“People who study at University of New York in Prague are not waiters; they’re usually leaders,” he says. “If you’re looking for a complex syllabus that makes you understand Prague and Europe, this is a great place for you.”
Everyday, Václav Vítek walks around the Hotel Quisisana Palace. He surveys the staff, the cafe, the restaurant, sees how everyone is feeling and what needs to be done. Vítek became the executive officer for the luxury boutique hotel, located in the picturesque Karlovy Vary, in April and also manages its services company.
“We don’t sell rooms or suites,” he says. “We sell emotions.”
Learning how to tap into people’s feelings was a skill he fine-tuned when he attended University of New York in Prague in 1999. He studied International and European Economics for his Bachelor’s degree, and then returned for his MBA in Tourism Management.
Long before he came to UNYP, Vítek knew he would end up in the hotel industry. His father became the president of the Amicale Internationale des Sous Directeurs et Chefs de Réception des Grand Hôtels in the 1990s, and Vítek spent his childhood traveling to beautiful hotels around the globe. After graduating from an Austrian high school, he knew he wanted to study in a foreign language and ended up at UNYP because of the faculty and variety of international students.
“The school was kind of raw back then because it was new,” he says, “but they did (and still do) invest a lot in bringing in great professors from all over the world. Not only big names in the Czech Republic, but big names in the U.S.”
While earning his MBA, Vítek shared the program with just seven other students, which included an airline manager, a hotel owner and an Ethiopian student from New Zealand who wanted to open his own restaurant. At first, he wondered what he could learn from such a small classroom, but any doubts were quickly laid to rest.
“It was a great mix of people who had nothing to do with me, but we shared the same passion for the service and for the business,” he remembers.
In addition to his major, Vítek studied psychology and marketing, where his professor taught him to “think in between the lines” and how to present in front of people—a talent that has become very useful to him as a manager. This active approach to learning and his exposure to diverse cultures have helped him stay at the top of an industry where “you have to get better, not stay the same,” he says.
That kind of education paid off. After graduating, he climbed the hospitality ladder, starting as a manager at Czech Tourism and ascending to Director of Sales and Marketing at the Augustine Hotel until reaching his current position.