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HOTELS Magazine - An In-Depth Interview with Stephen Johnston

OCTOBER 2017

A surprising, non-hotel skill you have learned on the job

From being involved in four hotel openings and several remodels of hotels, I have learned that painting, plumbing, carpentry and tiling are all skills can be learned by the common man, and now I’m at a point in my life where I will take on any project at home without trepidation.

What part of your job requires the most creative thinking or improvisation?

 In our modern hotel environment, I find that balancing the needs of all of our stakeholders requires increasing intuition, planning and diligence. Everything that we do as hoteliers is measurable and transparent, for the most part, so we have to be keenly aware of the consequences of everything that we do.

What has been your biggest lesson?

In the early years of email, I learned that when somebody sends you a message that is upsetting, you should not send a reply for at least 24 hours. Responding sooner can cause more problems, and you will likely feel different about the situation in the light of a new day. I still believe that picking up the phone is the easiest way to work through a challenging situation.

 

Your pet peeve as a hotel guest?

When I’m not in my own hotel, I tend to be quite tolerant and low-maintenance. However, I do expect a hotel to be spotlessly clean throughout; there is no excuse for a lack of cleanliness.

Your current favorite hotel?

I had the pleasure of staying at the new Waldorf Astoria in Amsterdam earlier this year, and it’s my current favorite hotel. A great deal of thought went into the design of this remarkable hotel, and the service touches throughout the property were memorable.

What do most people not know about you?

Most people don’t know that I hold a private pilot’s license to fly helicopters

If you weren’t a hotelier, what would you be?

A pilot. I have always had a fascination and curiosity about the aviation industry

Do you have a personal goal for the year?

Address my work life balance! I’ve never been able to get the balance right, despite trying for over 3 decades. But I live in hope.

What would you like to have more time for?

Travel and see the world. The life of a hotel general manager is a busy one. Add a family, and there is limited time for too much else. As my children are coming closer to being self-sufficient, I hope that there will be many opportunities to explore our world.