Weekly Local Biography

  Nick Bauer

Nick Bauer simply exudes confidence. Armed with an excellent education and raised as a world citizen, he is the new general manager of the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel. Although his mother is Thai and he was born in Bangkok, his German father’s job with Dow Chemicals kept the family on the move. They left Bangkok when he was quite young, and he spent his growing up years traveling with the family. He says he acquired a taste for travel, and, of course, lived in hotels from time to time. It was good preparation for his profession.

From Bangkok the family moved to Germany, but it was when they moved to Hong Kong that Nick first encountered a truly cosmopolitan environment. Different kinds of people and cultures, varying ideas and opinions were stimulating. His entrepreneurial spirit flourished. He worked as a tour guide, taught tennis, and did a little modeling. He even had parts in a few movies, and that inspired him to look closely at fashion design as a career option. He is sitting before me in an immaculately tailored suit, and I can envision such a career for him.

His father encouraged him to study engineering, but that wasn’t for Nick. Some of his friends were going into the hotel management business, and they urged him to pursue that line of work. So Nick went off to Europe and learned the basics of cooking and serving tables. Then he applied to the Centre International de Glion in Switzerland, a world-class hotel management school, and was accepted. As his class neared graduation, industry professionals came to the school to recruit graduates for their companies. Nick was offered a position with a Hong Kong company as a management trainee. As with many smoothly planned transitions, this one had a few bumps. He says he went from trainee to trainer very quickly. The company sent him to China to a huge hotel complex, where he trained the staff of eighteen food and beverage outlets. Then he went to another property in China. This time he was the manager at the fine dining outlet, but the reality is that he was again a trainer. He studied and trained, studied and trained. The property had almost closed after the events of Tiananmen Square, and his job was to reopen the fine dining outlet in only thirty days. It was a test of both speed and endurance, but he succeeded.

Despite his successes, not everything was good for Nick in China. Like many Chinese properties, the hotel was heated by charcoal, and the charcoal dust made him quite ill. He developed asthmatic bronchitis, and had to take a leave of absence from work. Away from the charcoal dust, he gradually improved. But the company insisted that his job was in China, so Nick chose his health and left that company. He was 24 years old and already had a wealth of food and beverage experience.

He visited his parents, who were vacationing in Thailand. As often is the case in life, one contact led to another and before he knew it he was being interviewed in Phuket. As he remembers it, he was having dessert on the beautiful beach and a contract was served up with coffee. Nick was soon living in Thailand for the first time since he was four years old. One job also led to another for this young man who was quickly climbing the career ladder. He soon moved to Koh Samui. This was in the early days of Koh Samui’s development, and keeping adequate food and supplies to run a quality hotel on the island was a challenge. One week there was no butter; the next week, no toilet tissue. But the challenge was met with a lot of work and ingenuity. He went to Bangkok, and back again to Phuket. Then he had a truly unique opportunity.

The Asian Development Bank was holding a meeting in Chiang Mai. A friend telephoned him. Would he be interested in a short-term contract to be the food and beverage manager at the site of the conference? Never one to turn down a challenge, Nick moved to Chiang Mai. The meeting was enormous. There were 35-40 events a day, and there were 20-hour workdays. Security was tight. There were demonstrations in the streets surrounding the hotel. His movement was so restricted because of the crowds that at one point he couldn’t cross the street to the hospital to have his aching back treated. But Nick thrives on challenge, and he was hooked on major events in the hotel business. He met his future wife, a businesswoman and a native of Chiang Mai.

He went to a conference in Germany and met the owner of the Royal Cliff Beach Resort who offered him the position of resident manager of the Royal Wing and Spa in Pattaya, a five star plus luxury hotel. Small and exclusive, with only 85 units, the property offers full butler service as well as a range of other luxuries. This was his first exposure to royalty and “the rich and famous”. He thrived on it.

Then came the offer from the Imperial Mae Ping, his first opportunity to be a general manager. He and his wife were happy to come home to Chiang Mai. He says that Chiang Mai has a bright future as a tourist center. He will be marketing the hotel for meetings, incentive travel, conventions and events, referred to as “MICE” by hoteliers. And he will be developing a new, hotel-based spa.

You probably know that his schedule doesn’t leave a lot of room for recreation. He says that he doesn’t often have time for golf or tennis anymore, and that exercise is likely to consist of working out at the gym. On weekends he’s likely to get on his motorcycle and ride the country roads outside of Chiang Mai with his wife. Like most two-career couples, they value their limited time together.

Welcome back to Chiang Mai, Nick.