Incredible stories of employees of Grandhotel Starý Smokovec

Incredible stories of employees of Grandhotel Starý Smokovec
Incredible stories of employees of Grandhotel Starý Smokovec

VYSOKÉ TATRY (24.4.2024) Grandhotel Starý Smokovec has decided to pay an unconventional tribute to its employees. The first big hotel in the Tatras, which was opened in 1904, has established a special gallery for its employees and three stories have been added there already.

Grandhotel in Starý Smokovec was visited by many notable personalities – Saxon Crown Prince Frederick Augustus, Czechoslovak President Eduard Beneš, British Prime Minister Harold Wilson, Cuban President Fidel Castro and many others. “Much less is known about the people who took care of the guests in our legendary hotel. That’s why we have decided to create a gallery to introduce them. Their personal stories are often an incredible example of loyalty and service to tourism in the High Tatras and this hotel in particular. And that’s why we would like to thank them in this way,” said Matej Fujka, the hotel general manager. The gallery has been opened by installing the first 3 portraits.  

Anna Wielandová – From a manor house to the reception

Anna Wielandová grew up as a baroness in the village of Vlková at the foot of the High Tatras. Several interesting personalities came from her family – Barbora von Wieland, known as the love of writer Janko Chalúpka, or Field Marshal Lieutenant Juraj Wieland, who also fought against Napoleon. Except for a short period, Anna Wielandová spent all her professional career in the High Tatras. She worked at Grandhotel Starý Smokovec for over 30 years and went through several job positions – in the accounting department and at the reception to become the head receptionist at the end. It was the receptionist position that fulfilled Mrs. Wielandová most and her excellent knowledge of 5 foreign languages was her great advantage. She worked for Grandhotel Starý Smokovec until she was 60 years old. With her professional approach and knowledge, she was the first symbol of service quality for many foreign clients of the hotel and the entire region. 

Adriána Koršalová – An incredible story of loyalty to Grandhotel

Born in the Tatras, in Starý Smokovec, she set foot into Grandhotel as a kindergarten pupil for the first time at a St. Nicholas celebration. After graduating from secondary school (1984), she started to work as a receptionist at Grandhotel, studied at the Hotel Academy in Kežmarok to further her education and spent one year at Tourismusschule Bischofshofen (hotel school) in Austria. After she returned from Austria, she became the head receptionist and then the operations manager in the field of accommodation and the F&B department. As she child coming from the Tatras, she skied from an early age and would regularly represent the hotel at the traditional Grand Prix in masks, which was a ski race of tourism employees held on a piste between Hrebienok and Starý Smokovec. Currently, Anna works as an administration officer and in 2024, it is going to be 40 years of her career at Grandhotel.

Josef Pollak (1900-1986) – Emperor’s illegitimate son as a receptionist at Grandhotel Starý Smokovec

A receptionist with an excellent memory, who could greet hotel guests by their names for years. He spoke 5 world languages and had a great sense of humour – this is how he was described in the Úsmevy z pekla (Smiling in hell) novel by his grandson Stanislav Háber. By laughing a lot, he could survive his difficult life as an illegitimate son of Emperor Franz Joseph I and a Czech prostitute. He fought in WWI, was tortured in WWII and was persecuted by communists after 1948. He became a legend whose character and services were remembered not only by guests from the Czech Republic and Slovakia but also from Hungary, Russia, Germany and Austria. Josef Pollak worked as a receptionist for Grandhotel Starý Smokovec from 1962 to 1980.

Along with unveiling memorial plaques, symbolic Thank You plaques were given to the first three employees and they were accepted by Adriána Koršalová personally and Stanislav Háber – the grandson of Josef Pollak. Anne Wielandová received her plaque later. The gallery of employees who have been an integral part of the atmosphere of this unique hotel is located near the entrance of the Hoepfner Hall. This means that the photographs and their stories are near the gallery of other popular hotel guests as well as personalities whom several hotel suites have been dedicated to – king of comedians Vlasta Burian, Olympic winners Emil and Dana Zátopek, actors Emília Vášáryová and Miroslav Donutil, singer Lucie Bílá and writer Daniel Hevier.