ISTANBUL - Referans
In less than a year, German Axel Ludwig has managed to reinvigorate Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay through major changes that raise both its visibility and marketability. The hotel has been one of this year's most popular destinations and is already preferred by the wealthy set headed to Bodrum. Industry insiders point to the hotel's new, young general manager as the key to its success. What they might not know is that that he rocks out in his spare time.
�I was one of Bodrum Kempinski's first 50 guests,� said Ludwig, 38, explaining that he came to Bodrum on a holiday while working at Kempinski Moscow. �I thought �what a beautiful place. The general manager is really lucky.' Now I'm that lucky guy.�
Ludwig's main success has been determining the services for which guests would pay more. For example, he opened Italian and Asian restaurants in the hotel and emphasized access to high-quality water sports. He introduced a kids-only restaurant. He has also further developed the hotel's famed spa service, garnering even more accolades for the spa's Asia-meets-Turkey signature style. The hotel's Six Senses Spa was named Europe's best spa by Conde Nast Traveler. With these changes, customer satisfaction at Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay increased 20 percent, hotel endorsement increased 100 percent, and the number of visits to the hotel's Web site increased 65 percent.
Born in Bonn, Germany, Ludwig began his career as a cook in Maritim Hotel in Königswinter. After working in various places for nine years, he stepped into hotel management. Affiliating with the Kempinski family in 2003, he worked first in Hamburg and then in Moscow. Since October 2007, he has worked as the general manager of Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay. Revealing his ambition, he said, �I'm going to make this hotel Turkey's most luxurious.�
'I wanted to be a rock star'
Friendly with all of his employees, Ludwig addresses almost everyone by their first name. To escape the intense work pressure, he plays the guitar, fishes, rides his bicycle, plays golf and cooks. �Playing music is still my favorite thing to do,� said Ludwig, adding that he bought his first guitar at 14 by saving the money he earned delivering flowers on his bike. After two years, he founded a hard rock group in the family garage. The singer-guitarist has seen Metallica in concert ten times.
He gave his first concert as a surprise to his brother when he gathered his former band mates and composed three new songs for his brother's wedding. Hardly the makings of rock stardom, he admits, but he started another band later on after meeting a banker while working in Hotel Atlantic Kempinski in Hamburg. Upon learning that his new acquaintance was a drummer and fellow Metallica fan, Ludwig and the businessman teamed up for regular jam sessions. A bassist friend, whose company supported the hotel's operation, soon joined the pair. Thus a band of businessmen was born. Composing ten songs, they recorded a demo album and shared it with close friends. During Ludwig's surprise farewell party at the hotel in Hamburg, the band performed their �most important� concert in front of 250 people. He referred to the event as �the best day of my life'. Ludwig said he looks forward to making music for his Turkish friends sometime soon.
Also setting his sights on becoming a cook, Ludwig began working as an apprentice chef in a restaurant at the age of 15. He explored different cuisines while working as a cook for the next nine years at various hotels in both Germany and Switzerland. He was most interested in Asian cuisine, and was later drawn to Mediterranean cuisine which helped him quickly adapt to Turkish food, he said. In his own kitchen Ludwig defines himself as a classic cook, though, who does not experiment with different sauces, exotic fruits or vegetables in his food. He says his favorite foods to cook are pasta, risotto and fish.
An avid cyclist, he has twice ridden his bike from Bonn to Amsterdam in the past three years. He often makes 400-500-kilometer trips with his father. He says cycling is the best way he knows to let off steam and be alone with nature.