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 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

Kopie von FV1_4496

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!

Johnny Iuzzini Talks “A Taste of Capella”

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Less than a month until our Food and Wine Festival at Capella Pedregal, and I am already getting chills when I think of all the culinary delights and fun we are going to have this July!  There will be something to satisfy the discerning palette of any food and wine lover – be it the “grill and smoker” style of cuisine as provided by Chef Kent Rathbun, the delicious steaks by Kevin Rathbun, the fine Mexican dining with contemporary touch by Capella Pedregal’s Marco Bustamante, or some of the ingenious desserts by Chef Johnny Iuzzini.

Chef Johnny Iuzzini gave me a glimpse on his food and activities at the upcoming Food & Wine Festival, and I am already counting down the days to be able to taste some of his tasty creations.

Hi Johnny, I am very pleased you are joining us at the Food & Wine Festival at Capella Pedregal. Can you tell me what can the festival’s guests expect from the event?
I am very excited to have been invited and I am planning on doing a cool modern pastry demonstration as well as making some super tasty desserts for two other events within the festival.  I think the guests will get to try a bunch of amazing food from some really talented chefs as well as hang out with us and talk food, drink and life!

To which part of the event are you looking forward the most?
I have never been to Cabo so I am excited to check out the local restaurants as well as meet some local chefs to learn more about the culture and flavors of the region.

How would you describe your cuisine?
I am a modern American pastry chef with a strong foundation in French pastry.  I like to make desserts that are not very sweet and often use vegetables.

Where and how do you get inspiration when creating new dishes?
I am a hands-on kind of guy.  When I am working on a new dish I usually focus on one ingredient and then build from there with other ingredients that compliment as well as contrast with the original ingredient.  I am always looking to integrate lots of texture as well.

What is your favorite ingredient to cook with? Do you use any Mexican spices or ingredients in your day-to-day cooking?
I really love using really ripe fruit in my desserts.  That said, I am also a serious chocolate guy.  I am always looking for new ingredients that I am not familiar with and try to use them in my cuisine.  I like using chipotle, chili peppers and jicama.

Do you like Mexican food? If yes, what is your favorite dish?
I love Mexican food.  I am a texture guy so I like dishes that have crispy shells with a really delicious cooked me, fresh vegetables.  I have a small thresh hold for heat so I stay away from the super spicy stuff.

Do you prepare any Mexican influenced dishes?
I always have some version of a flan, also I like making a different version of “tres leches” cake, probably my favorite Mexican dessert.

Have you been to Mexico before?
This will be my first time to Cabo San Lucas, I have been to Cozumel, Cancun and a couple other spots.  I have heard so much about Cabo and the pictures look so beautiful, I can’t wait to be there.  I am a scuba diver so I am going to try and get a few dives in.

Thank you to Chef Johnny Iuzzini for taking the time to answer my questions!

P.S. If you’d like to learn more about our upcoming Food & Wine Festival, you can get more information and make reservations here: http://www.capellahotels.com/cabosanlucas/food-and-wine-festival-,dining_viewItem_43-en.html  Hope to see you there!