Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Tuesday, Jan

Fresh Starts - Philipp Real, Resort general manager


By Sorrel Moseley-Williams for the Buenos Aires Herald

From: Lichtenstein
Lives: Chacras de Coria, Mendoza
Education: International hotel management degree at Schweizerische Hotelfachschule Luzern, Switzerland
Profession: General manager at The Vines Resort & Spa
Book: The Alchemist for the third time
Film: Frozen
Gadget: My iPhone

With various hospitality posts in Central America and the Caribbean under his belt, Lichtenstein transplant Philipp Real was ready for his next adventure. When a general manager position became available in Mendoza in June 2014, he flew from Panama City for an interview and started work six weeks later.

Philipp says: “The first time I came to Argentina was straight for a job interview last year. I was working in Panama City and had been there for two years, opening a luxury resort. That was one in a series of posts that has included the US, Mexico and Curaçao among others since I left Lichtenstein 20 years ago.

“My wife – who is from the Dominican Republic but whose parents are from Curaçao – and I flew to Santiago de Chile then on to Mendoza. It was very different to Panama but in a good way. Panama is a crazy city and has seen out-of-control growth over the past two years and the culture hasn’t been able to keep up with that.

“She wasn’t happy in Panama City and neither was I, so I was on the lookout for something new. We visited Mendoza for four days before flying back to work, then I took some vacation to go back to Europe before starting a few weeks later as general manager at The Vines Resort & Spa in Uco Valley. We haven’t lived anywhere for longer than three years in the past 20 years, so we are incredibly used to moving our family and possessions from one country to another.”

Fresh air

After living in a metropolis such as Panama City, Philipp and his family found Mendoza to be a breath of fresh air, literally. He says: “Coming from a crazy metropolitan area such as Panama meant it was very enjoyable to be in a town-like city where trees still grow on the streets, the air is fresh and skies are clear. Moving to Mendoza has been a very positive experience.

“We live in Chacras de Coria, a downtown suburb and it takes exactly an hour each way to reach work in Uco Valley. Chacras is a very small and neat town about 20 minutes outside of Mendoza. We live in a gated community so it’s safe for our five-year-old daughter to play outside all day. We used to live in the Casco Viejo, the old city in Panama, in an apartment, so having a garden and more space has been a good move. Chacras has a ton of restaurants and small boutiques and it’s a very pleasant community: the fact it is so small means everyone knows everyone else and it’s not unusual to see the same person several times throughout the day. Lichtenstein has 32,000 residents and though it is smaller than Chacras in terms of population, it is similar in terms of scale.”

While he has lived in other countries around the continent over the years, Philipp says he finds Argentina to be an educated place in comparison with others. “Culturally, people seem to be extremely educated and well behaved too. In other places, you have to deal with obnoxious kids who don’t have any discipline when talking to adults. It’s different in Argentina when compared with other Latin American countries.”

As for the language, Philipp says his very nationality helps him to adapt easily enough. “I speak almost fluent Spanish and in Lichtenstein you learn French, English and Italian from a young age. Once you understand one Latin language it’s easy to learn another, so Spanish has been one of the easier languages for me to adopt. Living in Mexico helped and of course my wife is from the Dominican Republic.”

Starting anew

His lifestyle choice also means he adapts to new situations with ease; in fact Philipp relishes the chance to start afresh every few years. “After living somewhere for three years, we get an itch and feel we want to move on. It’s exciting as it means life doesn’t get boring. I love starting from the very beginning again, finding a nice place to live, getting used to a new apartment or house and meeting parents from my daughter’s school, establishing who you are dealing with on a daily basis. Other people don’t like it due to the lack of stability or you don’t have good old friends around, but for us it’s exciting because life evolves: you have new experiences, meet new people and find yourself in new situations. It never gets boring.”

Having exchanged urban hub Panama for Mendoza, Philipp now works in the shadow of the Andes mountains, a unique landscape if ever there was one. He adds: “Driving to Uco Valley is a harsh yet positive change but there’s a lot of peace so I decompress any stress on the road and forget about hassle quickly enough! It’s beautiful thanks to the endless vineyards and you see horses running around. It’s a very peaceful place on earth. I don’t listen to any music on the way; I get lost in my thoughts, sucking up nature’s energy. Driving to work every morning is a beautiful experience.”

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