And if true luxury means being exceptional?

"The true authenticity of a hotel or restaurant is conveyed by the people who work there." Cynthia Groggia, a Vatel 2013 alumnus, F&B Coordinator & Administrative Executive by the 5 star luxury InterContinental Hotel in Geneva.

And if true luxury means being exceptional?

Do you remember this beautiful student who showed you around Vatel Nimes and its 4 star application hotel in 2011? Since then, Cynthia Groggia graduated cum laude  in 2013 and was hired just after that as the F&B Coordinator & Administrative Executive by the 5 star luxury InterContinental Hotel in Geneva.


How did you land your first job?

I met my husband during my final internship at the 5* Normandy Barriere Hotel and Casino in Deauville where I was the Duty Manager. After this six-month internship, I followed him to Switzerland where his company’s HR Manager, the Geneva InterContinental, kindly offered to communicate my resume to the other 5 star hotel HR Managers in the city. He admitted to me later on that he had kept a copy of it, because he thought it was an interesting resume and offered me a tailor-made job in correlation with my previous experiences. 

This job consisted in assisting the Food and Beverage Manager in administrative and creative tasks in his job as well as coordinating all the hotel’s different departments: 300 employees in the hotel and 100 F&B employees to manage when they finish their trial periods, when they start or leave, training them, assessment of their skills, etc.


In your opinion what are the top three qualities you need to succeed in this job?

  1. Outside of the technical skills I acquired when I was a Vatel student and the professional internships, this job requires a lot of organization and very precise and exacting work on a daily basis. A well-organized person doesn’t panic, he or she is able to manage emergency situations efficiently, without undo hast, and is able to think them through. I always have to be above reproach and my managers always have to be able to trust me, because they don’t have the time to check everything I do.
  2. You have to be very resourceful in this type of job; it boils down to being able to do it or not, because otherwise you’ll be blocked and problems will just increase rather than being solved. It’s my job to find solutions by myself, and whenever possible, to anticipate problems. What can be better than anticipating a problem rather than having to solve it?
  3. And last but not least, empathy and assertiveness: the key to working with your colleagues efficiently and respecting them, is being able to put yourself in their shoes.   


Your thesis was entitled: “Making authenticity a luxury.” What would you like to say about that now?

Right now the trend is going back to basics, to authenticity. It’s a marketing tool a lot of people are using now, especially with the “home-made” trend. Hotel managers are also trying to ride this wave to attract new types of clients and are redecorating their hotels to make their guests feel “at home.”

But the true authenticity of a hotel or restaurant is conveyed by the people who work there. People true to themselves, who are not trying to “do” organic, rustic, or traditional artificially but who convey a simple and warm welcome to their guests. There are fewer hotel managers than you would imagine who can actually do this, and true luxury means being exceptional.


What made you choose hotel management and attend Vatel?

It was always really important for me to host my guests perfectly, with real human warmth, empathy and simplicity. So luxury hotels were a true vocation for me.       

Vatel students and Vateliens were the ones who made me want to choose this school. I could see myself in each and everyone of them, by the way they carried themselves, their friendliness as well as their ability to share their careers paths and their success stories, while remaining humble. At the same time I was looking for a school, I contacted the Plaza Athenee Restaurant Manager, who told me that Vatel was his benchmark school. The esteem that professionals have for Vatel’s educational methods proves their quality.

Once I had started school, it was easy for us all to see why all these professionals in hospitality had recommended Vatel so highly. And when it’s our turn to answer questions younger students have, we also recommend the school with just as much conviction and pleasure. And now that I’ve also become a professional, I realize how much Vatel students are appreciated, because the values they convey are so rare, but all the students share them: hard work, team spirit, modesty and know-how. We can see how strong Vatel’s educational methods are, as once we’ve started work, we see how valuable we are for our employers.

Vatel’s courses are very broad but very precise at the same time. Both professors who give theoretical and academic courses and those who teach students in practical application courses are well recognized professionals and good teachers. We realize this as of our first internship, as we become aware of the high quality of the courses we take and the values conveyed to us, immediately appreciated by our teammates and our managers.


What is your best memory?

I don’t have a best one, they are all good. But I must admit that each new year I fondly remember the 2011 New Year’s Eve Party, where I worked as the Captain during my practical application week at the gourmet restaurant, in one of the conference rooms on the last floor of the Vatel Hotel. It was pure magic, the adrenalin and rush associated with this festive night!


What do you think the future holds for you?

The project my husband and I have is to open our own hotel in ten years or so, in Normandy, a region we both love.  But we still have a lot to learn before.

Breaking news: After having worked for a year and a half at the InterContinental, Cynthia now works in a management company which focuses on luxury resorts, gourmet food outlets and restaurants. She is still in her trial period and has a confidentiality clause, but will soon be able to tell us the name of her new company. “I’m so pleased to be working in this small structure where I can do so many things: HR, asset management, marketing strategies, case studies and so much more!”


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