Theresa Baghdasaryan – Youngest female GM in Yerevan helps us discover the new Golden Palace Hotel, as well as uncovers the hardships of being a woman in a heavily male dominated hotelier sphere in Armenia.
Hi Theresa, please tell us what is Golden Palace boutique hotel and how is it different from other luxury hotels in Yerevan?
Golden Palace Boutique hotel is the 3rd hotel opened by Golden Palace Hotel LLC in Armenia. The first hotel was opened on May 2005 located on 2/2 Azatutyan Avenue, which is now operated under the name “Radisson Blu Hotel”. On March 2013 the company opened his second hotel in Tsagkhadzor- Golden Palace Hotel Resort & SPA. Golden Palace Boutique hotel started to accommodate his unique and luxury clients at the end of 2017.
Among the finest five star hotels in Yerevan, Golden Palace Boutique Hotel is situated in the very city center close to Republic Square with the unparalleled views of the modern and ancient Armenian streets. It is just a footstep from luxurious shops, restaurants and truly unique sites. Our hotel offers an impressive range of facilities and an unrivaled standard of personal service and sheer comfort.
What do you like the most about the design of this hotel? What would you highlight the most about Golden Palace boutique hotel?
For us at Golden Palace, service is a prime fundamental, we aim at offering a perfect stay even for the most demanding customers, thus we commit ourselves to taking care of every details to bring elegance, comfort and sumptuousness to their experience! The hotel’s design is evident in the subdued colors, discreet patterns and rich fabrics. Complete with marble bathrooms and classic Italian furnishings, the soul of the Hotel lies in its charming cultural decor. With just 36 guest-rooms and suites, Golden Palace is an unusual boutique hotel: a place where your stay is crafted around your individual needs. Slip into your plush slippers and robe after a long day, and experience the finest luxury the City with almost three thousand years of history it has to offer. Our guest rooms and suites offer an inspiring environment; the spacious windows let the sunlight in and provide city view of Yerevan.
And, by the way, we have changed the name of the hotel. Now it is just Golden Palace Hotel Yerevan.
How long have you been holding the position of a GM in this hotel? What difficulties did you face as a GM? What was the biggest challenge that you had to overcome, or perhaps the challenge you faced and are most proud of?
I work at GP from pre-opening time and the most difficult time was during construction, as I was not familiar with it. But at the same time, it was great experience and opportunity to know hotel from its bones, how it is structured, and I am grateful I was involved in those processes as well as it helps me a lot during my everyday work as a GM. I have learned a lot of things concerning the engineering and hotel mandatory standards. In comparison with other chain hotels, as a GM I had to implement our standards and build everything from 0.
Now let’s talk about how you reached beyond the glass ceiling (glass ceiling referring to the difficulties women face when trying to reach higher levels in their career as opposed to men, who don’t face the same difficulties just because they are male). You are the youngest female GM in Yerevan, is it difficult to work and hold such a high position in a dominantly male hotelier environment in Armenia? Do you face any kind of discrimination based on your gender?
The answer is simple, by hard work and dedication. I always realize that hotel business is 24/7 365 days a year. So it demands lots of effort and time and it always will. If you want to do something good, it should be difficult. The majorities of difficulties I face are not so much due to my gender, but rather my age. There is a stereotype that young people are less experienced and skillful.
What would you highlight to be the hardest part of being a female GM in Yerevan? What is the relationship with the staff, do you go along easily or you find there is room for improvement?
Being a woman in any leadership position isn’t easy, so one must work harder and smarter. But I love challenges. I do believe that our industry is all about people. So, the first thing was to have a team who will love and care for GP as much as I do and for this, I did everything possible to make GP an attractive place to work. To make staff fill honored to work here and to respect the rules and work ethic standards that we implemented. I put the hotel’s priorities in place by hiring a team that Is professional and willing to do something different and making their own ordinary day someone else’s extraordinary day. As women, I believe that our maternal instincts sometimes interfere too often. On one hand, that makes us great GMs, but we can also care too much. It is difficult to make those business decisions that negatively affect people’s lives.
What do you think is the difference between the way women and men run a hotel?
Most women naturally have a high emotional intelligence, and this is important in the hotel business where people serve people. Empathy helps you anticipate guests’ needs – and also to get your team to perform better in a work environment where you are “on stage” most of the time.
How are you treated differently as a female GM?
If you do your job well, you will get your recognition, but it will take a woman longer than it takes a man to get to a top management level. Networking is important, and it sometimes seems easier for women to help women because there are so few of us. Too often, women are so thrilled and thankful when they are offered a great position that they don’t push back and negotiate like they should. Men assume they will get the position, and salary is one of the first things they fight for.
You have worked both in international chain hotel and independent one. What kind of differences you will highlight?
These two types of hotels are two different realities. Chain Hotels have a strict set of standards and guidelines, giving staff a clear structure to follow. And it is a great school. As for me, I am glad that my first experience in this field was at Best Western Congress Hotel. I was lucky to work under management of both Italian and Armenian professionals and then to be part of that team.
In independent hotels you should implement all standards, procedures and regulations, as I did in Golden Palace Hotel Yerevan. At the same time, there is this great opportunity and freedom to create your own, you have greater flexibility to change standards or policies when necessary to smoothly adjust to the changing market needs.
One of the biggest positives about working for an independent boutique hotel is the smaller workforce, there is a real family feel between staff members. Golden Palace Hotel Yerevan is a place like this, where each member of family does his/her best to make their own ordinary day someone else’s extraordinary day.