'A Pretty Body is Nothing Without any Soul'.
By Roland Wildberg ~ Weekly Exclusive - Views On The Latest Trends
Friday, 1st March 2013
Exclusive Feature: Tashi Takang successfully manages the Park Hyatt Hamburg, which TripAdvisor recently awarded best hotel in Germany in 2013 even twice.

It is certainly no imagination: Ebraim Hussein smiles so inviting and friendly as never a doorman smiled at us. "Welcome!"

The athletic Egyptians points at the elevator: This here is only the reception area, he explains - with that lift, we would easily arrive at the lobby on the first floor. He travels with us of course. Automatically we tick off an imaginary checklist: all pluses. Ebraim has done everything right. But the most important thing: His warmth is not rehearsed, but seems to really come from heart. Well, however we cannot prove this.

4Hoteliers Image Library"But you can feel it," Tashi Takang (left) says above in the lobby of the Park Hyatt Hamburg. After a short tour through its facilities, the General Manager is joining us.

Tashi Takang heads the property  just for two and a half years and is effectively already a legend: under his leadership, the five-star hotel recently won the TripAdvisor "traveller's choice award 2013" with most of the ratings in Germany - firstly as "Top Hotel" and secondly "Luxury". This has much to do with emotion, as the General Manager. Also with the right feeling for the perfect reception of guests.

Not every hotel opens up the entrants right off the bat.

Also at the five-star luxury Park Hyatt this is so: located in a heritage-listed old ware house near Hamburg central station, it has to fit the adverse structural conditions. Its ground floor was a shopping arcade already decades ago when the hotel hasn't even existed. Visitors are thus forced to overcome a level, before they are reflected in the spacious - and indeed imposing - lobby.

As director of this little transformation, Ebraim comes into play. The warm entrée cleverly smoothes over the small stage the guest has to accept in the form of mini reception and a lift. "The first and last point in a hotel is but the entree," Tashi Takang says. Therefore, the doormen are carefully trained. "But everyone else, anybody is important. Only one single missing screw would make a space shuttle flightless" The Tibetan knows the lower levels of the hotel hierarchy from a personal perspective: He worked his way up from rags in the scullery to the Director. By the way, the trip Advisor awards are not a fluke: Only in November 2012, readers of Condé Nast Traveller chose the Park Hyatt Hamburg to the best No. 4 in Northern Europe.

"In our industry it is always about human relationships - relationships with the guests, but as well with the staff, with each other." If a hotel working culture was lacking humanity, towards the customers it would not work neither. "An example: the hierarchy in the hotel is obviously important, the hierarchy-based payment is good and should remain at all costs", Takang laughs ironically, "but for me work will cease this hierarchy immediately." That begins during the morning clearing of the breakfast buffet: "If I am just around, of course I do help the service personnel, to make everything faster." And he expects that by any Manager.

"Good staff is not born, but made", he says when asked whether he ever wanted to send an employee off to Timbuktu. The fluctuation is large in the industry, this goes for the Park Hyatt Hamburg, staff's very young – "Average is 24, I'm a dinosaur here!" - the careful and indulgent guidance of the people is even more important. "Good staff takes time in development. "It's like in the marriage: the easiest way is the divorce, but then everything starts again from the beginning."

Takang added: "I always favor the human side over the professional - to have both would be best of course. But imagine, if you have only professionalism without devotion; how will it look alike? A robot. And even a nice body is nothing without any soul." Such personnel he had experienced himselve and had suffered from as a guest. "In France, I've participated in a banquet once, when a guest ordered water. The waiter insisted that he must drink champagne, because that was the local tradition. He turned downright evil, after the guest continued insisting." Here obviously it lacked both professionalism and devotion. "If both is missing, you have a problem of course."

The TripAdvisor Award seems to confirm that the situation at Park Hyatt Hamburg is different and nobody will be forced to drink anything he or she refuses to drink. "The awards have given us great pleasure - especially since we have not tried to influence our customers." Not a guest at the check-out will be prompted to place a good rating. "Because we would have to do so much; there is finally more rating portals than just Trip Advisor." Moreover, you can not manipulate guests. Therefore, there is also no evaluation sheets in the hotel guest rooms.

Photo: Park Hyatt Hamburg, Lobby Atrium
4Hoteliers Image Library

Takang keeps rather loose contact: "Every day we seek out five new customers, whom we greet personally upon check-in and then perform a short interview with." Most of the guests would perceive this as recognition. As much the General Manager counts on this measure, as less he thinks of quality assurance through mystery checks: "We use this as little as possible - this is an expression of distrust that has no good effect on the staff. If distrust would be good, all dictatorships of the world would still work."

Takang believes in progress through confidence and openness. "Every human being has a sixth sense: you feel immediately whether your vis-à-vis is an honest one." Thus, we are again at the doorman: With Ebraim, we definetely felt he is serious about us.

This is strictly an exclusive feature, reprints of this article in any shape or form without prior written approval from 4Hoteliers.com is not permitted.

Roland Wildberg is Travel Writer and Correspondent based in Berlin, Germany. He started as an Editor for the National daily 'Die Welt' (tourism section), later on switched to a freelanced career and nowadays mainly publishes on the Web. Observing the hospitality industry always has fascinated him as it looks like the perfect combination of sleeping and writing – work-live-balance as its best.

Roland also heads the annual 4Hoteliers ITB Berlin news micro-site journalist and video/photo teams. For more info: http://www.4Hoteliers.com/itb">http://www.4Hoteliers.com/itb
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