Tamás Fazekas seems to like challenges: after three hotel openings in the past two years, first in Dubai and then in Baku, his current mission, which he has been working on for three months, involves getting the Buddha-Bar Hotel Budapest Klotild Palace, the latest five-star hotel in Budapest and first member of the Mellow Mood Group, up to top speed. Taking stock of how things stand one year in, he said: “Our experiences to date show clearly that our hotel has found its place among Budapest’s five-star hotels.”
With such a new hotel, there is naturally still room for improvement in many areas, he said. The 65 per cent occupancy rate for the 102 rooms this year is still around ten to 15 per cent below target. Guests so far come chiefly from Scandinavia, Great Britain, Italy and France, followed by those from the German-speaking countries. The director general, who speaks excellent German, believes great potential still lies there, as well as with guests from the Far East and Central Asia, to whom the Buddha concept is designed to appeal.
The concept was developed some 20 years ago in Paris. The chain already has restaurants in 15 countries worldwide, while hotels were added only recently. The first opened in 2009 in Prague, followed by the second in Budapest last summer. As the last step of the expansion into the hotel industry for the time being, a third hotel will open in Paris in June.
According to Fazekas, the Buddha concept has established such a strong foothold worldwide that the hotel in Budapest is already sought out by lovers of the concept: “We have guests who specifically come to us for that reason.” In addition to restaurants, lounges and now also hotels, interior design elements, wellness options and even music are integrated into the concept.
The Buddha restaurant with its massive gilded Buddha statue offers a broad culinary selection, ranging from Japanese through Indonesian to Thai cuisine. The restaurant sees itself as more than a hotel restaurant. “We’re working on establishing the Buddha restaurant firmly on the Budapest fine-dining scene independently of the hotel,” Fazekas said. Currently around 60 per cent of the guests of the restaurant, which seats 120, are foreigners. “I would like more Hungarians to discover it.”
The restaurant is complemented by the Buddha-Bar Lounge, which is located a level above the restaurant and offers a wide range of cocktails, a pleasant lounge atmosphere and chill-out music each night. Another bar is named after the 102-year-old, beautifully renovated mansion: the Klotild Bar & Lounge is on the roof level but is only open for special occasions.
Beyond the Budapest sky, it reveals surprisingly little of District V’s surrounding buildings through the large panorama windows. It is possible to make out from here, however, the tower of the mansion where the Beghelli Suite, named after the Italian owners of the hotel, will soon await guests with three bedrooms on two levels.
What is more, it will be possible to reach one of the hotel’s meeting rooms and even a wine cellar via an internal lift from this exclusive suite.
The Beghelli suite is the only minor construction project still remaining in the entirely new hotel, unlike the current building sites in three directions around the building. “Construction noise isn’t what we dreamt of as birthday music but thanks to well-insulated windows it isn’t a problem,” the director general said.
Moreover, the environment will soon suit the luxury establishment better than before and open up the hotel, he said. Once the construction work it is over it will be possible to use the hotel terrace on Váci utca, where the west side of the hotel complex lies, even more easily for drinking coffee or simply watching the bustle on Budapest’s main tourist shopping strip.
Fazekas will surely be helped by his experiences in Dubai when it comes to reinforcing the position of the hotel. “In Dubai there are around 80,000 hotel rooms in the upper segment. As a hotelier you simply can’t afford to make any mistakes and have to have an uncompromising policy of quality.” Implementation of the policy requires the smooth functioning of the “golden triangle”, consisting of the guests, staff and owners. “These three points of the triangle need to be considered when all decisions are made,” Fazekas said. It is only when all three points are permanently satisfied that the overall product is right and business also goes well, he added.
District V, Váci utca 34
Tel. (+36-1) 799-7300