Heaven on Earth? SHTM Alumnus Talks about his Career at Melco Resorts’ Macau City of Dreams
If working at a Melco Resorts & Entertainment property is a wish come true for a hospitality and tourism professional, then a management position at Melco’s Macau City of Dreams must be akin to being in heaven. We talked with Joao De Melo Pires, a 2022 alumnus from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s School of Hotel and Tourism Management, to learn more.
Q: Hello, Mr. De Melo Pires, and congratulations on your position as the Director of Wine for Melco Resorts & Entertainment’s Macau properties! Your situation sounds exciting, challenging, and rewarding. How long have you been at this property, and what does the position entail?
A: I have been with Melco since February 2015. This is a position that implies a commitment to all our properties with the primary responsibility of providing high-quality wine to encourage excellent guest satisfaction, motivating our team, and overseeing the wine purchasing and Projects and Logistics Departments, recruiting, education, marketing, wine events and last but not least to ensuring and maximizing profit.
Q: What added value do you bring to this exciting position?
A: I bring my solid European background at high-profile Michelin-starred restaurants (Gordon Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal, Alain Ducasse, to name a few) and international hotel brands (Four Seasons and Mandarin Oriental), where I’ve come to expect high-profile service standards. Traveling the whole wine world, I know the key players, winemakers, and business contacts well, and I can listen to our people and adapt to a new environment. Most importantly, my passion for this job makes the whole context a winner.
Q: Please tell us about your studies at the School of Hotel and Tourism Management (SHTM) of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. What degree did you earn, and how long did it take you to complete the program?
A: I earned a Master of Science (MSc) in International Wine Management and passed with Merit. As a part-time student, it took me three years.
Q: What was your favorite part of the program and why?
A: My favorite subjects are finance, marketing, and project research. The professors were of a high caliber, demanding but supportive, and very familiar with today’s stressful and challenging market. In addition, the facilities at SHTM are excellent and up to today’s standards.
Q: Tell us about your classmates—where did they come from, and what careers are they working in now?
A: Most colleagues are relatively young and talented students from across the globe, including mainland China, Hong Kong and international. Most are now performing in high-level positions in the hotel and wine industry. I was particularly surprised by the level, strong will, and desire of these young people to succeed in an area still relatively new in this part of the world. They are no doubt the future, and they are progressing very fast.
Q: Before enrolling at the school, what was your background?
A: I earned the Master Sommelier designation from the Court of Master Sommeliers in London.
Q: What do you think the future of the industry will bring?
A: The future is uncertain, and I think that is a good thing because where there’s uncertainty, there are choices that can potentially make a difference and be beneficial. Wine is a commodity; like food, it is a human emotional phenomenon. From this perspective is also fashionable and subject to time. What I mean is that what is true today might be very different in the future. I believe the world is tired of ABC (Anything but Cabernet or Chardonnay) and thirsty for new tastes, flavors, and palates.
Ancient producers and ancient winemaking will make a return, such as wines from Georgia that are already doing well, to mention only one. New grape varieties will emerge to differentiate the taste related to climate change, meaning they will have to adapt to areas susceptible to excessive weather extremes. Water scarcity will result in more environmentally friendly practices and advances in technology and wine packaging due to carbon emissions. Wines made with fewer chemicals are already a trend and will increase because sustainability is a non-turning back for the planet.
Alcohol is another issue, and health in particular; with the recent COVID pandemic, people are more sensitive than ever. As a result, lower-alcohol wines will be made and released in the market with a stronger and more successful commercial appeal. And finally, newcomers will stand out and have a significant effect. China, Japan and Brazil, to name just a few, are already here with huge potential to make wines with outstanding pedigrees.
Q: If you knew someone who—like you—was interested in going into wine hospitality, what advice would you give them?
A: Make sure this is your passion and what you want to do in your life. This miracle called life is a short passage, so ensure your priority is happiness. It is not easy to be successful in the wine world, but like everything, hard work pays off, eased by a sincere passion and commitment.
Thank you for your time and insights! Best wishes for the coming year.
Learn more about The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Schools of Hotel and Tourism Management. In 2022, SHTM was rated No. 1 in the world in the “Hospitality and Tourism Management” category according to ShanghaiRanking’s Global Ranking of Academic Subjects. In 2021/2022, they placed No. 1 globally in the “Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services” category in the University Ranking by Academic Performance. It has also ranked No. 1 in the world in the “Hospitality, Leisure, Sport & Tourism” subject area by the CWUR Rankings by Subject. The School represents excellence in the field, amply living up to its motto of “Leading Hospitality and Tourism.” See their full profile here.