SPOTLIGHT ON Alex S. Furrer, General Manager, The Setai, Miami Beach

Alex has spent the last seven years at The Setai, Miami Beach, leading the Quality and Training program that earned them the 2015 Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Award. Guest Satisfaction, loyalty and developing new business with high profile partnerships like Art Basel Miami Beach are key components to his successful leadership of the 90-room hotel, 40 luxury suites and the 125-unit residences.

The Setai has been a Forbes Five-Star winner five years in a row. How have you accomplished this?
Of course ongoing training is key, however, in order to consistently achieve positive results, it is fundamental to have a well synchronized and dedicated team with a strong team spirit. This starts with our hiring process where we primarily look for the right attitude as skills can be trained. If this is setup the right way and leadership is closely connected to the team, on a daily basis, the service overall becomes more genuine and less scripted. Out of my experience, the combination of those factors lead to top service and with that to happy, loyal repeat guests.

You have an Asian theme throughout your hotel. Can you tell us about it?
The original developer worked closely with Adrian Zecha, founder of Aman Resorts and GHM Hotels. Together they created ‘The Setai’ brand – which stands for the beauty of a simple Asian inspired design combined with the genuine and discreet Asian service culture. Our team is carrying this spirit since the opening 15 years ago, through two management company changes as well as a change of ownership. Another important part is our exchange program with Hospitality Schools from Bali. Since the opening, we are providing up to 40 students from Bali the opportunity to work for 12 months at The Setai to gain experience in an international hotel environment. Having the students as part of our team has always a positive impact on the guest’s experience but on the overall culture and moral in the hotel.

What is your strategy behind high-profile influencer partnerships? Do you think they work?
While we take a more conservative approach when collaborating with influencers, we certainly recognize and take into consideration the role that social media plays in today’s society. We have had a great experience collaborating with influencers in the past through events such as our annual Styles Saves Swim show during Miami Swim Week, and we believe that these partnerships can make a great impact on potential future guests.

You have a reputation for creating memorable experiences with your Asian Night Bazaar and Father’s Day Jazz brunch, for example. How do you go about programming an unforgettable stay?
Today’s global traveler is given so many options in the luxury category so we believe that a luxury experience goes far beyond top service and product. At The Setai, we want to enhance our guests’ stay with a well-balanced program with options such as complimentary beach yoga, vibrant weekend entertainment through our Asian Night Bazaar or our popular Sunday’s Jazz Brunch. Ideas to our programing are often discussed in spontaneous brainstorming sessions with our management team which allows us to think outside the box and creatively develop our offerings further.