Sheraton Bratislava Hotel has a new general manager. This enthusiastic and energetic woman has travelled the world to work in such impressive hotels as Swissotel, W, Westin and Four Seasons at couple of exciting locations as California or New York.In April 2011 she accepted a new challenge to lead Sheraton Hotel in our capital city. Let us introduce Simone Dulies.
Simone has been inspired to work in hospitality when she was just a child staying in hotels during the holidays. She started to look for practical experience in hotels in the age of 15, working at housekeeping department just to ´get a taste of the hotels´.
In 1991 she started her apprenticeship in Swissotel Düsseldorf/ Neuss that belongs to a prestigious group of deluxe hotels – Swissotel Hotel & Resorts. She continued working there as apprentice for almost 3 years until her travelling spirit and desire to study hospitality lead her to apply for a well-known Cornell University in the United States. In the inspiring group of hospitality professionals from all over the world in the early stages of her career Simone Dulies had an opportunity to study a complex 4 week program of Front Office and Concierge management, Rooms management, Revenue management, Quality management and Human Resources management. As Simone says: ´ It was a great experience and very practical too. We had to build our own little hotels and then compete with each other. It was very good exercise. In the end of the course we received a certification. I met people from all over the world from different management levels, general managers as well as students like me who just finished the apprenticeship. It was very inspiring.´
After the university experience Simone has decided to stay in USA and move her career forward to California. She started as Front Desk Supervisor for one of the most famous hotel brands – Four Seasons. In 1999 Simone joined Starwood Hotels in Westin Hotel South Coast Plaza as Front Desk Manager. In this hotel she worked her way up to become the Director of Operations. She had an opportunity to open couple of hotels for Starwood before she moved to New York City.
Simone Dulies started her career in New York as the Director of Operations of W New York : ´It was the original W, first one and also the biggest one in the collection with 688 rooms. I stayed there for 2 years and then I decided to come back to Europe. I was transferred to Turnberry, Scotland. When I started there it was a Westin Hotel, but after a year the hotel was sold and the new owner started the refurbishing process. We had to close down for 9 months and then opened with The British Open 2009 (the Wimbledon of Golf) while having all the players stay in our hotel. ´
In April 2011 Simone Dulies came to Bratislava to manage luxurious Sheraton Bratislava Hotel. Simone explains why she decided to come to Slovakia: ´The position was opened, I had seen pictures of the opening, I have also met the previous general manager and I knew it was a beautiful Sheraton hotel. Altogether it seemed very interesting. I believe Bratislava is a great location as well, so close to everything in Europe.´
If you are interested in what are the first things a new general manager does when starting at a new hotel, let Simone Dulies give you some tips: ´At my first day here we had a big staff meeting so I had an opportunity to meet everyone. I always try to spend some time in every department to get to know the associates and to get a picture of what is really going on in the hotel. I am currently staying in the hotel for some time as well. It is good because at the beginning you have a lot of work anyway and it is a very good experience as well as you can see things from the guest ´s point of view. I think it is a mistake that a lot of general managers are not staying in their hotels enough. Once you check-in to different rooms, it gives you a very good perspective.´
Simone Dulies has also quite a nice impression of Bratislava: ´I managed a couple of walks in the old town and Eurovea, I think the city is very charming, I really love it. I´ ve experienced huge cities like New York where I lived in Manhattan. After that I was looking for some nature so Turnberry was a perfect choice. Bratislava is something very nice in between.´
As Simone Dulies says Bratislava has a lot of potential: ´ I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. To be honest I didn’t know a lot about the city before. After I heard about the position here I googled it and it sounded quite good. I find hotel very charming and people are very helpful. Even if they don’t speak English or German, it’s a friendly city, what is very important especially if you have foreigners coming here. It helps to build a good reputation.
Bratislava is still an emerging market and people are reacting very positively to it. We had a group of guests from USA and they really loved the city, the port and the Old Town. I think we should promote Bratislava little bit more towards leisure tourists too. I believe we can provide a good alternative to Vienna. A big advantage is that we are very close to the international airport so we are well connected. It is just a matter of marketing and intensive cooperation. I have met couple of general managers already, I believe there will be a good networking on that because we all want the city to be successful, we need the city to be successful to get the roomnights etc. I believe we will develop a very good cooperation together.´
Working with Slovak colleagues has been a pleasant experience for Simone so far: ´Everybody has been very helpful, very forthcoming to me. From the service level I get the feeling that people really want to be here to work for this hotel and that´s fantastic, it makes my job much easier. I still need to learn the culture and the language – I had my first lesson already. It is very difficult language but I believe I will master it.´
A good hotel general manager has to be a motivated leader. Simone Dulies shared with us what motivates her at work: ´In a hotel no day is like the other, things can change in a minute and all of a sudden you have to deal with new situations. You can never rest, you always have to be on your toes. It is very interesting work as well because you get to meet many interesting people like actors, sportsmen or your own colleagues from all over the world. You can establish relationships with guests and it´s always very nice when they follow you to another hotel when you move on to a new city. When I moved from California to New York couple of guests said they are travelling there every now and then, so when they are in the city, they will stay in my new hotel… And in the end of a day this is what satisfies me. I also believe that hoteliers should have a great spirit and a great passion for their work. When they do, it is absolutely fantastic and they can turn their job into great fun. ´
Simone Dulies believes that to be a successful hotel manager you have to keep in touch with what is happening in the hotel: ´A good hotelier should have really good pulse about what is going on in the hotel. I personally like to manage on the floor to be visible, keep contact with guests, work with the employees to make sure that they are trained well and they have what they need to provide excellent service. To build a successful hotel you have to have a good product and the best staff. The right location is an important element as well. That is what we in Sheraton Bratislava Hotel have.´