28 July 2014

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Meet the GM- Michael Helling


Meet the GM- Aviator Hotel - Michael Helling airport.jpgI ended up at The Aviator after working in Hong Kong as GM of The Hong Kong Club. It’s Asia’s most prestigious private members’ club.

I’ve always been in the hospitality industry. My family background’s in restaurants and I went to hotel school in The Hague.

The best part of my job is working with people. I love the fact every day is different.

My favourite phrase is: ‘Simple as that’. Our industry isn’t rocket science, but you do have to care about doing the little things well and with a personal touch.

I spend most of my spare time ferrying around my two boys from one sport or social commitment to another. I do like to go to the gym though, and enjoy great food and wine.

The Aviator is ideal for exclusive, discreet events and ‘hot’ weekends away.

Who’s the person you’ve learnt the most from?
Michael O’Dwyer, the MD at the Grove. Although I didn’t work for him for a long time, he is certainly one of those inspirational people who had a huge impact on my view of the hospitality business and working with people.

My favourite hotel in the world is The Peninsula in Beverly Hills.

At the hotel we’re currently working on a brand update and launching a new website. In particular with the new site we’ve tried to challenge the accepted norms of our industry to create something that is a pleasure for visitors to use and works well too. In particular, we’re proud of our online booking tool and the events page.

If you could change one thing about Aviator, what would it be? I wish the Farnborough International Air Show [which takes place in the airfield next door] wasn’t a bi-annual event. We provide accommodation and hospitality for the event and the timing makes things very difficult in terms of staffing and momentum. An annual event never really has a break as you work on it year round, but we have a natural six-month break which means a lot of re-training/ staffing.

If I wasn’t a GM I’d probably be a marine. I was born by the water and have always loved the sea. Maybe even a sailor or a pirate.

In 10 years’ time, I can definitely see myself sticking in the industry. In an ideal world, I’ll still be working with TAG Group (owners of Aviator).

The Aviator Hotel, Farnborough Road,
Farnborough, GU14 6EL, tel: 01252 555892, squaremeal.co.uk/aviator

This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events, summer 2011

Illustration by Russell Tudor

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