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The Warsaw Voice » Destination Warsaw » February 23, 2012
Destination Warsaw
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The Best of Polish Food and Service
February 23, 2012   
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Jacek Jasinski, the new general manager of the Polonia Palace Hotel, talks to Jolanta Wolska.

You emigrated to Germany at the age of 13. How did you end up back in Poland?
I emigrated to Germany with my family. I was educated and did my hotel apprenticeship there. It was always my dream to come back to Poland one day and work here. I gained experience both in five-star chain hotels in Germany and in a privately owned five-star boutique hotel in London. And then one day in 2005 I was offered a job with the Polonia Palace Hotel in Warsaw. So my dream came true.I started working at the Polonia Palace Hotel at a time when the hotel’s operations were being developed after an extensive renovation 11 months earlier. I began as manager of the food and beverage division, then moved on to executive assistant manager and in 2009 was appointed corporate director for sales and marketing at Syrena Hotels.At that time we made many changes, for example we established the Strauss restaurant. We started to concentrate on larger conferences and banquets when we converted the Ludwikowska restaurant into a ballroom, offering our guests a unique venue in Warsaw to organize conferences, functions and all kinds of social events.

As the new general manager, do you plan to introduce any changes in the way the hotel operates?
For the last three years I was part of the team that created our success strategies. We will now merely fine-tune. Our competition is moving forward and we also must adjust to the market and guests’ needs.We achieved very good financial results with conferences and banquets last year. We have been concentrating on the quality of services and on building relationships with our client companies and suppliers. We aim to raise the level of quality and have a more personal relationship with people rather than being anonymous through emails.

How do you decide what type of cuisine to have in your restaurant?
Eighty percent of our guests are not Polish. We know that when people travel abroad they want to find out what is typical for that particular country and they want to try the local food. So we have an interesting combination of European cuisine and traditional Polish dishes on the menu. We have a Polish buffet dinner with Polish music on Friday evenings. It is a presentation of the best of Polish traditional food with a nice ambiance. It works particularly well for weekend guests, because usually people eat at the hotel on their first night when they arrive, so that is a nice introduction to Poland.

What is the hotel’s promotion strategy?
Our strategy overall is to be different and to take advantage of everything that we have, starting with the facade of the building. We are different from other hotels because we have a history that goes back to 1913. So we promote our historical hotel in the heart of the capital, and the fact that we have totally renovated the hotel with state-of-the-art facilities and very high level of service.

Do you think there are enough hotels in Warsaw?
Generally speaking yes, but when there are big symposiums and special events such as the Euro 2012 championships then there are not enough beds, particularly in the city center.

How important is it for Polish hospitality staff to be trained abroad?
Nothing ever feels real until it is experienced and that can be gained from experiencing different countries and cultures firsthand. That is important as it improves the service and is a value added. As 80 percent of our hotel guests are from different countries, staff trained abroad can understand their needs and mindset better. It’s important to gain that international flair.

Do foreigners want to train in the hospitality industry in Poland?
It is just beginning. We are getting CVs from apprentices from other countries seeking to do some of their training here. The awareness of Poland and Warsaw is growing fast, and the perception of our country is changing; so young people are starting to want to come here. Also, our hospitality industry meets international standards.

Have you felt the economic downturn in the hotel business?
Not yet, the demand for hotel rooms is still very high, though we don’t know what will happen in the future. If the situation in Europe were to take a negative turn, then of course it would affect Poland to some extent. But at this stage there are no real signs of a downturn. I feel we can look forward to a good and successful future. Our hotel’s financial results are very good and our guests’ comments show that we are on the right track. Our future challenge is to aim even higher and implement the mindset to walk that extra mile, to exceed the guests’ wishes based on the motto: you come in and we take care of the rest. That will be our future focus.
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