Loving Cebu from the Blu

STEPHAN, German by birth, said that growing up, he loved to be with people. As a young man in school, he was always the one organizing parties, grouping people together to have fun, to socialize. In the university, he found the dry atmosphere of the academe stifling. So he decided to work in a small family hotel in southern Germany, the Post Hotel, which was near the mountains, a perfect place for him to indulge in his favorite sport, skiing.

After several years of being a jack-of-all trades in Post Hotel—washing dishes, helping in the kitchen, tending the bar, serving food etc.—he felt it was time to move on; to work in a hotel that is part of an international chain. In these hotels, he again also worked from the bottom up, washing dishes, helping in the kitchen, serving food, and most of the other jobs in the hotel. He also took the opportunity to take short courses in the hospitality trade in order to equip him to do his jobs better, to move up the corporate ladder. Finally, he “arrived.” He had become food and beverage manager and then, general manager.

He worked as general manager in Sheraton Tirana Hotel and Towers in Tirana, Albania; in the Westin Warsaw in Warsaw, Poland; in Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and finally at the Keraton at the Plaza in Jakarta, Indonesia.

And now he is in Radisson Blu Cebu.

“A hotel is a hotel. But being a hotel general manager is always a learning process,” said Sieberg. He is a passionate hotelier and orchestrates the operations of the hotel in order to “deliver an exceptional and personalized experience” for the hotel guest. So he says it is his job to learn the dynamics of the place he happens to be in, of the people, the expected guests, and most especially, the team he works with. He finds the various teams of Radisson (marketing and sales, food and beverage, housekeeping etc.) very capable and professional but he hopes to raise the capability even higher in order to raise higher the standard of Radisson Blu as a premier business hotel in Cebu City.

It used to be, he expounds, that a hotel is a hotel and that’s it—a place to stay in while away from home on a business trip or on vacation. These days, the hotel guests have other expectations of what a hotel should be and what they want to experience while staying in a hotel. Sieberg says it is a hotelier’s job to anticipate and meet those expectations. To meet these expectations, he said Radisson Blu will renovate all its 400 rooms, at a cost of P500 million, starting with 55 rooms by June. He also anticipates that there will be more travelers coming to Cebu when a renovated Mactan-Cebu International Airport will be fully operational, some of whom may be first-timers to the place and whose needs might be different from the usual guests of Radisson. For them, too, he says Radisson must also be prepared.

Sieberg has learned to love Cebu. “To be near enough mountains where it is possible to go hiking and near enough the sea” for swimming and other water sports, he says. He hopes Cebu will retain its character, its natural attractions and its beauty, and to showcase these to the world, so that if he comes back after his “tour of duty” in Radisson, Cebu will still be the place he and his wife Stephanie have learned to love.
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