Getting to know Breidenbacher Hof’s Ursula Beyer

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One of the things that makes Breidenbacher Hof, A Capella Hotel so special is the people.  And someone who plays a key role in creating that magic is Director of Human Resources, Ursula Beyer.  Recently I had the opportunity to spend time some time with Ursula learning everything from how she ended up in the hospitality industry to some of her favorite spots in Düsseldorf.

Here’s what she said:

What do you like about Düsseldorf?
Being born in Düsseldorf I simply love my city – Düsseldorf is metropolitan yet homey, extremely posh and somehow normal and relaxed. The Rhine is my favorite place: to enjoy the beach facing the Schnellenburg castle, take a stroll to Kaiserswerth, fly kites, to play miniature golf in Oberkassel, barbecue in crowded or secluded locations, jog shorter or longer routes finding your way back over one of the many bridges, enjoy the sunset on the roof of the concert hall with a tasty drink… Düsseldorf treats its citizens well in so many ways!

How and where do you like to spend your lunch break?
To be honest, I often spend my lunch break at the hotel as time is often short and I enjoy taking care of our guests when they come by to eat lunch and tour the property. But on weekends I like to read my newspaper at a small Bistro in the Old Town called Zicke (the first time I went there was at the age of 14!) or at the Einhorn close to my home.  I epecially love when the weather and I can sit outside in the sun.  And if I really need a getaway then I visit the café Oma Erika in the district of Flingern.

How did you get into the hotel business?
I always wanted to work with people and in a multilingual environment… At the same time I quickly recognized my passion for service.  While still in school I worked at a seafood restaurant to earn some pocket money.  Whenever I got home my mom would send me straight to the change as the smell was a bit much, but it was this experience that led me into the hospitality industry.  My first internship was at a 5-star property in Düsseldorf on Königsallee.  From there I trained at a renowned 4-star hotel in the neighboring town Neuss. Up to today, this property is still known for producing the best hospitality alumni in the final exams.

What is your favorite free time activity?
This depends on my workload – sometimes I simply enjoy reading and getting comfortable at home, I also enjoy slack lining and climbing (unfortunately too seldom).  When I have a little more time available I like to go out, visit friends from university who are scattered all over Germany, or spend time with my family in Kiel or Munich.

What are your pet peeves?
When someone finds it hard to make a decision, as well as a lack of self-reflection and ignorance. And – quite serious– when there is no milk in the fridge!

Which career path would you have taken if the hospitality industry would not have been an option?
I always wanted to become a ballet dancer, but since my talent was lacking I had to find another passion. And fortunately, this worked out well!

Der Breidenbacher Hof stellt vor: Ursula Beyer

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Eine herausragende Besonderheit des Breidenbacher Hof, a Capella Hotel sind seine Mitarbeiter. Und eine Persönlichkeit, die in diesem Zusammenhang eine wichtige Rolle spielt, ist unsere Personaldirektorin Ursula Beyer. Erst kürzlich hatte ich die Möglichkeit, mit ihr ein wenig Zeit zu verbringen und ihr einige Fragen – beginnend mit ihrem Werdegang, bis hin zu ihren Lieblingsplätzen in Düsseldorf – zu stellen.

Was gefällt Ihnen an Düsseldorf?
Als in Düsseldorf geborene Düsseldorferin liebe ich meine Stadt – sie ist eine Großstadt, aber gleichzeitig übersichtlich und heimelig, fürchterlich großspurig und dann auch wieder ganz „normal“ und relaxed. Der Rhein ist mein liebster Ort in Düsseldorf: sich dort am schönsten Sandstück gegenüber der Schnellenburg zu entspannen, bis nach Kaiserswerth zu spazieren, am Rheinknie Drachen steigen zu lassen, zum Minigolfen in Oberkassel zu gehen, an zahlreichen bevölkerten und auch abgelegenen Plätzen zu grillen, große und kleine Runden zu joggen mit Hilfe der zahlreichen Brücken immer zurückzukommen, die Abendsonne vom Tonhallendach aus bei einem leckeren Absacker untergehen zu sehen… Düsseldorf bietet so viele Möglichkeiten!

Wo und wie verbringen Sie am liebsten Ihre Mittagspause?
Zugegebenermaßen mache ich nicht regelmäßig genug eine Mittagpause außerhalb des Hotels, dafür ist bei uns häufig zu viel los und gerade mittags kümmere ich mich gern mit um unsere Gäste. Aber am Wochenende lese ich meine Zeitung gerne in Ruhe in einem kleinen Bistro in der Altstadt, der Zicke (dort war ich das erste Mal mit 14 Jahren!) oder ganz nah bei meiner Wohnung, draußen im Einhorn auf einer Bierbank bei schönem Wetter. Wenn ich etwas Abstand vom Trubel brauche, in der Oma Erika in Flingern.

Wie sind Sie zum Hotelfach gekommen?
Ich wollte immer etwas mit Menschen und Sprachen machen… Gleichzeitig habe ich festgestellt, wie viel Freude es mir machte zu kellnern. Ich startete in einem Fischrestaurant während der Schulzeit, um mein Taschengeld aufzubessern. Meine Mutter schickte mich nach der Arbeit immer direkt in die Waschküche zum Umziehen da ich so unsäglich roch. Und so kam ich irgendwie auf die Hotellerie. Mein erster Schritt zum Praktikum ging in ein 5-Sterne Hotel an der Kö. Danach absolvierte ich meine Ausbildung in einem sehr guten 4-Sterne Betrieb in Neuss. Bis heute hat dieser Betrieb immer die besten Hotelfachleute unter den Prüflingen.

Was ist Ihre liebste Freizeitbeschäftigung?
Das hängt immer vom Arbeitspensum ab – mal lese ich einfach nur gern und genieße meine eigenen vier Wände, ich gehe gern „slacklinen“ oder klettern (leider viel zu selten). Wenn ich etwas mehr Zeit habe, dann bin ich unterwegs, bei Freunden aus dem Studium, die es in ganz Deutschland verteilt hat, meinen Geschwistern, Nichten und Neffen in Kiel oder München.

Womit kann man Sie aus der Ruhe bringen?
Entscheidungsunfreudig, fehlende Selbstreflektion und Ignoranz. Und – ganz profan – wenn keine Milch im Kühlschrank ist!

Welchen beruflichen Weg hätten Sie eingeschlagen, wenn die Hotellerie nicht gewesen wäre?
Ich wollte immer Balletttänzerin werden, aber da ich so hoffnungslos unbegabt bin, musste ich eine neue Leidenschaft zwecks fehlenden Talents finden. Und das hat zum Glück geklappt!

 

Capella Ixtapa’s Chocolaterapia

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I love learning about the different spa treatments here at Capella Ixtapa.  Lately, everyone has been talking about the Chocolaterapia, which showcases both cocoa and coffee.  Intrigued, I sat down with Spa Manager Valentina Velazco to find out more:

 What does the Chocolaterapia treatment consist of?
Chocolaterapia is a very pampering treatment, created to relax, rejuvenate and nurture.  The treatment includes three steps: an exfoliation, a wrapped mask, and a massage. First, the exfoliation is done using a scrub made out of coffee grains that removes dead skin cells.  This readies the skin to receive nutrients.
Next a rich mask of cocoa and coffee are applied over the clean skin and the body is then wrapped.  The wrapping warms the body, allowing pores to open and the body to receive the treatment’s benefits.
Once the nutrients have been absorbed, its time for a shower followed by a nurturing massage.  A cream out of cocoa and coffee is used to seal the treatment in.

 What are the benefits of coffee and cocoa? 
At the Capella Ixtapa Spa our treatments are mostly derived from elements found in the region.  The coast of Guerrero state, where Ixtapa is located, is well known for its coffee.  Coffee regenerates and detoxifies skin, improving the health and giving it a fresh and firm glow.  Meanwhile the cocoa, which has a rich Mexican history, is a great moisturizer full of vitamins and minerals.  Both cocoa and coffee are also natural antioxidants.  Together they have fantastic rejuvenating properties.

What inspired you to create the treatment?
Cocoa is considered one of the country’s greatest historical treasures.  Dating back to the time of ancient Mexican civilizations, the seeds were so precious that the Aztecs used them as currency.  Even as a beverage, cocoa was known as “the drink of the gods!”
I wanted to pay homage to this history by combining it with another element, the coffee, which is one of today’s proudest crops.  The combination was ideal, because of the nurturing benefits of both elements.

It sounds delicious! I can’t wait to try it myself!
Indeed it is!  Our clients often say that Chocolaterapia is the most delicious 50-minute experience they have ever had at a spa.  By the end you leave feeling pampered like a true Mexican God or Goddess!

La Chocolaterapia de Capella Ixtapa

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Me encanta aprender sobre los diferentes tratamientos en nuestro Spa de Capella Ixtapa. Últimamente, todos hablan de la Chocolaterapia, la que se realiza con cacao y café. Intrigada, me senté con nuestra gerente del Spa Valentina Velazco para aprender un poco de este tema:

¿En que consiste el tratamiento de la Chocolaterapia?
La Chocolaterapia es un tratamiento creado para relajar, rejuvenecer y nutrir al cuerpo. El tratamiento se divide en 3 pasos: una exfoliación, una mascarilla de envoltura y un masaje.
Primero, la exfoliación se realiza utilizando un exfoliante hecho con granos de café que limpian la piel de células muertas. Esto alista la piel para recibir nutrientes.
Después una mascarilla rica en cacao y café es aplicada sobre la piel limpia y se envuelve todo el cuerpo. La envoltura calienta el cuerpo, permitiendo que los poros se abran y el cuerpo reciba todos los beneficios del tratamiento.
Una vez que los nutrientes han sido absorbidos, se procede a una ducha seguido de un nutriente masaje. Una crema de cacao y café es utilizada durante el masaje para sellar el tratamiento.

¿Cuáles son los beneficios de el café y el cacao?
En El Capricho Spa de Capella Ixtapa nuestros tratamientos son en su mayoría derivados de elementos regionales. La costa del estado de Guerrero, donde se encuentra Ixtapa, es muy conocida por su café. El café regenera y desintoxica la piel, mejorando la salud y dándole un brillo fresco y firmeza a la piel. Mientras tanto el cacao, el cual tiene una rica historia en México, es un gran humectante lleno de vitaminas y minerales. Ambos, cacao y café son también antioxidantes naturales. Juntos tienen fantásticas propiedades rejuvenecedoras.

¿Qué te inspiró a crear este tratamiento?
El cacao esta considerado uno de los más grandes tesoros históricos del país. Desde los tiempos de las antiguas civilizaciones mexicanas, las semillas eran tan preciadas que los Aztecas las usaban como moneda de cambio. Incluso como bebida, el cacao era conocido como “¡la bebida de los Dioses!”
Quise hacer un homenaje a esta historia combinándolo con otro elemento, el café, el cual es uno de los cultivos que hoy día estamos más orgullosos. La combinación fue ideal por los beneficios nutrientes de ambos elementos.

¡Suena delicioso, No puedo esperara a probarlo yo misma!
¡Si que lo es! Nuestros clientes a menudo nos dicen que la Chocolaterapia es la experiencia de 50 minutos más deliciosa que han tenido en el spa. Al final te vas sintiéndote mimado como una verdadera deidad mexicana!

Getting To Know Eric Guth, EAM of Food & Beverage

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Not too long ago, the team here at Capella Singapore welcomed our new Executive Assistant Manager of Food and Beverage, Eric Guth.  He hails all the way from France, a fairly long way from our little island here in Asia.
Just recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to have a chat with him and to find out his thoughts on working in Asia.

What do you like about working in Asia?
I’ve always wanted to come out to Asia!  My Grandfather and Uncle had visited and experienced the culture and would return with such amazing stories.
Now that I’m here I have to agree.  Asia is truly a continent of opportunity and it’s growing very fast, especially economically.  The countries and people here are creative and competitive and there are so many different cultures, each with their own special traditions which are reflected in their food, beverage, art, architecture and so on.  It is a very different experience altogether!

What was your biggest “surprise” coming to Asia?
Everything was surprising!  The smells and the sights – it’s a completely different environment from home.  The Asian way of life is always bustling and always alive.  You can go out at any hour of the day, even in the middle of the night and you can still find a café or eatery that is open and bustling with business.
I was also surprised and impressed by the Asian people.  Culturally they are very caring with a strong sense of community and tradition.

What do you find most interesting about Singapore?
I think Singapore is exciting because the entire city itself is so multi-cultural and cosmopolitan.   It’s amazing how fast the people here adopt different cultures from the rest of the world.  Moreover, everything around here is so organised and efficient.

You are the Executive Assistant Manager of Food and Beverage, so I have to ask, what is your favourite local cuisine?
Something I’ve noticed is that Singaporeans love their food.  I think it’s amazing how some of the local hawkers (non air-conditioned food centres) here have been in operation for two or three generations.  They cook from secret recipes that have been passed down through the generations.
My favourite local dish would have to be Roti Prata (an Indian fried flour-based pancake that is cooked over a flat grill. It is usually served with a vegetable or meat based curry).  I find Roti Prata is absolutely fascinating because of the way it is made – when it is fresh, it has many layers, almost like a puff pastry.  Plus, you get to eat it with your fingers!
The other cuisine I really enjoy here is Chinese food, which I feel is an extremely refined cuisine because it is very product driven and there is a large variety.  I love the simple dishes such as a steamed fish with a good soy sauce.  Soy sauce, I have to say, is a lot like wine; not just because it’s made from fermented beans, but because it is so nuanced!  Different flavours and ingredients and mixtures produce different consistencies and grades of soy sauce.

What is it like being the EAM of F&B at Capella Singapore? 
It’s amazing and exciting. The hotel itself is a landmark with its amazing architecture and concept.  Rarely do you find a beautiful stately colonial building blended so nicely with modern architectural curves and designs.
More importantly, I believe that the people who work here and the quality of the product that we offer here are really great. Capella Singapore has got unbelievable potential and I’m proud to be part of the best hotels in Asia.

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.