Abigail Tan is not your average hotelier, because apart from being born into a renowned hospitality family and having deep roots and passion for the industry, in her spare time you may find her flying a helicopter, playing the electric guitar, boxing at 6am, or doing some form of sport, riding a motorcycle, completing Tough Mudder, or most likely, eating.
Her youth, energy, and adventurous nature are what drive the uniqueness of the brand and company culture, as she believes that passion and excitement has to live in everything that we do, especially our work. Passion has to be nurtured, and hospitality needs to be a way of life and not simply a job. As she would put it, passion for people – and her team are her passion.
Growing up in Penang, Malaysia, she gained exposure to the hotel and real estate industry at a very young age – her grandfather and his brother ran one of Malaysia’s real estate dynasties, and her father is now the managing director of the publicly listed IGB Corporation, the parent company for St Giles which owns fourteen hotels worldwide and over 6000 rooms globally under separate brands.
Abigail entered the family business during summer breaks from school as an apprentice and officially joined the St Giles team as Director of Corporate Affairs and Strategic Investments in 2009, involved with the purchase of two New York properties and assisting with negotiations and transition preparations. In 2018, she became St Giles Hotels’ CEO of UK, Europe and North America.
In this role, Abigail oversees the New York property, The Tuscany – A St Giles Signature Hotel, as well as the London hotels, St Giles Heathrow and St Giles London; and, she is also responsible for sourcing new acquisition and management opportunities and is the driving force behind the development of St Giles’ brand and culture.
Hotels with a Heart, a philanthropic initiative which is the brainchild of Abigail, was born out of the desire for St Giles Hotels to not just be a portfolio of hotels in cities but to be a collection of people, faces, and lives, and having a positive impact on the communities surrounding the properties. Hotels with a Heart is not just a CSR program on the side, it lies at the core of the brand. Through fundraising efforts that the staff personally get involved in participating and organizing, the initiative raises funds primarily for underprivileged children and education.
Abigail actively serves on the boards of a few international organisations that are aimed at positively impacting the lives of women and also engaging communities. She serves on the senior committee of Women in Hotels (WiH), a not-for-profit organisation founded in April 2020 to drive parity across the sector. WiH members work across the sector to build, fund, operate and/or advise hotels to cultivate discussions from different viewpoints and experiences. She also sits on the senior advisory board of the Women of the Future Awards which provides a platform to showcase regional emerging leaders – those who are not afraid to question stereotypes, break boundaries and drive positive change with courage, hard work and determination. This initiative is an integral part of the vision to build a global, collaborative network of women to encourage, motivate and provide role models to inspire and strengthen the female talent pipeline; and, while in the process, create a global community of supportive and collaborative women.
Abigail holds an undergraduate degree in business management, and a Masters degree with Distinction in international management and innovation from the University of Exeter.