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Andrew Gajary was recently hired as the general manager for Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park.
1. What are you most looking forward to in your new role as the general manager for Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park?
I am looking forward to being back in this most authentic of US markets and immersing myself in the Fairmont Brand—a legacy brand with an amazing global reputation and some truly iconic hotels in the portfolio. Their vision of luxury is definitely in line with my vision of hospitality. When one combines the destination with the brand’s offerings, the synergies are pretty amazing.
2. How do you think your past industry experience has prepared you for this role?
Having worked in a variety of roles around the world for several different brands, I have had the unique opportunity to see the hotel business from different paradigms and have learned a lot about adapting to changes and curveballs.
Some of this also stems from understanding the best ideas typically come from the team in the trenches. They know the challenge (both the source and the outcome) far better than those of us who spend too much time in our offices.
3. What goals do you have in mind for the hotel for this year and farther down the line?
There are certainly exciting times coming at the Fairmont Chicago. The Bar, our lobby bar, is the first step in making the hotel’s food and beverage offerings more relevant to our guests and more connected to the destination. Chicago is one of the best food and drink destinations in the country. The Bar's craft cocktails, great wine and awesome food pairings are a wonderful way to start or finish a night out for our guests. That said, the menu is pretty robust so I’ll probably catch some full meals here in the middle of the lobby.
The really exciting part of our F&B changes revolve around the Columbus Tap, the gastropub coming in 2016. Chicago is a big player in the microbrew world and, if you will excuse the pun, we would like to tap into that. Travelers are getting younger, moving quickly into the Gen X and Y categories, and a great appreciation exists for this style of food and beverage. I’ve got to say … researching this new concept is a blast.
4. How did you get into the industry?
Actually, my father was a hotelier, and I always loved my visits to his hotels. The elegance and spirit of hospitality appealed to me; I couldn’t resist getting into the industry. Even though there wasn’t a lot of elegance in my first job as a shift engineer unclogging toilets, not a day goes by that I don’t thank my lucky stars for being in the coolest of jobs.
5. What do you enjoy most about the organization?
They have an uncompromising approach to taking care of our customers—the guest, the colleagues and the owners. That is a great starting point for any successful hotel or hotel brand.