In only under four years since its inception, Tribe Hotel has bagged itself a couple of International awards and was even quite recently selected by the Conde Nast Traveller (one of U.S/U.K hottest travel magazine) as a top pick travel in Kenya. Well, it is quite easy to see how successful Tribe has been, especially because of its versatility and quality of service and more so because of its top notch management.
In a bitter sweet move, Mark Somen who has served for almost three years as the company’s General Manager is moving back to Newyork to pave way for Jamaican born Michael Flint who has currently taken over him. Dynamic in nature and full of new ideas for his new assignment, Mr. Flint who has worked in the hospitality industry abroad for more than 16 years explains how he plans to fill in the shoes that Mark left behind as well as a brief background of what actually led him to take on the exciting yet challenging task of GM at Tribe.
The first question on top everyone’s mind is what went into the decision for you to take on the position of GM at Tribe and Mark Somen’s departure…
Well Mark had an arrangement with his family to bring them down here in Kenya as he worked at Tribe and the deal was they were to stay for two years. They enjoyed it so much that they decided to extend it for a year but now they are going back to their family in Newyork. I’ve known Mark for 12 years and when I came to visit him here for holiday with my family before he moved to Newyork I knew he was looking all over for a suitable replacement. So one day he just asked me to take over him and a couple days later I woke up and thought to myself that wouldn’t be such a bad idea. We talked a little bit more, had an interview with the Tribe owners and by the time I left I was offered the job.
What did you do prior to coming to Tribe?
I was living in London and was working for a group called the Park Plaza Hotels Europe that has its branches all over Europe and 8 resorts in Croatia. Prior to that I was with an American company called China Grill Management which was a joint venture with Morgan’s Hotel Group. I later spent time in Miami at the Delano hotel. I moved to work with the Camino Real Hotel group in Mexico City for three years and moved with them back to London for a short stint of one year. I went to Newyork where i worked with their branch for six years.
Please walk us through your typical day at your current job at Tribe
With a light breakfast of fruit, yoghurt cup, juice and coffee which gives me energy to tackle the day. I head the daily briefing with the Tribe team and basically oversee the activities and scope of the day with them. I wind the day down with a brisk evening jog.
What about Tribe makes you want to work here and take on the role of GM?
Tribe is an amazing hotel as you know; 137 rooms that are all different and one just as wonderful as the next. Again it’s the staff, it’s the hospitality that you feel the moment you enter the gates. Most of all I feel secure because of the top notch security that our team is doing and I think that all these qualities are also plays an important to our guests who we are guaranteed will always come back.
You’ve been here for about a month; have you found any Kenyan foods that you fancy?
I love the food in Kenya, starting with nyamachoma and there’s this sukumawiki with deep fried tilapia fish and ugali that I took at the staff cafeteria and which was very delicious. I was told I had to eat it with my hands!
Have you taken the time to eat in other restaurants? Did you like it?
Well I have been at Osteria at the Village Market, Mediterraneo, passed by Sevens Restaurant and I think the ambiance speaks for itself. I ate in Pango at the Fairview and the food was fantastic; I have to say that it was my favourite. I see a lot of friendly competition and this is definitely good for the market.
What can Kenyans expect from Tribe in the next few months as you take over?
We are already looking into building another hotel at Village Market also do management contract possibilities with other hotel owners so that Tribe can expand. I see a lot of opportunity with Jiko (our restaurant) and Kaya (Tribe’s Spa) and taking them to new heights by putting them in the Nairobi map. I have a few ideas that I don’t want to disclose just yet.