Multicultural Experiences in the Hospitality Industry – Keen Tze Yap

As an ambitious and passionate hotelier from Malaysia, Keen Tze ventured abroad onto the shores of France, specifically in Bordeaux, to broaden his experience in the industry, learn the ins and outs of French hospitality culture and to, hopefully, add a new exciting language under his belt! Keen Tze enjoys challenges and is also an avid believer that learning is quintessential to self-improvement. With that in mind, Vatel Bordeaux couldn’t seem like a better opportunity for this student!

What is your background?

My career began as a concierge in a luxury hotel chain back home where I was always inspired to have the “spirit to serve.” After two years, I was then entrusted to lead the guest services team as the Guest Relations Supervisor and discovered that the industry is just teeming with opportunities for the passionate! That wasn’t the end of it though, I still had the burning desire and craved to learning more. Searching to and fro for what could offer the best “challenging and exciting learning experience in a young vibrant city”, Vatel Bordeaux seemed to offer the perfect opportunity for just that!

Why did you choose Vatel Bordeaux rather than the campus of Kuala Lumpur?

I immediately knew that the campus in Bordeaux was the right choice! As mentioned earlier I had a specific goal in mind when choosing the best location. When it comes to new challenges, I chose France specifically because I knew that the things I could learn here are endless! Think about it; new language, French culture, a different level of service standards. Also, it’s impossible to mention how Bordeaux is probably the most trendiest city in France right now with its perfect blend of history and modern touch. It’s also the right place to, of course, broaden your knowledge of wine and spirits!


Which part of Vatel attracts you most?

Here in Vatel Bordeaux, we have this unique “sandwich system” where we alternate between academic classes and professional practicals every two weeks. This gives me the opportunity to put what I’ve learnt in class to practice in a real life-working environment! Honestly, that’s what I loved best and is definitely a real CV enhancer when you can show you have had experience in every department in the industry. In my opinion, knowledge without practice is like an unpolished gem. And that’s why I felt this was the most reassuring choice I could have.

If you had to pick one where would you say would be your favorite place in Bordeaux?

Darwin. It’s one of Bordeaux’s lesser-known attractions. An eco-friendly workspace/park, allows ‘the creative’ to really show their talents through its various event spaces. Darwin offers several skate parks, beautiful graffiti work, an eco-friendly co-working space and much more! Honestly, it’s a breath of fresh air sometimes, when you’re out to look for something different.

What do you want to do after your studies? Are you thinking of working in France or heading back to Malaysia?

Good question! I have it planned for a while. Right after graduating next year, I plan to do an intensive crash course in the French language to really polish my speaking and writing skills, which I believe are quintessential if you want to work in France. And if I don’t end up being here, I feel that it’s still awesome to have French as a new language skill! Vatel Bordeaux currently offers french classes in my international course, but I want to achieve greater results with additional language classes.

Where do you see yourself in the future in your career?

Get ready for a cliché answer: I want to be the general manager of a high-end luxury chain hotel in a bustling city filled with tall skyscrapers. Think “Manhattan” or any other cities that are just as future-forward.

Can you share with us what Malaysian hospitality is all about?

When I think of Malaysian Hospitality, the key words in my mind are Warm, Genuine and Caring. Nothing feels better than a human touch when it comes to service – especially when you see a natural joyful smile. The future is ever growing, filled with technological advancements that some parts of the industry are slowly sieving out human interactions. But in all honesty, I believe a truly memorable hotel experience comes from what humans are able to intuitively exceed a guest’s stay experience!