As head of interior training at Luxury Hospitality (LH), Renata Balla is well versed in delivering seven-star service for superyacht owners and guests. Whether it’s arranging flowers, making the perfect bed, caring for marble or table decoration, there’s no aspect of the perfect guest experience she hasn’t mastered.
We caught up with Renata to learn about her background and her role at LH teaching superyacht crew and staff working in elite domestic estates, boutique hotels and palaces around the world.
Tell us about your early career and how you got into the yachting industry?
After four years studying for a degree in hotel management and working in 5-star hotels in Budapest, Hungary, I decided to join the cruise industry, working for luxury cruise line Radisson Seven Seas (later renamed Regent Seven Seas). Having started on board as a waitress, I managed to move up in the ranks quickly to become maître d'hôtel of the fine dining restaurant on board – a position which I held for four years while circumnavigating the world.
After 10 years I decided to move on when I was offered the opportunity to join a luxury yacht owned by a royal family in the United Arab Emirates. Here I started as chief stewardess and, after a relatively short time, was promoted to hotel manager/purser on board MY Dubai managing special events and voyages for the family.
How did working on a superyacht differ in terms of the skills required?
Luxury cruise liners have very high expectations these days when it comes to skill levels. However, within the yachting industry it is all about your ability to provide a very personalised service and go above and beyond for the owner, which I love. It’s amazing how attention to detail can result in a truly exceptional experience for guests.
I loved my career in both industries, and the cruise ships provided me with a great foundation for my future career in yachting.
What were some of your highlights working on board superyachts and what prompted your move ashore?
Working with the royal family gave me great insight into how different cultures operate, which I found fascinating – I was lucky enough to assist across a number of vessels in the royal fleet including MY Smeralda, MY Red Sapphire and MY Dubai. Ultimately I left yachts because I wanted to start leading what I call a more ‘normal’ life, and I came back to Europe to be closer to family. But I do miss the UAE sometimes, I have to say!
How long have you been working for Luxury Hospitality and how did this come about?
My husband has been friends with Peter Vogel, founder of Luxury Hospitality, for over 25 years. I joined the company in 2016 - we were both offered positions as the company was expanding. I love my job and I love working with all my colleagues, they are all very different which keeps things interesting!
You are Head of Interior Training at LH – can you talk us through the main courses you are qualified to deliver?
The courses I deliver include:
Silver Service Specialist: training all service styles as well as the best techniques, preferences, tricks and tips which suit the owner.
Housekeeping Specialist: this includes cleaning products, techniques, fabric knowledge - everything there is to know about care of the interior of a yacht.
Valet Services and Wardrobe Management: training in valet services including how to manage the owner’s wardrobe. It also includes folding techniques for all types of garments, shoe care and even how to tie different ties.
Laundry Specialist: this covers all aspects of laundry operations including garment sorting, stain removal, ironing techniques, folding of bed sheets and more.
How would you describe a typical day at work?
No day is really the same, but before we go on site, our teams all meet to plan the day. Once we arrive at our training, we deliver the program and then sit with the client, be it a chief stew or captain, to evaluate the day and get some verbal feedback. Then we run through the day together between our teams, discuss how it went and then plan for the next.
Where in the world do you deliver skills training?
LH trains crew all over the globe. We deliver a lot of training on board yachts everywhere from the Mediterranean and Caribbean to the Middle East, and we also train in shipyards in Holland and Germany.
What do you find most challenging and most rewarding about your role?
The most challenging would be when the group doesn’t seem attentive at the beginning and you have to be creative to get them engaged. The most rewarding times are when you read the feedback and see how happy the client is and that you met all their expectations.
The best part is most definitely the LH team - everyone here is so great to work with, and I’m thankful for that fact that I can continue working in the yachting industry without being a fulltime seafarer.
Who has inspired you most in your career so far?
I would have to say three people. First is my brother who introduced me to the cruise industry - this is where I met my husband, my second inspiration, who has taught me a lot. And lastly Peter Vogel who I have worked with over the last few years – he has really shown me the ropes in the training industry.
What’s your motto?
Do what you LOVE to do.
To get in touch with Renata:
Tel: +31 (0)646 081 660