24 Hours With Asilo’s Sanam Sippy
The festive season is busy for most of us but not half as busy as it is for Sanam Sippy, Director of Asilo, the rooftop restaurant and lounge at the St. Regis Mumbai. Boasting panoramic views of the city, Mediterranean cuisine, killer cocktails and décor that transports you to Santorini; it is no surprise that this is the busiest time for Asilo (and Sanam). Whether it’s catching up with colleagues for sunset cocktails or dinner with friends, Asilo is one of our favourite spots to spend a breezy evening. We spent 24 hours with Sanam leading up to Asilo’s famed White Christmas party to see what it’s like behind the scenes.
12pm: I land into Mumbai from Dubai where my parents live and head straight to Asilo. I try to escape the city every two months or so, to satisfy my passion for travel.
3pm: I get into Asilo and grab a quick bite before meeting with my events team to run through the night. Our White Christmas party is one of our biggest nights of the year so I need to make sure everything is perfect. We go through the décor set up, lighting, sound and the flow for the evening. We’ve had to start turning away people as we’re totally sold out so it’s a combination of excitement and nervousness at this point.
5pm: The team goes through a sound check and I meet with the DJ and percussionist for the night to decide on the vibe and tone we want to create. I then sit down with my chefs and beverage team to go through the special cocktail menu for the night along with a full food and drink tasting which is imperative before the start of any big night.
6pm: We’re only a few hours away! Everyday we do a full briefing with the entire staff where we go through the guest list, the set up, any special requests and of course the food and drink.
7pm: I head downstairs to the St. Regis gym to squeeze in a workout before getting ready for the night. I mix up my workouts and like to swim a few times a week while doing strength training and cardio sessions at least three times a week.
8pm: I run down to Jean Claude Biguine at Palladium to get a blow dry and touch up my nails. Another hidden cost of being in the hospitality space!
9pm: The party is finally starting! As much work and stress as there is before the event, walking into Asilo when it’s buzzing is electric every single time. I’ve built Asilo up from the ground and have been spearheading the brand since its inception. I have a very close connection with Asilo and it’s literally my baby. To see it looking so bright and beautiful is truly incredibly.
10am the next day: Last night was a complete success. We had 600 people in and everyone had a great time. Working in the hospitality space means your night can end anywhere between midnight and 3am which can eventually take its toll. I manage this by getting in regular workouts, lots of hydration and of course giving myself a break whenever possible. As taxing as it can be on your body, I started my career as a NYC investment banker where working 15 hours days was commonplace. I’m doing the same here but only having more fun! I finally pull myself out of bed, head over to La Folie Lab for my daily cup of coffee and go to the JSM Corporation office in Lower Parel.
12pm: Alongside the perceived glamour of the nightlife space, there is a lot of hard and very unglamorous work that takes place behind the scenes. The last few days of the month are often spent going over the monthly MIS and meeting with the finance team to budget top line numbers and cost items. There’s a whole level of detailing that goes into this basis daily revenue estimates (a function of events planned and party bookings), COGS (a function of contract negotiations with alcohol players, all of which are taking place this week for the year 2017 and of course availability of quality ingredients from various small and big suppliers) and finally R&M costs which are most unpredictable due to changing upkeep requirements at the venue. There’s a nuisance value to having big successful events, such as red wine drenched upholstery, torn sofas and broken glassware, but these aren’t costs that we can pass on to our valuable guests so we bear the costs and try to predict monthly damages as best as we can.
2pm: Considering everyone will be taking a few days off this time of year, I meet with my sales team to get an update and then work on a strategy for the following months. January is already closed but we figure out any events, parties or special bookings that we have coming up.
4pm: My eating habits are very erratic unfortunately, something I can hopefully change in the new year. I order in a salad from California Pizza Kitchen (another one of JSM’s key brands) and grab a few bites before my PR team comes in. We run through ideas for the new year and close down on a few. We’re planning a lot of very unique and interesting projects for 2017 so stay tuned!
6pm: Finally, my last meeting of the day. I meet with HR to do a hiring review. The F&B industry is notorious for a high attrition rate and poaching from competitors. It makes me proud to say that most of the team has been with ASILO since pre-opening and has risen from base level staff to Supervisors and Managers, a direct result of the hard work, training and passion on the floor. However, there is always a bit of turnover that is unavoidable and regular meetings with HR help us routinely hire and train.
8pm: People assume that because I work at Asilo I don’t like dining anywhere else. This is totally false! I love trying out new restaurants and have been known to fly across the world for a meal. I have a friend in town from New York and want to take them to Masque. I love how Masque has redefined what it means to use Indian ingredients is non-traditional ways and I think that they’re doing a great job.
12am: As I curl up in bed, I go over my notes from the day and mentally make a to-do list for tomorrow. The F&B industry doesn’t wait for anyone and if you don’t keep up you could get left behind. Time to plan the New Year’s Party now!