Q1 – Hi Cornelia, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. We’d like to begin by asking how your career began?
I started my career as an Intern at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel (Pink Palace of the Pacific) right after University. I then worked with Millennium Copthorne Hotels for a couple of years. I then joined Hyatt in 2003 and found my home. I started In Atlanta, became first time Director of Rooms at the Park Hyatt San Francisco, then moved on to Boston, then Senior Director of Rooms at the Park Hyatt Washington D.C. and now I’m having a blast being the General Manager of Andaz 5th Avenue. It’s been truly an amazing and gratifying career journey!
Q2. How long have you held your current position at the hotel?
Since September 2012
Q3. What do you love most about your hotel?
That our service is unmatched. Our hosts act as concierge, bellman, front desk clerk, etc and go above and beyond to make our guests not only feel at home, but that their every need is taken care of. Because of this we all develop true relationships with our guests and that’s very special.
Q4. How would you best describe your hotel?
A sophisticated yet approachable atmosphere filled with amazing art, some of the best food and cocktails Manhattan has to offer, and a very dedicated staff.
Q5. Have you hosted any memorable events?
Indeed we have – our clients range from titans of technology to leaders in the fashion industry.
Q6. How does your job fit into your family life?
As a GM your staff becomes your family too, so it can be a challenge to balance work and home. A lot of us here at Andaz find ourselves “living in the grey,” meaning we socialize with our friends and work while we’re at home sometimes, which is fine. I’m passionate about what I do and enjoy it all!
Q7. What is the most expensive booking made at your hotel?
That’s a tough question to answer – we have a lot of loyal guests who come back time and again and stay with us for extended periods of time. We were honored to have each one of them consider our hotel as their second home.
Q8. What is the most generous tip you have seen given by a guest?
I can’t recall something specific and in a way, I think that’s a huge sign that we’re doing something right here. We’re not here for the tips – we’re all here because we’re passionate about this hotel and this young brand – what we get in return for being a part of that is immeasurable.
Q9. If you weren’t working in the hotel industry, what do you think you would be doing as a career?
I would be a travel writer! I love travelling…exploring new destinations, cultures, and of course food!
Q10. Have you ever had to let-go a member of staff?
Of course and all I have to say is that it’s never easy.
Q11. What is the most unusual request that you have received from a guest?
At one of my hotels, a guest requested for our Concierge to purchase her a certain dog breed for her kids and personally transport the puppy all the way to Amman, Jordan! All expenses paid for. We did it!
Q12. What are amongst the strangest forgotten items left in a guest room?
Curious enough and not too exciting, telephone charges have been and remain to be the #1 item left behind. Our guests are all pretty well-traveled and with-it so if someone’s left their child or one-of-a-kind bowling ball behind, it hasn’t happened here…yet!
Q13. What has been your most expensive room service bill?
I’d have to double check this one, but I’d bet I racked up an all time high when I stayed here for a month before I found an apartment in New York City.
Q14. Can you name drop any illustrious guests?
I certainly could, but I won’t!
Q15. Have you got any funny stories about drunken guests?
I have a few and what happens here, stays here! One of our hosts recently came up with the idea of a social media campaign based on #PleadTheFifth – and I’m beginning to think that could be a fun idea.
Q16. Who was your most demanding client and why?
That’s an interesting question, but without sounding too cliché, I’d like to say that we really try to treat each guest and their requests individually. Our CEO, Mark Hoplamazian, recently shared a compelling video from The Cleveland Clinic about having compassion for those you meet every day because you never know what they’ve dealt with before encountering you. It’s an amazing practice and one that we try to implement here on property.
Q17. Who is the most infamous character amongst your team?
Among many other talents, our staff is comprised of a fashion designer, a photographer, a martial arts enthusiast and an artist – a true merriment of characters. Since we’re about to announce our employee of the year, I feel like I can’t give too much else away!
Q18. What compliment do you receive the most about your staff?
I am continually impressed by how much our guests take the time to call out specific employees in our reviews online and through personal emails. That’s because they all care so much and it shows!
Q19. What is your favorite hotel you have stayed in and where?
I just got back from Andaz Costa Rica and it was truly amazing.
Q20. What is the most unusual hotel you have ever stayed in?
Most probably the Petra Villas in Santorini. To get to the hotel, you have to use a winding path that has many steps and uneven cobblestone….the rooms were rock-carved and the views were absolutely spectacular!
Q21. Are you happy to mention your worst stay and why?
I won’t name names, but a few years ago I was travelling in Marrakesh and unfortunately at the time we didn’t have a Hyatt there. So, I had a reservation at another well-known hotel chain. It was clear from the start that the hotel didn’t put a huge emphasis on cleanliness. Luckily, a colleague of mine with the Four Seasons came to the rescue and we spent the rest of the time at the newly opened Four Seasons. We will soon open a Park Hyatt there so I’m excited that there will be a Hyatt home to go to in Marrakesh, as it’s a beautiful desert city.
Q22. So Cornelia, Where do you go for your own holidays to relax?
As I mentioned earlier, I have a huge sense of wanderlust. So whether it’s a bustling city such as Singapore or a tranquil destination such as the Papagayo Peninsula in Costa Rica, as long as I’m discovering something new & exciting, I’m able to relax.
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