Kai Speth is general manager of the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi
in Vietnam. He was recently promoted to area general manager with additional overview responsibilities for Sofitel Plaza Hanoi and Sofitel Saigon Plaza.
Why I joined the hospitality sector
I grew up in the industry. My parents ran restaurants and hotels. I love the industry’s energy and the fact that one can travel and see the world meeting lots of different people from all walks of life.
The best piece of advice I ever received from another hotelier
I’m partial to the Golden Rule, and to hoteliers who remember the rule and remind colleagues to treat others the way you want to be treated. I was once told to never forget my roots and to remind myself of them if I were lucky enough to climb the ladder successfully.
The achievement that I am most proud of in my career to date
When I was awarded the ‘best general manager’ in 2009 in Paris by the French organization MKG/HTR, I reached a personal pinnacle, a place where I realized without reservation that I had achieved a certain position within my industry, a station that I’d hoped for as a much younger man.
The biggest challenge in my career to date
Managing the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek was an enormous challenge. It’s a ski resort in the mountains of Colorado and I was promoted from within in the middle of the season at the same time as my wife was giving birth to our daughter. It was a very difficult hotel to manage due to its seasonality.
What I like most/least about the property I currently manage
I love the fact that the Metropole Hanoi seems to have a ‘soul’, a ‘spirit’. The feel of the hotel is authentic and one can literally breathe and smell and taste the days of the past here. I love the fact that we have guests from all over the world and from all segments of society. We are a great leisure hotel. We are also a business hotel. We do everything here. My enthusiasm for the hotel is boundless, and I am sometimes frustrated by my inability to get all of the relevant players on the same page with respect to the potential we have here.
What I would be doing if I weren't a hotelier
I really like computers, video gaming and photography. I like science, space and new technologies. If not for hotels, I would be working in one of those fields.
The best hotel I've ever stayed in
It’s difficult to single out one. The Four Seasons Sayan Bali for its beautiful integrated architecture and design. The Old Regent Hong Kong for its views, energy and service, great food and great restaurants. The Park Hyatt Tokyo because it is the Park Hyatt Tokyo, and the Plaza Athenee Paris because it is a stunning palace, in great location and just feels right.
The best service I ever received at a hotel
The Sofitel New York once got me tickets to a sold out playoff game for the New York Yankees, and they did it on game day. As a diehard Yankees fan, nothing ever could or probably ever will be able to top that.
The first thing I check when I enter a hotel guest room
Partly because I’m so dialled into technology personally and partly because this is the world we live in, my first move in any hotel is for my Blackberry. How do I connect?
The thing that most frustrates me as a hotel guest
I’m frustrated by the bellman that lingers for a tip and extends the room introduction until you have finally proffered that tip. I’m also not a fan of people calling and knocking on doors shortly after check-in.
The factor most likely to make me check out early of a hotel
If the service is not friendly or the room is dirty or the breakfast is bad, I am automatically thinking of alternative accommodation.
The top three criteria I use on which to base a hotel recommendation to friends
I’ve got to have a great location, there’s got to be great service and the hotel has to provide more than the basics. I am always on the lookout for interesting facilities and restaurants that do more than take an edge off my appetite.
Kai Speth promoted to area GM role
GM Interview: Kai Speth, general manager, Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi