Whilst on a family trip to Switzerland, we stayed a few days at the most beautiful Suvretta House. With its gorgeous views of the mountains and warm, cosy and intimate interior it was nothing short of special. There are few times that you come across staff members at a hotel that you immediately know that they will achieve greatness in the industry. This is what I found with Laura Hütwohl. What surprised me the most when I asked more about her, Laura had only started working at this hotel the week before. Laura’s ability to connect with guests was outstanding and the passion for the industry was clear.
I have had the greatest pleasure of being able to interview Laura about her future goals in the industry and how she will make an impact wherever she is!
Laura, Can you tell me a little more about yourself and your passion for the hotel world? Where have you worked and your roles?
My name is Laura Hütwohl. I am 22 years young and live in Switzerland. Currently I am studying at the “Schweizerische Hotelfachschule Luzern” in order to receive my BSc in Hospitality Management. This education path contains three five-month industry internships (Kitchen, Service and Front Office/Housekeeping) as well as a management internship. Altogether, the education takes four years and is one of the world’s most prestigious degrees in the hospitality industry Presently I am in my second internship at the mountain hideaway Suvretta House in St. Moritz as I already completed my kitchen internship working in Zurich in the legendary Baur au Lac. I was always employed as an intern. Usually interns receive more responsibility when they prove that they are reliable.
How old were you when you knew that you belonged in hospitality?
My mother always told me she knew from when I was very young that I belonged in the hospitality industry from seeing me as a very outgoing child, that always loved to travel and experiencing new cultures. I learned this fact a little bit later, as I was starting as a help during my school vacations in a luxury hotel, The Chedi Andermatt, where we have our second home. For me it was love at first sight and I knew this is what I want to do for a living. The hustle and bustle fascinated me as no day was like the other and I can learn something new every day.
Those who have such passion for the hotel industry such as Laura will somehow always find their way from a young age into the world of hotels. Being part of the hospitality industry always entails days like no other and the best part about it is that you truly get to experience the world first hand through the hotels you work at.
Laura, what has been the most important lesson that you have learnt so far in the industry?
Working in hospitality teaches you lessons you could not have learned anywhere else. You learn about communication, how to prioritize and multitask, efficient problem solving and most important empathy. You learn how people react if they do not receive what they want and how to keep a smile on your face no matter what. In my opinion no degree in this world will teach you more about people than what you learn on a busy night in a restaurant.
Empathy is one of the best qualities to have, I think every hotel staff member achieves this if they want it bad enough.
Laura, What does your future look like in the world of hotels?
I really want to change the perception of luxury hotels, to personalise the stay for every guest and the work for every staff member. The aim of modern hospitality should change fundamentally. We must build a hideaway or a bubble for our dear guests, where they can relax and not have to worry about daily worries. But the most important point for me is the interaction with the guests. I want them to come as guests and leave the hotel as a part of our big family. This is the essence of hospitality. the ability to turn strangers into friends that will always come back to you.
That is perfect! It is our goal as hotel leaders around the world to welcome guests as part of our family. The hotels we work at often feel like we are welcoming guests into our actual home, so we want them to feel like they have been a part of our house for years. It is not about the money but rather the emotions we give our guest so that they always want to come back to us.
Which quality do you believe is the most important to have when you want to work in hotels?
You need to be passionate about what you are doing. Working in hospitality is mostly not like any 9 to 5 job so you need to be 110% committed that this is what you want to do. Furthermore, paying attention to the smallest detail is a must, when it comes to presenting the hotel, the service and even yourself. Whilst working with an array of people you do need a strength for teamwork and leadership in equivalence.
Another aspect is that you must know yourself and your needs very well. Only when you know what you want and where you belong you can deliver the best service. That is what makes the swiss hospitality to one of the best worldwide. For sure we have an outstanding landscape. But what is unique is that we know our roots and we know where we are coming from. This gives us the confidence to keep on going and deliver the best service to our dear clients. We always try to go over the top and reach new hights. That is the swiss way of hospitality.
The story behind each staff member in a hotel is what makes the hotel special. And exactly as Laura states, knowing your roots allows you to deliver the most authentic, genuine service to your guests. But in saying this, those who are not committed like Laura has said at least 110% will not be able to make it. It's an emotionally challenging job, no matter your role and if you cannot or do not enjoy taking care of others and being vulnerable towards your guests, it is likely that one day you will stop enjoying your work. So yes, being committed and passionate is the most important aspect.
What advice would you give to future hotel leaders?
I once read a quote from Kathleen (Leeny) Oberg, EVP & CFO of Marriott International which I truly took to my heart. “Know yourself, know your strengths and weaknesses. Get feedback and work on it.” Giving and receiving constructive feedback can be hard at times. But it is all about improving yourself and working on your flaws. If you know what you are good at you