Daniel Roger feels good. Comfortable and completely at ease. The kind of good feeling you’ll get in any of his Leonardo hotels throughout Europe. The Managing Director, armed with degrees in hotel management and 40 years of experience in international hotel chains, is finely tuned to feeling good and he wants his guests to feel the same.
“We want all our guests to feel like they’re staying in their second home. Yes, that comfortable,” he says. It’s a big call, considering Daniel, based in London, is in charge of making guests feel at home in more than 25,000 rooms across Europe and the UK. But it’s the company’s motto, ‘feeling good’, that inspires its 5,500 employees to ensure every guest experiences 100% satisfaction.
Daniel joined the Fattal hotel chain in 2006 as head of the European division, Leonardo, named after the Leonardo Hotel in Nuremberg. “I was running a small chain of hotels in the Czech Republic when David Fattal, with whom I worked many years ago, contacted me to ask if I’d join him running a hotel in Berlin and build up a chain throughout Europe,” David reflects. “We focused only on hotels in major cities, three to four star and four-star superior, and today we have more than 130 Leonardo hotels in 75 cities in 15 European countries, including Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Hungary, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, Poland, Netherlands, Spain and the UK.”
Daniel’s portfolio was expanded even further in December 2017 when he was appointed Managing Director of Fattal Hotels Europe and UK following the takeover of 36 Jurys Inn Hotels in cities throughout the UK and Ireland. Meanwhile, 10 new Leonardo hotels are planned to open in Europe this year, and another 20 are in the pipeline for Spain, Poland and Germany.
NYX Hotels was also launched last year under the Leonardo banner, offering more modern interiors, music and lighting to appeal to younger guests; Nyx being the goddess of the night in Greek mythology. The NYX brand will house exhibitions of influential artists, street and video art to welcome guests to receptions in cities including Munich, Milan, Madrid, Prague and Tel Aviv. “They offer a different atmosphere and attract a different clientele, building a base for our guests of the future,” says Daniel.
While the market may be ‘hot’ and Leonardo may be the fastest growing hotel chain in Europe, Daniel warns strong caution is needed to ensure success with every project, whether it be a new development, or renovation of an existing hotel. “There’s a lot of money around and prices for hotels and developments have skyrocketed,” he explains. “We always want to invest cautiously to ensure we succeed and won’t invest simply to be in a certain city. If we buy existing hotels, we have to improve and renovate them to our standards. That is not negotiable.”
The standard of Leonardo Hotels is undeniably high, thanks to renowned hotel designer Andreas Neudahm, who has worked with the chain for more than a decade. In each hotel, Andreas captures the character of the local region while providing familiar warmth for that coveted, homely feel.
“Our guests understand that when they come to Leonardo, the hotels are all similar in ambience, colour scheme and service,” Daniel says. “We ensure our interior design provides a consistency of standard and appeal, so our guests know exactly what to expect when they stay with us.”
A project close to Daniel’s heart is the establishment of the Leonardo Academy, which provides training and development spanning all levels of employment from interns to senior management. Programs include Youngster, which provides guidance in working techniques, conversational skills and career planning; Management, for young leaders; Expert, for experienced leaders; as well as sales programs for junior and senior staff.
“We already have 15 hotels run by people who actually grew with us through the academy,” Daniel says. “The hotel industry doesn’t offer the best base pay, and you can never be sure that people will stay with you, but if you demonstrate that a professional future within the company can be built, employees will stay loyal to you.
“If you demonstrate that a professional future within the company can be built, employees will stay loyal to you.”
“Our staff also try very hard,” Daniel adds. “You might find more experienced professionals out in the market, but the people who have grown with us understand our mentality and our philosophy. From day one, they take a leading position and it’s this initiative that flows through to our guests. And guest satisfaction is of the essence.”