A gravity defying post-graduation ascent saw Glion alumnus Thibaut Lambrechts become a hotel general manager at an outrageously young age – and now he is in the throes of an even more exciting challenge…
How old do you need to be to earn the keys to the hotel general manager’s office? 40? 30? Try 24. That was the age – less than two years after graduating from Glion – at which Thibaut Lambrechts was appointed GM at the Hotel 20 Degrés Sud on the island of Mauritius.
Although this incredible opportunity came out of the blue, there was a connection that steered it Thibaut’s way.
“The hotel’s owner had heard my name from the person who was my manager when I did my second Bachelor’s internship in Mauritius, at Le Prince Maurice hotel,” he explains.
“Even with that recommendation, I knew it was going to be tough to convince the owner that I had what it takes to be a GM. I reckoned I had nothing to lose, so I offered to do a full commercial audit of the hotel – free of charge – and present them with a report that laid out objectives looking ahead two to three years!”
A bold step, not least because the hotel was going through a pretty tough period at that time. But it worked, and Thibaut was handed the opportunity to put his plan into action.
“It was a crazy time, but I have to say that I’ve had a lot of support from the Glion alumni community here in Mauritius, such as Gregory Coquet, General Manager of Shangri-La Le Touessrok, and Jean Marc Lagesse, Owner & Director of Lakaz Chamarel.
“Plus I also have to thank Anthony Torkington, the Glion alumnus who is the MD of Relais & Châteaux (Hotel 20 Degrés Sud is a member of Relais & Châteaux) for being super supportive while we were getting back on our feet.”
“It was a crazy time, but I have to say that I’ve had a lot of support from the Glion alumni community here in Mauritius, such as Gregory Coquet, General Manager of Shangri-La Le Touessrok, and Jean Marc Lagesse, Owner & Director of Lakaz Chamarel. Plus I also have to thank Anthony Torkington, the Glion alumnus who is the MD of Relais & Châteaux (Hotel 20 Degrés Sud is a member of Relais & Châteaux) for being super supportive while we were getting back on our feet.”
Happiness on campus
Such a pressure cooker business environment was a far cry from Thibaut’s Glion experience, which began with being captivated by the breathtaking view from Glion campus on an Open Day and concluded with an Honors degree, plus an exceptional contribution to the school that saw him act as Campus Life Leader, event ambassador and the President of the Charity Committee.
“My best memories are of the people I met while I was at the school; the friendships I made for life. They’re spread all over the world, and many have made their way into different careers. My best friend from Glion, for example, works for Toyota today, while others are in the financial sector, or in luxury. A lot of people, obviously, stayed in hospitality; some of them like me in hotels and some in head office roles.
“I would say that Glion tends to give you assets and skills that make you good in multiple industries; and I think that’s something which is a feature of a hospitality education.”
In at the deep end
Jumping back to the Hotel 20 Degrés Sud and it’s fair to say that Thibaut needed to call upon all his accumulated hospitality business knowledge to get the property back into a solid trading position, and thus ensure not just its commercial viability but also its cherished place in the Relais & Châteaux network.
He admits that leading a team of 100 employees at such a tender age was not easy. “It was challenging to restore the hotel to its full potential, and sometimes it required difficult but necessary decisions. Above all, I had to prove myself to the staff and demonstrate that – despite my relatively young age – my hard work and their contributions would lead to improvements.
“Once this started to become apparent, my age no longer posed a problem and it was more straightforward for me to carry on developing the hotel.”
Those turnaround efforts saw the property gain a fifth star, greatly enhancing its commercial potential. And now it has become the foundation for a new Mauritius-based hotel group – Gaya Collection – for which Thibaut has been appointed CEO.
Gaya Collection has ambitions to establish a network of boutique hotels across the world. Hotel 20 Degrés Sud – now under the direction of GM Lindley Thomen – will be joined by sister properties in Europe and North Africa, with more details set to be unveiled later in the year.
We congratulate Thibaut on his stellar career progression and we look forward to checking back in with him for more news on Gaya Collection later in the year!
- Click here to visit the website of Hotel 20 Degrés Sud.
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