Chris Godenir - Lobby Talks Review

By chris fletcher

Chris Godenir - Lobby Talks Review

The blog series was written by your favourite member of Otolo and offers you a summary of our last Lobby Talks event. 

Getting to know Chris, a fearless and positive individual  

Chris Godenir is the General Manager at The Peninsula Hotels Cape Town, a restaurant with a beach vibe that serves international cuisine. Fun Fact: He chose to be a part of Lobby Talks on his birthday as he considers it ‘a mini celebration’.  

Turning a Desire into Reality – Le Negresco 

We always start the livestream with an explanation of the hotel lobby chosen by the guest; in this Lobby Talks, Chris Godenir picked Le Negresco Hotel in Nice. “We’re in the Negresco in Nice and it holds a special place in my heart. I think one of the things I’m known for in life is being fairly fearless. Going for my gut and doing things that other people might not have done. 

Early in my youth, I was driving a little Volkswagen minibus around Europe. I parked outside Le Negresco and put a jacket and tie on, and went in through the lobby to the public area bathrooms where I had a shave and brushed my teeth. I said to myself that one day, I’d like to go back and check-in the real way, and I’ve done that. I chose Le Negresco as a bit of fun. I think you need to be adventurous and explore new places.” 

Next, Chris ran us through his Career in 60 Seconds – check out the video below where he gives us a summary of his career.  

A New “Me” – Career Highlights  

The next section is called Good Day / Bad Day, where the guest describes a certain day that they remember in a positive way, and one in a negative way.  

“I’m such a positive individual and every day I wake up thinking this day is going to be the best day. The day that I remember so well was after having had the car accident and recovering, my current wife walked up to the foyer and she’d been the National Training Manager for Elizabeth Arden. She asked the concierge “Is that Chris?” and the concierge said “Yes, it’s a miracle, they don’t call him Godenir for nothing”. She called me up and I came to have a drink. I remember that day as being the beginning of the next stage of my life. The new Chris without all of the ego and luxuries is the Chris that you see today.” 

400 Meals in 6 hours – Career Highlights 

“My worst day was probably the first month I was in the hotel business. I was the cashier and room service of the Carlton – a 400-bedroom hotel. They booked 400 guests in at midnight and gave them a dinner voucher. The only restaurant open was room service and we had to feed 400 people between midnight and six o’clock in the morning.  

I definitely learned a lot that day. I had people screaming at me left, right and centre but we survived and we learned to live another day. That was a big learning curve for me.” 

Trading Busty Atmospheres for Peacefulness and Good Memories – Last Day on Earth 

The premise for this section is imagining that the world is ending tomorrow, but you have VIP access to any hotel, restaurant and event. Where would you go and what would you eat? 

“The hotel that I want to go to probably hasn’t been built yet. However, I’m a big romantic and I’ve been married to my wife for 26 years, so I’d go back to Hotel Cartier, which is a small boutique hotel in France. There are only about 16 rooms and its very quiet in the mountains; it’s definitely somewhere you can go to relax. 

After leading a hectic life, I’m not in the mood for busy atmospheres, so I’d love to spend the evening in a relaxing environment with comfortable surroundings. 

Having gone to Europe from South Africa, I would die for a rare New York steak, french fries, salad and red wine. In terms of which event I’d like to visit as the last time, it would be a Rugby World Cup in South Africa. I’d like to share that with you James, to come and join me and we can enjoy the game. It doesn’t matter who wins or loses, it’s just the spirit of the game that makes rugby what it’s all about to me.” 

Advice on being Agile, Flexible and Fearless   

Check out the video below where Chris shares his words of wisdom and advice.

Key Takeaways 

1. Being more present by asking and listening will allow us to make our hospitality experiences so much better. 

2. As hoteliers, the biggest mistake was not listening to our guests. 

3. If you haven’t done it, it doesn’t mean you can’t try it.  

4. We need to play differently, work differently, live differently. We need to be alive and have fun.  

The Checkout 

A huge, huge “thank you” to Chris for sharing his knowledge with us, his friendly and determined attitude and insightful comments on the world of hospitality will definitely stick with us. 

If you missed the livestream and would like to watch it, here is the link: [Lobby Talks – Chris Godenir]