A photograph of Lília

Meet Lília: Front Office & Reservations Manager at Novotel Lisboa

Today, we’re thrilled to share the inspiring story of Lília Dias, Front Office & Reservations Manager at Novotel Lisboa in Portugal. 

Lília’s journey from a challenging upbringing to a flourishing career at Accor showcases her resilience, determination, and passion for hospitality. 

Join us as we explore her path to success and the role Accor played in transforming her life.

Can you tell us about your early experiences in hospitality?

“I was born in Lisbon, and when I was about 15 or 16, I had my first experience in hospitality at the Marriott in Monaco, as some of my family had emigrated nearby due to the need for more opportunities and a better life.  

At the time, I hadn’t completed compulsory education in Portugal since I became pregnant at 17 and had my baby in France, which is why I now speak good French.” 

What brought you back to Portugal, and how did you start with Accor?

“As a result of not having the documents to stay in France legally, I was forced to return home. My family had a lot of financial and social needs, so it was imperative that I earn money to feed my daughter. 

In the neighborhood where I grew up, there was an integration program for young mothers who hadn’t finished school, so I applied for it. 

I looked around for something in hospitality. I didn’t know Accor at the time, but it was French, and that was a good start because I wanted to move to France. 

I started at Mercure in 2004 as a trainee in the housekeeping department. Accor received me with great warmth and taught me almost everything I know. They took me on during a very difficult time in my life – I was young, and they were like my family.”

How has Accor supported your growth and development? 

“When I started with Accor, they accepted me as I am and always gave me opportunities to grow. When I began at the hotel, the only words I could say in English were ‘Good Morning’ and ‘How are you’. 

When I moved from the hotel floors to the restaurant and came into contact with people more often, that’s when I started learning English. 

My current manager told me there are lots of opportunities with Accor in Portugal. With help, I prepared for an interview at the ibis hotel opening in Lisbon. I did the interview, then a position in the restaurant at Mercure turned up, and I was given the chance to take it.”

What do you enjoy most about your current role?

“I have a team of 13, plus me. It is a challenge to manage that many people, but I like that – it makes me happy that no two days are the same; it keeps me on my toes. 

I need to discover something every day to learn and move on. I love connecting with people. 

When I was young, I wanted to work as a flight attendant, meeting different people and destinations every day. When I started my career in hospitality, especially as a receptionist, I realized I could travel by staying in my city because our guests come from all over the world.” 

How has working at Accor enriched your life?

“I am such a rich person because Accor invests in me so that I can learn and explore; they have given me things no amount of money can buy. I come from a small neighborhood where very few people have jobs. My role here has allowed me to make something of myself. 

My proudest moment was when I moved up to the front office; being a reservations manager gave me the boost I needed, given that I love to organize and make things happen. Ultimately, I would like to be a general manager, and I’m sure I’ll get there!”

What advice would you give to others in the industry?

“Being a Heartist® is to use the best of yourself to provide a wonderful experience to other people. We all have difficult days, but I love what I do, and I do it with my heart. 

I advise anyone new in the industry to take risks, learn as much as you can, and don’t be afraid of responsibilities and new challenges.” 

If you’re inspired by Lília’s story and ready to embark on your own adventure in hospitality, explore job opportunities at Accor today. 


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