New Recruit: Starwood's Klaus Niefer
The complex general manager at The Westin and Le Meridien Bahrain City Centre
The complex general manager at The Westin and Le Meridien Bahrain City Centre...
What inspired you to join the industry?
I grew up in my parents’ hotel in Stuttgart, Germany, so I can say hospitality runs in my blood. From a very young age I enjoyed the different aspects of hospitality but cooking was my first passion, hence I started my career in culinary and I’m a fully qualified chef.
How has your work experience inspired your management philosophy?
What I have learned during my three decades in the industry, is that team work is what counts. Every team has its unique strengths and my aim is to facilitate all my team members to blossom to their full potential. I try to lead by example and I’m a firm believer in an open door policy. I am always ready to listen to what my staff have to say as I think this is the only way we can continuously strive for better every day.
Where has been your favourite place to work so far, and how does it compare to your current position?
I’ve been fortunate to have worked across diverse countries and properties and they have all been interesting postings in their own ways. The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa Abu Dhabi was an important placement as it allowed me to bring it to its full potential in the Middle East. The Westin was better known in Asia than Europe and Middle East, and I was glad to be able to help bring the brand onto the map in the region. The owner’s support was excellent, enabling the property to become the flagship hotel for the Westin in the region. My current position is really interesting as we have just introduced two new brands in Bahrain in a fantastic location.
What aspect of your new position are you most excited about?
I am excited to activate the individual brand programmes with the two brands I closely associate with. I am glad to be part of Bahrain, to learn more about its rich culture and heritage and focus on the art scene.
What new initiatives or programmes are you planning to introduce as part of your new position?
Both The Westin and Le Méridien have strong individual brand programmes, which we’ll be introducing over the next months. Our initial focus remains on creating awareness of Westin’s wellbeing approach and Le Méridien’s promise of destination discovery.
With both brands, we are committed to enhancing guest experience, be it stay, dining or relaxation, perfected with our central location and direct connection to City Centre Bahrain. We are also focusing on creating awareness with members of Starwood’s award-winning loyalty programme, SPG, for both the hotels and Bahrain as a destination. We are working on several more exciting activities for both hotels and look forward to being able to share more soon.
How does working in your current position differ from any of the other hotels where you’ve worked?
The biggest difference to the other hotels I have worked in is that now I am in charge of two hotels simultaneously, The Westin and Le Méridien, both with distinct brand identities. I have previously worked with both brands but not at the same time. Another difference is that the hotels are attached to a shopping mall. And this is our unique selling point in Bahrain, being attached to the country’s favourite shopping and entertainment destination, the City Centre Bahrain.
- 2010-2014: The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa, general manager
- 2008-2010: Le Méridien Abu Dhabi, deputy general manager
- 2006-2008: Le Méridien Abu Dhabi, director of operations
- 2004-2006: The Regent Shanghai, executive assistant manager – F&B
- 2003-2004: InterContinental Hotel Sydney, executive assistant manager
- Motivate and inspire my entire team to reach ever greater heights in guest service and also their careers. I believe happy staff equals happy guests.
- To play an active role in ensuring the rebrand will be a success for stakeholders and deliver superior results, making both hotels quintessential destinations in Bahrain.
- I want to continue backing my wife and two sons in everything they do. It’s a two-way street and my family’s support has been instrumental to my success.
- Manage an iconic St Regis in years to come and provide the guests with unparalleled experiences, memories of which will carry through their life.
- I would like to eventually retire to live somewhere warm and sunny where I can relax and spend time with my family. Maybe Australia or the Basque region in Spain.