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4 questions for: Anna Olszyńska

1. Tell us about yourself: How was your path to becoming General Manager at Andel’s Hotel in Łódź and how was it connected to other hotels developed by Warimpex?

I have been involved with Warimpex hotels from the very beginning of my career. I started as a receptionist at Amber Baltic Międzyzdroje in 1993, which was the first Warimpex-owned hotel in Poland. In 2003 I became its general manager, and then moved to Warsaw to the Jan III Sobieski Hotel. There I got an offer to take the helm of the newly built Andel’s Hotel in Łódź. I knew from the beginning that this would be a very special project to me, and I wasn’t wrong! I have been continuously involved with it since it opened in 2009. Even earlier, as the pre-opening phase lasted an additional two years. Together with Warimpex management, I shaped the Hotel’s image and helped place it on the hotel map of Poland. I also supported subsequent openings of Warimpex hotels in Poland.


2. This year the Hotel celebrates its 15th anniversary. You have been managing the hotel since it opened in 2009. Are there any special milestones or events that you look back on after 15 years?

Vienna House by Wyndham Andel’s Łódź opened after a relatively quick, yet precise, process of revitalising the building, a process that has received numerous awards in Poland and the rest of Europe. We welcomed our first guests in June 2009. However, not all parts of the Hotel were immediately developed as they are today. The SkySPAce Spa and Fitness Center did not open until a year later, in 2010. Our trendy SkyFLY bar on the fifth floor of the hotel was inaugurated in 2013. An important date for me from that first period is in 2011, when together with Warimpex we launched an art project - initially known as Andel’s Quarter. The project aimed to promote contemporary art by building a permanent art collection and organising temporary exhibitions in hotel spaces. We continue this project to this day under the name Andel’s Art, even though the Hotel is no longer affiliated with Warimpex. This is an extremely important part of the business for me, showing that the Hotel is more than just a base for accommodation.
I think that one of the most important milestones in the Hotel’s history was in 2016, when the rebranding of the VI Hotels Resorts chain into Vienna House took place. The hotel portfolio was put in order, and the chain received a solid base in the form of a common, clear philosophy, strategy and values, which were very close to my heart from the beginning. At their centre was the guest, who, for me as a hotelier by vocation, has always been of utmost importance. On top of that, the new philosophy allowed for a lot of trust in the employees, who could be more creative and spread their wings, and thus strengthen the hotel’s brand. This coincided with the development of a rise in competition on the Łódź market, but thanks to this new approach, we remained one of the leading hotels in the city.
Another significant year was 2020 due to the pandemic, certainly a memorable time for the hotel industry. It was a time when we had to redefine the way we operate and take a fresh look at what our hotel can offer. A consequence of this difficult period is also the transition to the HR Group network and the inclusion of the Vienna House brand in the Wyndham Hotels Resorts portfolio, which allows us to open up to new markets and gives us new opportunities.


3. Take us back to the beginning: The hotel is situated in a historic building. Can you tell us more about it?

Vienna House by Wyndham Andel’s Łódź is located directly in the city centre and in close proximity to the Manufaktura, one of the largest shopping and cultural centres in Poland, as well as the modern art museum and city’s historical museum. All of these establishments are situated on the grounds of the former mill built in 1878 by Łódź textile magnate Izrael Poznanski. Several buildings stood empty for many years. Finally, in 2009, after two and a half years of renovations, they were transformed. The weaving mill was transformed into the modern 4-star hotel – Andel's Łódź. The Polish-Austrian architectural firm OP Architekten Ziviltechniker GmbH, led by Wojciech Poplawski, renovated the building in accordance with the guidelines governing the restoration of historic structures and oversaw its careful conversion into a modern 277-room hotel with a spacious conference centre. It has become one of the most recognizable hotels in Poland and a symbol of Łódź.
The history is palpable in the day-to-day operation of the hotel – visible in the corridors and hotel rooms. Employees refer to the building’s past in their stories. Younger people sometimes even find various artefacts in the hotel basement and give them new life.


4. What are the challenges of operating a hotel in a listed/historic landmark building?

Historic buildings have many of the advantages I just mentioned. On the one hand, this historic building is the foundation for the history of the hotel and connects it to the history of the city and the surrounding area. On the other hand, it does pose challenges in the day-to-day operations and management. Even at the design stage of the building, the architects had to continually adapt to the walls and structure of the building - for example, each of our rooms has slightly different dimensions. The rooms are long and narrow because that’s how the factory structure was designed, which could not be changed. Similarly, the parking lot is full of pillars, making the entrance to it very narrow.
Now, on a daily basis, we face many constraints, specifically technical ones. One example is the ICT network, which, due to the thick walls, must be extremely strong. Relatively small windows compared to the interior space require better interior lighting. Thick walls often create a challenge for the installation of wiring, pipes, shafts, etc., and can almost feel like a barrier for potential restaurant guests who are not residents at the hotel. However, I think that overall the advantages outweigh the disadvantages to locating a hotel in a listed building.



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