The Regent Porto Montenegro Hotel & Residences is well on course to open in July 2014 as planned, here we interview the hotel’s first staff member and the man charged with making the magic happen, General Manager Mr. Michael Posch.
Michael, first of all, a warm welcome to Montenegro, please tell us a little about yourself by way of an introduction.
Thank you, I am delighted to be here. Well, where do I start? I am originally from Austria, where I studied Tourism Management before beginning my career in hotels. I love running and outdoor sports; I even recently ran the Berlin Marathon! I am also a keen sailor and sail around the Kornati islands in Croatia every year with friends. It was during one of these trips that I first came across Montenegro and the Bay of Kotor. My wife, who joins me here, is a self-employed interior designer and is just as excited about this new life by the sea as I am.
Tell us about your professional history in the hotel industry?
I have spent time in different areas of Germany but I originally moved to Munich in 1993 for my management training with Hilton Hotels before being transferred to the Berlin Hilton, right around the corner from the Regent Berlin in fact. During my time with Hilton I moved into the convention sales department, selling meetings and event spaces. It was from this position that I became involved with the opening of the festival centre at the Estrel Hotel – the biggest convention hotel and entertainment centre in Europe. I then worked with Intercontinental Hotels Group at one of their hotels in Munich where I was responsible for overseeing the refurbishment of an entire floor into a new convention area, I also looked after room sales whilst there. After that, I set up my own restaurant business with a school friend in a town west of Munich. It was an amazing project with a large beer garden, two restaurants and catering service for the town’s convention hall. Four years later though, I decided to move back to Berlin to take up another role as Director of Sales at the Estrel Hotel. When a colleague later asked me to assist with the opening of the 5-star Leonardo Royal Hotel in Berlin, a 349-room hotel with a very nice conference centre in a historical building, I accepted the challenge and when she left at the end of 2011 I took over as General Manager. After that, well Porto Montenegro came around the corner, and that’s where we are now.
Why do you think Regent Hotels & Resorts chose Montenegro as the next destination in their portfolio?
This is a truly unique place, this project offers everything all in one: shops, restaurants, residences and a marina, all at a very high standard. The hotel is not a standalone property – it’s one part of a larger project where different elements work together to create one great experience.
What kind of clientele do you expect at the hotel?
If you take our other destinations like Bali, Phuket or Singapore, whether it’s a city hotel or a resort, the people who stay with us are looking for luxury. Throughout the summer season here in Tivat we have an idea of who the clientele will be; yacht owners and their guests, friends of current Porto Montenegro residents, people holding events in the marina, and so on – we have already had several requests for weddings and private parties for example. During the shoulder seasons, that is April to June and September to October, we hope to attract those who enjoy an outdoors lifestyle – mountains, hiking, cycling, and so on. The hotel will also be well equipped for business travel, meetings and incentives. Throughout the low season, starting from November to late February, we will aim to bring in business travellers. In the future, the completion of the nearby golf courses will help us considerably as the weather right now is perfect for golf. The casino, which is still in planning, will be the main attraction during the rainy months, especially on weekends in October through to March also.
What does the hotel offer in terms of leisure facilities?
We have the spa, a signature feature of all Regent Hotels, and the only one of its standard in the area. It will include an indoor pool, outdoor pool, saunas, gym and therapies. The nearby Lido Mar pool is also something we will incorporate for guests, it’s a beautiful setting and the perfect spot for a sundowner.
Tell me a little bit about the team you are recruiting at the moment?
To provide service at Regent standards we need a lot of people, in total 160 – 170 employees. The department heads will need to have international experience but the rest we hope will be local, and be put into a 6-month training programme. The key positions will be a Director of Sales and Marketing, Head of Events and Conferences, Financial Controller, F&B Manager and Executive Chef and some additional Sales, Marketing and PR support. Training will be a huge task, so in addition to a HR manager I will also be employing a training manager. We have a close relationship with the Regent Berlin, where some of the Porto Montenegro staff have been trained previously, so we can link with them if necessary, we also have the support of our head office in Taipei.
How do you think the Regent will impact the hotel industry in Montenegro?
The hotel’s 5-star standards and interiors are very much in line with the country’s elite tourism plan and will help move this forward. The coastline is very similar to Croatia but in my view this country should be more cautious with its coastal development – large resorts with prominent concrete buildings should be avoided! The luxury clientele is here, and growing year on year in Porto Montenegro; I’m hopeful that as more hotels and projects invest in the region transport links will improve, not just in frequency but also the variety of destinations. For more information please visit Regent Porto Montenegro