Michael Nourbatlian is a natural born entrepreneur who built his unique career on the basis of his lifelong passions: Travel, Luxury and Hospitality. Such as a star chef concocting his recipes away from the spotlight, Michael the adventurer and travel-lover revisited the concepts of Luxury Marketing to propel them today into our new ultra-connected universe.
With his degree in Political Sciences (AUB) in his pocket, Michael left Lebanon for Thailand where he worked for 8 years in the Marketing Division of the Mandarin Oriental group until reaching the top position of Digital Marketing director for the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok.
Today, he joins “Infinite Luxury” a high-end company that provides its clients with all the benefits of Ultra luxury signature lifestyle. Such as Katarocks in Phuket where 39 pool villas overlook the paradise coast. This project is inspired by the latest design trends and the world’s most luxurious super-yachts. Katarocks recently won multiple awards including the “Best Apartments of the world” Award by the “International Property Awards” based in London. Then also the “Best Deluxe Boutique Spa in Asia 2015″.
Michael just passed by Beirut to relax and meet-up with his family and closest friends before setting sail towards his new & exciting projects. We had a beautiful opportunity to sit for a smooth talk about the ingredients of his success and his career philosophy as part of his continuous personal development journey.
Why did you chose Thailand?
I spent much of my early childhood there because my father was stationed in Bangkok as the Ambassador of Lebanon. So I have always kept a very nice memory of those times. After my return to Lebanon in the year 2000 to finish my studies at the Collège Notre-Dame de Jamhour, I discovered the contrast and richness that united Lebanon and Thailand.
Lebanon for example is constantly in effervescence compared to Thailand where the atmosphere is closer to the Zen culture despite the huge amounts of activities available. Because I was looking for an adventure and a liberal career, I naturally thought of Thailand which was and still is my childhood love.
I had several opportunities across Europe, in Spain, England and France yet I kept listening to my natural curiosity (laughs).
Once back to Thailand you saw it again through the eyes of an adult, what did you especially enjoy there?
Most and foremost the authenticity of smiles and the warmth of people. Thais have a true sense of hospitality. In some countries of the West, the professionalism of the services offered is at the highest level. Still, it is often the genuine human contact that gives guests a unique long-lasting memory.
Starting with a 6-months internship, you quickly chose to stay and rose to the position of Director of Digital Marketing for the Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok. How did this unfold ?
Indeed, during my internship I fell in love with this domain. I journeyed through Phuket, Koh-Samui and the paradise islands of Southeast Asia. Landscapes were filled with coconut trees and immaculate horizons.
Often I had to rub my eyes to take a step back and realize the chance I had to work there. Daily activity is sometimes so challenging that we tend to forget how lucky we are. So it helped me to reconnect with living the present, fully.
We just celebrated 140th Anniversary of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Bangkok; which is the first hotel in Thailand and the oldest in Southeast Asia. It literally was the event of the year in Bangkok with visits by celebrities and VIP festivities.
What was your greatest challenge there ?
It was to manage teams who were used to a seasonal way of life and transition together towards a regular annual rhythm. This allowed me to re-evaluate my approach and enrich me internally using what we call in the West ‘slow life’. It is more ecological, balanced and sustainable on the long-term.
“To be and to last” if you wish.
Your most beautiful memory ?
As a child I spent lot of time with my family at the Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok where we were weekly customers. It was an honor to return there 20 years later to work on projects where I could bring my personal vision.
Also, I discovered a more healthy, nature and ecology-oriented lifestyle. Multiculturalism, Buddhism as well and holistic lifestyles oriented towards more respect for animals and Humanity.
What relaxes and recharges you?
There’s nothing like a Yoga session overlooking the ocean after a busy day. Meditation also balances the frenetic pace of the city that surrounds us during the famous Bangkok nights. In everything, I search for balance.
Does music play an important role?
Of course, I like to listen to “chill-out music” with the albums of DJ Ravin & Buddha bar. Also, I can switch to Deep House beats which motivate me highly during my sessions at the gym.
Today how’s your life as a full-time entrepreneur?
Despite the great offer I had with the group, I identified a big potential in Ultra-luxury so I seized this opportunity. This reminds me of a quote my friend once told me: “I prefer to be an essential piece in a unique craftsman’s clockwork rather a small clock in a huge mechanism”.
Today, I’m happy to be in charge of the Marketing of “Infinite Luxury” as well as the Communication and Business Development aspects of our group. We are currently working to launch new projects in Thailand and also Europe.
What is your definition of Ultra – Luxury?
It is to offer to VIP customers who have already seen it all in large international hotel chains a new and unique experience based on full-customization. The design of our projects is pure innovation, which takes comfort to another level with a 360 and A to Z approach to Luxury.
For example, we also invest in personal tailor-made activities and one-to-one relationships with our distinguished guests.
For Art collectors, we offer private tours and visits in the Studios of Thai artists that are featured in the villas. For the fine gourmets’ we organize private ‘foodie’ trips to the markets in the morning to discover the secrets of the finest Tai ingredients. Private cooking sessions also follow with world-class chefs in the Afternoon.
What would your message be to the Lebanese youth today who are choosing this career path today?
Do not follow the typical path of such success as advertised in schools in the 1990s and 2000. Today, half of the Fortune 500 companies worldwide have either disappeared, been recycled or have merged to survive. The Business world has mutated dramatically. Therefore, always question the status quo. If you have an idea, a dream that makes you come alive, follow your vision and go for it!