The work stories that hotel executive Patrick Fiat tells are as colourful as the signature bow ties he wears to the office each day.

Mr Fiat, general manager of Royal Plaza on Scotts, says his adventures all over the world are the perks of being in the industry.

"That's why I chose the hotel industry, because I knew it would help me to travel as well, and I love meeting people from different places and civilisations," he says in French-accented English.

The French national recalls having to open a hotel in Bali in just two weeks in 1991, for instance.

"The owners built a hotel on Bali, when it was still a very undeveloped, beautiful island.

"(Then Indonesian President) Suharto's son was coming from Jakarta with all his friends to spend one week there and we had to open the place in time for their arrival."

The owners said if it was opened in two weeks, in time for the guests - where 50 rooms had to be ready - the hotel chain Mr Fiat worked for would get the contract to run the hotel.

Mr Fiat, now 62, was told that he was the only person who could do it and had to take the assignment, no matter what.

"I loved the challenge, why not? When I arrived, there were 100 people sitting on the grass with no shoes or topless. They were from the villages around the hotel and the relatives of the owners."

Not only did he have to train these villagers, but he also had to buy all the equipment the hotel needed and they were all in "different colours and shapes".

Mr Fiat's vast experience was probably one of the reasons he was recently crowned Hotelier of the Year for 2014 by the Preferred Hotel Group (PHG).

He was selected from more than 650 general managers of PHG's hotel members around the world.

His journey to becoming a top hotelier started early. By the time he was 20, he had been to about 20 countries in regions including South America and Asia.

"I wanted to work, but overseas. I've always wanted to leave France and travel around the world. My dad was working for the airline Pan Am, so I had all these free tickets," he says.

Mr Fiat was also in Singapore in 1971 on one of his expeditions.

At 21, wanderlust inspired him to pack his bags after completing his army stint, and to leave France with a one-way ticket and blessings from his father.

He chose Teheran, the capital of Iran, because it was "not too far and, at that time, it was a very big country in business". This was in the early 1970s before the Islamic revolution there.

"I didn't have a job, so I started knocking on doors. It took me three weeks to find a job with InterContinental. From there, you can say the rest is history."

The globetrotter was first drawn to Asia because of the praises his colleagues sang of Manila.

But his first stop was at the Mandarin Oriental in Jakarta when it opened in 1978.

He was a restaurant manager, and his first guest was the man who had given him his very first job in Teheran.

"He asked what I was doing there and that I should stay with InterCon, but I said they didn't have anything for me (in Manila). He said: 'Any time you want to go, just tell me.'"

Six months later, he got his wish and went to work in Manila.

Mr Fiat has worked in various departments, such as food and beverage, and sales and marketing, which he says have all been highlights of his career.

He says that in the hotel industry, roles are so specialised that it is difficult to leave, but he has been given opportunities to do so.

From 1986 to 1989, he was in Hong Kong doing marketing.

"Holiday Inn asked me to join them in Hong Kong to work in doing the marketing for all Asia, and that was the biggest break for me.

"From product-oriented, task-oriented work, I got to see the big picture of marketing, product development and how to promote the product."

Hiccups in the job are inevitable, such as unrest in Jakarta over Suharto's rule in 1998, which he witnessed on the streets.

But one incident stood out.

He was working in Phuket from 1989 to 1991, and the Holiday Inn Resort Phuket had something of a mini-zoo on the premises.

One day, a baby elephant ran into a lift, and stamped on a child's foot.

"We apologised and sent the parents all the ice cream and chocolate we had, and 'fired' the elephant".

The child's parents came to see him later, with their crying child, and he feared they were going to sue the company.

But it turned out that the child wanted the elephant to stay and the parents were fine with it.

His job has also seen him collect a book full of autographs of famous people he has met, taken him on board the now-discontinued Concorde supersonic airliner, and worked at an altitude of 3,500m above sea level in Tibet.

Multiple experiences are all in a day's work for Mr Fiat, who also holds another title - as chief experience officer - at the Royal Plaza on Scotts, which he joined in 1998.

"I'm not the only experience officer at the hotel. If you check the business cards of all our staff, we are all experience officers.

"Being in the hotel industry, we are creating an experience. It's not enough to deal with people in a normal way anymore."

This is just one of his many ideas to inject passion and innovation into the hotel, industry and staff.

Mr Fiat, who has a 21-year-old daughter studying in the United States, says he never imagined staying in Singapore for 16 years.

"I came from a career of 25 years with big hotel chains and it was very comfortable."

It was a difficult decision to move on to an independent hotel, Royal Plaza on Scotts, "but it worked very well. After 16 years, the hotel is very well known in Singapore".