Management Council Meetings

Manager of the Year 2008 - Paul van Wijk

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Paul C. van Wijk, Dolce Hotels and Resorts senior VP operations, received the EHMA European Hotel Manager of the Year Award during the gala dinner at the historic Alfonso XIII hotel in Seville. On receiving the award, van Wijk said he was very touched by the recognition from an association that represents managers of the highest quality hotels in Europe. “I will continue to show people the way to success in this very challenging business,” he said in an interview before accepting the award. Van Wijk has hospitality roots that go back to his childhood—his father owned a hotel in Holland, so he was always exposed to the business and was attracted to it at a young age. His curriculum vitae lists management positions with companies such as Hilton Hotels, Warwick International, Scandic Hotels, Marriott International, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts—representing more than 30 years in the business. In his current position as a regional manager for Dolce overseeing the U.S., van Wijk said he enjoys the opportunity to contribute at many hotels. “Dolce is going through a period of change in the service aspect of the company and the way the company wants to deal with the sales side,” he said. Some of his most rewarding positions were those in South Africa and Israel when he had the opportunity to bring in a new standard. “I had great experiences where in two countries the standard of living is completely different than Western Europe and the U.S.,” van Wijk said. “You had to deal with much more difficulty. You have to do a lot of training and careful selection of employees—that was a wonderful experience. It was a great reward to select your right team and put them all in one direction toward a common goal.” And with years of experience on which to rely, what does this manager think is the biggest challenge for the industry? “The speed by which we have to be doing business at the moment,” van Wijk said. “In sales it means being very technically savvy and to know: What is the competition doing? What is their pricing? For the client, what is their purpose? All those things have to line up to try and get a piece of business. “On the service side—it doesn’t matter if you have four or five or six stars. If you make a mistake, correct it. You have to be a step ahead of the client. If it’s a big group, what do they expect? It’s not big science, but I think it’s about being very detailed and to choose managers very carefully to bring that message down the line. These people have to be able to execute the small, important details.”

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