When Christopher Obrist went to hotels with his father as a child, “I told my father I wanted to manage a hotel one day. I was always aiming for that.” Today, he’s doing exactly that.
Obrist is the general manager of Filadelfia Coffee Resort and Tours in Antigua, Guatemala, a four-star boutique hotel that has a 20,000-square-foot banquet space and draws locals with two on-site restaurants. How did he get here? “I always say yes to new experiences,” Obrist says.
When it comes to learning new departments or skills, he never turns down an opportunity that ensures growth. That served him well while working to open a hotel in Spain. “I was very focused on learning as much as I could,” he explains. “Whether I was working with the director of F&B or analyzing financial statements, I took every opportunity to absorb the knowledge around me. This experience, while humbling, was motivating since it showed how much I still had to learn.”
Here, Obrist shares the principles he follows as a general manager:
“I’m not a successful leader without a successful team,” he explains. “If your team doesn’t support you, you can’t go anywhere. They need to know I’ll always be there for them, which is important because if my team is happy, our guests will be happy.”
“Everything is a learning experience. It’s important to never stop learning. This is a principle I try to instill in my employees, so we are always growing together”
“Your employees feel your energy,” he says. Obrist exercises every morning, which boosts his energy and gives him a positive outlook, no matter how much pressure he’s feeling. “If your energy is not in the right place, it’s problematic.”
“Understand that every employee has different needs,” he emphasizes. “It’s a mistake to assume that everyone will respond to the same management style. I make an effort to sit down with each individual on my team periodically to check in on their satisfaction and progress. My employees teach me just as much as I teach them. It’s a two-way conversation.”