We want to make people happy

Magazine We want to make people happy

What is it like to run a hotel in the growing tourism boom in Iceland? Two Icelandair Hotel managers tell about their jobs and why they ended up in the hospitality business in the first place.

 

Fludir

Margaret Runolfsdóttir and her husband Gudmundur Sigurhansson have been in charge of Icelandair Hotel Fludir, along the Golden Circle route, from 2003. There are about 800 people living in this countryside town that is known for it’s brightly lit greenhouses and geothermal activity. Margaret, or Magga, sat down with us and told the story of how she became a hospitality professional with years of experience. 

-       I started working in the restaurant business in Reykjavík and it has been non-stop since! I worked for one summer at an Hotel Edda in Skógar and came to Fludir in 2001.

Magga

The Fludir area is home to many natural springs and greenhouses, that are heated with the geothermal heat. Iceland’s only mushroom farm is in the area, the local tomatoes are  and the famous Secret Lagoon is almost next door to Icelandair Hotel Fludir.

-       I fell in love with this hotel when I came here. So in 2003 I bought it from the owners! Well, me and my husband did. I always tend to think I did it, Magga winks and laughs.

-       The business has changed completely in the last 2-3 years. Before that it was difficult to run a hotel here, most of the business came from only two or three months of the year and the rest was quiet. Now the hotel is more alive all year round. In the winter the best thing would be seeing the northern lights from our pool outside. Other than that, the weather is always beautiful in Fludir.

Many changes have been made in the hotel since it’s opening in 1999, for example, there is a beautiful garden in the courtyard – and the hotel is again being redecorated at the moment of writing this.

What makes the hotel business great for Magga, as hotel manager of Icelandair Hotel Fludir?

-       I love meeting new people and talking with them. When guests stay with us for more than one night they become more familiar. I tend to ask for their travel plans and give suggestions if I have any, maybe a better itinerary so they won’t be in a hurry. We have a great staff here and we want to make people happy.

 

Klaustur

The small town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur has a population of only around 120 people, but this South Icelandic gem has a lot to offer – much more than just the only resting stop and services between Vík and Höfn, although that is important, too.

Icelandair Hotel Klaustur is one of the first Icelandair Hotel locations. It is situated almost directly under the beautiful Systrafoss, waterfall of the sisters, that got it’s name from the Benedictine convent that used to be located in this area. The religious history has also given the town it’s name.

Icelandair Hotel Klaustur’s hotel manager Sveinn Hreiðar Jensson has studied hotel management in Switzerland, but told us how he got involved with the hospitality business in the first place.

-       I believe it happened by accident. First I was a seasonal worker, then later head waiter and restaurant manager in both Reykjavík and in the countryside. I became hotel manager here in 2011. This is a community-built hotel. The whole town participated in funding and building the hotel, when the goverment was not ready to fund it. In 1971 it became a Hotel Edda and later an Icelandair Hotel. This is both a beautiful location with many amazing things to see and it is conveniently located between Vík and the popular Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon.

Sveinn

As a local Sveinn knows the area like his backpockets. His family’s farm is in the mountains close to Laki and it is still one of his favourite places in the area. He is happy to tell guests stories behind Klaustur’s history and the local folklore, and there is plenty to go around. Sveinn recommends to hike up the highlands, take in the view of the town from up the hills, admire the beautiful Systravatn and Systrafoss and gives good tips on what to see when you start driving out of the city. The mountainside, Laki craters, Kirkjugólf, the beach and the Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon are just few of the sights close by.

 

-       Klaustur is pure, beautiful and all about nature. We also like to think environmentally friendly at the hotel as well. The growing tourism has ensured this is not a seasonal hotel anymore, but a full-time operated hotel where we can serve people continuously.

And, without knowing what Magga from Fludir had told us the other day, Sveinn closes the interview with almost the exact same words:

-       The best part about this job is to be able to make people happy and to help them.

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