BOH Interview: Park Hyatt Zanzibar's hotel manager Nicolas Cedro

Park Hyatt Zanzibar hotel manager Nicolas Cedro talks about the challenges and joys of being a hotelier on East Africa's spice island

Nicolas Cedro, hotel manager, Park Hyatt Zanzibar.
Nicolas Cedro, hotel manager, Park Hyatt Zanzibar.

What is your career background?
My career spans over 25 years, working with prominent hotel brands such as Hyatt, Meliá, La Manga Club and Marriott. I was educated in France with a master’s degree from catering school. When I was 20, I was tasked with the responsibility of handling the culinary and F&B team at the French Embassy in Amman; where I built my leadership skills. I’ve spent the last 12 years of my career in leadership positions, spreading the culture of French hospitality across many countries, including at my current job in Zanzibar, Tanzania.

What made you choose this job?

My mother and grandfather owned restaurants in France, and I believe this influenced me to enter catering school at a very young age. My grandfather wanted me to go into business, but hospitality was my passion and that has fuelled my career so far.

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What are your responsibilities at the hotel?

As hotel manager of Park Hyatt Zanzibar, I am responsible for running all the day-to-day operations of the hotel and Beach House Zanzibar, our recently opened stand-alone restaurant. It is my responsibility to ensure that the Park Hyatt standards are maintained and that we offer guests the highest level of service.

Could you walk us through a regular day at work?

My regular day at work involves follow-up meetings with heads of departments to evaluate activities both front-of-house and back-of-house, reviewing strategies in all departments, welcoming VIP guests, checking up on the overall maintenance of the hotel — especially considering our hotel is housed in a UNESCO heritage site — and visiting the Beach House, among a myriad of other activities.

What extent of influence do you have in back-of-house operations?

I work closely with my team. I do daily hotel walkthroughs with housekeeping and engineering managers and weekly reviews of implemented strategies. With my F&B background, I understand the importance of following through.

How do you motivate service staff?

I am very keen on Hystar, the Hyatt employee recognition programme, based on guest feedback. I host monthly general meetings for information sharing between staff and management. I have also implemented a back-of-house and front-of-house employee of the month programme. We regularly have events for all staff, such as dinners and team outings. Since I walk around the hotel a lot, I immediately recognise and congratulate staff who are working well.

How do you go about building a strong trustworthy relationship with your team?

I hold regular one-on-one meetings with heads of departments where we share ideas and I equip them with all the tools they need to perform. My management style is about encouraging teamwork and transparency, and empathising with colleagues.

What challenges do you face in your job? How do you overcome them?

My first challenge is consistency. I overcome this with a strict follow-up process, where colleagues can give and receive feedback. Another challenge we face is access to some quality products necessary for the luxury level of service we offer. To source some of these, we work closely with our sister properties and owning company in Dubai.

How do you implement CSR initiatives within the hotel?

Helping our community is a subject very close to my heart. We support Mazizini Orphanage, provide local artists in Zanzibar a platform to display and sell their art at the hotel, provide playing kits and monetary support to a local football team, provide supplies to an old age home and promote local photographers. These are some of the community activities that we take part in as a hotel.

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