Christoph Hoffmann, Director of Hamburg’s 25hours hotel, has been voted “Hotelier of the Year” in February marking the second win for a Hanseatic hotel in the space of just three years. In 2014, Ingo C. Peters, Director of the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten, won the accolade of the AHGZ Monitor of the Hotel and Guesthouse Association.
Hamburg News spoke to Christoph Hoffmann about the individualisation concept behind the 25hours hotel, the reopening of the Altes Hafenamt Hotel and Hamburg as a hotel destination.
Hamburg News: Congratulations Mr. Hoffmann. Did the award “Hotelier of the Year” surprise you?
Christoph Hoffmann: Yes and no. In recent years, it has become clear that 25hours hotels are seen as a special brand. But this award honours a team consisting of four shareholders, Ardi Goldmann, Stephan Gerhard and Kai Hollmann, Hamburg hotelier per se, and me as well as our staff of course. It is like a soccer match. The whole team, not just the trainer, wins it. But in view of the overall performance, I think we have earned this award.
Hamburg News: “Hotelier of the Year“ is a great title and honour. Does such a prize bring more guests to the 25hours hotels?
Christoph Hoffmann: The media presence created by such a title attracts attention beyond the sector. When the media report, one or the other person thinks: “Oh, they have an excellent concept.” And then they will pop into “Neni” when we open in April or May.
Hamburg News: The “Neni” is a restaurant in the 25hours hotel Altes Hafenamt in Hafencity and had to close after a fire last year. Will everything be as it was before the fire or have you made changes?
Christoph Hoffmann: We have essentially designed everything as it was before – the hotel had only been open for three months when the fire broke out. But we gained more experience in that short space of time and are putting it towards the reopening. We have made a few technical changes and rearranged the seating in “Neni”. The restaurant will boast even more of the original red brick walls which we exposed during cleaning. We had to use the sandblaster unfortunately to get rid of the soot.
Hamburg News: Does your catering concept aim to attract the people of Hamburg as well as hotel guests?
Christoph Hoffmann: The whole concept does and not just that of catering. The lobby is designed to inspire people and stir up curiosity. We wish to create a space for people who wish to meet in their own city – a living room for the neighbourhood. The approach is based on an idea by Kai Hollmann, who had a huge success with his first hotel “Gastwerk” in Bahrenfeld. The first 25hours hotel “Number One” was set up in an office building opposite “Gastwerk” which continued its design and lifestyle approach focusing on the history of the neighbourhood and the property itself. Every building needs its own style. That’s how something special emerges.
Hamburg News: Is that the idea behind the slogan “If you know one, you don’t any“?
Christoph Hoffmann: Yes. I’m convinced that every building needs a story. So before we start designing and decorating, we plan along the lines of a story that matches the location. Each place is different – and another building is created every time. That’s how we stand out from hotel chains that standardise everything. Individualisation requires courage, strength, effort and money.
Hamburg News: Is your approach paying off?
Christoph Hoffmann: I think so. A 90 per cent occupancy rate in our hotels speaks for itself. And we are proud to show that it can be done differently. We recently took over a Mercure Hotel in Paris and will turn it into a 25hours hotel over the next 18 months. The theme of the hotel will be “Coming and Going” in reference to the Gare du Nord station, which is quasi opposite the hotel in our suburb, the 10th Arrondissement. It has a strong multi-cultural flair with people from Maghreb and Central Africa especially the Congo. And exactly these people, artists and local heroes will help design the hotel. We will tell for instance the story of “sapeurs” – Congolese men who paraded around the streets dressed as dandies to protest against the “white colonial powers”.
Hamburg News: Your many travels gives you many places for comparison. How do you rate Hamburg as a tourist destination?
Christoph Hoffmann: Hamburg is my favourite city. That’s why the head office of 25hours hotel and that of my family is here. I would like even more international clients to discover the city as a tourist destination. At present, we see mainly German-language tourists on the streets of Hamburg. And when the Fontenay, a truly luxurious hotel opens, Hamburg will change slightly. I firmly believe that Hamburg holds huge potential.
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