St. Petersburg

Expat Experience. Interview with Sven Gevers.

12 Dec 2018
Interview with Sven Gevers, the General Director of Belmond Grand Hotel Europe in St. Petersburg.

- You are a man of the world and now you live and work in St. Petersburg. What makes this city special for you? How is it different from your home country Germany?
- Interesting question. Having moved around so much I would not compare St. Petersburg to Germany, but to the rest of the world. Having left my home country when I was 1 year old, the world became my home. I see myself as a global citizen and Europe is my home. And today I am in the heart of Europe in the cradle of art and culture. It’s the first time that I work in Russia, but I have visited many times on business. My biggest challenge is at times the weather. Otherwise I already love it here!

- What is different in St. Petersburg?
- It is such a fantastic big cultural city that one needs to compare it with Paris, Madrid, London or Vienna. What I love about St. Petersburg is that on scale and services, it rivals these other cities; you have all the benefits but on the top of that you still get the ease of getting around. The city is not suffocating in traffic jams. Everything is open 24 hours, 7 days a week. As such the city is incredibly service-minded and whilst historic it still manages to be modern. Communication and technology is on the highest level. You even use LTE which is not available in other European cities.

- Can you name us three things about living in St. Petersburg that you enjoy the most?
- It is the city’s efficiency, its modern approach and historic setting. 

- Do you like working with Russians? How is it different from working with Europeans for example?
- I love working with Russians because of their efficiency and kind nature. European destinations are spoiled with a big number of travelers and service-mindedness has suffered. They need to be reminded often about how blessed they are to be receiving the clients. 

- What are your favorite spots in and outside the city to visit in winter? Where will you spend your Christmas holidays?
- In summer it’s nice to enjoy parks and be on the water. In winter – visiting museums. Outside of St. Petersburg I have been to Karelia and I absolutely adored it. It will be my first Christmas in Russia and I want to see how Russians party. At Belmond Grand Hotel Europe we are throwing a big party on New Year’s eve, with 3D mapping projections, songs and dances from famous musicals and I am thrilled to be part of it!
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