Breakfast with Henning Reichel
Two paper-back TTreasury books (in German) tell the story of the hotels Villa Rothschild and Falkenstein Grand, a Kempinski Hotel, in the millionair's retreat Koenigstein, Germany. Henning Reichel is managing both of them.
Andreas Augustin (A.A.): Good morning, dear Henning, and thanks for your time. We are sitting at the Falkenstein Grand in the city Koenigstein, overlooking the skyline of Frankfurt. Koenigstein is almost 1000 years old, with the ruins of the historical castles of Koenigstein and Falkenstein. To give our readers a better understanding of the location: we have a very rich background in the true case of the word: the city of Koenigstein, at the doorstep of Frankfurt, has the greatest density of millionaires in all of Germany.
Henning Reichel (H.R.): Yes, but this is not as obvious as it would be somewhere else where super-wealthy people gather and even relatively modest homes cost millions of Euros. Rich neighborhoods in Germany lend the vicinity a relaxed atmoshphere - composed of impressions as diverse as 'understatement' and 'glamour'.
Three quick questions to warm up:
A.A.: What's your motto in life?
H.R.: Always treat other people the way you want to be treated.
A.A.: What do you want to have accomplished in the next ten years?
H.R.: Now that I am running two hotels at the same time, my prospective for the next ten years has changed. My first goal in my carrier life is already accomplished. In the next ten years is it time to concentrate on international hotel business. I aim for a corporate position and the possibility to develop hotel properties around the world.
A.A.: And your preferred breakfast?
H.R.: With my family at home.
A.A.: We are now presenting two little books about the history of these two hotels. How important is the hotel's history for you as a marketing tool?
H.R.: Our owner, Dr. gr. Broermann, has developed a great sense for history. He has rescued both properties from an uncertain future and personally invested a lot to renovate the houses and get them started as leading hotels. History makes the difference for me. New Hotel Projects might invest more or try to be even more luxuries than others, but they don't have history. For every guest in a hotel it is interesting to know where they are and what has happened at the property. We as the professionals on property need to make personal contact to and with our guests. History is most helpful in this respect. No one will really remember the color of the carpet in his room, but the history of the hotel and place where they stayed will be in most cases unforgettable, if someone tells you about it.
Falkenstein Grand: Holiday retreat and business hotel. Why not combine these options?
A.A.: To whom did you listen in the past week?
H.R.: I was listening to Ms. Maischberger, a German TV talk show host, about the topic “Legal Protection of the Workplace”. There are so many strange things happening today. The brutal way of firing people today is so wired that I just cannot understand some manager’s behavior anymore. We all know that our staff is most important for the success of our business. And ethical behavior should be a must for every person with responsibility.
A.A.: The Falkenstein Grand was opened as an officer’s recreation home in 1909, 100 years ago, by Emperor Wilhelm II.
H.R.: Today it is Frankfurt’s preferred business hotel during the week and a retreat for families at the same time. With Ascara we have the best Spa in the area. Villa Rothschild, on the other hand, is our “Leading Small” boutique hotel with an extraordinary service and the most exclusive setting. Not to forget that we have over one hundred wedding ceremonies here every year.
And our quick questions – with no more than one sentence to answer, please:
A.A.: Could you imagine welcoming a guest – and you wear jeans and a t-shirt?
H.R.: Only while having a Harley-Davidson Meeting at the hotel.
A.A.: What was your “dream-profession” when you were a kid?
H.R.: I always wanted to become a veterinarian.
A.A.: Do you fall in love with people or ideas?
H.R.: I am a very passionate person and I do fall in love with people and ideas.
A.A.: Do you prefer development or tradition?
H.R.: I do prefer to develop and to fill tradition with life.
A.A.: What would you never like to be changed at your hotel?
H.R.: The people who work there.
A.A.: Is it too much or too little courage that sometimes makes you fail?
H.R.: It is ok to sometimes fail because we all need to learn, but it is forbidden not to stand up again.
A.A.: How do you balance business life and private life?
H.R.: Too little, but I have rituals with my wife and my son and there is no question - when ever my family needs me, I will be there.
A.A.: What was the most important advice you ever received?
H.R.: Relations only harm people who don't have relations.
A.A.: For the same budget, would you rather afford the smallest room in the best and most famous hotel of a destination or the best room in a lower-class hotel? H.R.: I would always stay in the best and most famous hotel of a destination because benchmarking is of key importance.
A.A.: Can you give us an impression of your next month's agenda? H.R.: Budget preparations, Sales calls, Christmas and New Years Promotion, visit Kempinski Head office in Geneva, Renovation of the Hotel Lobby, Staff Training….
A few quick ones with one word answers:
Black&white or colours – Black&White
Furs or synthetics? - Furs
Electric or wet shaving? – Wet Shaving
City or countryside? - Countryside
Reading or watching? - Watching
Tea or coffee?- Coffee
Cats or dogs? - Dogs
Skiing or snowboarding? - Skiing
Open air or inside the music hall? – Open Air
Introverted or extroverted? - Extroverted
Thank you for your time, Henning!
The breakfast was taken at the terrace of the Falkenstein Grand, Koenigstein, overlooking Frankfurt / Main, Germany.
The books can be found and ordered here.