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06 Feb 2024
Thinking differently in everything we do
Kristina Snaith-Lense, General Manager of The Upper House, tells us all about her passion for hospitality, and how her team deliver the outstanding guest experience that has ranked the hotel amongst the top five in the world.

What initially drew you to the hospitality industry?
My late grandfather was pivotal. He used to own a men’s tailoring shop in the old Hilton Hotel. My siblings and I would spend time with him there over the weekends and learn about service culture. He was such a kind person who took genuine interest in people, and that made a huge impact on me. 

You joined The Upper House's Guest Experience Team in 2012. How did that experience shape you as the hotelier you are today?
I love every aspect of the guest experience. We talk about the House Collective being "houses", not "hotels", and that's what it's all about. How do we make our guests feel at home and taken care of? At Swire Hotels, we are "thinking differently" in everything we do, and we take pride in delivering an unscripted guest experience.
What does your typical day look like?
Every day is different! I'm a mum of three boys – one, three, and five years old – so my day starts early. I get up at 6 am, get the kids off to school, go for a trail run, and then get to work by about 8:30 am.
We have our morning management meeting at 9:30 am which we often kickstart with everyone sharing any good news in their lives, setting a positive tone, then we get into business. We spend a lot of time discussing how we can delight our guests right upon arrival.
I believe in leading by example, and I spend much time with my team in operations so everyone feels a strong sense of shared purpose and clear vision. I usually spend the rest of the day meeting with our guests and our partners, so I usually save administrative work for the end of the day.
The Upper House ranked 4th on the World’s 50 Best Hotels 2023 list. What sets the hotel apart? 
The award was such a huge surprise, like birthday and Christmas all rolled into one! It's a testament to the amazing people working here who make the magic happen. It goes back to the guest experience, the creative experiences we introduced throughout COVID-19, and how we've refreshed the hotel with our designer and architect, André Fu.

Kristina likes to be on the floor and spends the day meeting with guests, partners, and the team.

Can you tell us about some of those creative experiences?
In 2021, there were no signs of borders reopening. We had to be creative to serve a local market, so I convinced the team to ride with me on a few ideas. Wellness had become top-of-mind. To answer that, we came up with the idea of converting a guest room into a wellness studio that features workout programmes. Following its success, we then launched a series of permanent wellness residencies, including an in-house chiropractor, and an aesthetician doing laser facial therapy. 
When you get time alone, how do you like to spend it?
Every day, I carve out an hour for myself between getting my boys off to school and going to work. We live by the start of some trails, so I can be outside running in minutes. It's refreshing and grounding. I also love doing Family Form [an intense, body-sculpting workout session also offered by The Upper House], sound healing, reiki, and meditation.
Any advice for the next generation of hospitality professionals?
This is the best industry in the world! It's hard work, and there will be moments when you question yourself on the journey, but it's worth it. Keep going, focus on the positive side, and lean into what's going well.