The rejuvenation of Kempinski Hotel Corvinus at Fashion Street Budapest
As featured in the interview with Emile Bootsma, former General Manager
Published in Fashion Street Spring & Summer 2014
What do you think the secret is of this street as a location?
Fashion Street, like the hotel itself, is a gem in the heart of Budapest. We’re at the crossroads of all the streets that lead from the Danube towards Andrássy út and Kiskörút, the inner ring road. It is an important junction as three underground lines converge here on Deák Tér. Across the square, the old Jewish quarter has morphed into Budapest’s own Soho with cool hangouts, bars and restaurants popping up in every possible location including derelict, uninhabited courtyards. Simultaneously, we see the city’s administration making a concerted effort to restrict downtown vehicle traffic and create cleaner, greener, more comfortable, more liveable pedestrian — friendly spaces such as the Fashion Street. Add to this, central Budapest’s unparalleled eclectic architectural heritage, and you have a unique and curiously harmonious mix of various styles on the street.
Why do you think this street represents more than an average street?
Here, fashion, style and design meet gastronomy. Whatever your motivation, you’ll discover a new experience, in a relaxed zone. There is always something fun happening: a whole slew of astro-terraced open in summer, seasonal fairs set up with temporary food, arts and craft stalls for all the major seasonal celebrations with the largest being Christmas.
Tell us about how you became the head of Kempinski and the years and experience you had in the hotel industry
I have more than 21 years of experience in the hospitality industry. Before arriving to Dudapest in 2010, I spent two years and Kempinski Hotel Beijing Lufthansa Centre, managing the 526-room property and well over 1,000 permanent employees. Prior to this experience in China, I managed another signature property in the Kempinski portfolio, Hotel view Jahrszeiten Kempinski in Munich, Germany. Prior to Kempinski, I worked for the Arabella Starwood in Frankfurt, Munich and in Cape Town in South Africa in various executive positions.
Tell us about the restoration of Kempinski Hotel Corvinus!
Kempinski Hotel Corvinus was not only amongst the first to embark on property refurbishment among the five-star hotels in Budapest, but we also pioneered a revolutionary restaurant concept. We were fully aware that a plain old facelift wouldn’t do in this day and age. The re-design of the hotel’s lobby reflects both a desire to create a stunning sensation and the intention to utilise the space to create thrilling experiences. The new interior integrates cosmopolitan and local styles, as well as co-locates traditional functions life arrival, departure, concierge intelligence and more.
Our brand new signature, Gastronomic Quarter Downtown Budapest showcases a cluster of premium restaurants including the casual Hungarian — Viennese ÉS Bisztró a contemporary Budapest-style coffee house, The Living Room; Blue Fox The Bar, which is a hotspot for create cocktails and of course our long-term partner, Nobu. The re-design also created The Promenade, which also functions as an additional exhibition space to Kempinski gallery, our very own modern Hungarian art centre.
Text: Juli Lami Portrait: Zsolt Hamarits