Mark de Leeuwerk
- General Manager
- Park Hyatt Kyoto
Hometown: The Hague, The Netherlands
Number of years in Japan (cumulative): 4 (as of January 2019)
Before moving here, my wife and I visited Japan only once on holiday. We were living in Bangkok at the time, and were amazed by everything Japan had to offer; the friendly people, the beautiful scenery, the great food, I could go on. We agreed that this would definitely be a place we would want to experience in more depth and thankfully the opportunity to move to Tokyo came up.
I do believe that if you are honest, hard-working and humble, you will get what you deserve. The concept of karma is something I can relate to, the idea of cause and effect in which your behavior changes your future. In your actions and interactions, I believe you should treat people like you wish to be treated, which comes down to respect, care and understanding.
I am most proud of the moments where I have truly made a difference, whether in the life of a team member, or on a particular occasion or stay for a guest. We receive lots of feedback in hotels, but when people say you have genuinely impacted their lives in a positive way, or created a moment they will never forget, this makes me very proud.
I entered the hospitality business to connect with people, understand different cultures, travel and see the world. Throughout my career I have connected with countless people from all over, tried to understand the local culture and customs, learning a lot in the process. This is no different in Japan. My goal is to continue this approach, to learn and be open-minded, care for people and enjoy the journey.
The first small piece of advice I give people new to Japan is to listen more and talk less, especially in the beginning. Working and living in Japan requires you to take time to adjust and settle in. Be considerate of the unique culture and customs by observing and listening before you speak. The second is to ask a lot of questions, especially why things are the way they are. I love to explore new places, and always ask people to recommend their favorite spots. There is so much to enjoy in this beautiful country if you go out and explore, connect with the local people and try to visit places off the beaten track. My best experiences in Japan were not recommended in the usual guidebooks, but rather shared with me by the people that knew about them.