Interview 2: Arne Klehn, Former General Manager, Budapest Marriott Hotel

  • 14 Mar 2023 12:08 PM
Interview 2: Arne Klehn, Former General Manager, Budapest Marriott Hotel
1. What’s been happening at work and at home since your first Xpat Interview?

Click here to read his first interview

A lot. We went through Covid and the continuous war in Ukraine since February 2022. Aside from all of the challenges we faced, we are looking forward to the numerous city-wide events that will take place in 2023. This includes Formula 1, the World Athletic Championships as well as the UEFA Europe League Final in May, this year.

At home, well chaos reigns! We are now a family of 5.  Henrik was born prematurely in December 2020 and is a wonderful addition to the family’s pure joy.  Getting everyone out of the house in the morning is a difficult task and I believe I have even lost a bit more hair as a result. We are a very active family with three kids, and my wife does an amazing job with them all. She’s firm as a rock and a wonderful support helping me to do my job.

2. On a scale of 1 to 10 how happy are you with your life in Hungary, and why?

I would say 10, because I am naturally a very positive person. Both personally and professionally. 

I am very pleased with our sales team, which never really stopped during the lockdown times; we always kept engaging with customers remotely, so we were very active despite the circumstances. Now it is so wonderful experiencing great occupancies with guests back in the hotel, the familiar heartbeat has returned.

3. What’s the best party you’ve been to while in Hungary, and why?

There were two Christenings actually. One in 2019 and one in 2022 with family and dear friends at our home for a garden party.

4. What’s your favourite drink?

I don't have a favourite drink, it depends on the season, but one I enjoyed was a great glass of Sauska Cuvee 7 or the amazing Wassmann Kékfrankos. With temperatures rising I believe it will change again as there are so many amazing wines to discover in Hungary.

5. What hidden talents do you have?

During COVID, I started to bake bread which on most occasions turns out to be quite nice. The Brioche, in particular. Kids love them. Additionally, I am frequently asked to bake ‘Franzbroetchen’ which is a Northern German / Hamburg specialty. It’s essentially a German take on a classic croissant. Absolutely delicious.

6. What was the most interesting travel trip you have ever taken?

The most exotic one so far was to India, in 2018. I went for business but had some free time to explore, and was overwhelmed by the hospitality, culture, flavours, and smells, everything was so intense that I have to return privately because I was only there for a few days. I did not experience a culture shock after living in Istanbul, with 20 million inhabitants – that was a shock already. I was aware of the ‘busyness’ of India so I would not call it culture shock, but it was overwhelming!

In addition, I began skiing at the age of 42. I am from northern Germany, and we never went skiing when I was a kid, as my parents never went, and I didn’t have any skiing friends, so it was difficult for me to learn. Since then, we have been going to Norway to enjoy the slopes there.

7. If you were given a wish that could come true, what would you ask for?

I would wish for a ‘world reset button’. There would be no more natural disasters such as in Turkey & Syria some weeks ago, no more wars or humanitarian crises, and no environmental challenges, we could just simply enjoy this great planet.

8. What’s the last book you read, and movie you watched?

The book I'm currently reading is a thriller called 'Korset,' the third and final novel by Ingar Johnsrud.

The last movie I watched was ‘The Menu’.

9. If someone wrote a biography about you, what would the title be?

The Socializer.

10. What is the perfect pizza toppings combination for you?

Quattro Formaggi / Four Cheese - I eat it everywhere I go in town, but my favourite is at Porcellino Grasso restaurant in the 2nd district.

11. If you could trade places with any other person for a week, real or fictional, with whom would it be?

I would have said, my Dad. He passed away so early unfortunately, I was 33 when he died, just one year after our wedding. He never met his grandchildren, he never got to experience being a grandad, and never got to visit us in the great destinations we lived in for the past 12 years.

12. On a scale of 1 to 10 how unusual are you, and why?

I would say 6 if you consider being unusual as a German. We lived abroad for so many years and inherited, breathed, and lived so many great cultures and are definitely influenced by them in our daily lives.

13. What’s the best website you’ve ever visited, and why?

Professionally I like Ted Talks; great inspirational talks by many great leaders. 

14. Who do you admire the most, and why?

My wife, as previously stated, is as solid as a rock, the glue to all family and friends, and she has to deal with me.

15. What do you like best and least about living in Hungary?

Everyone has new experiences to share, whether they are locals or expats. There is always something new to discover, whether it is art, culture, culinary or hidden gems of the country.

There is no ‘least’ for me. At least not for us if I may speak for the family, as well. Everyone is fighting for their own fate.

16. What has made the biggest impact on your life so far, and why?

Having children significantly increases your responsibility as a family man and father. Additionally, it’s important to ensure that my wife and I are not only parents but also a couple; we continue to have a weekly ‘jour fixe’ where we just do something between the two of us, whether it’s sports, going to the movies or having dinner in town.

17. If you won USD 30 million, what would you do with the money?

I would set aside a small portion of my retirement savings to travel and see the world comfortably, and then donate the rest! The pandemic has taught us that we have everything we need, and having so much available will not buy me happiness.

18. If your life had a theme song, what would it be?

‘Beat it’ by Michael Jackson.

19. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose?

There are so many wonderful places in the world where we could imagine living. Countless. Norway has become one of my favorite places in recent years. It has a great open and welcoming culture, is very modern, has beautiful nature, and is ideal for skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer.

20. In ten years from now what will you be doing?

I will still work in hospitality and do what I can do best, creating experiences.

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