Interview with Bernard Lensink, General Manager Duin & Kruidberg
- 5 min read
From when I was 9 years old, I wanted to work in hospitality: my uncle put me on a beer crate behind the bar and I tapped my first beer.
My time at the Hotelschool was too short, unfortunately I graduated within 4 years! Living in Skotel, it was a crazy time. I mostly learned how to present myself and how to work together in (small) teams. Besides that, I learned a lot from the Practical Management Skills courses, back then given by Jos Stroom, as well as the Meeting Skills course. And languages were very important for me. You can have all the knowledge in the world, but if you don’t speak the language to be able to express yourself, what good will it do?
I was a good student; it was all pretty easy for me. The only exam I ever failed was Law. I simply couldn’t be bothered with all those laws and regulations. I thought: ”I will have people to deal with that later”.
I always made very conscious decisions; on what courses to take, what activities to do outside school, what internships to follow, to get where I wanted to be. It helped me to become General Manager of a 5 star hotel at the age of 34.
My first internship was in Dessau in dark, raw and rural East-Germany. I came from the West so they thought I knew everything. It was a coincidence that when Mr. van Delft came to visit me back then, I was the highest in rank at the hotel, as my GM just left and the F&B Manager was on vacation. So my first internship was already a Management internship. I was very lucky, as I think my experiences helped me better appreciate courses like Strategic Management, Operational Management and Marketing.
My second internship was at the Radisson SAS in Brussels, where I stayed after graduation. First as F&B Coordinator, to Group & Banqueting Coordinator, to Assistant, to Manager. After 4 years Radisson SAS offered me to go to Cannes to lead Group & Banqueting at their hotel and afterwards become Operations Manager. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out because of a change of General Manager. I was disappointed, but when one door closes, another opens. I was approached to work as F&B Manager at a beautiful golf resort in Bad Saarow in Germany. I was 27 and all of a sudden managed 110 people. Afterwards, I became a Food & Beverage Director at the Palace Hotel in Berlin.
I returned to Amsterdam because I couldn’t combine my very busy work with my private life. We were recently married and were proud parents to a son. From working at Le Méridien Apollo, I moved to Landgoed Duin & Kruidberg in 2006, with great support of Sander Allegro. I started as Resident Manager and became General Manager in 2008.
My career shows how important the power of your network is, both in a positive and negative way. In your career you also need to learn the hard way from your bad experiences in order for you to end up where you want to be.
Landgoed Duin & Kruidberg is owned by ABN AMRO, but is operated as a stand-alone hotel. When I started as a GM, the crisis started to evolve. Economically it was a very bad time as revenues dropped by 35%, not an easy time for me to start. Luckily we managed to be able to follow through with major renovations and afterwards earned the trust of both our guests and our owners. The growth scenarios we planned we managed to achieve, and we have been growing since 2009.
It remains a challenge: we have to work as effectively as possible as well as finding creative ways to serve all guests in the best way possible. It is a great job!