Dietmar Kielnhofer, an Austrian national with over 30 year of extensive international experience is the picture-perfect manifestation of a passionate and dedicated hotelier who loves what he is doing.
His formative years were shaped by his love for the culinary arts. Inspired by some of the greatest French chefs of his generation, he polished his culinary skills as a chef in some of the best restaurants in Europe. Among them Josef Viehhauser’s Le Canard in Hamburg (one Michelin Star and 17/20 in Gault & Millau), Tantris under Heinz Winkler in Munich (Three Michelin Stars and 19.5/20 in Gault & Millau, Restaurant Walterspiel at the Hotel Vier Jaheszeiten Kempinski also in Munich followed by the French restaurant La Cuisine in Rottach Egern am Tegernsee (One Michelin Star and 16/20 in Gault & Millau and later in Mallorca, Spain, at Richard Branson’s Belmont La Residencia in their Michelin stared rated restaurant El Olivio.
After obtaining a Diploma in Hotel Management and a Degree as Master Chef at the School of Hotel Administration in Heidelberg, Dietmar changed gear and worked as Assistant Food and Beverage Manager at the luxurious Park Hotel Vitznau in Switzerland.
His notable work experience in hotels includes successful tenures at the Swissotel The Bosphorus in Istanbul, (rated among the three best hotels in Europe after Hotel George V in Paris and Raffles Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten in Hamburg), Le Meridien Nirwana Bali (currently redesigned as a Trump Hotel), Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers in HCM City, Vietnam, the Westin Tokyo and at the Westin Mindspace in Hyderabad, India which had under Dietmar’s recent leadership the highest guest satisfaction ratings of all Westin Hotels in Asia and Number 3 worldwide. Since May 2017, Dietmar is associated with the JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar a six year old hotel constantly recognized as one of the leading hotel in India. Their Italian restaurant Romano’s is among Marriott’s TOP 52 restaurants in Asia.
Dietmar is passionate about his chosen profession, he believes in uncompromising commitment to excellence and quality, a strong sense of ownership in all his actions and high levels of personal engagement with customers and associates. He always uses the phrase: our industry is all about personalization and treating customers as individuals and not as statistics.
What makes JW Marriott Sahar stand out from other properties you’ve worked in?
There is no single component that stands out. It is rather a combination of factors. Location is one, branding is a second one and naturally our associates who focus on providing a high level of personalized service and, last but not least, a well-designed product bearing in mind the needs of the ever evolving customer.
Who is your typical customer?
It is a combination of international and local business men. In these pandemic times, it is primarily the domestic business travelers. Previously it was a healthy mix of corporate and group business. JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar has the infrastructure and architecture of a hardcore business hotel coupled with large convention facilities; this makes us very unique and sought after brand.
If you could plan a one-day itinerary for guests looking to explore Mumbai, where would you send them?
Elephanta caves, the National Park to explore more of the same. Marine Drive, Colaba and Kala Ghoda, Gateway of India and the Haji Ali Mosque, and if there is time left the Bandra Fort just for the view.
Building the right team is crucial for a property’s success. What are the key skills you look for when hiring new employees?
That’s an easy one: attitude (and that’s includes being mentally agile and open minded to fresh, untested ideas), the ability to assimilate into a team and embrace change.
What is the USP of your hotel?
It’s a combination of several factors that make us unique and successful. Aside from a superior product, branding and location it is the ability of our associates to execute a high level of service standards on a consistent basis. Our industry is not about technology (technology functions as an enabler or facilitator; it should not replace the warmth of people). Our key point of differentiation (I don’t like the word USP, it is so 80’s) are our associates and their ability to engage with customers in a meaningful and sincere dialogue.
What is the one dish that guests have to try when at your hotel?
I am definitely biased so don’t judge me here. I think our chicken Chettinad is mind-blowing. But our customers also tell me we have the best waffles in town (plus condiments) and our Sunday brunch is also one of it’s kind. And then there is the Potato gnocchi with Gorgonzola sauce and the Tiramisu, simply sensational.
2020 was a challenging year for the hospitality industry. In your opinion, how will travel trends change in the second half of 2021?
2020 was challenging, 2021 didn’t shape up much differently either, unfortunately. We have definitely noticed a change in booking trends and booking behavior. Business is picking up, mostly it is domestic driven and, fortunately for us, India has a huge domestic market that keeps traveling. What we hear from customers is there is a massive amount of bent up demand and the moment the restrictions are lifted and international air carriers are allowed to fly, we will get inundated with demand. I am confident by September/October we will encounter a resurgence in bookings; there is pandemic induced fatigue across the world, people want to travel, they want to go out and explore the world again. It is our job to make them feel welcome and safe.
Was a career in hospitality something you always dreamt of? What is your advice to aspiring hoteliers?
I have no regrets whatsoever as far as my career choice is concerned. For aspiring hoteliers I would say have a compatible skill set that allows you to be more flexible as far as industry specific knowledge is concerned.
Which cities are your favourites for: 1) food 2) history 3) fashion?
- Food: Paris
- History: Rome
- Fashion: Madrid and Milan
You have worked in several cities, which is your favourite city for work and play?
Tokyo and Istanbul
When are you happiest?
Reading a good book, watching a good movie with a glass of chilled white wine, sweating it all out in the gym.