Hospitality runs in his blood. Keith Bajada

 

Being 24 years young is lovely. Being also a person bubbling with energy and blessed with a determination to move forward in a profession which is much at heart is a gift from above. Being in love is ecstatic, and being confident that the parts of life’s puzzle fit well is blessed. I could not avoid thinking all this after meeting Keith Bajada, Guest Experience Manager at Corinthia Budapest.

Keith Bajada

The job of a Guest Experience Manager reflects a fresh concept or approach of offering clients an all-inclusive experience. Keith was clear on this: “My main responsibility is to ensure a memorable experience for our guests. The role is very diverse as I am in contact with different departments. The job starts with our guests before their arrival, working on their requests and answering any question they might have. Together with my team and the housekeeping department, we ensure that the room is prepared to standard. F&B join in to prepare and deliver amenities on time, whilst Front Office are also roped in this all-inclusive drive. We also answer and follow up reviews.

So this means that the success of this philosophy depends also on the awareness and appreciation of all other departments. “Correct. My team and I depend on them. They do not merely respond to our request but also offer and share their special knowledge as a necessary ingredient for this experience.”

Hospitality has run in Keith’s blood since he was very young. “ I have excellent memories of my early years at Corinthia Mistra Village and Jerma Hotel. I always admired the quality service offered in these two properties, and in fact, when I was young, I wanted to become a chef. After finishing secondary school, I started working that summer and joined the Marina Hotel at the Corinthia Beach Resort. From then, my love for hospitality matured in leaps and bounds, and that’s why I am here today. The job offers many opportunities to work abroad, which I always found very exciting.” Keith failed to say that his father, Stephen, is a very valid Corinthian, occupying various important posts for many years; hence his early familiarity with the Corinthia scene.

What led Keith to join Corinthia Budapest? “Whilst restrictions were being lifted in Malta immediately after COVID-19, I was offered the opportunity to start a management trainee program at Corinthia Palace for one year. I spent the first six months in the Commercial Department, and for the rest of the year, I took over The Summer Kitchen, the poolside restaurant at Corinthia Palace. After this one-year program in Malta, Jonathan Pace, with the support of IHI’s Managing Director Simon Naudi, offered me the opportunity to spend another year working in Budapest. And here I am!” 

Keith’s job may look like a fun ride. It certainly is not. “You need strong dedication, tons of patience, and constantly keeping eyes and ears open to new trends and feedback. You also require a healthy measure of teamwork experience and style in delivering a message.”

But surely there must be aspects of the job which are not attractive. “There is always something in a job which is less appealing. When the season picks up, I work long hours, but I assure you that this is so slight compared to the satisfaction and attraction I experience. The various tasks I need to perform make no day like any other. This diversity is healthy and delightful. Meeting different people every day is a daily fresh dose of excitement. I have enjoyed meeting celebrities and famous people in the film industry and Formula 1, a sport I enjoy watching. When I worked at Corinthia London, I mostly met with celebrities from the film industry and at Corinthia Budapest, it has been a great mixture of both. It is always interesting to meet these people outside of their daily routines and get to know them personally. But, I must say, I also enjoy myself to the hilt when meeting non-celebrities. Every person is special to me and a means to show my enthusiasm and the experience Cornthia can offer. 

The satisfaction of seeing guests appreciate my efforts is a thrill which encourages me further. I urge youngsters like me to consider hospitality an adventurous opening that stimulates. Corinthia is an excellent springboard for new goals and adventures. It has grown internationally, and new opportunities are budding fast.”

And what is Keith’s ultimate dream? “Certainly, to manage a property is my main aim; it’s my dream. I need to work hard for that, but as I said, Corinthia offers so many chances to learn and advance. Corinthia is expanding fast, which means a surge in new opportunities.

Keith with his brother Luke, playing their favourite sport Field Hockey

Someone had whispered that Keith is an avid hockey player, so I brought up the topic. His eyes shone. “ I have played field hockey in Malta since I was very young. I went through all the age groups and was lucky enough to be surrounded by many talented people. As I grew older, I was also part of the senior team at Qormi Hockey Club and represented Malta in Gibraltar and Porto. Since moving to Budapest, I have played indoor hockey with Epitok Hockey Club. It has been a great experience playing here, and I have also managed to place third twice with the team in Indoor Hockey and win the Hungarian Championship in Field Hockey.

And home hobbies? “Cooking is a favourite and, I must say, I am quite good. I look forward to doing some cooking every evening.”

I asked if he ate alone at home. “Oh no, I’m in great company. I am lucky to have Sarah, my partner, who is a wonderful, supportive companion. And there’s is Luna.

Who’s Luna? “She’s our little dachshund.”

Hugging Luna the dachshund

Keith looked fixedly for a few seconds and added, “Most of my family live in Malta. One gets used to the distance. I try my best to visit often, but distance cannot be avoided. 

And this is Sarah

Keith then explained how he and Sarah love having short holidays. “They are a great break away from work. Till now, we have only looked for destinations close to Hungary. Some spots are a thrill! We have visited some of the wine regions in Hungary, which were definitely worth the time there.

I noticed someone was trying to catch Keith’s attention. He was needed elsewhere, so I gently hinted it was time to part. 

He’s a great person. He will grow because he has the passion, dedication and drive. And one day, he will certainly fulfil his dream and manage a Corinthia hotel.