OMAN Magazine meets Andre Herrenschmidt, General Manager of the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Ras Al Khaimah. Born in France and half British, with a German name, Mr. Herrenschmidt tells us of his career across the globe covering luxury hotels from Europe to Africa.
Andre Herrenschmidt, General Manager of the Waldorf Astoria Ras al Khaimah, has enjoyed a long and distinguished career with Hilton Worldwide, including serving in numerous global roles in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Herrenschmidt began his Hilton Worldwide career in 1993 at the Hilton Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt and followed that role with senior positions in Nigeria and France. In 2006, he was awarded the prestigious recognition of “General Manager of the Year Middle East and Africa”.
As General Manager for Waldorf Astoria Ras al Khaimah, Herrenschmidt leads the operation for the UAE’s first Waldorf Astoria and Hilton Worldwide’s first luxury property in the UAE.
Fluent in English, French and German, Herrenschmidt enjoys hiking, skiing and can be seen riding his bike around Ras al Khaimah exploring the community.
Tell us about your career working for luxury properties; where did it all begin?
I always knew I wanted to work in the hotel industry, and started my professional studies at the École hôtelière de Lausanne, France. During the early nineties I started my career with the Hilton group and it has taken me into the Sinai Desert, across Europe and brought me here to the Middle East. My first experience of the UAE was managing the former ‘Hilton Beach Club’ in Dubai, that was the most luxurious spot in the region during that time; frequented by British Royalty and the ‘who’s who’ in popular culture, such as Kate Moss and Madonna.
It’s been an incredibly interesting journey and a fulfilling career, which has combined my passion for travel and meeting new people and I look forward to future challenges and properties also.
Tell us about the ‘Waldorf Experience’…
Having joined the Waldorf property in 2012 pre-opening, I can say that it is one of the most iconic hotels, in a stunning location with a true world of service. Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts is a luxury brand inspired by New York’s Waldorf Astoria, a hotel that both embodies timeless elegance and is synonymous with luxury. In the words of our founder, Conrad Hilton, the Waldorf is “the greatest of them all.”
Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts are unified by a culture of consummate service and the singular experiences they each offer. Touched by the spirit of the original Waldorf Astoria, each one is indeed the greatest of them all. Waldorf’s inspirational environments offer timeless luxury set in some of the world’s most magical locations combined with signature Waldorf Astoria service.
Each guest is assigned a personal concierge during their stay, which combined with the huge sense of space and beauty, makes for a truly unique experience. Personally, I feel the true palatial ambiance here at Waldorf, which you cannot find nowadays. As you can see from the strong Arabic decor, which is presented in a subtle and elegant manner.
The vision for the Waldorf Astoria brand is to become the new face of luxury travel. While guests still want to relax and be indulged, they have become very sensitive to authenticity. The brand’s goal is to continuously evolve, responding to the changing needs of our guests, always striking the right note, always providing anticipatory yet unobtrusive service, and always a singular luxury experience.
What do you find most special about the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah?
For me it’s the combination of architectural beauty and design with impeccable service. The inspiration of the interior design comes from the Arabian sun, sand, sea and mountains; soft palettes of creams, teal, peacock tones, metallic textures and silvery golds.
Our team is comprised of 36 nationalities, who each offer our guests a warm and sophisticated service. We want people to feel relaxed whilst knowing there is always someone to hand.
Can you give a piece of advice for future leaders in the hotel or hospitality industry?
Make sure to have a true passion for what you do and be ready to work hard. With a real passion you will always succeed.
What does 2016 have left in store?
In short, we have had a great year with Ras Al Khaimah now a strong and attractive destination with a growth of 60% in annual tourism. We receive a good portion of repeat business and host multiple events throughout the year which creates a buzz and something new.
We are excited to host the PDA Golf European Tournament at the Golf Course next to the hotel, later this year, as well as other high-profile collaborative initiatives.