‘I Have No Final Destination’
Pascal Forotti is here for business, and pleasure.
With 25 years’ experience under his belt, the managing director of the Rosewood Hotel eats, sleeps and breathes that very guest experience.
‘In the beginning my wife and I would be out and she’d say, ‘What are you looking at?’ I said, ‘Well, a lightbulb is out over there, or this is nice, what do you think of this?’ Now she knows. We walked around West Elm last night and I looked at something and she said, ‘Are you looking for the house, or the hotel?’ I’m always looking at new ideas. I can’t stop.’
Born and raised in Luxembourg, Pascal had to decide between academics or a trade when he was just 13—customary at that time in Europe. After a few months pursuing the former, a little tough love from his mother changed the course of his life.
‘I was not very studious and she said, ‘This is not going to be for you.’ So I went to a school where you would do a different trade every six weeks, and one day we went to the hotel school in Diekirch, a small village in the north of Luxembourg. I came home and said to my mom, ‘I want to become a chef.’’
Pascal left home and spent five years attending the hotel boarding school in a tiny village outside of the city. When he was 19, he realized he didn’t want to cook for the rest of his life, and moved to Belgium to pursue a hotel management degree from CERIA, a hotel college in Brussels.
Being in front of guests, not behind the kitchen, has suited him. So, too, has the travel.
Pascal has moved 10 times in 25 years—from Luxembourg to London, Amsterdam, a previous DC stint at the Willard, Atlanta, Chicago, Toronto, New York, and—most recently—five years at the Four Seasons on the Papagayo Peninsula in Costa Rica.
‘It was shorts, short-sleeved shirts, no tie—just, like, feet in the sand. Then it was time to find the next challenge, the next adventure.’
Pants, suit jackets, and ties have marked Pascal’s two years at the Rosewood, where he works to transform the 49-room boutique hotel—including a public rooftop—into an extremely personable experience. On any given morning, you’ll find him opening doors, parking cars, and greeting guests in the restaurant—lobbyists, CEOs and lawyers Monday through Thursday, and families and couples on the weekends.
Pascal may be the best-dressed man in the hotel, but no act of service is beneath him—leading with a management style rooted in the team’s collective roles over individual rank.
‘The Rosewood is a home, and I’m opening my home to you. You get to know everyone, and it’s an advantage to have a one-on-one with a guest. When they know you, it’s much easier for them to call you and say, ‘This did not go well,’ and we can fix it before the guest departs. They can grab me, ask for help, and we make it happen.’
For a man who’s met celebrities, presidents and heads of state, Pascal says he’s most taken with the presidents and CEOs of companies—‘the ones who can influence the world, and change what we do with the switch of a finger.’ He puts a conversation with the late Steve Jobs at the top of that list—arguably a celebrity in his own right.
And yet, in between the punctuated interactions with movers and shakers, it’s the unsatisfied guests who leave the most lasting impression.
‘I more often remember when something went wrong in the beginning, and I connected with the guest, and we became friends afterward. They started on the wrong foot for whatever reason, and we worked it out. I think sometimes that is more where you create a relationship in our industry—and it’s all about relationships.’
Pascal’s two most important relationships reside at home in Falls Church, with his 5-year-old son, Felix, and 3-year-old daughter, Anais. After a busy week at the hotel, Pascal prefers to spend his free time relaxing with his wife and kids, not as the life of the party.
He’s also put his family above his wanderlust; traveling from hotel to hotel far easier when he was single.
‘Before it was just me and a suitcase or two. Now it’s two kids and a house. You make sure the schools are alright. You do think it through a bit more.’
Now 50, Pascal says he has another 10 to 15 years of work ahead. In Pascal speak, that’s two or three more destinations.
He says he’d like to return to Europe for five or 10 years to give his kids the same experience he had growing up. Maybe Asia after that.
‘The world is so big that I have no final destination yet.’