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The Warsaw Voice » Business » January 21, 2009
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A Modern Hotel With Traditions
January 21, 2009   
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Grzegorz Uszycki, general manager of the Sofitel Warsaw Victoria hotel, says modernizing the hotel and improving its service will consolidate its leading position among the capital's five-star hotels.

The hotel industry was given a shot in the arm when Poland and Ukraine were awarded the Euro 2012 European soccer championships. Is renovating the Sofitel Warsaw Victoria your way of preparing for this event?
Modernizing the hotel is the result of an Accor Group decision to change Sofitel's image. The heads of the consortium decided to consolidate Sofitel's position at the luxury end of the market when they met in China last fall. Upgrading the Warsaw hotel got underway early this year and is going to take several years.

What does all this involve?
The aim, as with any sort of modernization, is to endow this historical building with a new spirit. Sofitel moves with the spirit of the times, with the spirit of progress, and strives to meet new client demands. We are guided by the brand's values and these are steeped in a drive for perfection and for creating an atmosphere and a spirit of openness. The renovation has been divided into several stages. The first stage has just been completed and offers new recreational space with an impressive swimming pool featuring Egyptian stone slabs and a mirror ceiling. Guests can also reinvigorate their bodies and spirits at a hamman steambath, try out the waterjets or visit the massage parlor.

We have also completed our new "Opera" conference room. The room has been decked out in the colors of the sun, tree bark and grain fields while the design was guided by the concept of "Land Art". This promotes the idea of getting back to nature and was introduced to us by the renowned French architect Marc Hertrich.

We're also planning to open an Executive Floor with Club Millesime, a business and social meeting place, a business corner and a small conference room. This floor will have a separate reception desk, a butler and a breakfast area.

When is the work scheduled for completion and will the financial crisis have any influence on how quickly the upgrade proceeds?
The renovation is going to take years although I can say that much of the hotel will be upgraded by 2012. The financial markets are in a state of rapid flux. It's hard to predict what'll happen over the next few months or whether the crisis will slow us down. But I'd like to stress that we have funds set aside for renovation.

Getting back to Euro 2012... How are you preparing for this event?
The start of renovation has nothing to do with the upcoming soccer championships although this is obviously going to be a major event for the hotel industry as a whole. That's why we've scheduled construction in such a way that 100 percent of the Sofitel Warsaw Victoria will be available to guests during the summer of 2012. Renovation is going to be put on hold during June and July of that year.

Will the hotel have a completely new face once it has been renovated? If so, how will its position on the Warsaw hotel market be affected?
We began to change the face of our hotel some time ago. At some point we noticed a gap in the Warsaw hotel market. Two large hotel groups had carved up the market up into two segments according to principles that were alien to our European values. This opened the way for Sofitel. Sofitel Warsaw Victoria brings the French concept of art de recevoir, known to Europe for centuries, to life. We combine the noble French hotelleire savoir faire with the finest of Polish traditions.

This is an ambitious concept. How do you intend to compete with the other hotels in Warsaw?
We plan to emphasize what we excel in and what we are renowned for all over the world-excellent cuisine, art and design, French chic and elegance. We work with some of the world's best known brands, like Lancome, Hermes and Jean-Louis Scherrer who designed our staff uniforms.

Our ambition is to serve the best breakfasts in the city. We have our own bakery, so we can serve freshly baked croissants, baguettes and sweet pastries every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner as one of our rituals.

We also take great pains to offer top quality service and we train our staff. We work with the Catering School Complex in Grodzisk Mazowiecki. Students from the complex are given traineeships at our hotel throughout their four-year course and are taught our standards of service. We would like to see them look after our guests in the future. We also help them obtain traineeships at Sofitel hotels abroad. This is what good hotel service studies are all about.

Do you want to attract new types of clients after the modernization?
Sofitel Warsaw Victoria is a hotel with traditions. We have a large group of loyal clients who have been staying with us for 30 years. We also have more and more clients with new requirements. This is natural because people travel a lot nowadays and are increasingly finding luxury is becoming more accessible. This is why we are changing for our clients.

Our new product will be designed for a wider group of clients from all types of businesses as well as other customers. The new swimming pool and fitness area, the Executive Floor, the Trendy Bar and Cuisine d'auteur will meet the expectations of our present and future guests. We want to offer them top quality service.

What will you have to offer clients who want to hold a conference at the Sofitel Warsaw Victoria?
We will be offering tailor-made conferences. Since every meeting is different, we have developed our "InspiredMeetings" concept. This helps meet the needs of every client and customizes the service.

We make a Meeting Planner, or a person who helps the guest plan the conference, and a Meeting Concierge, to ensure the success of the event, available to every client as part of our ongoing efforts to provide individualized conference services.
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