Thibaut Drege, General Manager, Four Seasons Hotel Budapest

  • 19 Apr 2023 12:28 PM
Thibaut Drege, General Manager, Four Seasons Hotel Budapest
Strongly dedicated to Budapest and the Gresham Palace, Thibaut Drege builds on his global experience and the vast expertise of his team to ensure the worldwide community of sophisticated travellers discover what the city and the Hotel have to offer.

“What I will bring is my constant strive for excellence and for revealing the existing beauty of this beautiful gem, supported by the extraordinary expertise of the team, which has built the reputation of the Gresham Palace.” His commitment and endurance in this journey are inspired by craftsmen and fine artisans who put all their heart in their creations and do not settle until they are satisfied with their work.

Since an early age, he has been motivated by bringing joy around him, and that influenced his decision when applying for a university. Coming from a family who loved cooking turned him into an admirer of food.

“When I had to choose my university, one option was medicine and the other one was the Ecole in Lausanne. In a way you can think about these as two different career paths, but to me there are lots of similarities. It’s about caring for people - in both professions you need engagement, patience, genuine care, working in teams and passion.”

Carrying on the celebration of exceptional dining experiences, Four Seasons Hotel George V maintained its unique, prestigious position under his lead, being the only hotel in Europe housing a total of five Michelin stars within three restaurants, a world leader in culinary experiences.

As a pianist, music is also very important to him. “I see myself as a conductor to an orchestra. I have a great cellist, a great violinist and more. In most cases I don’t know how to play those instruments, my aim and my role is to make sure these all blend together in perfect harmony. When they can excel individually, and when we find this harmony, that is when we all succeed.”

He lives according to the motto “choose a job you love, and you never have to work a day in your life.” This positive spirit helped him not only to succeed but also to develop personally through the various positions he held in the hospitality industry in Paris, Geneva, and Hangzhou, China.

Drege also focuses a lot on helping his team to grow. “My way of giving back is sharing experience and talking to people, mentoring them. Transparent communication, conveying a clear vision and being honest with one another and with ourselves is essential.”

He continues in Budapest with the same level of energy and commitment. “Gresham Palace is one of the most beautiful hotels in Budapest, I am lucky to enter such a beautiful piece of art every day. This is already a gem, a beautiful diamond, the only question is, how do we find the right lightning in the right angle, how to polish the diamond so it can shine the best it can?”

1. When did you arrive in Hungary and what brought you here?

I arrived to Budapest three months ago having the chance to become the GM of Four Seasons Gresham Palace. This is an amazing property considered as one of the most beautiful hotel in Hungary and across the Four Seasons brand. The city itself is an extraordinary destination which has so much to offer and I feel privileged to be now promoting it to international travellers.

2. Have you ever been an expatriate elsewhere?

I did all my studies in Switzerland. After graduating I went back to live in Paris, then went to explore China and spent two and a half years there before returning to Switzerland and later on to my hometown in beautiful Paris.

3. What surprised you most about Hungary?

Everything! I must say that I did not know what to expect when I first came as a tourist last summer to enjoy a weekend break. And what I discovered has really stroke me since this is an amazing and vibrant city! I love the architecture, the culture, the art scene, and the gastronomy. I still believe this is an understated destination which we need to make the world more aware of as it has so much to offer!

4. Friends are in Budapest for a weekend - what must they absolutely see and do? 

Well the first thing to say is to stay at the Gresham Palace, at this amazing hotel with its incredible architecture, and stunning location. Next visit the Opera, that is where I went first, then walk around the city, look at the amazing buildings, visit the Parliament and the Széchényi bath. Maybe enjoy a bit of night life in the seventh district, get lost into the area, enjoy local food and wine. Also, they should visit the castle district, and the beautiful Matthias Church.

5. What is your favourite Hungarian food?

I haven’t tried as many dishes as I would have wanted, since to me gastronomy is as important as culture and architecture. So far goulash is one of the highlights. Wine from Tokaj needs to be mentioned, but there are many other quality vineyards here which I am intending to discover. One of my great discoveries has been the Mangalica ham which is up to the best Iberico ones.

6. What is never missing from your refrigerator?

French Wine. I brought my bottles from home here you see, the ones which could not last my absence in the next few years. And I always have a nice bottle of Champagne in my fridge in case of any celebration.

7. What is your favourite Hungarian word?

“Jó reggelt!”, as it brings joy and energy to the morning. I say it with a smile every morning to every employee.

8. What do you miss most from home? 

An easy answer would be cheese, but I have already found a few good ones here. As a pure Parisian, loving style and elegance, I am still looking for a tailor here, but stay positive to find an exquisite one soon.

9. What career other than yours would you love to pursue?

A professional pianist, even though I did not choose it as my career, it is still extremely important to me. My sons are already going to Liszt Academy here to learn to play and practice playing piano and I personally play every time I have the chance.

When I was younger the other choices I had were hospitality and medicine, and I would have loved to be a doctor. Sometime I wonder if I chose the easiest or hardest career. They are two very different fields yet with many similarities – caring for people, making sure they feel well, so both fit my character actually.

10. What's a job you would definitely never want?

I respect every single job, but there are some which don’t fit my abilities. Something too formal, with no interaction with other people, or something too technical like checking compliance with contracts, are not for me. That’s why I married a lawyer, we complete each other.

11. Where did you spend your last vacation?

Italy, in Rome, we had our honey moon there back in November 2022.

12. Where do you hope to spend your next holiday?

I have never been to Japan and I cannot wait to discover its culture and gastronomy! There are many other places I could mention, and lots of Four Seasons hotels I am eager to discover.

13. Apart of temptation what can't you resist?

I am trying very hard, but I cannot resist chocolate. Very dark chocolate, I have very specific brands I adore and cannot resist.

14. What was your favourite band, film, or hobby as a teen?

Hobby –Music in general and paying the piano.
Band – I went through so many phases, and had many favourites. I love jazz, and so Miles Davies, Herbie Hancock, John Coltrane, Keith Jarrett and Maceo Parker to name a few, but I am also a big fan of Debussy, Ravel...
Film: Le Grand Bleu
I loved all Sergio Leone’s movies with Ennio Morricone’s music.

15. Red wine or white?

For me, which region is the question. I used to be a red fan, but I have started moving towards more white ones, for example some cheese tastes much better with certain whites.

16. Book or movie?

Movies. The last one I watched was a classic ‘Once Upon a Time in America’.

17. Morning person or night person?

Both. I love celebrating with friends late at night, but I wake up at six with my kids every morning. So, I suppose am shifting into a morning person.

18. Which social issue do you feel most strongly about?

Very difficult to weigh all the many social issues. So, I would say unfairness in general – in whatever context. Be it between men and women, or difference races, or rich and poor – equality in every regard. I feel strongly that it is so important how you treat people, regardless of their religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and so on.

19. Buda or Pest side?

I am a Pest person, even though many people told me to live in Buda, I like it best in Pest.

20. What would you say is your personal motto?

“Choose a job you love and you never have to work a day in your life.”

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