Hotelier Spotlight: Lotte Hotel Seattle's director of F&B

As director of food and beverage at the Lotte Hotel Seattle, Cherry Tsui gets to not only balance her training in hospitality management with her experience in restaurants, but also to connect her roots in Asia with her new home on the West Coast. 

Finding a Niche

Tsui studied hospitality management at the DCT University Center in Switzerland. “A lot of students who are into hospitality and tourism management go to study there,” she noted. Graduating in the early days of the new millennium, she had options about where she could go to continue her education hands-on. “When you're young, you want to pick somewhere where you can also explore life,” she said. She came to Florida, taking a job on the opening team of Daniel Boulud’s Cafe Boulud in West Palm Beach as a reservation supervisor. The restaurant was part of the Brazilian Court Hotel, and Tsui found her niche at the intersection of hospitality and F&B. 

“That was really the time that I decided I wanted to build my career in food and beverage and the restaurant business,” Tsui recalled of her time in Florida. “It really shaped what I wanted to do and what I wanted to be. I wanted to stay [in] luxury restaurants and hotels.” 

Luxury restaurants, Tsui said, have a unique character. “They're not just good. They're very, very detailed, and the amount of time they put into looking at the dishes and planning the menu to executing the whole service is something that is hard to describe—but it's really, really detailed.” 

Crossing Oceans

Cherry Tsui
Cherry Tsui (Lotte Hotel Seattle)

After a year, she moved on to Miami’s Setai Hotel as an assistant F&B manager, and then returned to her hometown as assistant restaurant manager at Spoon by Alain Ducasse at the InterContinental Hong Kong. Remaining in Asia, she oversaw restaurants at the Ritz Carlton Guangzhou, China, and The Upper House in Hong Kong before joining the East Hotel Hong Kong as restaurant and bar operations manager and then the Renaissance Harbour View Hotel in the same city as assistant director of beverage and food. 

Tsui spent three years as F&B manager for Hong Kong-based The Peninsula Hotels and another year as director of F&B at the Conrad Hong Kong. By this point, she had been working in Asia for 13 years and was ready for something different. Much as she had returned to her hometown of Hong Kong in 2005, this time her husband—also a chef—returned to his hometown of Seattle, and Tsui found a new role in a different industry in her new home. 

She joined the Holland America Line as corporate manager restaurant operations, overseeing 17 ships in the fleet. “And each of the ships, depending on the size, had five to 11 different outlets,” she recalled. The position involved much more remote planning and logistics whereas working in a restaurant itself involved working next to lots of people on the staff and dealing directly with the customers, she said.

Unfortunately, Tsui joined Holland America in the middle of 2019, and just a few months later, the cruise industry was grounded and she was looking for the next opportunity. 


Tsui was familiar with the South Korea-based Lotte Hotels & Resorts from her years in Asia, and when she learned that the brand was opening a hotel in a historic Seattle building, the opportunity was too good to pass up. She joined the team in May 2021 and has spent the time since overseeing all of the hotel’s F&B business, handling operations for the Charlotte Restaurant & Lounge as well as weddings, catering and banquets.

Overseeing restaurants in hotels has some notable differences from operating a standalone restaurant, Tsui said. Not only does the management team have to create the right experience for diners who have specifically sought out that restaurant, they have to accommodate guests from the hotel who don’t want to have to go anywhere else and just want the basics. “When you're trying to work with chefs, you need to know what they think,” she said. “They set the expectation and you need to be able to work together with them.” 

Her position gives Tsui a chance to both collaborate with a team and show off her own skills. “I'm also able to come up with lots of different ideas and promotions that we can do with our marketing team here,” she said. “We really try to bring a little bit, a small piece, of Asian hospitality to Seattle.” 

Cherry Tsui’s…


While Tsui was traveling around the world and building her career, she was also building her family. As a wife and a mother of two, she said she is “constantly juggling” her responsibilities.


“I learned to work hard but I also learned to prioritize my personal life and time. People always say they don't have time to do certain things. I do believe … you have to make time for it, for the things that you think matter.” 

Advice for F&B directors: 

“We call it the food and beverage business, but it is a people business. In the end, your day job is about working with people, whether they are different departments, your suppliers, your guests [or] your staff.”  

Three Secrets to Success

Be Strategic: “Have a structure in your department and understand what works in your department and what are the things that need constant improvement.”

Be Committed: “You are the person who set the tone and the level of luxury. If you're not committed to what you're doing, your team will see it.”

Be Humble: “We work with a lot of different people from different backgrounds coming from different experiences. I think being humble, you’ll be able to see the values of different suggestions, and then you can get the best outcome.” 

Lotte Hotel Seattle

Owner: Lotte Hotels & Resorts | Operator: Lotte Hotels & Resorts | Rooms: 189 | Opening date: September 2020