For the Veteran Crystal Officer, Hospitality is Personal
Crystal Serenity Hotel Director Hubert Buelacher is always smiling. He is naturally a man of the people, who relishes creating moments – sometimes just seconds of fleeting conversation, other times long discussions on all manner of topics – that make guests feel like family.
Hubert relates deeply to the philosophy behind our new campaign, “Where Luxury is Personal,” in which he is featured. For him, this spirit of individuality is a cornerstone of Crystal, not only for guests, but also throughout the ranks of the officers and crew.
Born for This
I have been with Crystal for 20 years. I started in the cruise industry with another company, and when Crystal was founded, many of my closest supervisors and colleagues left our company for this exciting new luxury brand. I was invited to go with them.
You could feel right away that Crystal was different. The way people were treated, from senior officers to the crew, was unique in the industry and still is. In the last three months of Crystal Harmony’s construction in Nagasaki, Japan, I joined the team there and I immediately felt I was home.
I was originally trained as a chef, so I was working in the kitchen at the time. There were many of us with great talent who had worked in top restaurants around the world. Crystal always recognized our talents, from the executive chef to the assistant sous chef and service staff and created opportunities for promotion. In 1990 I was the relief executive chef aboard Crystal Harmony, and five years later, when Crystal Symphony was launched in 1995, I opened her galley as the executive chef. I moved up to assistant food and beverage manager and then to food and beverage manager over the next few years.
These were exciting days and I loved the work, but it was very different to be behind the scenes in the galley versus my current role of interacting with all of our guests. This takes a certain personality, I think, which is something I learned as a child.
I grew up in the Austrian countryside, where there were lots of mountains, lakes and wonderful adventures for kids.
My parents would rent out rooms in our home – a room with breakfast, like a little inn – which was common where I lived in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s. I am one of seven children and my older sisters had moved out, so we had rooms to rent to people on holiday from Germany or Holland.
So in a way, I was born into hospitality, and I saw early on that there are things one can learn, but there are also things that cannot be taught. I learned how to make people feel at home in my home, which is the core of my job now. Every guest is an individual, but what they want begins in the same place – a sincere smile and friendly greeting go a long way.
It was the same philosophy when I was a chef, actually. There’s a warmth that you give when you serve people food, the same warmth they feel when you give them genuine hospitality.
Part of the Family
At Crystal, the way people are treated is the same from the guests to the president. Our president is very approachable, and we never need to hesitate to speak up if you think something can be better. There’s always an open ear. New crew members are invited to come meet the captain when they come aboard, and new officers join him for coffee. This ensures that everyone feels welcome and at home from their very first day. This nurturing environment that Crystal creates for our crew extends to our guests. From the first moment we want to make them feel as part of the family – our family.
Our guests have traveled the world, and many have stayed in the finest hotels, and they frequently tell me that they return to Crystal again and again because of the people. Many of our crew members have been with us a long time and they have gotten to know our guests’ preferences very well. But even if a guest is with us for the first time, our crew will ask questions and find out what they like.
It’s important that we communicate with our guests, even for a few seconds, to find out what is important to them. For many luxury travelers, the expense of an experience is not a consideration. For these travelers, true luxury becomes the thing money cannot buy – the genuine care and attention to them and the details that matter to them. Personal acknowledgement, greeting people by name, these are simple gestures but they convey to each guest that they are family here.
I feel very fortunate to have the job of welcoming them home.