EHMA AGM at the Westin Paris-Vendôme sees election of new president and awards for top hoteliers

With the theme “Welcome to the future!”, this year’s European Hotel Managers Association meeting in Paris took a close-up look at the changing needs of todays – and tomorrow’s customers.

Ezio A. Indiani. GM of the Hotel Principe di Savoia in Milan and National Delegate EHMA Italy since 2010, was elected President of the Association for a three-year term, from 2019 to 2021. Verena Radlgruber-Forstinger was confirmed 1st Vice President and Panos Almyrantis 2nd Vice President. Two prestigious awards were presented during the closing gala dinner: Patrick Recasens, GM Pullman Timi Ama Sardegna, was elected European Hotel Manager of the Year 2018 while Frédéric Darnet, GM of the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort, is the winner of the EHMA Sustainability Award by Diversey 2019. The event was organised in masterly fashion by a committee composed of Chairman Manuel de Vasconcelos, Le Méridien Beach Plaza Monaco, and by Alessandra Bragoli, Castille Paris; Claudio Ceccherelli, Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme; Jean Luc Cousty, Hotel Lutetia; François Delahaye, Hotel Plaza Athénée; Antoine Fanton, Hotel Les Deux Girafes; Pierre Ferchaud, Hotel Raphael Paris; Fanny Guibouret, Hotel du Louvre; Christophe Laure, InterContinental Paris Le Grand; Valentino Piazzi, Hotel Regina Paris; Gianluca Priori, Hyatt Paris Madeleine; Claude Rath, Hotel Napoleon.


EHMA is highly receptive to corporate social responsibility and has become partner of the Valueable network, a European project co-funded by the European Commission and promoted by the Italian Association of Persons with Down Syndrome that operates in six different countries (Italy, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Hungary and Turkey) to promote labour-market inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities through targeted placements in the hospitality industry. EHMA member Palmiro Noschese, Managing Director Italy Meliá Hotels International, who was the first to support this initiative in Italy, informed the audience on the latest developments of this project.


In conjunction with the General Assembly, Ian Millar, École Hôtelière de Lausanne, led an educational session dedicated to the “Young EHMA group 2019”, a project dedicated to deserving employees from EHMA member hotels to participate at the annual conference.

The Educational Day of February 16th, moderated by Sander Allegro with interactive sessions, focused on issues that will affect the future of the hotel industry. The first speaker, coach and author, Ilja Grzeskowitz, stressed the need to create a corporate culture of change based on innovation, flexibility and the courage to experiment with new processes and projects to remain at the top and competitive in the market.

The future of the hospitality industry will be shaped by the changing needs of customers and many are wondering what the motivations for choosing a hotel by “Millennials”. Three students coming from different countries, attending the INSEAD business school, explained that Millennials appreciate a good quality / price ratio and are influenced by the location, the online reviews, the cultural experience, the personalisation of the offer and the technological tools available on site.

With hygiene being an increasingly vital factor of success for a hotel, Somer Gundogdou, Diversey President Professional EMEA, explained that his company has been, and always will be, a pioneer and facilitator that constantly delivers revolutionary cleaning and hygiene technologies that provide total confidence to its customers worldwide.

A need to cultivate “mindfulness”, the self-awareness that is obtained through practices such as meditation, was underlined by Yves Givel, Vice President HR Hyatt International. This mental attitude, called emotional intelligence, induces a perception of physical and mental well-being, improves creativity and decision-making processes and allows to recognise, use, understand and manage consciously one’s own and others’ emotions.

Innovative concepts behind the creation of new types of hotels are feature of our time. Serge Trigano, son of the founder of Club Med, spoke about his “Mama Shelter” hotels, designed by Philippe Starck: very “low profile” but highly successful, especially as meeting places for young people.

The latest restaurant trends were reported by Hans Steenberger, a Dutch journalist who co-founded Food Inspiration Magazine. Menus change, are oriented towards vegetable proteins, local and ethical products, become eclectic and are inspired by the territory, are customised and as a result restaurants become tourist destinations. The potential of gastronomy as a tourist attraction was also illustrated by Claus Meyer, co-founder of the Copenhagen- based restaurant Noma and a signatory with 11 other visionary chefs of the New Nordic Kitchen Manifesto. This project promotes a gastronomic culture based on the food characteristics associated to the region – purity, simplicity, freshness, safety and ethics – was very successful and succeeded in putting Denmark on the European gastronomic map.

Märtha Rehnberg, economist and consultant of the European Community for technologies, looked at a “not-so-distant visionary future”. Her mission is “positive disruption”, i.e. to make positive the feelings of instability, uncertainty and fear produced by the need to adapt to the radical changes in the market and the rapid evolution of technology.

With architecture and interior design critical to the success of luxury hotels, Tristan Auer and Monica Moser of Wilson & Associates exposed the latest developments and trends in these fields.

A panel joined by Alessandra Bragoli, Wilhelm Luxem, Loic Salaun and Mariella Vigil and moderated by Sander Allegro on the actual benefits that participants can get from the speakers’ interventions closed the Educational Day.

A conclusive cocktail and gala dinner were held in the sumptuous halls of the legendary Intercontinental Le Grand, richly decorated, recently restored to the highest levels of elegance worthy of the French “grandeur” of nineteenth century. During the gala dinner, the outgoing President Hans E. Koch presented the two prestigious awards for “Hotel Manager of the Year 2018” and “EHMA Sustainability Award by Diversey 2019”.

Photo: Organising committee of the 2019 EHMA General Meeting