“Care is our Superpower”
BY GEMMA BIANCHI SLATER
AZERI OBSERVER EDITOR
IN AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH AZERI OBSERVER, THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL HOTEL BRAND IN BAKU, HYATT REGENCY CELEBRATES THEIR 25TH ANNIVERSARY AND REVEALS TO US THEIR ORIGIN STORY OF INNOVATIVE BEGINNINGS FOLLOWING THE ‘CONTRACT OF THE CENTURY’ AND HOW THEY WERE THE FIRST HOTEL TO INTRODUCE INTERNATIONAL HOSPITALITY STANDARDS TO AZERBAIJAN. GENERAL MANAGER, WALTER GAG, SHARES WITH US THE VALUES HYATT REGENCY UPHOLDS AND HOW ‘WELLBEING’ IS THE DESTINATION ON THE ROAD OF ‘WELLNESS’.
When you think of Hyatt Regency, you’d be forgiven for thinking the hotel is just as rooted in Baku’s history as itself. The words ‘Hyatt’ and ‘hospitality’ should be synonymous with each other, considering it was one of the original hotels that opened in Baku, Azerbaijan. Following the ‘Contract of the century’ – facilitated by former President, Heydar Aliyev in 1994, between Azerbaijan and foreign oil companies – this allowed the modern re-development of how Baku wished to be perceived by the outside world; thus igniting the re-birth of innovation, stimulation of the economy and of course, opening up the hospitality sector in the great city of winds, Baku.
Throughout the years, Hyatt Regency is also proud to accommodate diplomatic Embassies and Representations on its premises, consequently serving as a business hub in international diplomacy.
Walter Gag, General Manager of Hyatt Regency played a pivotal role in this re-branding. Azeri Observer spoke with him with regards to these changes.
Question: Walter, can you tell us about your background and how long you have been with Hyatt?
Answer: I’m a German national, born in Latin America. After graduating from the School of Hospitality and Management in Austria, I have enjoyed 30 years’ experience in the hospitality management and tourism industry, working with international hotel chains in London, Munich, Berlin and Cape Town.
My employment with Hyatt Hotels Corporation began in 2001, working in Johannesburg, Dubai, Doha and Dushanbe – before arriving to Baku in April 2016, as General Manager. The timing was perfect, and I was able to use my expertise in the rebranding and upgrading of the entire Complex, including the Hotel, standalone Fitness Center & Spa, Hyatt International Center with commercial, office and residential spaces, as well as a Meeting and Conference Center.
Q.: As one of the original international branded hotels in Baku, what are the values you feel Hyatt Regency can offer their guests and employees?
A.: Hyatt Regency consider their values to include respect, integrity, humility, empathy, creativity and of course, fun; with their brand promise to make travel free from stress and filled with success. We are also proud to share our wellbeing initiatives as part of the Global program, by bringing hospitality standards to Azerbaijan and contributing to the local industry; care to guests and colleagues as a core value. Care is our superpower don’t you know!
Hyatt Team focuses on the wellbeing of its guests and colleagues; such that they feel confident of a sanitary, safe and healthy environment in each Hyatt, that is incorporated in our Hyatt’s Global Care & Cleanliness Commitment. This initiative includes detailed training at Hyatt hotels worldwide, complemented with an on-property hygiene manager and third-party auditing. You can depend on the Hyatt family using the latest research and innovation.
Q.: Can you tell us more about your wellness incentive?
A.: At Hyatt, we believe wellness is a road, and wellbeing is the destination. This road is filled with personal routines and rituals that contribute to our overall happiness on any given day. Yet this road is not a straight line. How we eat, sleep, move, think, feel, and connect to family, friends, colleagues, and the community to help shape this road – and we believe that travel should not get in the way of that. At the same time, life happens. Things, both within and beyond our control, can cause detours along the way in the form of work, relationships, family, the weather, politics, etc. Sure, wellbeing may be the destination, but with all these detours, we know it can be difficult to find the way. We can relate and we empathize. We see ourselves at Hyatt as caretakers of your wellbeing; here to help you find that destination, and stay there for as long as possible.