HUMANS OF HOSITALITY
Get ready to be Inspired by the people who shape our industry
Humans of Hospitality is capturing moving stories from within the hospitality and tourism industry, introducing exciting people and projects. Hospitality is colorful and what drives us all most are the people we meet and the stories we share. With this format, we seek to sneak behind the scenes and feature some of our favorite colleagues and their experiences. Get ready to meet awesome people and their work from a personal angle.
My name is Lluís Serra and I am currently Managing Director and CEO at EUHT StPOL – Sant Pol School of Hospitality and Culinary Management in Barcelona and President of EUHOFA International. I started my formal career in hospitality in the US. In fact, I was raised in a touristic area by the beach in the Barcelona region, and since I was a teenager, I did summer jobs in nearby hotels, gathering experience in operations. When I turned 17, I was admitted to Cornel University’s School of Hotel Administration in New York, at the time, the best university in hospitality in the world, while hotel schools in Europe did not offer bachelor accreditation yet. In the US I had the chance to work in two beautiful boutique hotels. It was in the 90s and by then, the following
Hello everybody, I am Claudie Ravel. I founded the commercial company Guayapi 33 years ago when I was pregnant and this is my SMACK story.
Originally I am a jurist, and I worked as such for 12 years before building the Guayapi company in Paris. I was working in the management of a well know garments company, and I was in charge of the global license as well as the communication fields of the company. I decided to open my own business after I became pregnant. I wanted to focus on my own culture and education as that was significant to me. My mother educated me about the products in homeopathy and plants in our own garden, and my father taught us about diversity of native cultures all over the world. That’s how Guayapi Paris was founded in 1990.
Multi-Property Director of Sales - Marriott Downtown Abu Dhabi and Marriott Executive Apartments Downtown Abu Dhabi
“My name is Lars Heesbeen and I’m originally from the Netherlands. I’m currently working as the Multi-Property Director of Sales at the Abu Dhabi edition, the Marriott Hotel Downtown Abu Dhabi, and the Marriott Executive Apartments Abu Dhabi, and this is my SMACK story.
I have a bit of an interesting background: My dad was in the military, and we would move to different countries very often, but I enjoyed that. I was born in Germany, lived in the Netherlands, and we moved to the United States, back to Europe, and to Abu Dhabi. When I was growing up, I also wanted to go into the military but seeing my dad tour different warzones and handle post-traumatic stress disorder, that’s not something I wanted for myself.
“Hello everybody. My name is David Frei, I am the General Manager of the and this is my humans of hospitality story!
My dream was actually to become a pilot as I wanted to fly around the world and discover new places and cultures. I had already started my application when the Swissair grounding happened. So my dream grounded as well and after serving my obligatory service in the Swiss army for almost two years I was thinking of following my father’s footsteps in becoming a lawyer. I started studying law and economics in St. Gallen, butI learnt pretty fast that this is not for me at all.
“My name is Anna Haumer, I am the Employer Branding Specialist at Zoku and this is my story!
Hospitality always has something to do with purpose because you get so much of it by interacting with people, passion, as well as a little bit of frustration to be honest because the industry is not adapting fast enough to the new generation and time. I’m super purpose driven and even though I was very successful in my life as a chef and received a Michelin star as the youngest woman ever in Austria, there was still something missing for me and that is how Zoku and I matched.
The co founders at Zoku did a lot of research, conducted interviews and asked business nomads what they were missing when living in hotels for a longer period. Zoku’s concept and purpose is based on loneliness of these people and on the frustration that also resonates with my career path. I was frustrated by people in the industry constantly complaining about the staff shortage or saying that employees are not motivated anymore. I really wanted to make a change and I didn’t have the feeling I could do that as a chef. So shortly after I received the Michelin star, I decided to leave the restaurant industry and started to study Human Resources to focus on corporate culture where I definitely found my purpose. In my last semester I joined Zoku, as it allows me to stay proactive, get my hands dirty, think differently, inspire people, employees and companies to move forward and that is what makes my job so great.
I’m Ashley Abodeely, Executive Chef at the NoMad Hotel London and this is my story:
The first buzzwords that describe my job as a chef are exhilarating, the respect for the product, education and growing with the times.
I started my journey when I was 16 years old. I didn’t come from a chef’s or restaurant family, but I was taught to be hardworking, dedicated, caring and to treat people respectfully. I saw something in that when I was in high school and cooked in my culinary program. An opportunity presented itself and I got to go to the Culinary Institute of America, which helped me build the foundation of why people are chefs. I cook because I love everything revolving around food: eating it, feeding people, watching their reactions, the nostalgia and the excitement you get through these stories.
My name is Max-Merlin Ries and I currently hold the position of People and Culture Coordinator at the Hotel Telegraphenamt Berlin and this is my SMACK story.
I began working in the hospitality industry at a young age as a part-time dishwasher in a retirement home before moving on to become a bartender at the Park Plaza Hotel in order to earn some pocket money. It was then that I realised the excitement that came with working in the hotel industry, leading me to pursue a dual study degree in hotel management. By interconnecting theoretical training with practical work, this degree allowed me to already gain professional experience during my studies. I did so through two internships; one at the Abion Spreebogen Waterside Hotel for the majority of my studies,one at the boutique hotel Canal House in Amsterdam for six months. Both experiences taught me the intricacies of the industry, but most of all the importance of a close relationship with both guests as well as your team.
“Hi, my name is Nadja Dahlmann and I’m currently the Director of Marketing & PR at the AMANO Group and this is my SMACK story.
I’m originally from Hamburg, where I have lived since I was six months old. Previously I was leading the marketing management of two hotels, the Empire Riverside Hamburg and the Hotel Hafen Hamburg. I`ve now moved to Berlin for a new challenge and a new concept. I really enjoyed my previous job, I was there for a total of 12 years, with 7 of them in marketing. I was fortunate to be given a lot of responsibility in my previous role, but I was super interested in this new opportunity and challenge. I’ve always said to myself that I’ll only change if I see a vision in a new employer and the potential to grow with the brand. I’d change if it brings me joy and if I can take on at least as much responsibility as before. With AMANO I can definitely do that! Lots of people with passion, who have lots of ideas, a desire for change, and who are always on fire!
“Hello everyone, I am Felizitas Denz, Hotel Manager at the , which is right next to the Reeperbahn in the Red Light District and this is my SMACK story!
We are a lifestyle design hotel that feels almost like a little oasis where one can have a break from the big city. We used to be part of Design Hotels, but now we are a part of Preferred Hotels. The hotel contains of 172 rooms, a small sauna, a fitness area and a restaurant that is a must for locals in Hamburg. We always wanted to be a restaurant that also has a hotel, which has worked really well and is perceived as such by the guests. Among other things, events such as our ball, which we were finally able to hold again on the 30.04.22, are very popular with the guests. First we have a nice dinner and then, from 10 p.m. onwards, the courtyard is cleared out and becomes a dance floor with a light show and projections, which is always a real eye-catcher.
“Hello, I’m Anna Fedl, general manager at the Boutiquehotel Stadthalle, which is the greenest hotel in Vienna and the first SDG hotel worldwide and this is my SMACK story. We’ve made it our mission to communicate the importance of sustainability to our guests transparently but also with humour and charm. In order to achieve this, we renovated 17 rooms in 2020 and dedicated each of them to one of the UN’s sustainability goals. This offers a creative way of getting familiar with the topic.
We want to show that sustainability is lived in our company. This starts with the rooms and extends to our organic breakfast, where quality and plant-based food play an important role. We want to create diversity here, pick up everyone and offer various options to all guests. We also have a beautiful garden in the inner courtyard, which is of course very popular, especially in summer, for having a coffee outside in the afternoon or a glass of wine in the evening. For many guests, this is a highlight, because they say, the peace and quiet that they have with us is quite unique for a big city. It makes the guests happy and that, in turn, makes us as hosts happy.
“Servus everyone! My name is Christian Huschka, I’m the General Manager and Coach at Karma Bavaria and this is my SMACK story. The Karma Bavaria at the beautiful Schliersee is a multifaceted hotel resort with 65 rooms, suites, and apartments, with the largest indoor wellness area in town, fine local cuisine with a Scandinavian twist, and personal warmth, in other words, our version of “international hotel meets Bavarian hospitality”.
Born in Ingolstadt, Bavaria, where the Reinheitsgebot for beer was decreed in 1516, I’ve spent my hotel career with luxury brands Kempinski and Sofitel for 18 years, and in the private hotel industry for 4 years. Most of the time in Munich, briefly in Frankfurt and Hamburg, and for 9 years in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.
“I am Dominic Neill. I’m the Community & Brand Partnerships Manager at The Social Hub Berlin and this is my SMACK story.
My first taste of “real” hospitality was being thrust into the role of reception manager at a Hostel in Berlin. No educated idea of what I was doing, I channeled the same zest for life and blind willingness to succeed that I displayed at my first job at “The Greek Sizzler” in Johannesburg, South Africa. Back then, Kosta the owner, insisted I memorized the entire menu in Greek… a bizarre request since I very clearly did not speak Greek but apparently this made us quote unquote “authentic”. I didn’t know it at the time but my newly found authenticity and lesson in going the extra mile would be invaluable.
“My name is Verena Jaeschke and this is my SMACK story.
With all the challenges that Corona has brought to our industry, I have come to love my job all over again. As a quick introduction: we’re not just the Boutiquehotel Oderberger, but belong to the GLS Language Centre with the GLS Campus. This means, in addition to the pure hotel business, we also have a gastronomy, event and long-stay concept for adult education. With that in mind, it really was a crushing experience to be closed, to no longer see your colleagues and also to no longer see the guests. But in this context, many good things also happened during the months of pandemic that showed me what really is worth fighting for. On the one hand, I am proud that we were able to keep all our amazing regular guests, that we gained new ones and that, as soon as we were allowed to open again, we had a great occupancy rate and a loyal customer base again very quickly. That means so much!