Name: Jose Fernandez
Campus: LRM/LRB – BBA in International Hotel Management with specialization in Finance, 2009
Current job: General Manager at The Slow, Bali
Imagine: You’re in Canggu, Bali, surrounded by rice paddies, black-sand beaches and surfers. On the coast, luggage in hand, you arrive at your destination — an island hideaway featuring sustainable wood, local stone, perforated partitions, vertical screens and inverted gardens. There’s no check-in desk here. Instead, someone who knows your name greets you with a smile, checks you in on an iPad, and shows you to your suite, one of 12 on the premises. The sound of 1970s funk and soul fills the air, music curated by Reverberation Radio from Los Angeles. You’ve made it to The Slow — a newly opened boutique accommodation experience with a rebellious, rock ‘n’ roll soul, run by General Manager and Les Roches alumnus Jose Fernandez.
“I left the corporate world and came to The Slow wondering: How can we do things differently?” says Jose. “It’s like what Picasso said — ‘Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.’” Born in Ibiza, and a graduate of both Les Roches Marbella and Les Roches Bluche, Jose has had plenty of opportunities to learn the rules like a pro.
After earning his bachelor degree in hospitality, Jose worked as Front Office Manager at Franklyn Hotels & Resorts in London; Assistant Front Office Manager at Gansevoort Hotel Group in New York; and Private Estate Manager at COMO Hotels and Resorts in the Turks and Caicos Islands. “It’s incredible the way the Les Roches network works,” he recalls.
“All of my previous positions were related to Les Roches. I was hired by a Les Roches graduate in London. Later, a friend from Les Roches in New York introduced me to the HR director at Gansevoort. The hospitality world is really small.”
At COMO, Jose was responsible for providing impeccable, five-star service for a clientele that included A-list celebrities. From there, he moved on to Bali as Front of House Manager at Alila Hotels and Resorts. This experience in providing personalized, VIP customer treatment came in handy for his latest job: the launching of The Slow, in Bali.
“Working on the opening of The Slow has been amazing. The hotel is designed to be an immersive experience in art, gastronomy, music and culture. George Gorrow is the creative mind behind it all — his background is in fashion. Before he got into hotels and resorts, he founded Insight, a skate and surf-inspired brand, and denim brand Ksubi in Australia.”
That creative, rebellious flair meets luxury and exclusivity at The Slow. Spacious suites are decorated with locally made furniture. Photographs taken by up-and-coming artists selected by Gorrow adorn the walls. At the bar and restaurant, guests can sip on bottled cocktails designed by a bartender from award-winning London cocktail bar Mr Lyan. And behind this hip, laid-back environment is a world-class level of service.
“We’re a small team, but we all have a background in five-star hotels. In fact, our financial controller and chef previously worked at COMO as well,” Jose says. “As General Manager of a new independent hotel, I’ve been learning a lot, especially in public relations and marketing.” Jose has also found time to share his knowledge with budding hospitality managers — he has been teaching classes part-time in sales and marketing at Stenden University Bali.
Even in Bali, Jose is never far from the Les Roches community. “There’s a big Les Roches network in Bali. The alumnus who hired me in London is now the director of Potato Head, a beachfront property, and I know Les Roches alumni at Alila. It’s a very supportive community.”