Javier Polo is a well-known professional who has long experience in the hotel industry. Holding an international degree in Hotel Management and always in search of service excellence, Javier stands out for his previous jobs at the most exclusive hotel properties across Spain like Ibersol Son Caliu Mar in Majorca and, more recently, Hotel Villa Magna in Madrid, where he was Director of Operations. In July 2017, he took on the great challenge of bringing the oldest hotel in Madrid back to its former splendour and recreating the glamour of the Roaring Twenties.
Javier, what is the expertise of a hotel general manager?
To me, the image of a hotel general manager is that of a Renaissance man: a highly cultured person interested in national and global culture who is an expert in manners and etiquette. But, above all, I think a good hotel manager must engage in fine conversation. They should know how to communicate the competitive advantages of their hotel. In sum, they should be a PR expert.
What should be their character traits?
A hotel manager needs a combination of several elements, like the ability to listen actively and with empathy, the capacity to solve problems, and ethics. They should also possess leadership qualities. All these ingredients make the perfect twenty-first century management cocktail.
What are the greatest challenges a hotel general manager faces?
The main challenge a hotel general manager must face is ensuring quality and excellence of products and services at all times. They have to deliver exquisite guest service, and so there is no room for certain attitudes and behaviours.
What decided you to join the Gran Hotel Inglés 5 star in Madrid?
Chiefly, its interesting and long history. In Europe there are few hotel properties with a history like that of the Gran Hotel Inglés. It first opened in 1886 to set the standard for the city’s luxury hotels. It created an enduring spirit, a philosophy for the future. In addition, Carmen and Ignacio have carried out their project with the enthusiasm, care and professionalism required for success.
What does the Gran Hotel Inglés offers guests that other luxury hotels in Madrid do not?
At the Gran Hotel Inglés we consider visitors are our guests of honour. To make them feel important, our staff is attentive and helpful, and always happy to satisfy their needs, answer their questions and enhance their stay. We work indefatigably to live up to their expectations. We want our guests to have a special, memorable experience in hospitality and gastronomy.
What is your favourite corner in the Gran Hotel Inglés?
Your question is not easy to answer, but I think I would choose LobByTo. It is a wonderful, stylish place I enjoy imagining as it was 132 years ago, when it was the venue chosen by local society to hold cultural, social and political events.
What is your favourite dish at Lobo 8?
Just one dish? It is almost impossible to choose only one dish from the menu. Chef Willy Moya puts his heart into the kitchen to offer guests an exquisite dining experience. Anyway, my favourite dishes are traditional local starters. I love them!
What song do you enjoy listening to at the Literary Salon?
I get immense pleasure from listening to Nessun Dorma at the Literary Salon, a magical space where you can breathe in the spirit of art while being surrounded by books.
What can you expect from the Gran Hotel Inglés over the next few years?
We expect the Gran Hotel Inglés to become a legendary luxury hotel in Madrid and Spain for both its splendour and outstanding service.
What advice would you give young people who want to work in the hospitality industry?
This is a very demanding industry. It may sound an obvious remark, but I like to repeat it once and again. While guests are sleeping or enjoying their holidays, we are working really hard. However, it offers great opportunities to creative people who want to better themselves and who enjoy being with people from all over the world. For them, the negative aspects of the job turn into benefits.