79-year-old doorman among record 86 hotel workers recognised for excellence

Mr Mohamed Taspir Ahmad, 79, a doorman at the Mandarin Oriental Singapore, opens vehicle doors for guests who arrive at the hotel.
Mr Mohamed Taspir Ahmad, 79, a doorman at the Mandarin Oriental Singapore, opens vehicle doors for guests who arrive at the hotel.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - At 79, Mr Mohamed Taspir Ahmad is one of Mandarin Oriental Singapore's oldest employees.

But the sprightly doorman of 12 years has no problem keeping on his feet for nearly 10 hours a day.

"You meet all sorts of people and forget the time so it's not tiring. Greeting guests makes me happy, especially seeing regulars," said Mr Taspir, who was 66 when he first joined the hotel as a housekeeper after retiring from odd-job work.

His toothy grin is a familiar sight to visitors to the Marina Bay area hotel, where he is known to go the extra mile by reuniting lost mobile phones with hotel guests and providing joggers with towels and water on their return.

Mr Taspir was among 86 hotel workers recognised by the industry on Thursday (July 19). The Singapore Hotel Association, together with the Food, Drinks & Allied Workers Union and the Employment and Employability Institute gave out the Employee of the Year awards at a ceremony at the NTUC Centre in Marina Boulevard.

Hotels had each been invited to nominate one employee who showed exemplary performance last year, and this year's ceremony attracted a record number.

Speaking at the event, union president Julie Cheong noted that the hotel industry has been become more reliant on time-saving technology, from delivery robots to automated check-in counters.

But "if there is something that technology cannot yet replace, it has to be the human touch that is exemplified by our award winners here today," she said.

Holland-Bukit Timah GRC MP Liang Eng Hwa, who gave out the awards, also announced the creation of an advisory committee to improve human resource practices and attract and retain local talent in the industry.

Ms Ng Li Ting, a club officer at The Regent Singapore who oversees areas such as food and beverage operations, was among the award's younger winners.

In her previous role as concierge, Ms Ng, 25, once spent hours putting together an itinerary for a weekend trip to Malaysia for a visiting American tourist, even though it was outside her job scope.

Apart from doing research, she made recommendations based on her own travels, such as the Jonker Street night market in Malacca, and helped to make flight and hotel bookings.

"You have to be resourceful; you never know what's going to happen in this job. But it is fulfilling, which is why I love it so much," she said.