Just by taking a look at its classical façade, you can immediately see that the Corinthia Hotel Budapest belongs to the generation of vintage luxury hotels. It’s even the oldest one in the city by far with its 120 years. General Manager Jean Pierre Mifsud would like to use the opportunity of this round anniversary to call attention to this decisive difference from other Budapest hotels.
An exhibition about the hotel’s history will open in early May, calling attention to the memorable anniversary. The exhibition will present old and current hotel uniforms for example, which have been used in the former Royal Hotel situated on the Grand Ring Road. “However, we will be also offering different anniversary packages throughout the whole year, in order to celebrate our round birthday,” Mifsud promised during his interview with The Budapest Times.
The general manager has been leading the hotel since last August, when his predecessor, the German Thomas Fischer, took over the direction of the Corinthia in London. Mifsud, who is originally from Malta, had been managing the Marina Hotel Corinthia Beach Resort in St. George’s Bay in his home country up until August. St. George’s Bay is just a few kilometres west of the capital of Malta, Valletta.
After having worked almost two decades for the Corinthia Group already – in Lisbon as well as on Malta – the transfer to Budapest was a real promotion for him. “Among the nine hotels in our group the ones in London and Budapest are the flagships,” he explains.
Healthy and well-diversified income structure
The group’s Budapest location is also doing well in terms of business. “A good strategy was followed in the last five years,” Mifsud says with confidence based on his experience in his first eight months here. The hotel with 439 guest rooms is very well-positioned and has a healthy and well-diversified income structure. The guest structure is a good mixture almost evenly composed from business and leisure travellers.
As a classical hotel they are increasing their profits in the leisure branch thanks to the prosperous cruise ship sector. “People who take part in cruises on the Danube usually have solid financials and they are arriving here to get to know the authentic Budapest. It’s not surprising that our hotel is very popular among them,” Mifsud says.
“We are just ten minutes from the Danube but on the other hand we are clearly closer to many of the Budapest attractions.” The popular Jewish Quarter or the beautiful Andrássy Avenue with the State Opera House are just a few minutes walk from the hotel. Since city tourists spend only about two to three nights in Budapest on average, we should not underestimate the importance of the time factor for them.
When we ask Mifsud to name the top three Budapest attractions that tourists should see, he immediately points out that two to three days is definitely too little time to visit the most important sights. However, he still puts a top list together: Heroes Square, Parliament both by day and night, the Opera House and the Jewish Quarter with its world-famous Great Synagogue. “Budapest is a great city for fans of architecture and photography,” he thinks. However, you should not miss its thermal spas either, especially the Széchenyi and the Gellért.
Budapest is becoming more and more attractive
All in all Mifsud clearly has the impression that Budapest is becoming more and more attractive both for tourists and for business people. “Budapest today is like the region of Prague ten years ago,” he believes. Many people who already know Prague and Vienna are coming to visit Budapest now. When he was recently on a short business visit to the US, he learned that Budapest is “on the radar” for potential guests from there as well.
By the way, the general manager is also one of the enthusiastic visitors to Budapest. “I have never regretted my decision for Budapest, not even for one day,” he says firmly. Even during the winter months the city was “fantastic”, the southerner adds, perhaps surprisingly. However, he will be completely happy in only a few months, when his family from Malta will follow him. They will move into a house on the Buda side.
Until now Mifsud has been living in his hotel, or more precisely in the adjoining apartment-hotel behind the Corinthia. This was an advantage during the first months, when he was still getting to know his new workplace. He does not think that any major changes are necessary to the strategy prepared by his predecessor, or at most some careful fine-tuning would be needed.
For example, he will take care that the online positioning of his hotel on the international market improves and its selling potential is better utilised. He will also be working on improving the profitability of the hotel in terms of cost management and pricing. This is also just fine-tuning. After all, the trend is right: “Our profitability is moving in the right direction.”
Another unique feature
The same stands for the “hardware”, where again no major change is needed. His predecessor took care of this, such as the renovation of the 14 executive suites, which was finished at the end of March. Shortly after Mifsud’s arrival in August he could already take over the freshly finished Royal Lounge. This is a special business lounge for the hotel’s conference guests. It was created by rebuilding some of the rooms in the back part of the eastern atrium and a part of the courtyard, which had been rarely used.
“As a result we are able to offer our conference guests something like an exclusive executive club, which is unique among all the five-star hotels in Budapest,” Mifsud explains. This innovative business idea does not only sound right, it actually works in practice too. The feedback from the conference guests has been “excellent” up until now, he says with satisfaction.
Among the few fine-tunings there is also the relaunch of Rickshaw, the Far Eastern hotel restaurant, planned at the end of this month. The menu will be updated, for which the chef found inspiration from London among other places. In addition they will be in close co-operation with the other four Rickshaw restaurants within the Corinthia group. The aim is that the Budapest Rickshaw improves its authenticity in terms of Far Eastern cuisine. In addition to sharpening its profile it should also step out from the shadows of the hotel and gain a better position on the market of Budapest restaurants.
Gaining customers via the “at your doorstep” idea is also behind the plan to create an attractive public viewing area for the Euro 2016 football championship in June and July, at the eastern atrium of the hotel in front of “Le Bar”. To support this possibility even a usually closed entrance leading to the Grand Ring Road would be opened up.