Ingo Peters' Story
I went through a traditional German Hotel Apprenticeship, going through all departments of the Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten in Hamburg from Front Office, Reservations, Housekeeping, F&B, Purchasing, Wine Cellar etc; the only two I didn’t go into were the Floristic and Laundry, which were reserved for lady apprentices only. From there I went to hotel school, learning the commercial part of the business to complement what I had learned in operations.
The apprenticeship took three years and then I left Germany and went to the Savoy Group in London, working at The Berkeley Hotel in the fine dining room. After nearly two years in London I went to America to Cornell University Hotel School and stayed in the United States for almost eight years. I was part of the opening team at The Westin, Copley Place in Boston and started in the Stewarding Department, continued as Convention Services Manager, was then promoted to Assistant Director of F&B and finally after 5 years became Director of F&B.
I then moved to Philadelphia opening the Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia as Executive Assistant Manager and transferred after two years also as Executive Assistant Manager to the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel in California. My next assignment brought me to Asia for six years, there I took up my first General Manager position at the Mandarin Oriental Phuket Yacht Club, in the south of Thailand. That was a good experience and completely different because it was a resort property. I then transferred again as General Manager to The Mandarin Oriental, Jakarta where I was overseeing the complete renovation of the hotel.
In 1997 Raffles Hotels & Resort bought Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten in Hamburg, Germany and offered me the Position as General Manager and Regional Vice President. Next year I will mark 25 years as a in Hamburg and the hotel will have its 125-year anniversary. We will be having a big party on February 24, when the Vier Jahreszeiten was inaugurated in 1897.
I always wanted to see people, travel and be practical, hands-on, and the only way to do that was to join the hospitality industry. It is the biggest industry in the world, the options are limitless – everywhere there is a hotel or restaurant; and people are promoted quickly because this industry is always looking for good talent. There are a few drawbacks: if you don’t like to work weekends or evenings, odd hours, it is not for you.
Travel builds character. In a different country, with a different language and different culture, you have to find your way. It is an adventure if you come from a protected home environment; you learn to work with different mentalities, you earn their respect and show you can adhere to the customs of a foreign country. If you want to be in a management position and progress in a 5-star international company you must have international experience.
For those who have joined the hospitality industry, it gives endless opportunities – it depends what you make of it. We have a lot of positions and promote from within, so if you are doing a good job and want to advance your career, even if an outside candidate is slightly better qualified, I will still take someone working inside the company because I know what I get. You can move up the ranks very quickly and choose anywhere you want to work within a hotel – F&B, Events, Rooms Division, Sales & Marketing, Talent & Culture – the hospitality industry offers endless opportunities.
- Ingo Peters
- General Manager
- Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten (Germany)