Introduction :

Here’s a riddle for you:


- She got her Master’s Degree in International Hotel Management from Vatel in Paris in 2003.

- In 2007, she was hired as the General Manager of the Stanhope Hotel, a five-star “boutique” hotel in Brussels.


Who is she?


Yes, it’s Sophie Blondel and this is her Success Story!


Interview :

What is your current position?

I’m the General Manager of the Stanhope Hotel which is a part of the Thon Hotels Group.*


*Editor’s note: Thon Hotels Group (formerly Rainbow Hotels) was founded in 1989 by Olav Thon and today includes 60 hotels in Norway, one in Sweden, six in Belgium and one in the Netherlands.


This was the first five-star hotel to open in Belgium (1991). It is located right in the heart of the European part of the city, near the historical city center. This “boutique” hotel has 125 luxury rooms including seven apartments - ideal for medium to long stays. You can recognize the “elegant English” style in the rooms which all have antiques and top quality textiles. Without of course forgetting everything today’s modern traveler needs.


What did you do before attending Vatel?

I didn’t start Vatel right after high school. First of all I got a two year degree in Law and Languages from the University of Le Havre and then a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree from the University of Rouen.


Why Vatel?

Vatel is a well known school and its Master’s degree, which includes an internship in the profession, allowed me to efficiently and quickly make the transition into the professional and specialized field of Hospitality. For me it was very important not to have to start from the very beginning, as I already had experience in the field. My level of education became a bridge leading me to what, today, has become my daily work.


What do you remember the most about when you attended Vatel? A story to tell?

I remember we always had a lot of work to do. Most of our professors had worked in hotel and restaurant management and thus were able to tell us real life stories to illustrate their courses. In particular I remember my first day when I went back to school and my classmates came back from their internship in a foreign country. As I had no professional experience, feedback on what they had done was full of surprises and their investment was worth reflection.


Could you tell us about something that was done or said while you were attending Vatel (either in your theoretical and practical courses or during an internship) that still influences you today in your professional life?

All the “tips and tricks” that I learned to adapt my communication depending on who I was talking to in my Human Resources courses.  Analyzing what type of person is in front of you and adapting the message you have to convey to him or her. You have to surpass yourself and filter yourself out, which personally has always been quite difficult for me.


What have you done since you graduated? What opportunities have you had?

As soon as I graduated from Vatel, I was hired in the Thon Hotels Group and I quickly climbed the corporate ladder. I started out in 2003 as an intern and transformed this internship into my first job as Conference & Banquets Coordinator. Then I started to manage this department. In 2006, I became the F&B department manager before being promoted to general management in 2007. I’m also involved in associative work in our profession. I was the President of the “Food and Beverage Managers Association of Brussels” for four years and have been a member of the “Brussels Hotel Association” (BHA) Board of Directors for the past three years.




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