Could you tell us a bit more about yourself and your career background within Kempinski?
I started my path within the Kempinski family with my apprenticeship at Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski Munich in 2008. I then joined Grand Hotel des Bains Kempinski St. Moritz, Switzerland, for one winter season from 2010 to 2011 before moving to London and conducting a Management Traineeship at the then The Stafford Hotel by Kempinski. During this time, I also had the possibility of working at the Kempinski hotel in Soma Bay for a four-week taskforce. After 1.5 years at The Stafford, I started working at The Savoy (managed by Fairmont) as an events floor manager before leaving London in 2014. As I missed the Kempinski family, I rejoined the company again and started my new chapter in Hamburg as Lobby & Bar Outlet Manager at Atlantic Hotel by Kempinski. Another 1.5 years passed by before I joined a privately owned five-star hotel in NYC in 2015, The Lowell Hotel. Being part of all these great hotels and turning many guest moments into memories, I felt it was time for me to step out of hospitality for some time. Therefore, I moved back to Germany and joined Marché Mövenpick to gain more experience in the restaurant and system gastronomy industry. After successfully implementing and opening a new grill-and-bar concept in Frankfurt, I left the company and joined a German gin company to also gain more experience in sales and the spirits industry. However, hospitality and Kempinski had always been part of my life, and I had always had a passion for working in a hotel. Therefore, I rejoined Kempinski and Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski Munich in March 2022 as Director of Quality. I’m now looking forward to many new exciting chapters within the Kempinski family and to many more beautiful performances.
What is your favourite or most memorable Kempinski moment?
In my second week when I rejoined in March last year, I was able to welcome some regular guests who had stayed a total of 150 times during the last few decades at Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten. As soon as one of the guests saw me, she said, “Oh, Mr Gerstenlauer, you are back! How wonderful to see you again!” This really touched me as I was so surprised that she still remembered me and knew my name after not seeing each other for over 12 years. This was one of the greatest confirmations I have ever received for creating memorable moments. However, there are so many more moments I could talk about for which I’m thankful. This is one of the great things about hospitality as we are able to create memorable moments every day, for our guests, our colleagues, our families and ourselves.
What is your favourite thing about your job?
My favourite thing about my job is that every day is different and that I can work very flexibly. As I’m very much involved in all departments within the hotel and their daily business, there are so many things happening every day in which I can and have to be involved. Therefore, no day is like another, and I can challenge myself every day again.
Please tell us two unknown facts about your hotel that people don’t know.
Our restaurant Schwarzreiter is named after a fish. The Schwarzreiter fish was the favourite dish of King Ludwig, whose father, King Maximilian II, had Vier Jahreszeiten built in 1858. The fish is sometimes found on our menu in a modified form. The deep-sea char lives only in the Königssee in Bavaria and nowhere else.
The founder of the hotel chain Four Seasons, Isadore Sharp, stayed at Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten before he founded his hotel group. He then named his company Four Seasons in 1960 because he liked our hotel so much and used Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten as a benchmark for his own hotels.
How has working at Kempinski had an impact on your day-to-day life, either personally or professionally?
I met one of my best friends here at Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten during my apprenticeship. A few years back, she celebrated her 30th birthday, and I flew to Munich to celebrate with her. On that night, I met my wife for the first time, which has had a day-to-day impact on my life since then.