Alain Bouchat, a hotel director with lots of style

By Sergio González | 10:30

Alain, let’s begin with the most professional side of you. You are the hotel director for not one but two NH hotels, NH Brussels City Center and NH Du Grand Sablon, both known for their exquisite manners and guest service. Any piece of advice?

Dedication; you have to love what you do. Our staff is constantly engaged and committed to our guests, in order not to just meet their expectations but go far above them. Providing ‘great service delivery’ involves much more than simply be a hotelier.

 What is the key to create a great guest service?

I’d say there are several things that help build a great customer service. Hiring the right people is clearly important. They need to be customer oriented and pay enough attention to detail, but also be able to adapt to each guest style and likings.

I’ve seen senior executives use little tricks like putting a small piece of paper on the lobby carpet, then walking GM candidates over that area. If they don’t pick up the paper, they don’t get hired. This Sr. Exec wanted a GM who set an example – picking up trash themselves, not looking for another staff member to do it.

It is also important to encourage staff to make mistakes -they are the best mean to learn- and to help them anticipate customer’s needs, exceeding full satisfaction. And never stop improving, refining processes and creating new ones.

But on top of them all, I think it should be ‘the customer is always right’ -they are the one who pay everybody’s salary.

Why NH Du Grand Sablon get so many good critics from guests?

 I would say it is the central location of the hotel in a wonderful and safe area but ‘I know’ it’s because our staff is truly friendly. You can smile and be efficient at the same time.

What makes Brussels a special destination? 

Well, it’s a central location in the middle of Europe, close to France, Germany, England and other countries, with which Brussels is very well connected; that’s why the city became ‘the capital of Europe’. With all the buildings for the EU and other international organizations, Brussels is always bursting with a pretty cool cosmopolitan ambiance.

Brussels boast many cultural events all the year round and it’s considered a cultural city in its own terms. Besides that, we love eating out and gastronomy offers are amazing. Whether local cuisine or international gastronomy, the city has many good places to have a bite.

Which is your favorite part of the city? 

Today, the Grand Sablon is especially known for the antiques market, held every weekend, and for the numerous antique dealers who settled down in the area. A more recent phenomenon is the opening of Belgian chocolate and confectionery stores.

Now, Alain, just a quick list of your Brussels’ favorites. Drop some cool and interesting places for our readers.

What do enjoy the most about living in Brussels?

Night life

Cosmopolitan population

City size

City ‘things to do’

What is on your must-see list in the city?

The Royal Palace

The Grand Place

The Atomium

Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium

The Magritte Museum

Musee Horta

Is there a particular annual event you never miss?

Brussels Jazz Marathon

National Day on July 21st

Christmas Market

Is shopping included? I don’t mind spoiling the day at Louise or Danssart (famous shopping areas in Brussels)

Do you have a favorite restaurant in the city?

Belga Queen

La Quincaillerie



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