There are many interesting people living and working in Taipei, all with different and challenging daily routines. In this issue, TAIPEI gets an insight into the daily life of Achim V. Hake, General Manager of The Sherwood Taipei (台北西華飯店).
Starting his career as a hotelier in Germany in the late 1980s, Hake worked in Atlanta and Hong Kong before relocating to Taipei in 1992. After nearly 20 years in Taiwan’s hotel industry, he took over the General Manager position at The Sherwood in 2011 and has been at the helm of the hotel’s operations ever since.
From the World to Taipei
Asked about his experience of working in the hotel industry in many different countries, Hake thinks Taipei’s hotels have evolved over the years. “When I first arrived, Sherwood was the first five-star hotel in Taipei. Unlike other developed countries, we had to build everything from zero,” he says. Nowadays, more high- end options are available for guests to choose from, but what makes hotels in Taipei different from their counterparts? “I believe in the concepts of quality first and personalized services,” he answers, “rather than quantity or just thinking about being the pioneer.”
Over the years, Hake’s hotel has won the trust of many high-profile guests, including Jackie Chan, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and even former President George Bush and his wife Barbara. “Treating guests well is a huge part of getting them to return. If they have a positive experience of the hotel and the city, they are much more likely to come back to Taipei,” he adds.
Daily Routine… But not Routine
Hake’s duties range from sales meetings to overseeing room renovations and greeting guests in the lobby. He is not a fan of routine and setting out plans to follow, and no two work days for Hake are exactly the same. “Routine will destroy you,” he says. “I try my best to be here around eight o’clock to see the guests in the breakfast room,” he adds before stressing he doesn’t watch the clock. “People tell you stories and in the morning, they talk from the heart, nothing is sugarcoated.”
This kind of hands-on service is the biggest feature of this classic Taipei hotel. “At home, if you have guests, what do you do? Stay in bed and wait for them to leave and close the door behind them? No, you show them out properly, and that’s what we do here.”
As the pandemic has hit the travel industry hard, Hake’s hotel has had to seek new ways to keep the business going. Instead of registering as a quarantine hotel, Hake’s policy now is focusing on developing take-out lunch boxes that feature high-end ingredients such as lobster, steak and grouper, as guests are not allowed to dine in, an innovative solution that has garnered a lot of attention from the marketplace. (Here’s a sample if you’d like to order one.)
Stretching Hotel Managing Philosophies to Daily Life
Hake believes social interaction is a key factor to grow the potential of a business. “I believe in networking,” he says. This is the reason why Hake’s job is effectively Monday to Sunday. Attending banquets or hosting meetings before the pandemic and talking with people from different backgrounds always give Hake the chance to learn from others, which can be applied to managing the hotel. Even the small things like eating out with friends can be meaningful to him. “I’m a big fan of Din Tai Fung,” he says. “To me, it’s more than eating xiaolongbao (小籠包). Their service quality is world-famous, and it’s something we can learn from.” (Read more: Taiwan’s Top 10 Soup Dumplings)
As a foreigner having resided in Taipei for nearly three decades, Hake’s life has been closely intertwined with people in the city. Apart from his busy work schedule, he often shares his management philosophies with Taipei locals. “I have appointments on and off with student groups, with business groups, many of whom also welcome clients and want to learn about hospitality.”
From all aspects of his day-to-day life in this dynamic city, Hake gleans something he can turn into an insight at the Sherwood, a testament to the inspiration the city of Taipei can provide on a daily basis.
Author: Alan Hunt
Photographer: Samil Kuo, Sherwood Taipei
This article is reproduced under the permission of TAIPEI. Original content can be found at the website of Taipei Travel Net (www.travel.taipei/en).
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