CPP-LUXURY.COM has recently interviewed, exclusively, Mr Claudio Ceccherelli, the new General Manager of Grand Hyatt Martinez, the iconic property on the famous Croisette in Cannes which is undergoing an ample re-branding and refurbishment program.
You have an impressive career in luxury hospitality which spans over three decades, having been the General Manager of some of the world’s most prestigious hotels – Villa D’Este (Como), Hotel de Paris (Monte Carlo) and Park Hyatt (Milano) and, since two months ago, Grand Hyatt Martinez in Cannes. What motivated you to take over at the Grand Hyatt Martinez and what are your ambitions for this particular property?
When I was asked to go to Cannes and they explained the reasons of their choice, I became immediately motivated, even if very sorry to leave my baby and my Team, for the big challenge to try to enhance the Guest experience in spite of the size of the hotel. It is also very exciting, after the new opening of the Park Hyatt Milano, to follow the total refurbishment of a big hotel.
What are the biggest challenges and the biggest opportunities when re-branding a hotel the calibre of Grand Hyatt Martinez? What is your approach to human resources training, especially considering most of the staff were kept?
First of all we have to be clever to keep the personality and the style of the hotel and to respect its history, but on the same time a famous hotel like the Grand Hyatt Cannes Hotel Martinez has to offer the best in terms of accommodations and their facilities, F.B. experience, Outdoor facilities but particularly on the service. Finally the Guest Experience will be my main focus for the next couple of years. We have of course already started with the training that has been very well received by all the Staff who in any case has a very good experience and is proud to work for this hotel. On the same time all the Staff has to be able to understand the difference between the Function and the Objective of their Job and the difference between “A Culture of Service” and “A sincere Service”. If we are all able to understand the Objective of our Job and to provide “A sincere Service”, we will deliver the real “Authentic Hospitality”.
You managed both privately owned and chain (third party management) hotels. Are there any differences in terms of your managerial role? How important is the relationship with the owners?
A very good G.M. should be always able to have “an entrepreneur attitude” and to manage the hotel the same way he would manage his hotel but it is true that the relationships are usually very different and very often the private Owner is in house (also for day to day decision) and the GM’s leadership doesn’t completely come out while a GM of an international chain, even if following guidelines, has more responsibility and opportunity to show his leadership and capabilities. He becomes the real Captain.
Why was the Grand Hyatt brand chosen for the Martinez and not Park Hyatt or Andaz, both also owned by Hyatt Corporation?
Even if Grand Hyatt Cannes Hotel Martinez will welcome very often the typical Park Hyatt Guest, the Grand Hyatt brand was chosen because of the type of Hotel, its size, the large Ballrooms and meeting facilities and because of the type of Clientele, often very glamour, while a Park Hyatt hotel is usually smaller, refined and for Guests who are more looking for intimacy and personalisation.
Cannes is a complex destination, with leisure customers during the summer season and corporate guests during the off season, who attend the many annual large scale conventions and congresses which take place in Cannes. What are the key competitive tools which the Martinez will benefit from, now being part of the Hyatt Group?
You are right, Cannes has three faces: there are six worldwide important events including the Film Festival that is probably the longest one in the world; it is one of the most important European incentive destination because of the weather, the accessibility and the size of the main hotels. There aren’t many destinations able to accept more than 1.200 rooms in just four luxury hotels located within hundred meters; finally during the summer months Cannes, like S.Tropez, Sardinia, Amalfi Coast, welcomes a powerful and rich clientele. Our Hotel will surely benefit from the fact that the Hyatt Properties are now present around the world and particularly in the top and key destinations; our Gold Passport Loyalty Program and the increasing awareness of all our brands. And of our expertise, particularly in Design, Food and Beverage and Human Resources.
When your company took over the management of the Martinez, an extensive renovation and refurbishment was announced. Please tell us more.
The final planning has not yet been fixed but within 2016 all the rooms of the hotel will be completely redone according a design that respects the history of the hotel but also according the guest’s needs and a modern functionality. Also the public Areas, the Meeting and Banqueting facilities will be completely refurbished; the Spa and Fitness area should be enlarged and we are also thinking to create a big Inside Pool for the winter period that can be partially opened during the summer.
The Grand Hyatt Martinez already has fine dining restaurant run by a two Michelin starred Chef. What are your plans regarding F&B?
Our two Michelin Star Restaurant La Palme d’Or is surely one of the best tables of the South of France while the restaurant of The Z Plage the best on the beach and therefore we are now focused to the Restaurant Le Relais where, within the end of this June, we will create a new food concept based on the the Mediterranean food and flavours. We will offer local specialties, some famous Italian dishes including pasta and also from Spain. A simple and authentic cuisine.
About Claudio Ceccherelli
Mr Ceccherelli has more than 30 years’ experience in hospitality. After gaining the Certificate of the Aurelio Saffi Hotel School in Florence in 1976, he immediately joined the Principe di Savoia in Milano, at that time a Cigahotels property. After a short period working as a teacher at the Aurelio Saffi Hotel School in Florence, Mr Ceccherelli returned to the hotel industry in 1985 as Deputy Manager at the Hotel Bernini Bristol in Rome and, following that, as Rooms Division Manager at the Cigahotels Hotel Cavalieri in Pisa.
At 30 years old, in 1987, Mr Ceccherelli had the exciting opportunity to become Rooms Division Manager of the Hotel Danieli in Venice. He held this role until 1992 when, continuing his career with Cigahotels, he became Resident Manager of the Hotel Excelsior in Rome. From there, he moved to become the Manager of the Hotel de Paris in Montecarlo and, under his tenure, the hotel was ranked the No. 1 foreign resort by Condè Nast Traveler 1995.
In 1997 Villa d’Este on the Lake Como offered Claudio Ceccherelli the position of General Manager and the following year he took charge of its sister hotel, Villa La Massa in Florence. He remained at Villa d’Este until 2002 and, during this period, Villa D’Este received the Travel and Leisure’s top award for service in Europe.
In 2002 he accepted an offer by Hyatt to open the Park Hyatt Milano. The hotel, now one of the top in Milano, was recognized in 2012 as providing the world’s best service by Travel & Leisure.
During his 30 years in the hospitality business, Mr Ceccherelli has been awarded Best General Manager in Italy by Hotel of the Year in 1999; nominated for Top General Manager in the Luxury Travel Advisor Awards in 2008; and awarded Hotelier of the Year by Virtuoso – Best of the Best in 2010.