Hotel News Middle East talks to Ahmed el Shandawili, general manager of Sofitel Legend Old Cataract
Describe your first ever role in the hotel industry? Well, I started my career working as a busboy in a fine dining restaurant in one of the most famous restaurants in New York where we used to host most of the celebrities in the US. Then I started my way up the ladder until I became the training director for the company then general manager in New York City.
Who is the person who has inspired you most in your career? Although I have learned from each person that I have worked with my general manager at the Westin Hotel in the Starwood company back in 1998, where I occupied the position of director of food of beverage, was the biggest inspiration. I learned a lot from him as I gained my first leadership experience and I always respected his attention to fine details.
How do you view the hotel scene in the region? Upper Egypt will always be one of the most important destination for cultural tourists. With more than one sixth of the world’s antiquities and the very welcoming people, upper Egypt is like no place else. The historical richness of the destination makes it one of the must do for many travellers from all over the world.
What is the biggest challenge of your role? Due to the special character of the property and the top niche guests and high-end clienteles, it is very important to motivate the staff on a daily basis in order to deliver an exceptional standard of service and cater to the different needs of our guests.
What is the favourite aspect of your role? The diversity of people I meet from different places of the world and the drive to deliver best guest experience. My aim is that every guest will be an ambassador to the property, the brand and the destination.
If you could work in any hotel in the world which would it be? Four Seasons – anywhere in the world.
What tip would you share with new staff starting out in the F&B industry in the region? Enjoy what you are doing and never consider your job to be a routine. Smile and always be able to communicate openly with guests, colleagues and management. No matter how much experience you gain, always remain open to learn things.
- September 2015 until March 2017 general manager Movenpick Hotel Aswan Egypt.
- April 2012 until September 2015 director of operations Alameda international, Cairo Egypt .
- March 2006 until December 2011 resident manager Sofitel Winter Palace, Luxor Egypt.