When Florian Steinmaier joined Villa Kennedy in late 2019, he couldn’t have foreseen what would take place in early 2020. Here he shares his thoughts on his first few months in his dream job, and how he and his staff have adapted.
What drew you to the role at Villa Kennedy?
“Ever since I was a boy, I’ve been fascinated by luxury hotels and always dreamed of managing a five-star.
Working for Rocco Forte Hotels has always been an aspiration - individual, family-run, authentic, luxurious. Sir Rocco is a real institution in the hotel business and the Rocco Forte properties are the gems of their respective cities – unique and without comparison! When the offer to become hotel director of Villa Kennedy came up in 2019, I didn't hesitate: Villa Kennedy is one of the top addresses in Germany, in my home region of Hesse! I’m very proud and happy.”
You’ve had an unusual first 100 days at Villa Kennedy. How do you feel you’ve dealt with the crisis?
“This hasn’t been about me. What’s important is how we as a team have faced and mastered our challenges: since the beginning, we’ve balanced remaining open despite external limitations and our dedication to taking the best possible care of our guests. This includes dealing with regulations, making our guests happy and of course staying healthy. We’ve observed the situation very carefully since the start and, earlier on than others, made sure all hygiene standards were adapted to the situation - for everyone.
Speaking for the whole team, we’re very pleased to have weathered the storm so well and look forward to upcoming challenges!”
Has the lockdown offered any unexpected opportunities?
“During the general lockdown, it was very important for us to keep our guests feeling positive. But we also wanted to spread this energy! By partnering with Frankfurt events agency Big City Beats, we conceived the idea of a joint Club Kitchen. Together with renowned DJs Paul Lomax, The Disco Boys, Phil Fuldner and Le Shuuk, as well as TV chef Christopher Crell, our own chef de cuisine, head pâtissier and demi chef pâtissier, we live-streamed to over 500,000 people during two weekend sessions. And this is just the kick-off for an exciting series of new events.
Furthermore, we’ve used the last few weeks to develop plans to redesign the Villa Garden. We’ll keep you informed!”
How have you kept in touch with your staff despite the situation?
“For me, it’s key colleagues remain mentally in a familiar environment, even working at home. As a management team, we’ve been totally transparent, meeting daily on conference calls, making sure everyone knows what’s working, what isn’t, what might be coming up etc. We also implemented online training for the whole team. We’ll certainly maintain the digital meeting and learning culture. It’s proved very successful!”
Could you describe a typical day in the life of Florian Steinmaier?
“I start my typical day with a walk through the Villa - my first stop is always the coffee machine. I then wish the staff a good morning. When breakfast is served, I visit the restaurant to welcome our guests. This is followed by checking who is arriving, writing cards, team meetings, administrative tasks in the afternoon and social events in the evening. Everywhere I go I act as an ambassador for the company.”
How do you like to spend your time off in Frankfurt? Can you offer any insider recommendations around the city?
“I love zipping down the bank of the Main on an electric scooter. Frankfurt is so international, so casual, and is constantly re-inventing itself. There are multiple facets to this city: world-class museums, a lively art scene, beautiful green spaces, traditional taverns, Michelin-starred restaurants, hip bars and nightclubs, all set against a contrasting backdrop of mediaeval buildings and enormous skyscrapers. But for a personal recommendation: my favourite apple wine tavern is called Daheim im Losbacher Thal, where I enjoy classic Hessian tapas and a good glass of wine with friends.”