Bailli Délégué Bernhard Brender has been a hotelier in Korea for 25 years. As General Manager of Starwood Hotels & Hilton he has seen many changes to the hotel and restaurant scene in Korea as well as to the style of food and gastronomy to be found in the dining establishments of Seoul.
Bernhard says these changes are nothing short of "revolutionary." He describes a vibrant city that is making itself attractive to tourism, offering value for money in its hotels with special packages on offer for every season of the year and a particular emphasis on Chinese visitors.
Almost every style of food and beverage is available on the streets of Seoul, from internationally recognised coffee shops and fast food chains to bars and venues targeting tourists celebrating major sporting occasions and with English widely spoken.
The Grand Hilton is a hotel that positions itself as being a venue where tradition meets modern hospitality. "Some guests say it is a spiritual gateway to the spirited City of Seoul," says Bernhard. “The bedrooms and suites are designed to make guests feel as comfortable as they would be at home, and invigorated by a fresh breeze blowing down from the Began Mountain.”
The hotel has a broad range of dining options. The Atrium Café serves Western and Korean dishes; the Member's Club features leather armchairs, a fireplace and grand piano and serves drinks and international snacks. Mitsumomo is a minimalist restaurant serving speciality Japanese cuisine including a sushi and sashimi board. The Terrace lounge offers drinks and international snacks with extensive city views from the floor-to-ceiling windows. Finally, Yeohyang serves Cantonese and Szechuan cuisine.
As part of Bernhard’s spiritual approach to well-being he derives a lot from giving something back to the industry which has been his life. Accordingly he lectures to Hotel & Hospitality Classes at universities in Seoul. After all, with 40 years’ experience in 12 countries under his belt he is very well placed to offer advice anyone embarking on a career in the hospitality business.
First and foremost, he says, “Believe in yourself.” He also stresses the need to respect all nationalities and learn from them.
“Go for knowledge first, once you have developed your management skills there will be time on your side to work up to a good salary.”
“Be happy in life. Happiness comes from within, support and respect others and be pleased with what you have achieved.”
And finally, one of his favourite sayings is “Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles, it takes away today’s peace!”
Publishing Editor, Revue internationale de la Chaîne