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A star-studded path in the skies of Paris - Vatel

A star-studded path in the skies of Paris

“Vatel made me more open-minded and allowed me to meet people who contributed to making me who I am today.”

Aurélie Ponce - Operations manager for the Cheval Blanc Paris Hotel / 2006 Alumnus


“A star-studded and irreproachable path”: this is how, at the end of 2022, the Hospitality Tribune commented on Aurelie Ponce’s nomination as operations manager for the Cheval Blanc Paris Hotel. She’d worked in superb Parisian hotels since she did her final internship at the Ritz Paris, who then hired her. She stayed there nearly ten years before joining the team that would open a Marriott Renaissance and then prepared the reopening of the Ritz as director for several sales outlets such as the Bar Vendome and the Salon Proust. After that she joined the Hotel de Crillon, a Rosewood Hotel, as F&B manager until 2021. She directed a seasonal hotel, this time in the south of France, before going back to the capital to head an intimate luxury boutique hotel. A new steppingstone, she now is the operations manager, the second most important person in the Cheval Blanc Paris, “a Parisian hospitality flagship with a strong DNA, talented teams and incredible dynamics in the group.”

A 2006 alumnus, you now are the operations managerat the Cheval Blanc Paris. How did Vatel prepare you for this job?
I had quite a general high-school cursus, with a literature major, followed by a two-year vocational degree in international commerce, because for me foreign languages and travelling were key! Then I decided to continue with a postgraduate degree in hotel management, something that seemed to unite both! Vatel’s theoretical courses during my postgraduate degree were an added bonus, because that’s where I learned the basics, as I hadn’t had any courses in hospitality. But the greatest asset was doing the “practical application” weeks in the hotel, brasserie, restaurant, and conference rooms on our Campus. With all these jobs, a whole new world opened for me, one with tons of possibilities, something that compounded my motivation. Beyond professional preparation, Vatel made me more open-minded and allowed me to meet people who contributed to making me who I am today.

What are your main sources of motivation and enthusiasm now?
My team members and clients! Helping employees grow and progress in their careers is just as exhilarating as hearing clients tell you that they’ve spent the best time in their lives at your hotel. Prizes, awards, rankings and other ceremonies are omnipresent in our line of work and often sources of motivation to help us raise the bar towards excellence. Innovating, pleasing and satisfying a very demanding client base is a healthy and exciting means of rivalry. Plus, each and every day I say to myself that I’m working in one of the most beautiful hotels in the world, and just that makes me happy.

What advice could you give in priority to Vatel students to help them succeed and thrive in their professional lives?
I’d start by telling them to take advantage of these years, which for most of them, will be the best ones in their lives! But also to be curious, to take advantage of experiences and internships to be better prepared for what will follow and learn what they like to do or on the contrary, what they don’t like. Meet professionals, explore other cultures and realize how lucky they are to be working in an environment like this. When they like what they do, they’ll never feel like they’re working!

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Thursday, 1 August 2024
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