Leading successful careers in the hospitality industry in Australia and New York, it was a strange thought that Christophe and Jean-Marc Beaumont would one day continue the life's work of their father. However, this thought became a reality. Joining the company in 2012, the two finally took over the reins from their father in 2014. They now manage Hotel Beaumont in Maastricht and its restaurant, Harry's, named after their father Harrie. Below is an interview with the two brothers, who reveal the ups and downs of this 105-year-old family company.
Your great-grandfather, grandfather, and father established and grew this company. What was your experience as a child growing up with Hotel Beaumont?
Christophe begins, ‘We can't remember the time spent with our grandfather, as he passed away at a relatively young age. When we were born, our father had already become the owner of Beaumont, with all the responsibilities that entails. We hardly ever saw him. You can imagine that this was sometimes difficult for us. Even though the hotel was still rather small at the time, dad was always working. However, this also had an upside, because as children we would pay regular visits to the hotel.’
Jean-Marc continues, ‘It's safe to say that the hotel was at the centre of our family. I remember the times when we and our friends would sneak into the hotel cellar and play around in there. We'd get up to all sorts of mischief... until the chef chased us out. Some staff members who still work here saw us grow up. It's quite touching when you think about it.’
“The fact that Nedlin is a family company is the cherry on the cake.”
On 1 April 2014, you took over Beaumont from your father. Had you seen this coming?
Jean-Marc explains, ‘Not in the slightest! I was shocked when dad asked us seven years ago. He was only 57 at the time. It had never occurred to me that he was preparing for the time he would no longer run the business. After all, it was him who had always pushed us to make our own start in life. I was working at a fantastic hotel in New York, and I had no plans to leave. But when dad asked, I didn't hesitate one moment. Having grown up with the hotel, I couldn't pass on the opportunity to manage it. It's extraordinary to think I'm the fourth manager in an unbroken generational line; but this heritage also brings great responsibility. Accepting the job means becoming an inseparable part of the family company.’
Christophe begins, ‘I had a very different experience. I had worked in Switzerland and London, moved to Australia, and was loving life down under. So when dad called me, I wasn't immediately sold on the idea. But his question got me thinking. I started to think analytically, mathematically. I said to myself: “I've only got one chance to say ‘yes’ to this, and I can always change my mind.” So I decided to try it out for a year... and I'm still here after more than six years.’
You both starting off by working a few years in the company while your dad was still in charge. How did that go?
Laughing, Christophe says, ‘It wasn't easy, that's for sure! He was still the captain of the ship, but we had our own ideas, too. Although this led to some friction, it also meant there were opportunities for us to work together. Leaving the arguments to one side, our work at the hotel gave us a huge boost and a great deal of satisfaction.’
Jean-Marc explains, ‘Not all Christmases were a happy family affair at the time. But we knew how to make up in the end; we were united by the same goal. When he passed on the hotel three years ago, he did just that: packing up his things and leaving everything to us. And I have to say that we work a lot better together now, although dad still pops in a couple of times a week. He's an extremely experienced and knowledgeable hotelier, so we regularly come to him for advice.’
You've gone from one owner to two co-owners, who happen to be brothers. How does this work in practice?
Christophe begins, ‘Because we both lived and worked abroad for a long time, we needed to rekindle the relationship we have as brothers. We're completely different people. I'm more cautious at work, taking my time to deliberate over things. But in my free time, I like to skydive or travel to the wilderness of Colombia and disconnect from the world for a few days. Jean-Marc, on the other hand, is an excellent business man and can make and implement decisions quickly.’
Jean-Marc explains, ‘I'm looking forward to spending an Easter weekend at my in-laws’ in Zeeland. We know that our differences, our varying perspectives, enable us to achieve more together than we would working individually.’
Christophe says, ‘Despite the arguments, our brotherly love remains intact.’
Jean-Marc says, ‘There are similarities, of course. We're in the same profession. Co-managing Beaumont and Harry's means we're working toward the same goal, with hospitality being our absolute priority. We've just returned from a trip to London. What we saw there is truly “next-level” hospitality, a guest experience that leaves absolutely nothing to chance. Although we have already gained lots of experience abroad, this has given us a new source of inspiration.’
Christophe adds, ‘We really should do more of these trips.’
What is Beaumont's version of ‘hospitality’?
Jean-Marc says, ‘Sincere, personal contact makes all the difference. It makes each guest feel special. However, we're aware that our staff only have time to deliver this service if the basic elements run like clockwork. This is one of our top-priority areas.’
Christophe adds, ‘Certain elements need to be right, otherwise our staff won't feel comfortable displaying their own personal flair for hospitality. We think it's important that people can develop.’
We know that hospitality needs a human touch. But how important are other elements – bed linen, for instance – for your company?
Jean-Marc says, ‘They are extremely important. Linen is one of the basic elements that need to be perfect. If not, you can wave goodbye to your business. We chose Nedlin as our linen supplier about three years ago. Since then, we've produced a brand-new corporate identity. This is the product of some intensive work. While different members of staff offered their own input, Nedlin provided us with excellent support and advice. We looked at a lot of linen. After making a preliminary selection, we dressed six or seven rooms in different types of linen. I know that our head housekeeper is extremely happy with Nedlin's service. They're always on time and always supply products that look fantastic. Our housekeeper even went on a tour of Nedlin's laundry and was amazed by what she saw. Of course, the fact that Nedlin is a family company is the cherry on the cake.’