Introducing Capella Washington DC & Alex Obertop

Capella Washington DC

It was a beautiful September day and not a cloud in the sky as I heard the metro train arriving at Navy Yard. I hopped on the green line, switched to the orange line, and got off at Foggy Bottom where I waited for the Circulator bus to take me to 31st and M street.

There in historic Georgetown, I looked up and saw the newest Capella property.  Opening in January 2013, Capella Washington DC Georgetown is poised to be the talk of the town.  Like every other day, construction workers were hard at work building our dream.  This neighborhood has been bustling with activity for centuries making it the perfect location for this hotel.

Just a few doors down I walked into our office and greeted our General Manager, Alex Obertop. Together, we walked towards the Potomac River, just a block away from Capella Washington DC Georgetown.  I adjusted my camera and began rolling for a video chat. It was incredibly exciting getting to know a little bit more about Alex!


I know you will love getting to know Alex and the rest of our team behind Capella Washington DC Georgetown. As your Insider, you can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter. I have great stories and updates to share with you during the upcoming months as we prepare for our launch!

Getting To Know Capella Ixtapa’s Eliezer Quinones

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General Manager, Eliezer Quinones, has an absolutely contagious smile and passion for what he does.

On a recent afternoon, Eliezer and I sat down by the terrace of our restaurant, taking a short break and watching the ocean.  I was curious about his history, hobbies and favorite things to do in Ixtapa, and he agreed to humor me with a few stories.

Eliezer, I heard you were a professional baseball player.  Can you tell me a little more about it?
It would be my pleasure!  I was born and grew up in Puerto Rico, where baseball is the preferred sport.  I was very passionate about baseball, and have played it ever since I can remember.  One of the highlights of my baseball career was playing on a team representing Puerto Rico at the Little League World Series.
Eventually I got a scholarship to play baseball at Tulane University.  During my 3rd year of college I was drafted to play professionally by the Texas Rangers.  It wasn’t until my 4th year of college that I signed with the Cincinnati Reds.  I played on their professional minor league baseball team for four years and I was pretty decent at it!  [He gives a big grin.]

And how did the connection (and transition) happen from baseball to the hospitality industry, where you are obviously very successful as well?
It might sound odd, but the transition to the hospitality industry was very natural for me.  During the off season, in order to keep in shape I used to run and swim at the beach in Isla Verde Puerto Rico every afternoon.  I was fascinated by all of the beautiful hotels I would pass during my work out.  Sometimes I would daydream about how great it would be to work at one of the hotels.
While playing baseball I got two major injuries, my back and my wrist, so during a winter season, when I was recovering from my injuries, I decided to give working at one of the hotels a try.  I started working as a bellboy in El San Juan Hotel & Casino.  I loved talking with guests and providing the personal service and attention!  I was there for two months, and when my injuries healed I returned to playing baseball.
After four years of professional baseball, I realized that I would not be able to continue, due to my injuries.  Fortunately, because of my time as a bellboy I knew that I wanted to continue working in hotels.
It is usually very hard for a professional athlete to find another profession where they will continue to thrive after they finish their career.  I have to say I was very lucky finding two professions where I am as passionate and dedicated as one can be. I had a wonderful experience at El San Juan, and now I was at a stage when I wanted to learn more and to grow.

What is it like to be General Manager of Capella Ixtapa?
Capella Ixtapa is very precious to me.  I am very pleased with my team and what we were able to accomplish in the last 10 months since I joined them.  There has been a tremendous focus on training and defect elimination, and I am happy to say that in 2011 Capella Ixtapa had the highest overall satisfaction scores within the brand.  Of course, there is always room for improvement and we have a challenging year ahead of us in 2012.  I am so grateful to have such a dedicated and passionate team, as they are the ones who create the Capella experience every day with their every deed.
I enjoy being in the hotel business, working with people and the service aspect, but I admit that I get the most satisfaction and gratification when I see that I was able to contribute to the development and growth of my staff.  I am very grateful to everyone who took the time to help me learn and grow when I was still in my beginnings, and it is my pleasure now to be able to do the same for the people under me.

How do you like Ixtapa, what do you like to do in your free time, and can you tell me where your favorite spot is?
Ixtapa is beautiful!  I love the lush nature, the weather, and the people.  After work I usually go to work out (I still love running on the beach!), I cook (or enjoy great food prepared by locals) and go to church.  My favorite place in Ixtapa is – but please don’t tell anyone [he smiles again] – Ixtapa Island.  It is my favorite place to unwind and relax.  I love to go there whenever I get the opportunity particularly with my family or friends.  It is a great way to enjoy the nature and to spend quality time together.

Conociendo a Eliezer Quiñones, Gerente General de Capella Ixtapa

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Nuestro Gerente General, Eliezer Quiñones, tiene una sonrisa contagiosa y pasión absoluta por todo lo que hace.

Recientemente, Eliezer y yo nos sentamos en la terraza del restaurante, tomando un breve descanso y observando el océano. Tenía curiosidad sobre su historia, sus pasatiempos y actividades favoritas en Ixtapa, y el con gusto me platico algunas de ellas.

Eliezer, he escuchado que fuiste jugador profesional de béisbol. Me podrías decir un poco más sobre esto?
Sería un placer! Yo nací y crecí en Puerto Rico, donde el béisbol es el deporte nacional. Yo era un apasionado del béisbol, y lo he jugado desde que tengo memoria. Uno de los puntos más altos de mi carrera como beisbolista fue jugar en el representativo de Puerto Rico en la Serie Mundial de Ligas Pequeñas.
Eventualmente recibí una beca para jugar béisbol en la Universidad de Tulane. Durante mi 3er año de Universidad fui seleccionado para jugar béisbol profesional con los Texas Rangers. Pero no fue hasta mi cuarto año cuando firmé para jugar con los Reds de Cincinnati. Jugué en su equipo de Ligas Menores por 4 años y no lo hacía mal! (esboza una gran sonrisa).

Y cómo fue la conexión (y transición) del béisbol a la industria hotelera, dónde obviamente has sido también exitoso?
Sonará un poco extraño, pero la transición a la industria hotelera fue de una manera muy natural para mí. Fuera de temporada, para mantenerme en forma cada tarde solía correr y nadar en la playa de Isla Verde en Puerto Rico. Y me fascinaba ver todos los hoteles que pasaba durante mi ejercicio. A veces imaginaba lo maravilloso que sería trabajar en uno de ellos.
Tuve dos lesiones mayores jugando béisbol, mi espalda y mi muñeca, así que un invierno, mientras me recuperaba de mis lesiones, decidí probar suerte y trabajar en uno de los hoteles. Comencé trabajando como botones en El San Juan Hotel & Casino. ¡Me encantaba platicar con los huéspedes y proveerlos de un servicio y atención personalizada! Estuve ahí por dos meses, y cuando mis lesiones sanaron regresé a jugar béisbol.
Después de cuatro años de béisbol profesional, me di cuenta que no iba a poder continuar, debido a mis lesiones. Afortunadamente, debido a mi experiencia como botones sabía que quería seguir trabajando en hoteles.
Es normalmente muy difícil para un atleta profesional encontrar otra profesión donde pueda seguir creciendo (profesionalmente) cuando terminan su carrera deportiva. Debo decir que fui muy afortunado al encontrar dos profesiones donde soy tan apasionado y dedicado como se puede ser. Tuve una gran experiencia en El San Juan, pero entonces estaba en una etapa en la cual quería aprender más y crecer.

Qué tal es ser Gerente General de Capella Ixtapa?
Capella Ixtapa es muy especial para mí. Estoy muy contento con mi equipo y lo que hemos logrado en los últimos 10 meses desde que me uní a ellos. Nos hemos enfocado mucho en la capacitación y la eliminación de defectos, y me enorgullece decir que en 2011, Capella Ixtapa tuvo la más alta calificación en satisfacción general dentro del grupo de hoteles Capella. Desde luego, siempre hay margen para mejorar y tenemos un desafiante 2012 frente a nosotros. Estoy tan agradecido de tener un equipo tan dedicado y apasionado, ya que son ellos quien crean la experiencia Capella cada día con cada uno de sus actos.
Me encanta estar en la industria hotelera, trabajando con la gente y el aspecto servicial, pero debo admitir que mi mayor satisfacción y gratificación la obtengo al ver que fui capaz de contribuir al desarrollo y crecimiento de mi propio personal. Me siento muy agradecido hacia todos aquellos que se tomaron el tiempo de ayudarme a aprender y crecer cuando estaba en mis inicios en la industria, y es uno de mis placeres ahora el ser capaz de hacer lo mismo para la gente que está a mi mando.

Que tanto te gusta Ixtapa, que es lo que te gusta hacer en tu tiempo libre, y cual es tu sitio favorito?
¡Ixtapa es hermoso! Me encanta la naturaleza abundante, el clima, y la gente. Después de trabajar normalmente me ejercito un poco (aún me encanta correr por la playa), cocino (o disfruto la excelente cocina preparada por los locales) y voy a la iglesia. Mi sitio favorito en Ixtapa es –pero no le digas a nadie (suelta otra gran sonrisa)- La Isla de Ixtapa. Es mi lugar favorito para desconectar y relajarme. Me encanta ir ahí cada que tengo oportunidad, especialmente con familia o amigos. Es una excelente manera de disfrutar la naturaleza y de pasar tiempo.

Interview with Cyrus Heydarian

Cyrus-Heydarian-BBH

It’s a warm summer evening. Dusk is falling as we sit in the homey kitchen. I am invited to join the Heydarian family for dinner.  This is a great opportunity for me to get to the know Breidenbacher Hof’s General Manager.

Cyrus quickly throws the remaining ingredients in the pot, sets the time and the temperature.

“Kids, dinner will be ready in 20 minutes!” he calls—just enough time to play in the garden with his one-year-old daughter and his 5 years old son. Tonight, daddy is in charge, giving mom an opportunity to relax.

“I enjoy it; I love these evenings with my children”, Cyrus admits. He cooks, entertains the kids, tells a bedtime story and kisses them good night.

When Nayla and Nouri finally fall asleep, Cyrus laughs, “Sometimes I don’t know how my wife is able to manage everything!  Running the hotel seems much easier than putting the kids to bed.”

He leans back in his comfy garden chair and we start with the interview.

What are the origins of your name?
My first name is Persian and stands for sun (among many other things); the surname originates in Armenia although my direct ancestors are Persians.

What do you like about Düsseldorf?
I like Düsseldorf because of the city’s complexity – there are so many different sides this town has to offer: the Königsallee, the Old Town and the Media Harbor are some examples.  Especially, the people in this town are exceptionally open-minded and likeable – the amount of outstanding characters is fascinating.  Furthermore, the fact that Düsseldorf is a major business center makes this location so interesting.

What are your values and why? How do you apply these?
Honesty, trustworthiness, respect – for me, those are the values that create the basis for interpersonal relationships.  The pinnacle of this would be loyalty (which also plays a role in my professional life) and last but not least love – which is not meant to be limited to friends and family, but also includes interpersonal relationships in general.  This is discussed too seldom in Germany.  We all know people who we love for something, like a character trait or a special talent.

How did you get into the hotel business?
It was my mother’s passion to cook for and host guests and family.  This led me into the business.

To what extent do you separate your professional and private life?
For a long time it was almost impossible for me to do so since my family and I lived in the hotel I worked at for several years. But these days there is a clear cut  separation (except for a quick look at my android cell phone sometimes ;-)), especially because of the kids.

How do you spend your free time?
Spending time with my children and my family, jogging, playing golf – all of these relax me (most of the time).

When not staying at a Capella, what is your favorite destination?
Schlosshotel Münchhausen in Weserbergland, Germany.

What upsets you most?
Unpunctuality.

If you would travel to a lonely island, what five things would you take with you?
My Thermomix (blender), a Bordeaux wine from 1989, my Ipad, solar panels and a lifeboat.

What is your favorite meal?
Bohemian dumplings and Königsberg meatballs.

If you weren’t a general manager, what would you do?
Entertainer- often it is almost the same thing!

 

(Auf Deutsch)