“Hello everyone, I am Felizitas Denz, Hotel Manager at the east hotel Hamburg, which is right next to the Reeperbahn in the Red Light District and this is my SMACK story!
We are a lifestyle design hotel that feels almost like a little oasis where one can have a break from the big city. We used to be part of Design Hotels, but now we are a part of Preferred Hotels. The hotel contains of 172 rooms, a small sauna, a fitness area and a restaurant that is a must for locals in Hamburg. We always wanted to be a restaurant that also has a hotel, which has worked really well and is perceived as such by the guests. Among other things, events such as our ball, which we were finally able to hold again on the 30.04.22, are very popular with the guests. First we have a nice dinner and then, from 10 p.m. onwards, the courtyard is cleared out and becomes a dance floor with a light show and projections, which is always a real eye-catcher.
What’s also very nice is the restaurant Clouds, in the dancing towers, which is also part of east Cosmos. It offers you the best view over Hamburg and it’s always a mega highlight, especially during the birthday of the habour.
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.
The time in this new job was great and I really discovered my passion. Being a young leader was really cool but you also had to be really careful not to overestimate yourself and to still be humble. That’s why after 2 years I actually took a step back to gain more experience and applied for a job as a receptionist on the MS Europa. It was very important for me to see what I was already doing right in my leadership skills and what I could still improve. And a ship is a completely different, unique world anyway, which is insanely intense! The dress code was also very strict. With all the tattoos that I have now, I wouldn’t be allowed to do this job these days. In the east that is fine. You’re allowed to have tattoos in the hotel because it’s cool and edgy and we want exactly that. I say in every interview today, that I hire personalities! I can teach everyone the basics, but you can’t learn personality. It’s so important to give employees the freedom to think for themselves and to help shape their daily work. If trainees have an idea, my door is always open. Of course, sometimes it’s not fully developed, but you can do so much with that spark of an idea and then develop it further with them.
After my time on the ship, of course, my old job was no longer available. I then sat down again with the management from east and said “I completely understand. But I needed this step for my personal development.” I was super lucky, because they wanted me to come back and therefore created a new position for me. I was then allowed to start again as a performance manager, a position that didn’t exist before. Here, I first took care of the restaurant reservations and put it all together in a consistent way. After that, I concentrated on marketing and helped set up the entire e-commerce area, i.e. Google adwords, Google analytics. Through Revenue, I knew that this was essential and it allowed us to really increase our share of direct bookings immensely! This position was a great step, as I was able to do a lot of administrative work again, but I was also very involved operationally. I need both, I always have to have my fingers in the pie somehow, because only then can I communicate well with everyone and put everything together. Later, I took over the entire marketing area as a manager and was finally promoted to hotel manager two years ago. So goal achieved!
If I had to give one tip to women who aspire to a management position, it would be this: I know it takes courage to overcome your inner obstacles and believe in yourself, but it is the most important thing to do exactly that. You don’t have to know everything, but you have to know where to look and you should prepare yourself, because then you can also dare to take certain steps. Self-love and self-motivation are essential. But equally important is self-reflection and thus constant growth. You should not rest on your post, but rather enter into dialogue with your colleagues, communicate clearly and also be able to admit mistakes. Sometimes you just have to dare to do something and there is also no shame in taking a step back again. It is really important to me that my staff knows that I stand behind them 100% and will defend them. Of course we will evaluate mistakes afterwards but it is important that they know they are allowed to make them.
If you then look for a company that really supports you in the long term, that believes in you and that you fit into, the chances for your career are very good.
I love the culture here at East and I see so many people – myself included – who worked for this company, then left to see something else and later came back. For example, our restaurant leader Rajeef has been back for 3 years now. With interruptions, he has been at east for a total of 10 years! A lot of people from the restaurant left first and then came back because it was so nice. That’s really great and I believe there’s no better acknowledgment for a company than when employees come back. Serkan, from the Coast Restaurant, has been here for 15 years, I think. He did his apprenticeship here and then worked his way up to restaurant manager! And another great example is Lina Koch (picture 1, left) our Director of F&B. She started here straight after her apprenticeship, 17 years ago now. She even helped open the east and is now my direct counterpart in the F&B area. Obviously woman power here!
My résumé is actually that there is always something to complain about in every company – and I am not excluding myself here – but I am very happy, thankful and proud for being with east Cosoms. I really have a great group here that I work for and grow with. east Hotel will always be a part of me. It’s been 10 years of my life. I even got my own #iloveeast tattoo at the floor opening as part of a marketing campaign! Tattoos always tell a story and my personal story is very much shaped by this company, because they always believed in me and through them I was able to learn what I needed to get to where I am today.”