Life as the General Manager at Concorde
Way back in June, when the blog was just a few days’ old, we interviewed the general manager, Carsten Colmorgen. He told us all about his career before Concorde – from Bedouin hospitality in Oman to old-world luxury in Paris – as well as what he thinks sets Concorde Hotel apart from the rest.
It was all very interesting, but what I really wanted to know was: “What do you do all day?” So last Thursday, Carsten invited me back to his office to talk invitations, the art of being a good host and charity work.
Carsten leans closer, conspiratorially: ”I’m quite difficult as a host,” he confesses, “with my team, I mean. I’m a perfectionist.” I laugh, and try to imagine Carsten getting angry; I can’t and conclude his weapon, like my parents’, must be disappointment.
“You must find it really stressful though? I mean, being a host to hundreds of people, I can’t imagine anything worse!” Carsten’s answer is simple: “I love it.” It’s lucky, really, since the Concorde seems to do a lot of hosting – both for private functions as well as the diverse cultural programme of events which they organise each month for guests, neighbours and friends. There are regular fixtures on the programme, such as the Lobbygeflüster, which is a concert series dedicated to French and German pop music beyond the mainstream, as well as one-offs such as the Concorde Colours blogger event.
“Concorde is actually hosting an event tonight,” Carsten adds; a book reading with British-born author Priya Basil, to get Berlin in the mood for the annual International Literature Festival kicking off this week – I invite myself along.”Oh, that reminds me, I really ought to think about my speech,” he says, more to himself than me. “You haven’t written it yet?” I eye him with a mixture of admiration and panic. “I love working under pressure! And I especially love making speeches.” I’m starting to get the feeling I would make a very poor general manger.
Literature has a special place at Concorde, given their tireless support of the Association Alphebetization, a charity aimed at raising awareness of the continued problem of illiteracy, even in a wealthy country such as Germany. All proceeds from copies of Priya’s book sold tonight, for example, will go towards the Association. It’s clearly something that Carsten, who has been Ambassador for Literacy in Germany since 2007, feels passionately about.
At this moment, Carsten’s secretary appears in the doorway with an armful of colourful papers. “Ah, my invitations, just put them on my coffee table.” I laugh, before remembering that sarcasm isn’t very common in Germany. “Are those really all invitations?” I ask. “Yes. Well, those are some of them…” So this must be what Carsten does all day! “Everybody’s back from their summer holidays, you see,” he explains, “all the galleries and institutions and so on. September is full of exhibition openings and awards ceremonies.” I wonder aloud how he finds time for anything else if he has to go to all these events. “I can’t go to them all, of course, it would be impossible. But I really like the mix of art and fashion, business and architecture, so I pick a range of events from the invitations. It’s important for the hotel to have good connections and a strong presence in Berlin.” Carsten’s secretary is back and it’s time for me to leave – his next appointment is here.
You can experience Hotel Concorde hospitality first hand this Thursday 6th of September, when they will be presenting three Berlin fashion labels – Mongrels in Common, Selve and Liebig – as part of the Vogue Fashion Nights Out. See you there!