Resort entertainer and TV producer may not be traditional jobs in the path to hotel GM, but for Moïse Aykanat, the skills learned in those two roles—plus a passion for people and life—have equipped him well for his GM position at the new Nhow Marseille.
MARSEILLE, France—A Parisian of Turkish descent, Moïse Aykanat, GM of the new Nhow Marseille, credits his ability as an entertainer, his early studies in computer science and experience producing reality TV programs with equipping him with the skills to run a hotel.
“When I was studying computers, a colleague did a summer season at Club Med. I went for a vacation, and I stayed for 10 years,” Aykanat said of the Club Méditerranée resort chain.
His decade at Club Med involved six years as an entertainer and four years as a chef de village, Club Med’s term for a GM, although that role in Aykanat’s words was more “super-public relations,” rather than responsibilities of strategy and revenue management.
Aykanat’s Club Med experience, he said, was perfect for his next role as a producer of TV programs, such as the French interpretations of Masterchef and Pop Idol, known in French as Nouvelle Star.
After that, Aykanat got his first “traditional” GM position in 2010 at Mama Shelter Bordeaux, a brand part-owned by AccorHotels and majority-owned by the Trigano Family, who also founded Club Med.
“People do not always see the connection between entertainment, TV and hotels, but it is all about managing staff, keeping people’s passions alive,” he said. “I think that experience gave me more success at leadership. Plus I like change. TV does not equal family life, and I had two kids by then.
“The role of a GM you can learn, but with entertainment, you either have it or you don’t,” Aykanat added. “I learned to be a GM at Mama Shelter.”
Aykanat said occupancy for the city-center Mama Shelter averaged 92% when he was there.
“I learned so many things. Nothing changed when Accor came in,” Aykanat said.
Aykanat came to NH Hotels Group and the 150-room Nhow Marseille in March, in what he said is “another step in my evolution.”
Making sure the hotel’s different spaces are connected and work together is the first challenge Aykanat sees for the hotel, which officially opened on 13 September.
“The hotel does not look like a hotel. Its excellent location is not the concern, but how I can make it as a single entity work. We must have the right balance between (meetings, incentives, expositions and conventions) and (free independent traveler) guests so as it does not feel like a business hotel but something connected to the city, the sea and the landscape,” Aykanat said.
Aykanat’s family arrived to live in Marseille the week before the hotel’s opening, but Aykanat sees no problems entertaining them.
“The quality of life in Marseille is really good. I think it is because everywhere is so close to the sea,” Aykanat added.