The Orlando Stefani, Kempinski Hotel Grand Arena General Manager interview

Sep 15, 2012 No Comments by
Kempinski General Manager

Orlando Stefani, General Manager of the Kempinski Hotel Grand Arena, Bansko

Orlando Stefani has seventeen years experience in the hospitality business including six years as a General Manager. He is the first interviewee of a regular series to be posted here on Bansko Blog. Orlando Stefani, a Swiss national, has been with the Kempinski group for more than ten years, in three continents. He has been General Manager in Kempinski Hotel Grand Arena, Bansko (“KHGA”), since May 2009. His previous appointment, before KHGA Bansko, was as General Manager at the Kempinski Djibouti Palace. Orlando is a graduate of the reputable Hotel School of Geneva and completed his MBA degree at Reims University. France.

For his answers to my top nine questions, read on…

1/  Tell us a little about yourself. Did you get to like Bansko and how do you enjoy it when you are not working?

 The fact that I am already three years over here proves that I like being in Bansko. What is true for our guests visiting Bansko equally applies for me. There are so many things to do, and so many options when in Bansko, that I never get bored here. It is an amazing place; all the year around.

If I may also add that it is of considerable satisfaction to me that  every year more and more guests discover a new resort world, in the heart of the Balkans. I think Bansko is living up to its title as “The Winter Capital of the Balkans”

 2/  What would you say to someone considering Bansko for a holiday for the first time, why should they try Bansko?

I believe that Bansko is a very special place to visit. Let alone all the events and festivals during the season, the attraction is enhanced further by being the only resort in the country located in between three mountains. This varied terrain offerso many leisure options for real rest, as well as fun. It is not a secret that even if most people choose predominantly to spend summer holidays in the sea resorts, they should always come to the mountains to get some rest from the ‘tiring ‘ sea side holidays.

In summer and autumn, the mountain fresh air refreshes, recharges and revives the batteries for the winter.

3/  What initiatives do you think would start attracting more tourists to Bansko in the summer months?

Whilst expanding and developing further the current, and well established festivals and events, we need to come up with new ideas for Bansko to host and organize alternative events. More events will attract more popularity for the destination, thereby boosting the number of the tourists during the summer months. (click here to view Bansko events round up)

4/  Does the Kempinski have any special offers to attract people to Bansko? 

We have initiated a wide number of added value offers and packages throughout the off season. Our experience shows that people are thirsty for new ideas and new experiences, and are very much willing to visit the mountains here during the summer as well as the winter. Moreover, our strong hospitality tradition is another motivating tool to attract guests.

The Kempinski is well known for its consistent up market service product all over the world. We know how to  spoil even the most demanding guests.

5/  Now is busy time for you and the hotel, preparing for the ski season. What can your guests expect over the next twelve months?

In line with the Kempinski new Food and Beverage Vision, we intend to further develop the gourmet element within our restaurants. We will be offering unique degustation menus, especially prepared by our executive chef. We are renovating and extending our Sushi and Teppanyaki restaurant by adding one more Teppanyaki Table.

This will go some way to satisfy the huge demand for Teppanyaki tables during winter.

Additionally, we are implementing a new attraction in our Spa Center – the “Kempinski Spa Concept” where new products and services will be incorporated to our already well established format. I boast a little now, by adding that we have Spa Finder Awards; a winning Spa Center for both 2010 and 2011.

6/  Are there any challenges you face which you feel are unique to those working in the hospitality industry in Bansko?

It is more than evident that the local labour market suffers from a shortage of experienced, and well trained, hospitality staff. Yes, our industry is all about people, and we constantly undergo training.

We are careful to lead by example. The result… a team that is well equipped to deal efficiently with all kind of different guests that we welcome in our property.

In addition, The Kempinski experience and knowledge is widely shared between all of our people worldwide. Support, encouragement and the highest possible standards are in place to ensure that we serve our guests exceptionally well — and at all times.

7/  What are your observations throughout these years – how has the Kempinski adapted to the competitive economic conditions?

It is indeed a challenging environment, what with the volatile financial conditions that many countries face in these times. We, as a part of an international hotel chain, have the luxury to adapt easier, and more efficiently, to the new economic conditions. Pricing is always important and the Kempinski needs to be more cost efficient.

More than ever, we must continually improve upon our high our standards of product and services. We must always deliver on the promise that our reputable brand promises. I believe that this is what puts us ahead of the competition.

8/  How do these trends vary for similar hotels within the Kempinski Group?

There are three basic parameters when it comes to the resort hotel business affecting our industry, equally, around the world. These are the hotel destination itself, the general financial situation of the hosting country, and thirdly, but not least, the weather.

However, speaking about Kempinski, the stronger the hotel brand you have the is the easier it is to deal with such challenges like the current ones.

9/  The Kempinski is a people business, can you explain how working for the Kempinski Grand Arena is different to any other hotel in Bansko for both you and for your staff?

We are the only International hotel brand in Bansko and the only hotel in Bulgaria that is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World.

These awards give us a competitive edge.

It goes without saying that all of our people feel extremely privileged to be part of the Kempinski. We are passionate about developing skills and providing a fulfilling career.

My ten years service with the Kempinski is testament to this fact.

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts to Bansko Blog readers.

Thank you Lance.
If you are reading this as someone who may normally book a ski or summer vacation in the Alps, and typically choose accommodation such as chalet St Anton, then I can recommend similar luxury at the Kempinski Hotel Grand Arena five star hotel. Its located right next to the gondala lift (see live web cam).
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About the author

I enjoy tech, apps, entrepreneurship, podcasting and collaboration with others. I love travelling as well as skiing, hiking, MTB, paragliding, cooking and good food.
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