Breakfast with Franck Lafourcade
THE MOST FAMOUS HOTELIERS
The quintessential questions about life.
HOTEL METROPOLE HANOI
‘One black and white postcard was the only source of information we had when we started researching the history of the hotel in 1996.’ (Andreas Augustin)
Over 20 years we managed to paint that little black and white photograph and turn it into a colourful history. During the management of Australian hotelier Richard Kaldor we verified the history of the hotel, published in one of our most successful books THE AMAZING TALE OF THE FABULOUS HOTEL METROPOLE — THE SOFITEL LEGEND OF HANOI (updated edition 2017).
BREAKFAST WITH THE GENERAL MANAGER
FRANCK LAFOURCADE managed the Metropole Hanoi, A Sofitel Legend Hotel, from 2000-2005, and returned to the helm of Hanoi’s most famous hotel in 2013 for a second term. We are having breakfast together on a sunny morning in Hanoi.
Franck Lafourcade: ‘Espresso is a must to start a work day’.
Q. Franck; you were born in Bordeaux, France. What is your preferred breakfast?
‘I’d like to keep it simple in the morning. A croissant or classic French baguette is my go-to; or a nice tasty bowl of Vietnamese Pho. Espresso is a must to start a work day.’
Q. What’s your motto in life?
‘To discover new culture, new experience and people.’
Franck Lafourcade discovered this photograph in a 1925 brochure of the hotel in an auction in Paris.
Q. You are general manager at the Metropole for the second time. Will you again go away and come back for a third term?
‘The Metropole holds a very special place in my heart. Over the two terms, I have grown attached to this building and the people here. It’s not just a job anymore. But everything has an ending.’
Q. What was the most unfair guest comment you read over the past 12 months?
‘I would not say any guest comments are unfair. A glitch is always a matter of miscommunication. It is therefore very important to try and see the issue from the guest’s perspective and empathize with them. We are here to make our guest feel welcome, and feel magnifique!’
Q. Can tourism change the world?
‘Travelling is the best way for one to open his mind and learn about new cultures. It takes a lot to change the world but travelling is definitely a good start.’
La Terrasse — more beautiful than ever. Every night you can watch tout-Hanoi parading along this Boulevard.
Q. How important is the hotel’s history for you as a marketing tool?
‘The history of the hotel is a great asset that will only become more valuable over time. For us, it’s a legend that we and the city will pass on to generations to come.’
Catherine Deneuve, French Grand Dame of movies, is welcomed by Franck, with the Metropole history book as a present.
William, Duke of Cambridge, is welcomed by Franck. The Metropole history book is presented as a personal copy.
Q. If you had the choice, would you follow the same career or would you lead a different life?
‘I’ve always known I wanted to become a hotelier since I was young and I am very grateful for the opportunities that I have received. I wouldn’t go back on that decision.’
Q. If you could give an advise to all hotel guests around the world; what would that be?
‘I would tell them to open their minds and hearts every time they travel to a new destination. The best way to discover the city is to go around on foot so take your time to really see and feel the life of locals in your own way. Be generous to others.’
Q. What would you never like to be changed at your hotel?
‘The Metropole spirit and culture.’
Q. When you visit other hotels what do you observe/judge in the first place?
‘The people, their service attitude and the little details. It’s the most important thing that contribute to a hotel experience and the most noticeable thing when you enter a property.’
Q. Which was the last show that really impressed you?
‘I was really impressed with the new show My Village at the Hanoi Opera House. It is a grand acrobatic performance that perfectly depicts Northern Vietnamese life in the most original way. You can really feel the “Vietnam”.’
Q. Do you fall in love with people or ideas?
‘I am a people-person, so yes, people over ideas.’
Q. When you start a project do you prefer enthusiastic partners or experienced ones?
‘There is always something to learn from different individuals in the workplace. The best team is a good mix of both enthusiastic and experienced partners.’
Stone or Beatles? Both, I am crazy about both of them. I can’t choose one over the other. I attended several of their concerts and actually had the chance to welcome Mick Jagger in the hotel in 2004.
Black&white or colours? Blue
Furs or synthetics? Cotton
City or countryside? In the nature
Reading or watching? Watching
Tea or coffee? Wine. I am from Bordeaux
Cats or dogs? Dogs
Sports or Sofa? Sports & golf
Open air or inside the music hall? Open air
Introverted or extroverted? Extroverted
Q. The future of hospitality is …?
‘Personalization. In this age of digitalization and mass production, travelers really appreciate a touch of personalization so that they can feel at home and comfortable when they are in a foreign place.’
Thank you Franck!
Discovery of the hotel’s air raid shelter in 2011. General manager Kai Speth ordered the bunker to be opened to the public and asked THE MOST FAMOUS HOTELS IN THE WORLD to create the Path of History, a permanent history exhibition at the hotel.
Hotel Metropole on the cover of LIFE - 1967 report of the “American War”.
Light bulb in the bunker — shortly after its discovery, still filled with water.
In 1996, we were asked to establish a verified history of the Metropole in Hanoi. Virtually nothing about its past was known, even its opening year was a myth.
‘By 1997, Andreas Augustin and his research team was able to confirm the opening year 1901. Ever since “1901” graces the front façade of the hotel.’
Always on the outlook: general manager Franck Lafourcade at the Metropole Hanoi.
- THE TEAM
- General Manager: Franck Lafourcade
- Director Food & Beverage: Antoine Huc
- Front Office Manager: Hoang Bich Lien
- Head Concierge: —- Pham Cong Thinh
- Executive House Keeper: —- Nguyen Thanh Van
- Marketing Communications Manager: — Dao Thu Trang
- Director of Sales & Marketing: Anthony Slewka