You may have read all about the time that #TeamCoco were in residence at The Westbury Mayfair for 48 hours of inspiration, goal setting and private dining. It was all part of a fun initiative headed up by the hotel’s Director of Sales and Marketing Manager, Monika Mulder, as her way to showcase everything that the hotel can offer with a hint of glamour and fun. You all know by now how much we enjoy shouting about strong inspiring women here at House of Coco and so we wanted to put the spotlight on Monika. Our Founding Editor Laura Bartlett spent some time chatting with her to find out more about life in the fast lane, juggling her career and personal life…
Laura : Tell us about your role at The Westbury Mayfair…
Monika : I look after everything from the rooms, catering, food and beverage whilst at the same time overseeing marketing and PR.
Laura : So basically you do everything?
Monika : *laughs*
Laura : So when did you join the team at the hotel?
Monika : Actually I’m fresh, I just joined the team a few months ago!
Laura : Oh wow, I got the impression you had been here for years as you clearly know what you’re doing and have already made a name for yourself in the company…
Monika : Yes, it feels like ages! Before being here, I was at a previous hotel in Heathrow where I looked after a totally different aspect of the business in airport property and now this is really different. Although I first started in Mayfair many years ago working at hotels in the area, so it’s great to be back doing what I love in the place I know a lot about.
Laura : So what attracted you to the role at The Westbury Mayfair?
Monika : Because of the location, this hotel is amazing where it is and the fact that it is in the Luxury Collection portfolio made it an easy decision for me. Mainly though, the people attracted me to the job, especially our GM Andrew, as I had heard about him in the industry and everyone talks about how much of an amazing leader he is. He has a name for himself in the industry and I always said that when choosing a new role, I wouldn’t just make it about the hotel, it would be about the people too.
Laura : I have heard a lot about Andrew too, he sounds like a great person to work for but also someone that makes decisions pretty quickly. Would you say that’s why The Westbury Mayfair has so much success because they’re agile and can move quickly?
Monika : Yes, he’s a very professional hotelier and because of his experience in the luxury world, I have him there to mentor me. I am constantly learning from him but at the same time, he’s like my business partner who can make sound decisions very quickly. In the Sales and Marketing role, you sometimes need to be spontaneous and be able to make fast decisions. Some other GMs can be operations or finance driven so they don’t always get the importance of that like Andrew does.
Laura : That’s great to hear, I do often think a lot of businesses fail because they’re not pro active and by the time they make decisions the ship has sailed and the opportunity is lost. So I guess I answered my own next question which was what sets The Westbury Mayfair apart from other hotels?
Monika : We are the only hotel in Bond Street and that pretty much sells itself. It’s not just a hotel but it’s the opportunities we have around us, the partners we work with and for me, since I joined the hotel there is no one day that is the same. Since I joined, I have met a lot of our neighbours and talked about how we can position ourselves with the partners and how we can benefit from one another which I think is key, but no other hotel has that luxury to be able to call these fashion houses, jewellers and artists their neighbours. It’s really great to have this all on our doorstep.
Laura : What exciting things are you working on right now?
Monika : So the exciting part for me is the Bentley Partnership that we have launched with Jack Barclay. But another one more long-term is Lapada, so for me this will be the first year that we are partnering on a more complex scale as we are going to have a pop-up bar at the Lapada Art & Antiques Fair and it’s the first time our Polo Bar will travel somewhere else. The Polo Bar has been here since 1955 and it’s the place for residents to come, it’s really famous in the Mayfair neighbourhood but we’ve never taken the service or team passion somewhere else, so this will be exciting for us. Also because I have done two hotel openings in the past, I’ve done a lot of pop-ups and so this is exciting for me. I’m glad we get to do something a little different and what a lot of luxury hotels wouldn’t do.
Laura : Exciting! So, to change direction, I know that you have two children, how old are they?
Monika : Four and two!
Laura : How do you find balancing a hectic hospitality career with two children?
Monika : When I think about it, it’s not just about me, it’s my husband too. Sometimes as a woman, you decide you want to pursue your career and I am lucky to have him because he’s a hotelier, so he understands this industry and what it takes for me to be successful in this job. Without his support, I wouldn’t be able to do this and would be a full-time mum. The thing is, it’s just discipline that you need to learn and routine. It’s also important for us to have time together when the children go to bed. I think it’s a big shock to the system when you have this beautiful little person in your hands and then you realise that it’s for the rest of your life and it’s no longer just about you, it’s about your kids. So you have to slowly win your time back whilst you’re still being a mum. I never wanted someone else raising my children because that was not my purpose for having them. What I also say to everyone is I have those two little boys waiting for me in the nursery, so I can’t stay late at work and I have to leave on time as they are my priority and that’s how I get balance. Putting my kids to bed every night is important to me. For me and my husband, we used to work in professional hotels, sometimes 16 hours per day and there was no end because it was exciting and you had an amazing social life. Then you come home and you had no time for dinner, so without children I wasn’t committed to a work / life balance. Kids teach you how to have a work / life balance.
Laura : I agree that routine and discipline are so important when it comes to kids, though I am still learning how to look after myself! It sounds like you have the balance just right. Now, final question, would you ever open your own hotel?
Monika : I do not think that I would be able to run the whole hotel on my own! It has been my passion as I’ve been in the hotel industry for 15 years, but I am afraid that if I was to have my own hotel, I would lose that passion because it would be too much. Sales and Marketing is my passion. I have been asked if I would be a GM but that is not my direction. When you have your own hotel, you need to look at so many other aspects like the technical side, or engineering, and that is not for me. I will leave that to the experts. My focus is on our clients and our guests and creating magic for all the people that come to our hotel.