Around the World Adventures of Hotel Manager David Batchelor

The hotelier talks about moving home, tennis dates, and, poor guy, getting stranded in Paris.

Managing Director, Raffles and Fairmont Makati.

You returned to Manila after eight years away. What was it like being back?
Great… it’s like we never left. Very much like being back home.

And it's not an assignment. You moved home on your own.
I decided to come back to start my own hotel consultancy business specializing in the Philippines and Southeast Asia. We had been back for a couple of months when I was approached to run Fairmont/Raffles.

The Raffles is such a storied brand. What stories do you hope to tell in Manila?
The Raffles in Singapore has always been one of my favorite hotels in the world. I hope to continue the tradition, heritage, and reputation of the Raffles and Fairmont Hotel brands here in Manila by creating our own stories, our own history.

We hear that you're a racing fan. How did you get into it?
As a young boy, my father would take me to racing car events in South Australia. I found the sound of racing cars and the sensation of speed quite exhilarating! In 1980 my parents brought me to Monaco for the Formula 1 Grand Prix. That experience made a big impression on me and I have been a big fan ever since, attending many races over the years in Monaco, Australia, Malaysia, and China.

What's your dream car?
Aston Martin DB9.

What other passions do you have outside of work?
I’m a keen Australian Rules football supporter and passionately follow the progress of my team, Carlton, that I have been supporting for over 45 years. I would say that sport is my biggest passion! I also follow the Australian cricket and rugby teams. I also like to go for long walks especially when I’m visiting a new city. I’m an avid reader and I also love to watch movies at home with my wife and children.


David in his own suit and Hermès tie at the presidential suite of the Raffles Hotel Makati.

How did your love story love story with your wife Marilu develop?
We met while both working at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Sydney. I would ask her if she wanted to play tennis with me as I knew she was an avid tennis player and she wouldn’t say no to an invitation of tennis! The rest is history. 

How do you bond with your boys, James and William?
We play and watch sports together, eat out, watch movies, travel. Every year we do a boys weekend trip to Melbourne and watch Carlton play at the Melbourne Cricket ground. With a crowd of over 70,000 spectators, it is a great experience to enjoy together. Even if they lose!

Are they excited about living in Manila?
They love it here. They have a lot of family and great childhood friends. Manila is such a warm and welcoming place. It’s hard not to be happy here.

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Your idea of a perfect day?
Start off with breakfast with my wife and sons at one of my favorites—Alain Ducasse’s restaurant at the Plaza Athénée in Paris, then fly to Monaco for the Grand Prix.

Where do you usually go on holiday?
Australia to be with family. Hong Kong to catch up with old friends and revisit our favorite restaurants and shops. Beaches around the Philippines.

Piece of clothing that's a style staple?
An Hermès tie.

Books you're currently reading?
John Le Carre’s A Delicate Truth, and an autobiography by Ricky Ponting, a former Australian cricket captain.

Left: With wife, Marilu. Right: With sons James and William watching an F1 race in 2012. 

Most memorable trip?
I’ve had many! But one, which stands out, is the time I was stranded in Paris for five days because of the volcanic ash cloud that grounded all air travel in Europe in 2010. If there was a city to ever be stranded in, it would be hard to find a better one than Paris! I had a lot of time to explore the city and discover new treasures.


What would people be most surprised to find out about you?
I am terrified of snakes.

Comfort food? Does the hotel chef make it?
We do a lot of cooking ourselves at home. I like to cook when I have time. Some of my favorites include a good ol’ Aussie barbecue, coq au vin, and rack of lamb.

Favorite drinks?
Gin and tonic, Coopers Ale, and Champagne.

Complete this sentence: I like my job, but I'd rather be...
On a yacht in the French Riviera with my family.

This story was originally published in the June 2014 issue of Town&Country.

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Jacs T. Sampayan
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