Clients Testimonies

Interview with Alexandre Firer, Managing Director of Hotel DoubleTree by Hilton Carcassonne

Hôtel DoubleTree by Hilton Carcassonne

Located a few steps from the medieval city, Hotel DoubleTree by Hilton Carcassonne offers a striking view of the citadel and its castle. For over a year now, guests and wine lovers have been able to enjoy the D-Vine experience in the hotel bar. Interview with Alexandre Firer, Managing Director of Hotel DoubleTree by Hilton Carcassonne.

Alexandre Firer, Directeur de l’hôtel DoubleTree by Hilton Carcassonne

Can you tell us who you are and how you got where you are?

After studying hospitality, my first job was with Marriott in their regional sales office in London. After three years’ working for an international chain, I went on to work in Paris where I was hired by the luxury hotel Le Royal Monceau. Over nearly six years, I was in charge of the spa, then group travel, conferences and incentives.

I then seized the opportunity to join a small luxury complex on Saint Barths where I stayed three years. This dive into a new environment – the boutique hotel business – became the basis of my future career and acted as a springboard.

Next came Marrakesh, Corsica and Uzès in Provence, at the Relais & Châteaux La Maison d’Uzès. In 2017, for a hotel development project in Russia, I spent eight months on the banks of the Volga and in the middle of a birch forest.

Most recently, in September 2018, I became Managing Director of the first DoubleTree by Hilton to open in France.

What made you choose this career?

Working in the hotel industry is often seen as a vocation. Hospitality and, in particular, the luxury hotel business is a profession of devotion and commitment. People become hotel managers because they are naturally welcoming, caring, and friendly, with excellent people skills.

The expression “the customer is king” is particularly important in the luxury hotel business. We are constantly seeking perfection. Tiny details matter. We mustn’t miss a thing. Increasingly in our business, the focus is on personalizing the customer experience and creating strong brand attachment.

Increasingly in our business, the focus is on personalizing the customer experience and creating strong brand attachment.

It’s a high-pressure job. How do you evacuate that?

The clientèle is intransigent and sense of service is a very serious matter. Perfection requires day-to-day personal investment. You have to learn to manage one task after another, starting with the most urgent. Multi-tasking has a negative effect on your overall attention.

You need a healthy lifestyle and mustn’t neglect your personal life. Taking care of yourself is very important. You need to ensure you have a balanced diet without forgetting to enjoy a glass from the D-Vine at the end of the day!

What is so unique about your hotel?

DoubleTree by Hilton Carcassonne is the possibility to offer a friendly and understated kind of luxury. Our hotel has the finest view of Carcassone’s medieval citadel which was once a royal fortress and which has been listed as a world heritage site since 1997. The citadel, which was saved from demolition in the 19th century, is today a leading domestic and international tourist attraction.

When our clients choose the DoubleTree, we need to give them a home-from-home feel and guarantee them a friendly, reassuring and authentic welcome. Increasingly in our business, the focus is on personalizing the customer experience and creating strong brand attachment.

Luxury is synonymous with discovery and exception. The D-Vine unites both of these notions which trigger a wide spectrum of emotions.

Why did you decide to have the D-Vine at DoubleTree by Hilton Carcassonne?

Luxury is synonymous with discovery and exception. The D-Vine unites both of these notions which trigger a wide spectrum of emotions.

The D-Vine is also a new device that acts as a differentiating factor with respect to our competitors. It is a new way of enjoying French wine in under a minute. The idea is to offer our guests a novel experience with the proper temperature and aeration for each wine.

Which wine resembles you most?

Wines that are not always made from one variety, just like we are all a blend of different personalities. You need to learn to talk about something as wonderful as wine in a slightly simplified manner. My wine would be a scarlet-coloured red wine, quite probably from South West France, without additives or added sulphites. This very addictive wine would be aromatically extreme and surprising. The kind of wine you either love or hate.

How are finding the lockdown and how do you keep yourself busy?

Although the lockdown period is a dream situation for the more introverted among us, spending several weeks alone with yourself can quickly become annoying and frustrating.

Let’s look on the bright side of things and make the most of it to do everything we have been putting off. Reading has therapeutic properties. When you are immersed in a great book, time passes more quickly and you find yourself in a world where coronavirus doesn’t exist.

I also make a point of listening to the different podcasts by our wine adviser Béatrice Dominé on the characteristics of grape varieties, food and wine pairing and how to improve your olfactory skills. I highly recommend the D-Vine Academy!

How do you see the post-lockdown picture for your hotel?

We are going to have to start communicating closely with people to maintain our relationship with customers and listen to them. France should be a popular destination with the domestic clientèle in the coming months. We will need to be able to win these customers with a suitable offering (family holidays, short stays).

We will also need to have a flexible price policy with stays that are cancellable and reimbursable, and capitalize on unexplored avenues, offering other things than just accommodation to attract a local clientèle by developing new offerings and promoting all of the DoubleTree’s facilities, including its bar and its D-Vine!


To learn more

Want to know what the D-Vine experience is like within one of our partner hotels? Read our interview with Lionel Moreau, Food and Beverage Director of the Relais Thalasso Château des Tourelles ****. Read the article

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