Reception Supervisor, Raffles London at The OWO (United Kingdom)

Florian Mendes

Florian Mendes' story

Growing up, my mother’s career in hospitality exposed me to endless stories of hotel life. Although initially, I was not willing to dedicate my time to hospitality, but my perception completely changed when I turned 18. It all started as I was eager to go on a holiday with my friends, but my parents did not want to pay for it, and I took up a summer job at Pullman Marseille airport hotel. I worked as an F&B Assistant, mainly in breakfast shifts, and gained invaluable experience. Despite the early mornings, I loved the fast-paced and exciting environment of the hotel and was able to save enough money to fund my travels.

Upon returning from my travels, I asked the hotel if I could work part-time during my breaks from school. They agreed and I was thrilled to work early breakfast shifts at the Pullman. The experience of serving guests from different countries, chatting with them, and improving my English was unique and exciting.

After a year at the hotel, I went on an exchange program in Scotland and worked part-time at Hilton in Glasgow. It was a 350-bedrooms hotel with more than 500 guests at breakfast every morning, so a very busy service. But I was really happy there. My friends thought I was crazy, doing an early breakfast shift at the hotel and then going straight to the university. However, due to the pandemic, I had to move back to France.

Upon completing my bachelor’s degree, I enrolled in ESCP Business School for a master’s in hospitality as I knew I wanted to dedicate my time into the industry. I had the opportunity to study at their Madrid campus.

By then I knew I wanted to gain more hands-on experience to compliment my academic studies. I decided to look for graduate programmes and I knew that Accor’s INSPIRE program is one of the best. I sent my CV directly to different hotels, including Sofitel St James in London that was my mother’s favourite Sofitel property. Despite the second lockdown in the UK, I had my first interview with the hotel team, and they offered me the opportunity to join them in July 2021 as the hotel was re-opening its doors to the guests.

What really attracted me to the INSPIRE program is the cross-exposure of departments. It really is a unique opportunity to move across departments in such a quick succession, something you may not be able to do in a regular working environment. You are usually trained in one department and then slowly grow within it. INSPIRE allows you to gain invaluable experience in a short period of time.

Second benefit is the team and the mentors. Marie-Paule Nowlis, the General Manager of Sofitel St James and Stelios Karatzas, Director of Talent and Culture were my mentors and introduced me to a lot of people and teams, helping me with networking. I really enjoyed having all these people around me during the program, it really was a unique experience to have this support on daily basis.

During my time at Sofitel, I really enjoyed working on the reception and guest relations. But I never shied away from learning other aspects of the hotel – I worked in F&B, in Sales and the Revenue team. I learned a lot from various department Heads, got to know various sides of hospitality that I’m sure I’ll find useful later in life.

As my time at Sofitel was coming to the end, I wasn’t sure where to go next. I knew that I liked being either in the reception or revenue and most of it being part of projects. I was exploring both when this opportunity to join the opening of the Raffles London at The OWO came up. I like working on projects and being part of the opening team for such a landmark hotel was just the perfect fit.

What makes it special to work in hospitality is being surrounded by both guests and colleagues. It feels like being part of a family when you arrive at work, surrounded by colleagues who share your passion for serving guests. Success is only achieved when working closely together as a team. The team being built at Raffles is expected to be exceptional and I look forward to the day we open so that guests can also experience this atmosphere.

Working in hospitality means being surrounded by people who love what they do and bring their passion to work every day. At Raffles, we strive to create personalized moments and build relationships with our guests for them to “Return as family” which is our slogan. This is what hospitality is all about, creating something meaningful and lasting. It’s a rare experience that few jobs can offer.

  • Florian Mendes
  • Reception Supervisor
  • Raffles London at The OWO (UK)