With this format, we aim to capture moving stories and moments from within the hospitality and tourism industry. Hospitality is colourful and what drives us all most are the people we meet and the stories we share and experience.

People. Stories. Hospitality.
Whether it is your most memorable moment, your funniest story, your most heart-breaking experience or your most rewarding accomplishment – we would love to have you on SMACK and share it with us and our community to show the core of hospitality through Hospitality & Tourism industry leaders.



Meet Claudie Ravel
Founder & Manager
Eco Lanka & Guayapi

Hello everybody, I am Claudie Ravel. I founded the commercial company Guayapi 33 years ago when I was pregnant.

Originally I am a jurist, and I worked as such for 12 years before building the Guayapi company in Paris. I was working in the management of a well know garments company, and I was in charge of the global license as well as the communication fields of the company. I decided to open my own business after I became pregnant. I wanted to focus on my own culture and education as that was significant to me. My mother educated me about the products in homeopathy and plants in our own garden, and my father taught us about diversity of native cultures all over the world. That’s how Guayapi Paris was founded in 1990.



Meet Lars Heesbeen
Director of Sales
Mariott Downtown Abu Dhabi

My name is Lars and I’m originally from the Netherlands. I’m currently working as the Multi-Property Director of Sales at the Abu Dhabi edition, the Marriott Hotel Downtown Abu Dhabi, and the Marriott Executive Apartments Abu Dhabi.

I have a bit of an interesting background: My dad was in the military, and we would move to different countries very often, but I enjoyed that. I was born in Germany, lived in the Netherlands, and we moved to the United States, back to Europe, and to Abu Dhabi. When I was growing up, I also wanted to go into the military but seeing my dad tour different warzones and handle post-traumatic stress disorder, that’s not something I wanted for myself.



Meet David Frei
General Manager
Grace La Margna St. Moritz

Hello everybody. My name is David Frei, I am the General Manager of the Grace La Margna St. Moritz and this is my humans of hospitality story!

My dream was actually to become a pilot as I wanted to fly around the world and discover new places and cultures. I had already started my application when the Swissair grounding happened. So my dream grounded as well and after serving my obligatory service in the Swiss army for almost two years I was thinking of following my father’s footsteps in becoming a lawyer. I started studying law and economics in St. Gallen, butI learnt pretty fast that this is not for me at all.”



Meet Anna Haumer
Employer Branding Specialist

My name is Anna Haumer, I am the Employer Branding Specialist at Zoku and this is my story!

Hospitality always has something to do with purpose because you get so much of it by interacting with people, passion, as well as a little bit of frustration to be honest because the industry is not adapting fast enough to the new generation and time. I’m super purpose driven and even though I was very successful in my life as a chef and received a Michelin star as the youngest woman ever in Austria, there was still something missing for me and that is how Zoku and I matched.”



Meet Ashley Abodeely
Executive Chef
The NoMad Hotel London

Hi everyone, I’m Ashley Abodeely, Executive Chef at the NoMad Hotel London and this is my story:

The first buzzwords that describe my job as a chef are exhilarating, the respect for the product, education and growing with the times. I started my journey when I was 16 years old. I didn’t come from a chef’s or restaurant family, but I was taught to be hardworking, dedicated, caring and to treat people respectfully. I saw something in that when I was in high school and cooked in my culinary program. An opportunity presented itself and I got to go to the Culinary Institute of America, which helped me build the foundation of why people are chefs. I cook because I love everything revolving around food: eating it, feeding people, watching their reactions, the nostalgia and the excitement you get through these stories.”



Meet Max-Merlin Ries
People and Culture Coordinator
Hotel Telegraphenamt Berlin

“Hello everyone, my name is Max-Merlin Ries and I currently hold the position of People and Culture Coordinator at the Hotel Telegraphenamt Berlin. I began working in the hospitality industry at a young age as a part-time dishwasher in a retirement home before moving on to become a bartender at the Park Plaza Hotel in order to earn some pocket money. It was then that I realised the excitement that came with working in the hotel industry, leading me to pursue a dual study degree in hotel management. By interconnecting theoretical training with practical work, this degree allowed me to already gain professional experience during my studies.”



Meet Nadja Dahlmann
Director of Marketing & PR

“Hi, my name is Nadja Dahlmann and I’m currently the Director of Marketing & PR at the AMANO Group. I’m originally from Hamburg, where I have lived since I was six months old. Previously I was leading the marketing management of two hotels, the Empire Riverside Hamburg and the Hotel Hafen Hamburg. I`ve now moved to Berlin for a new challenge and a new concept. I really enjoyed my previous job, I was there for a total of 12 years, with 7 of them in marketing.  I was fortunate to be given a lot of responsibility in my previous role, but I was super interested in this new opportunity and challenge. I’ve always said to myself that I’ll only change if I see a vision in a new employer and the potential to grow with the brand. I’d change if it brings me joy and if I can take on at least as much responsibility as before. With AMANO I can definitely do that! Lots of people with passion, who have lots of ideas, a desire for change, and who are always on fire!”



Meet Felizitas Denz
Hotel Manager
east group

“Hello everyone, I am Felizitas Denz, Hotel Manager at the East Hamburg, which is right next to the Reeperbahn in the Red Light District. We are a lifestyle design hotel that feels almost like a little oasis where one can have a break from the big city.

I’ve been in the East Group cosmos for 10 years now, with a few interruptions. I got my start in the industry during my apprenticeship at the Side Hotel, also here in Hamburg, then I went to the 4 Jahreszeiten Hotel and worked in the restaurant there. At some point, I reached the state where I wanted to have more regular working hours, so I switched to reservations at the east Hotel. My big dream was always to be F&B manager at 30. However, the goal changed and I set myself a new goal, namely to be a hotel manager at 30. With pride I can say, I was able to fulfil this dream right after my 30th birthday. After my time in reservations, wanderlust got a hold of me again and I went to Australia at the age of 23. For the first six months, I was a cashier and host, where my previous experience in reservations and reception served me well. Then, when I wanted to travel, I got a call from Okan Yenigün, our current COO, offering me a job as Front of House and Revenue Manager, which of course I couldn’t say no to, with my goal in mind. Besides, I had only left east because I wanted to gain new experiences and develop myself.”



Meet Anna Fedl
General Manager
Boutiquehotel Stadthalle Vienna

“Hello, I’m Anna Fedl, general manager at the Boutiquehotel Stadthalle, which is the greenest hotel in Vienna and the first SDG hotel worldwide. We’ve made it our mission to communicate the importance of sustainability to our guests transparently but also with humour and charm. In order to achieve this, we renovated 17 rooms in 2020 and dedicated each of them to one of the UN’s sustainability goals. This offers a creative way of getting familiar with the topic.

The idea for the SDGs rooms was brought to us by an association, called “gabarage”, who helps people to reintegrate them into working life. They approached us and asked whether we had already heard about the SDGs and if we would like to design a few of our rooms according to them. We were excited about the idea, especially since we didn’t know anything about these goals at the time. Funnily enough, we had been thinking about renovating a part of the building anyway, which was now just a little older than 10 years.”



Meet Christian Huschka
General Manager & Coach
Karma Bavaria

“Servus everyone! My name is Christian Huschka, I’m the General Manager and Coach at Karma Bavaria. The Karma Bavaria at the beautiful Schliersee is a multifaceted hotel resort with 65 rooms, suites, and apartments, with the largest indoor wellness area in town, fine local cuisine with a Scandinavian twist, and personal warmth, in other words, our version of “international hotel meets Bavarian hospitality”.

Born in Ingolstadt, Bavaria, where the Reinheitsgebot for beer was decreed in 1516, I’ve spent my hotel career with luxury brands Kempinski and Sofitel for 18 years, and in the private hotel industry for 4 years. Most of the time in Munich, briefly in Frankfurt and Hamburg, and for 9 years in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.

During my time in “Mama Africa”, I’ve lived in Chad, Tanzania, and Rwanda – this alone a thousand stories to tell! And hospitality is perhaps the best industry in the world, because you meet so many cultures and people and learn so much from them.”



Meet Dominic Neill
Community & Brand Partnerships Manager
The Student Hotel Berlin

“My first taste of “real” hospitality was being thrust into the role of reception manager at a Hostel in Berlin. No educated idea of what I was doing, I channeled the same zest for life and blind willingness to succeed that I displayed at my first job at “The Greek Sizzler” in Johannesburg, South Africa. Back then, Kosta the owner, insisted I memorized the entire menu in Greek… a bizarre request since I very clearly did not speak Greek but apparently this made us quote unquote “authentic”. I didn’t know it at the time but my newly found authenticity and lesson in going the extra mile would be invaluable.

Today I apply the short, yet bumpy rollercoaster like learnings to my role as Connector (Brand Partnerships and Community Manager) at The Student Hotel.



Meet Verena Jaeschke,
Hotel Director
Oderberger Hotel Berlin

“With all the challenges that Corona has brought to our industry, I have come to love my job all over again. As a quick introduction: we’re not just the Boutiquehotel Oderberger, but belong to the GLS Language Centre with the GLS Campus. This means, in addition to the pure hotel business, we also have a gastronomy, event and long-stay concept for adult education. With that in mind, it really was a crushing experience to be closed, to no longer see your colleagues and also to no longer see the guests. But in this context, many good things also happened during the months of pandemic that showed me what really is worth fighting for. On the one hand, I am proud that we were able to keep all our amazing regular guests, that we gained new ones and that, as soon as we were allowed to open again, we had a great occupancy rate and a loyal customer base again very quickly. That means so much!

For example, during the lockdown period we had a very sweet couple from whom I received an email saying: “Mrs Jaeschke, we just wanted to tell you that we really appreciate your team, we love being your guests and we have just transferred 250 euros to the hotel account. Please distribute this as a tip to the staff as you see fit.” Just like that!…”