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Sjefke Jansen: A Passion for Service

Published: March 20, 2014 (Issue # 1802)



  • Sjefke Jansen, the new general manager of Grand Hotel Europe, hopes to attract more visitors from his native Germany.
    Photo: For SPT

Speaking about his first impressions of Russia, Sjefke Jansen, the newly-appointed General Manager of Grand Hotel Europe, immediately mentions the cold and confesses that he remained indoors whenever temperatures dropped below minus 10 degrees Celsius. This is understandable considering that Jansen has just arrived from Mauritius, where he spent the last eight years.

Jansen currently calls the hotel home but looks forward to relocating once his family arrives. He chuckled when imagining his three cats wandering through the hotel, but turned serious when saying that children need an ordinary life away from the hotel. A native of Germany, he plans on trying to attract more German guests while maintaining the special hotel spirit that the Grand Hotel Europe is famous for. Jansen sat down with The St. Petersburg Times in the hotels Mezzanine Cafe and discussed all this and more as the sun made an early, and welcome, appearance.

Related: Ilya Shtrom - Building Brand Loyalty

Q: Like many General Managers you built your career from the ground up, starting as a trainee cook and then gradually working your way to the top. Is this a good way to build a career in the hospitality sector?

A: There are other options. You can either start at a hotel management school, preferably in Switzerland or in the U.S., or you take a practical approach by starting as a cook or training in reception. I chose training as a cook, because I liked cooking, and still do. I think its good to have a background that is based more in practicalities than study. In this way you have a better feel for whats going on. You learn how to adapt to certain hotel operational systems.

Q: Why did you decide to go into the hospitality sector in the first place?

A: It was not to become rich, because you wont become rich in this industry. Having the possibility to combine work with travel to different countries and cultures is amazing, and was always a driving factor for me. I have worked in so many different countries, including South Africa, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, the Maldives, Mauritius and Singapore.

Related: Spartak Sobolev - Raising Risk Awareness

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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