Frédéric Carre with fellow staff members at the ice skating rink at the Brussels Christmas Market last year
Frédéric Carre with fellow staff members at the ice skating rink at the Brussels Christmas Market last year

Like many of my family members who work in the food and beverage business, I like the spirit of delivering quality service to clients and have the opportunity to welcome a wide range of people arriving from around the world everyday.

Each year, at Citadines Toison d’Or Brussels, we welcome long-stay guests from Japan. In order to make their stay special, we provide them with extras like the daily delivery of a Japanese newspaper, a rice cooker, and an area where their children can play together.

Over at Citadines Sainte-Catherine Brussels, we made an agreement with the organisers of the Christmas market, which is in front of our property, where we are allowed the exclusive use of the skating rink for a few hours. We invite our long-stay clients for a spin on the ice, which gives us the opportunity to meet and interact with them.

Living in Brussels is great. The city is a combination of cosmopolitan hub and country town, where people take care of you. There is a feeling of community spirit. I live close to an antique market and the people in this area are really friendly.

Brussels is also very well located — you can be in London by train in two hours, or in just 90 minutes you can enjoy the scenery of Paris or Amsterdam. It’s a great place to make the most of a European city break. The worst thing is the weather — it seems that rain and grey weather are part of Belgium’s make-up, and sadly it is something that we can’t do anything about.

When I am not working, I like to play golf. Looking on the bright side, one of the benefits of Belgium’s weather is that it does ensure green grass on the course all year round. I also like to cook. On weekends I like preparing special dishes for friends, usually Belgian or French specialties.

I have worked in the hospitality industry for around 15 years and it is something I’m passionate about. Before I started work, I studied hospitality, food and beverage for five years in France. I was and still am dedicated to cooking — and have even participated in a dessert championship with a chocolate-and-mango creation.

I also spent a period of time in Japan as a cook in a French restaurant. As an introduction to this part of Asia, this stint offered me some great experiences. Japan is a historic civilisation with a great sense of tradition, and I was impressed by its culture and rituals, such as sleeping on tatami (woven rush mats), eating seated on the floor, the small temples found in most houses, and the great respect people have for each other. As I was in Wakkanai, in northern Japan, near the sea, I also had the chance to fly-fish for salmon in the river, which was a memorable experience.

Ten years ago, I joined Citadines as a Residence Manager in Nice, France and changed roles several times before moving to Brussels just over a year ago.

I have also been lucky enough to travel around the region, personally experiencing several different cultures.

Work is my passion now, but in a few years I would like to take time out for several months, change my lifestyle and go on a trip around the world by ship, to discover new places — where hopefully the weather will be better than the one in Belgium.

This new column entitled contributing articles to CapitaLand Inside Different Geographies.

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