Jean Bowcott, General Manager, Sofitel Budapest Chain Bridge

  • 15 Aug 2017 12:00 PM
Jean Bowcott, General Manager, Sofitel Budapest Chain Bridge
Hospitality has always been my passion. When I was in school I worked at a local hotel to earn extra money as my pocket money did not go far enough! I got bored very easily so just loved the fact that working in a hotel every day/ every shift was different and you never knew what the next day would bring. That led me to decide to have a career in Hospitality and train in Hotel & Catering Management.

My choice of career is something that I have never regretted even though it comes with long hours and sometimes brings very challenging situations. During my career I have been lucky enough to work in many different cities in the UK and in several other countries- France, Canada, United States and now Budapest.

My ambition when I started out in the industry was to be a GM and I was lucky enough to open a brand new Novotel in Newcastle upon Tyne in my first GM position. After various GM positions in the UK and abroad, I then moved on to multi-hotel management in London. I took on an increasing number of hotels in my portfolio and unfortunately this meant that I ended up spending far too much time in Head Office which was not for me.

Due to this I decided to go back to being a Hotel General Manager and at the same time experience a different City and Culture with my husband. Budapest was our first choice as it has so much history, beautiful architecture, art and is a great place for Classical music and Opera.

I was so fortunate that the GM Position at the Sofitel here in Budapest came up just at the right time and whilst many people applied I got the job and the rest is history! It was really the best decision I could have made and I have so much enjoyed going back to managing my own hotel

1. When did you arrive in Hungary and what brought you here?
I arrived at the beginning of November 2015. My job brought me and my husband here.

2. Have you ever been an expatriate elsewhere?
Depends what you consider an expat to be exactly. I’m British and have worked in France, the U.S. and Canada, but Hungary is my first time abroad with an expat contract.

3. What surprised you most about Hungary?
I guess how vibrant Budapest is, with things happening all around, and interesting people to meet. The city is beautiful and the Sofitel has such an amazing location with a breath taking view of the Chain Bridge and the Castle which I could never get bored of.

4. Friends are in Budapest for a weekend - what must they absolutely see and do?
I would take them to see the ‘Shoes by the Danube’, as a lot of people do not know the history of Hungary. I really like Hold utca market, the food court there is very nice. If weather allows it’s great to go to the top of Basilica and see the city.

5. What is your favourite Hungarian food?
I like Brassói. Also the foie gras here is great, I love it.

6. What is never missing from your refrigerator?
Wine, milk, and chocolate!

7. What is your favourite Hungarian word?
My favourite phrase is: ‘Bocsánat, csak egy kicsit beszélek magyarul.’

8. What do you miss most from home?
From my old home in UK, I miss Typhoo tea bags! Each time someone comes to visit they bring some over with them. Now we consider Porto our home and we have had a flat there for several years now. We live where the Douro river meets the Atlantic ocean so we have both the river and the sea right at our doorstep! Like Hungary they make some great wines in Portugal which are difficult to find in other Countries so I have to wait till I return for a few days to enjoy them.

9. What career other than yours would you love to pursue?
A florist, with my own flower shop. This is something that I have always dreamed of. I love flowers and to be surrounded by them all day is my idea of bliss!

10. What's a job you would definitely never want?
Anything to do with politics.

11. Where did you spend your last vacation?
For our last vacation my husband and I went to Bordeaux to join a cruise. We visited many vineyards either by bike or walking and did plenty of wine tasting.

12. Where do you hope to spend your next holiday?
Our next holiday will start in Porto and then we will visit Valencia and travel down the coast to spend a weekend with friends in Denia before returning back to Porto for a week.

13. Apart of temptation what can't you resist?
A good glass of wine. Here I like then Red Villányi wines, plus I also like the white Riesling in the hotel as we work with a local wine maker and produce this as our own house white wine. I also have taken a liking to Furmint wines which I did not know before coming to Hungary.

14. What was your favourite band, film, or hobby as a teen?
Band: Take That, the first time round!
Film: Midnight Express
Hobby: Dancing - ballet, tap and modern dance.

15. Red wine or white?
Both! I also really like a crisp chilled glass of Rose in the hot summer months

16. Book or movie?
Book for sure although I don’t get a chance to read that much on a daily basis but always take my Kindle with me when I am on holiday or when I am travelling for work.

17. Morning person or night person?
I am definitely a morning person. I prefer to get up and get to work early or to do sport which really gives me a boost to start the day. We have a yoga class at the hotel every Tuesday from 6.30am to 7.30am for both guests and Ambassadors and every Thursday I run 5K with anyone who wants to join me. The meeting point is in the hotel lobby at 7am.

18. Which social issue do you feel most strongly about?
I spent 4 years in India when I was young due to my father’s job and I returned there again in my late teens. There you see people really living in poverty, villages of mud huts and lots of young malnourished children begging on the streets of the cities. I remember in the UK people talking about begin poor yet still managing to have a mobile phone and Satellite TV. A visit to a country like India is a wake-up call to what real poverty is.

19. Buda or Pest side?
I am a ‘Pesti girl’

20. What would you say is your personal motto?
This is a difficult one but I strongly believe that it is important in life to ‘Practice what you preach’ and ‘lead by example’



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