The Alexander Hotels Family: Tamas Jurca, General Manager, Alexander House
We caught up with Tamas Jurca, who joined the Alexander Hotels Family in 2017 at Alexander House. Tamas joined us as the Hotel Manager and has gone on to take the helm as General Manager of our flagship property. We talked to him about his experience in his native Hungary and his journey to us, what inspires him and his thoughts on the challenges ahead.
Tell us why you started working in hospitality and what you journey has been to your current position as General Manager with Alexander Hotels?
I was a typical young guy who didn’t know what he wanted to do until I saw one amazing building in Budapest transforming to a Luxury Hotel. I started my career in 2005 as a bellboy in the Four Seasons Gresham Palace Budapest. After 2 years I was offered a concierge position in the Sofitel Budapest and I left Hungary in 2009 and came to London as a part of an internal promotion. I followed the ‘regular’ hotel career path; first I became a duty manager, reception manager, front of house manager, operations manager and in 2017 became Hotel Manager for Alexander House. In October 2019 we were awarded with 5 red stars by the AA, which lead me to the General Manager position.
What are your top tips for people thinking of joining the industry?
Never gave up your dreams no matter how distant your desired goal is – if you work hard you will achieve it. Live your dream and experience as many departments as possible.
Of course the trade is going to change seismically in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the industry is known for being rapidly moving and adaptable. How has the industry changed over the years that you have seen?
What I love about the hotel industry is the constant change, our industry has charged dramatically since I started to work in hotels. I still remember seeing the first OTA bookings in the beginning of my career and that was a game changer for the industry. I enjoy the variation the hospitality industry offers. It’s both challenging and rewarding with every day being different. As a General Manager you have a real opportunity to make a difference to both customers and their experience, but also to staff and their work satisfaction.
What do you see being the main changes in the industry in light of the pandemic?
I think the Covid-19 pandemic in a another chapter in our industry because after this nothing will be the same – we will have to re-think our way of living and how we conduct business.
What’s been your favourite industry trend that you have seen in your career so far?
Seeing boutique hotels and Spas developing around the world.
Tamas and the wider Alexander House & Alexander Hotels team receiving the 5 AA Red Star award
If you could take a step back to heading a department again, which would it be and why?
I must admit I really liked my first job as a bell boy and will never forget those times. What I loved the most about the job was helping guests, and that was very new to me in the beginning.
Tell us about how you motivate and inspire your teams?
I know as a young manager how much my General Managers influenced me and my development. I was given this unique opportunity, and I want to give back to my staff, by helping them develop and grow. My team’s success is indeed my success.
How does being a General Manager influence your home-life?
Its not really affected my home life, I learned a long time ago how to balance family and work life in the best possible way.
What do you do to relax?
Various sport activities and spending time with my family.
Where do you find inspiration?
My inspiration is improvisation. Our day-to-day work is a lot about improvisation, but you cannot improvise to become a great hotelier, you can only improvise if you know your trade very, very well. It can appear from the outside that you make up the story or a decision, but it takes a lot of experience to make a quick decision. If you’re dealing VIPs and the issues they can encounter in a hotel, then the experience matters, so my inspiration comes from improvising on a daily basis. It’s something you can learn, but not at school.
What’s your favourite meal?
I don’t have a favourite really – always healthy!
What have you and your family been doing to stay positive during the lockdown?
Daily exercise, family board games, walks
What do you like the most about your property and about the AHC?
Everything 😊 The AHC is unique in every possible way, and has a historical aspect which is different from the traditional, contemporary hotels.
What’s your favourite destination and hotel in the world?
I can’t pick only one, my top 3 hotels are the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, UAE , Grand Resort Bad Ragaz in Switzerland, Bellagio Las Vegas , USA
Alexander House & Utopia Spa is based in the West Sussex countryside, and holds 5 red AA stars and 3 AA rosettes for dining.