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SPOTLIGHT ON Tomás Feier General Manager – Disneyland Hotel – Paris at The Walt Disney Company

By Sharon Hirschowitz, Global Head of Media & Communications for The International Luxury Hotel Association
25 April 2022
5 min read
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Tomás Feier talks about his life in hotels

I’m the fourth generation of my family to work in hotels. I was born in a hotel, and I lived my entire life as a kid in the hotel with staff that cared so much about me. So it was obvious that I would pursue a life in hotels. There were some distractions: my older brother had a model train which he drove through different landscapes and I said to myself: “This is great, I need to be a locomotive driver, because I could have a frequent change of scenery, which was something that I felt I needed to have in the future – but I realised that I could this in the hotel sector.

And yes, it is rather intense, and you have to be passionate about it. Once you love this, it is worse than a virus; it really never goes away. And there’s no vaccine for this one.

What experience best sums up your career so far?

My time in the Dominican Republic was one of the most enlightening from a personal point of view. I was young, I was 23, 24 years old and it was fabulous to develop an understanding of other people’s values and customs, which were very different to my own at the time. 

In Samaná it was amazing to talk with somebody who spoke English flawlessly, as the British Prime Minister would, He had learned his English from his parents and his grandparents, because of the history in that area. It’s those moments when you come back to reality. And from then on, I wanted to know, my curiosity got a booster and since then I enjoy getting to know people other than their professional talents, where they come from, what moves them in order to help me understand the differences and make good use of these in order to encourage the business and the guest experience. 

When I was GM at Disney’s Newport Bay Club, one of the stewarding cast members requested an appointment with me, which seemed odd at first, and we arranged some quality time around a coffee. I asked him: “Why did you come?” And he said: “I’m now going on retirement; I’m going to go back to my home country and I wanted to express my gratitude to Disney. And big thank you to the management.” When I asked what we had done, he replied by saying “I wanted to compliment the management for being always close to the cast and caring sincerely about our wellbeing”. And then he said: “Thanks to Disney, I have been able to send my children to school in Mali. And I have now a doctor, I have a dentist, I have a lawyer. And now it’s a time for them to pay for me”. It was a moment of truth, when someone comes to you and gives you a very big, golden present.

What one piece of advice do you wish you’d heard at the start of your career?

I am a coach at the École hôtelière de Lausanne and I say to the student; there’s not much you can do about your upbringing, but once you become adult, you need to have the courage to go that step ahead in order to be yourself. Maybe I would have liked to be myself earlier in life. It’s not a regret, but it’s something I share with the students.

How can we make the sector more attractive to people considering working in it?

There is one thing that I think we have done wrong: we think anybody can work in hotels; anybody can do anything. And we have been trying to find labor that is inexpensive. Why should you work when there is no recognition professionally, and certainly not with the money? This is a mistake and we are regretting it right now, because with the pandemic, people have seen doors opening elsewhere. They have realised that they can do other things and they’re being recognised for it. 

In Disney, we do a nice job in recognizing people, as do companies of my other fellow hoteliers. But it is not enough just to talk, we need address seriously our benefit packages in order to allow our teams to have a balanced work and personal life. Without our teams we put in danger the operation our guest experience and finally our company’s image and this needs to be avoided at all cost! 

The whole approach towards hiring, towards personal recognition and career expectations, can be enhanced and better adapted to today’s needs of our potential hires”.

Tomas, what can you share about your current agenda? 

In line with the Disneyland Paris Hotel rehabilitation plan we have closed the Disneyland hotel for a major revamp. This hotel is known not only for its privileged position at the Disneyland Parc entrance, but also for its impeccable service that has propelled it as one of the preferred addresses for our guests and visitors. 

The elegant Victorian exterior that our visitors have cherished since the opening in 1992 will remain, whilst the Disney magic will be reinforced in its interior. The Disneyland Hotel will transform to reflect a Royal theme and become a truly royal venue for our numerous Princesses and Princes from our beloved Disney Classics such as Beauty & the Beast, Cinderella, as well as more recent successes as Frozen. The flagship Disneyland Hotel will maintain its current 5-star status as per the French Hotel classification.