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A Warm Welcome and a Fond Farewell

January 14, 2016
Friends, supporters and loyal guests of The Peninsula Tokyo gathered in the hotel’s Grand Ballroom on the evening of December 17 to bid a fond farewell to outgoing General Manager Malcolm Thompson upon his retirement and to extend a warm welcome to his successor, Sonja Vodusek, the former General Manager of The Peninsula Manila and a hotelier with deep international experience including two prior stints in Japan, where her career began.

In his opening remarks at the reception, Clement Kwok, CEO of The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels Ltd., thanked Thompson for the decade of service in which he guided The Peninsula Tokyo from pre-opening preparations to its 2007 launch and present position as a premier address in the capital. “We are proud of the hotel product that Malcolm has developed,” Kwok said, citing both last year’s number two ranking in Condé Nast Traveler’s Gold List for Japan as well as “the greatest accolade of all” – how loved Thompson is by his guests and his staff. “Sonja knows that she has big shoes to fill but we know that she will do a wonderful job,” Kwok continued, then closed his remarks stating “I am confident that, thanks to the great work done by Malcolm and with Sonja now carrying the baton, The Peninsula Tokyo will have a successful and exciting future.”
Following an address by Thompson, in which he alluded to his former career as an actor and regaled the audience with a tale that was at once characteristically self-deprecating and just a bit mischievous, Vodusek took to the podium. She greeted the audience in Japanese, drawing on her past experience working at two Tokyo luxury hotels for a total of three years, initially as a room attendant intern and later as a consulting director of rooms. “Japan keeps pulling me into her arms. It’s just lovely to be back,” she said. “My job is to continue Malcolm’s legacy by keeping The Peninsula Tokyo on the path that was set out for it from the very beginning – to be Tokyo’s premier address, to support and give back to our community and to ensure the hotel’s future for the next generation of guests and staff.” The first female General Manager of a Tokyo luxury hotel, Vodusek formally assumed her new role on December 15.

An indication of both managers’ wide respect in the local industry, many hoteliers from Tokyo properties were in attendance, raising a glass in honor of their accomplished colleagues and enjoying good conversation along with plentiful savory dishes featuring fresh produce from farms throughout Japan.