An interview with Tibor Meskál
The story of an incredible man
Tibor Meskál is the Senior Duty Manager of the Corinthia Hotel Budapest. Since the hotel opened its gates in 2003, Mr Meskál have been a vital part of the staff, being one of the most respected employees. Thanks to his incredible career, this elderly gentleman became a legend in the world or hotels. I was fortunate enough to have a sit-down with him.
First of all, I would like to thank you for taking part in this interview.
Oh it was no problem at all, I’m always glad to help out a colleague.
My first question would be related to the holidays. How are Christmas preparations going in the hotel?
This is an excellent question. It is known that every year the same requests rise during the holidays, albeit these requests tend to differ from time to time. Therefore, it is hard to anticipate the „quality” of future guests. Our Reservations and Marketing Departments are working really hard to satisfy people’s needs. Due to the fact that Christmas is a religious holiday, not everyone travels during this time. Those who do travel, usually prefer activities such as visiting Christmas fairs to taste some mulled wine and so on. Interestingly, most of our guests during this time of the year are coming from Greece, as they celebrate their holiday at a different date. This year’s Christmas coincides with the Hanukah, the Jewish holiday, so we are also expecting practitioners of that particular religion. Another vexing period is the days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. This usually is the climactic finale of the year. It is exciting for the guests, but on the other hand, it tends to be an excruciating experience for the hotel staff. Our New Year’s Eve celebrations are always fantastic, we try to provide guests with a diverse set of programmes and a wide selection of food and drinks. Another vital part of the whole Christmas period are the decorations. Each year we have the standard decoration, which is made of two enormous Christmas Trees, made up from a set of lanterns, which are hung on the windows of the two Atriums. Also, this is the fourth year, that the pastry chefs make the life-sized, edible gingerbread house, which is really a favourite among children and adults alike. Furthermore, we have the largest, most elaborately decorated Christmas tree among the hotels, which is situated on the top of the Ball Room staircase. To give a final answer to your question, things are going really well, although all staff members are a bit on the edge.
I took the liberty to do some research on your career history. According to my information, you have spent quite some time in Australia. Could you tell me a little more about that?
Well, that was a fairly interesting period in my life. In 1966 I was still working in the Grand Hotel Royal, which now is the Corinthia. I had a sudden urge to go and explore the world, therefore I took a week off in the summer, and visited Yugoslavia. There, I met a man from Italy, who took me to Trieste. This, of course was completely illegal, although we have decided to go through with it without return. In Italy, I managed to pick up some Italian and after spending nine months in Rome, I was granted access for settlement in Australia, where I received citizenship in 1971 due to successfully taking part in the necessary examinations. Even at the beginning, I was able to get jobs at the most elite places, because waiters from Europe were highly sought after. During this time, I was fortunate enough to serve Marlene Dietrich, among other famous people. I was working for quite some time in Sydney, in one of the largest Australian hotels, but in 1974, when the Opera House was opened to the public, I was asked to be the maître d (head of the waiting staff). This was the time when I met Queen Elizabeth II of England on three different occasions, After the local educational system established the Australian Catering School, I was asked to be one of the professors, so from that point I was instructing future generations. After quite some time, I was transferred to the Hilton in London, and from there I went to the Bermudas and New York to gain some more experience. Fourteen years ago, I came home to Budapest and started working at Gundel as a consultant, before conducting the rebranding of the Intercontinental.
Now the phone rings, Mr Meskál is a busy man, so I wait while he finished the call. After finishing he politely apologises and we continue the interview.
You have been working at the Corinthia since 2003. How did you get this job?
After coming home, working at Gundel and the Intercontinental gave me a boost to settle in, but when I learned that the Corinthia Group was to buy the Grand Hotel Royal, I was among the first people to apply for a position there. This was before the whole reconstruction of the site. This hotel is truly an ultimate place of the hotel industry. All branches, including restaurants, lounges and even a spa can be found here. This means that there is always something to do, some unexpected issue always comes along. I can safely say that I have the whole restaurant business in my heart, but in the last nine years I had to train myself further. That is how I became the Senior Duty Manager of this establishment. Currently, I am the oldest employee here, but I really do not plan to retire. If I am lucky enough, I could spend another year working here as this is my life. I started here, so I want to end it here also. The last fourteen years have been incredible here…
With this, we conclude, Mr Meskál asks for me to help him with a couple of letters because he needs them to be posted by midday. He further elaborates on how this job requires his full attention, but this is no problem; he is living for it.