out some of the restaurants in their hotel chain as she thinks others will do better as well and help bring in stable income and a good branding.

Besides business inspirations, Chiu also inherits her family's traditional working philosophy — always be hardworking and passionate.

"The harder you work, the luckier you'll become," Chiu says, quoting her father's words as the best advice she could get.

"My grandfather was and my father is tremendously hardworking. In a Chinese family, they will not sit you down and tell you all about that. But I learn by observation," she says.

Chiu's grandfather, Deacon Chiu Te-ken, was a prominent Hong Kong entertainment tycoon who shot to fame when he bought Asia Television in 1982 and turned it profitable. Besides broadcasting, Deacon Chiu was also involved in the cinema, theme park, banking and property sectors.

"He was passionate about all his businesses. It was his dedication and commitment to the business itself and to the people in the business that moves me," says Chiu.

Having been born with a silver spoon in her mouth has also put Chiu under the spotlight, with many people stereotyping the young entrepreneur that she owes all to her family that has made her what's she's today.

But, Chiu shrugs it off, saying she doesn't read too much into that as she could not please everybody.

"Yes, I'm from a very privileged background but I never feel entitled. I think if you work hard, it will get you somewhere. It may not be immediate, but you'll be there as long as you have faith and believe in it."

Contact the writer at edithlu@chinadailyhk.com

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