Making guests happy is one of the biggest blessings

Kongres magazine has met with Matjaž Zakrajšek, F&B Manager at Hotel Lev, to discuss his fairly new position that gave him the opportunity to re-organize the whole F&B system at one of the Ljubljana’s most renown hotels. In this exclusive interview, find out what is Matjaž’s formula for success and how he makes sure that even the most demanding hotel guests leave Ljubljana satisfied.

Matjaž Zakrajšek, one of Hotel Lev’s most important people and a true professional by hart, was born in 1975. He has graduated at Hospitality and Tourism Management University, got married and is now a proud father of 6-years old twins. In his spare time he loves to paint. So much so, that his work has been included in a few exhibitions. His other passion taking over his professional side is the restaurant business and all that comes along with managing it. Here is what Matajž told us about his work in Hotel Lev.

Q: You have a lot of experience in the restaurant business. After being the Head of Ljubljana’s well-known Restaurant Maxim, you have taken the position of the Head of F&B at Hotel Lev about a year ago. What would you say was the biggest challenge you have faced when you started the new job?
I came at the best time and had the opportunity to reorganize the whole system so this was one of the nicest challenges. It is always pleasant to build or reorganize something. It is actually a never ending process. Hotel business offers enough challenges with its diversity. First of all, the hotel is never closed. We cover different fields with their own specifics, variations, needs and classifications from hotel breakfasts to business/private lunches and dinners to congresses & events. My job does not stop there as I watch over the presentation of outside events and many more. So the challenges appear on daily basis.

Q: How important it is to listen to the guests’ wishes and what are you doing to make sure the guests leave Hotel Lev happy and satisfied?
It is important to have in mind that we exist to take care of the needs of our guests and of course we encourage them to share their wishes with us. We are always open for suggestions and are available for them through several channels. It is important to understand hotel business, follow the trends, measure the satisfaction, make current changes and encourage the guests to share their wishes and needs. After all, making someone happy is one of the biggest blessings…and we are happy to have the opportunity to be the part of that.

Q: The food and beverage industry is currently expanding at a rapid pace, gaining much attention. What is trending right now?
That is true, things are changing quickly. We are in competitive world service industry, people all over the world are more aware of that. We are especially happy to answer the needs emphasizing ecological source of our offer as well as local, natural, simple health prone variability which must be at the same time delightful and served with passion.

Q: How often are you introducing novelties to the F&B offer at the hotel?
We are definitely committed to do this on daily basis.

Q: Exquisite wine and cigars are your passion and expertise. Can you tell us a little bit more about special wine and cigars offer at Hotel Lev?
Now we are talking about the real diversity of our offer (Champagne, Bordeaux, fantastic Slovenian wine,….. ). We all try to take care of our bodily needs on daily basis and we help our guests to do that. On the other hand, to feel completely satisfied we sometimes have to take care of our vices. Quality wine and a cigar often play an important part in celebrating a business deal or any part of celebration. We don’t drink quality wine just to satisfy a pleasure but also as a part of a daily health diet. I don’t classify myself as an expert but I try to follow that field and I follow it with passion.

Q: Which is the most expensive cigar a guest of the hotel can enjoy and how much does it cost?
We have a wide range of cigars, concentrating on the ones from high-middle range to premium. We offer great variety of choice, covering also the popular ones as well as the ones chosen on value for money parameter. Our humidor is of course a professional one and I personally make sure it functions properly. For our special guests, we can provide the most exclusive cigars on request…

Q: Do you like to cook or do you prefer eating out?
Well it depends. Cooking is a nice way of exploring creativity and it offers me a lot of relaxation but I don’t do it very often lately. I do like to be served but that brings out my job deformation as I can’t switch off my mind and I start to observe service teams, manners, motivation, even intonation and gesticulations … it all tells me a lot about their standards. I am easily critical towards the ambient, the freshness and quality of the food and the value of the whole combination, so you know…that is one of my personal challenges to put my mind to rest and just enjoy the moment.

Q: Which is your favourite restaurant in the world?
Mostly places with true spirit are my favourite ones. Places where you are honestly welcome and people are happy to work there. You can see and feel that and I find it important. I can mention Chez Batista at Seychelles (because of good memories) for the stunning setting and the best sea food in the island but there are so many different parameters on which my »favourite one« could be based on. It also fascinates and pleases me when I can observe strong professionalism with hard coordination and no mistakes done in any field. I put both out just to give an example what we try to maneuver. The parameters for good restaurants can be very much diverse but are also equally important so we try to follow all that.