Maximum mindset: Huber on hospitality, business

Maximum mindset: Huber on hospitality, business

While the rest of the world welcomes the winding down of a busy workweek on Fridays, Max Huber gears up for action. He devotes his Saturdays to maintaining fitness, engaging in runs on the hills of Busay. It’s a physically demanding routine, yet, like any effective workout, there’s nothing like being in peak condition. It’s like standing on top of the world — or quite literally in this case, 900 feet above sea level.

It’s this very mindset of constant engagement that makes up the core of how Marco Polo Plaza Cebu general manager Max Huber does business.

“You cannot just wait until business comes. You have to make the business come to you,“ he shared during an interview.


When he isn’t occupied with work or exercise, the Swiss-German hotelier might be out on a quest for Cebu’s finest crispy pata. It’s this blend of adrenaline and flavor that brings him back to simpler times.

“My biggest dream was to become a car mechanic,” recalled Huber. “As a boy, becoming a car mechanic was my dream job.” Before turning 13, however, he had changed his mind after realizing how much joy his mother’s cooking brought him and everyone else around the table.

“After my mother made the food, everybody was happy,” Huber said. “I changed my mind. I wanted to be a cook. I wanted to cook for people.”

He learned more about the culinary arts during his younger years, eventually setting his sights overseas. “My dream was always Asia,” said Huber, thanks to the very first book he received one Christmas time, which covered everything about China.

“The world is the future. I was open to going anywhere in the world.”

Huber then set out on a career path that took him across continents in the span of 40 years.


Huber started working in kitchens in 1983. In 1987, he left Switzerland for South Africa. He would then be based in Japan in the early ’90s, which he eventually left for the allure of Southeast Asia, more specifically, Thailand in 1997 (where he also met the love of his life, Sukanya Kaveeuth, whom he married in 2007).

Since then, Huber has called Thailand home — a good 2,500 kilometers away from his office in Cebu City.

“I’m a chef by trade,” Huber shared, alluding to how he’s learned to be critical of details and good taste. It was in Thailand when Huber led a five-star ultra luxury hotel as its executive chef.

In 2006, he did what he describes as the “best thing he has done” for his career. Huber moved out of the kitchen and would move to the front end of operations, becoming the hotel’s food and beverage director.

“Let’s say, you’re in the kitchen and you’re running out of steak, and the chef just tells the service, ‘I don’t have steak.’ But you as the service have to tell the guest, ‘We don’t have steak’ — that’s a headache. That’s a challenge. Honestly, I learned a lot. There is a customer need and you have to service them. It’s easy to say no, but what can you do to deliver the service anyway? Are you recommending something?”

“Now for me, the word ‘no’ does not exist anymore in my business... I get super upset when somebody tells me no. You have to give options. You have to do something. I have a customer in front of me and he needs service.”

Embracing this newfound calling, Huber would work in China, then Vietnam before returning home to Bangkok, Thailand in 2016 — but now as director of operations.


Huber was named Marco Polo Plaza Cebu general manager in 2023. As for the property, he said that its strategic location is key. “It’s an iconic place,” he said. “Marco Polo is an oasis in the city.”

He attributed his experience in the kitchen as a major influence on how he thinks as a GM but in a way, also different.

“In the kitchen, you have one team. A chef tries to teach everyone the same way of thinking. With a hotel, everybody’s diverse. It’s a different business. You really need to understand the needs of each department. It’s not like in the kitchen where the ultimate goal is making good food. Here, I have to make good food, I have to give good service, people have to be welcomed, the laundry has to work,” explained Huber.

Huber also expounded on the prime importance of revenue and asking the right questions.

“How to create revenue? Where revenue comes from? What is your spending?” he enumerated. “People always think, ‘Oh, the business is very good. You make millions and millions.’ But how much is left in the end? If nothing is left, you cannot grow.”

The general manager also revealed how the property leans on in-house events as one of its pillars, recalling how banquets were filled “every single day” in December 2023.

“I have certain things I strictly follow, and certain things I’m ready to be a little bit more open to accepting. Anything related to money, it’s strictly followed. Anything about income, revenue, expenses, I’m very strict on this. I’ve trained myself to see numbers.”

The life of a GM has its share of ups and downs. Huber calls Bangkok his home, and therefore, is away from half of his heart most of the time. “I’m lucky my wife understands,” he said. So on his days off, he takes the evening flight to Bangkok.

Huber has come a long way since fiddling with toy cars and working the heat of the kitchen. He is now in the driver’s seat, steering a globally recognized property into an exciting future.

“The moment you’re going into hospitality, go by heart. Be sure to give 110 percent,” added Max.


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