HOTEL For the independent hotelier who means business www.hotelmagazine.co.uk || £4.95 || August 2011
Langtry Manor Hotel This month’s featured hotel
Laying the ghosts to rest .CHECK . . . . . .OUT ............... Focusing on corporate facilities and what the business traveller expects from a hotel
.INSPIRING . . . . . . . . . IDEAS ............ St Michael’s Manor Hotel boasts a newly refurbished restaurant with lakeside views
Britain’s haunted hotels
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The Langtry Manor Hotel
would like to start this letter by offering congratulations to Gerard Basset who, along with his wife Nina, took the time to tell us all about the TerraVina Hotel in the previous issue of the magazine. Since we ran that article, Gerard has been awarded the OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. Considered by many to be one of the world’s greatest authorities on wine, the world champion sommelier has won a succession of awards and accolades both in the UK and internationally. Speaking as the honours were announced, Gerard said: “This is a great honour for me; to have my achievements recognised in this way gives me enormous pride. I am indebted to many within the industry for their support, but not least my family who have stood by me as I indulged my ambitions.” I’m sure you’d agree that it’s a much-deserved award for someone who has devoted over 20 years to the hospitality sector. Also on a positive note, many in the industry have been awaiting the opening of a hotel that is reputed to be one of the world’s most hi-tech. Eccleston Square in London is the first hotel in Europe to offer its guests access to a 3D Blu-ray library and each of the rooms has been equipped with 46-inch 3D plasma TVs; an iPad2 with an app to order hotel services; electronically-adjustable beds; and Nespresso machines. Maybe this gives an indication of the direction hotel interiors are to take? Finally, I would just like to draw attention to our feature on page 26 and invite chefs in hotels across the country to share their signature dishes with us and to inspire fellow readers. If you can provide brief details and images of a starter, main course and dessert, then please get in touch with us. I hope you enjoy the August issue. Sam Guiry firstname.lastname@example.org
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In 1929 John Corby designed a non-electric horizontal trouser press in a room above a garage in Windsor. Eighty years on the company he founded, Corby of Windsor, services the world's top hotels providing over 200 great value products for the hotel and hospitality industry. industr Along with the world's favourite trouser press our wide range includes irons and ironing centres, kettles, hairdryers, minibars, safes, bedroom and bathroom amenities and our recently launched Corby Spa range. All of our products can be purchased online and most are available via next next day delivery.
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August 2011 • CONTENTS
FEATURES Critical mass
Peter Hancock looks at the rise of hospitality critics and discovers that their cutting remarks need not ruin a hotel or restaurant’s reputation
Inverlochy Castle Management International offers a consultancy service that can reverse the fortunes of underperforming hotels
With theft and fraud the biggest security problems in the UK, Andrea Ashfield looks at what hoteliers can do to protect their properties
First past the post
President of TravelClick International, Jan Tissera, offers advice on staying one step ahead of competitors
Laying the ghosts to rest
A niche market is growing in the hospitality sector as hoteliers profit from the paranormal by offering guests room and board and the chance of seeing a ghost or two
Graham Smith from Advantage Environmental explains how to deal with common pests, from cockroaches and flies to rats and wasps
Top 10 legal tips for hotel owners
Managing director of Fortune Law, Shainul Kassam, shares her expertise with her top legal tips for those running hotels
REGULARS Editor’s letter Trade talk
3 Front of house 6 This month’s hotel is the
The latest news from the industry
Recent career moves in the hospitality sector
Marketplace A selection of exciting new products and services for hotels, restaurants and bars
Comment Simon Bull, director of marketing and communications at the Institute of Hospitality looks at modern technology
16 Marketing matters
former home of a renowned Bournemouth beauty who was mistress to the Prince of Wales
20 Inspiring ideas
Alvaro Rey reveals how he moved from Medellin in Colombia to take up his current position as the general manager of the InterContinental London Park Lane
15 Dining out
Matt Wardman has worked in some of the country’s top restaurants before taking on the role of executive chef at the Inn at Fossebridge
Michael Cockman offers advice on how independent hoteliers can compete with the big budget brands
Jon Chapple discovers more about St Michael’s Manor in St Albans and the bold investment into the property by the Newling Ward family
29 Better by design
Michael Northcott looks at the rise of the boutique-style hotel and why this concept is proving so popular
30 Check out
With companies cutting back on their corporate spend, we look at what attracts the business traveller to a hotel
The latest hotels on the market
Upcoming shows, forums and meetings in the hospitality sector
Celebrating the best of British produce Next month will see British Food Fortnight – the “biggest national celebration of the diverse and delicious range of food that Britain produces” – return for the 10th time, and the organisers are again hoping to see hundreds of hotels, pubs, restaurants and shops help celebrate with special events, menus and promotions. Running from 17 September to 2 October, 2011’s special anniversary event celebrates 10 years of achievements. “British Food Fortnight started when the countryside was in the grip of foot and mouth,” explained event organiser Alexia Robinson. “The aim was to reinvigorate the harvest festival – the idea of everyone coming together to celebrate the produce of our land – and to make us more like the French and Italians, whose love of their regional foods is ingrained in their national consciousness. Events on offer this year include a vote to find the British public’s favourite food spot; food festivals in a number of English counties; on-a-budget cooking lessons in Sure Start children’s centres; healthy eating workshops in universities; nationwide plot-to-plate cooking demonstrations; and ‘meet the farmer’ events; and a competition for the UK’s school children to design a meal for the London 2012 athletes’ village. To get involved or for information on events happening in your area, visit www.lovebritishfood.co.uk
Pupils from the Friary School in Lichfield spend a day with the head chef of the George Hotel (Image courtesy of Express and Star)
Bumper maize crop may ease food inflation
Industry players in full swing at Hotel Booking Agents Association golf day
The price of maize suffered its biggest fall for 15 years last month, prompting speculation that the high cost of food may soon start to ease. Prices fell 10 per cent after an American Department of Agriculture report confirmed that farmers in the vast crop regions of Iowa and Minnesota had been planting substantially more grain. The price of other crops, including soya beans, also fell following speculation that future stock levels will remain high. Maize prices have recently been at a record high, fuelling inflationary worries. Food inflation has been near to five per cent in the United Kingdom in recent months.
General managers from some of the UK’s leading hotels, major hotel booking agents and representatives of the corporate world turned out in force at Staverton Park in Northamptonshire on 24 June to compete for the coveted Hotel Booking Agents Association (HBAA) golf trophy and raise money for its chairman’s charity for 2012, WheelPower. Over 80 HBAA members and a number of invited corporate guests including IBM, Barclays Wealth Management and International SOS, turned out for the association’s ninth Annual Golf Classic at the De Vere Group hotel. The ‘Overall Winning Team’ award was scooped by one of the host teams (pictured), made up of Andrew May, account manager at De Vere Hotels, Resorts and Venues; Alex Armstrong from FCM Travel; and John Atkins and Dave White of International SOS, while other gongs included the ‘Best Individual’ prize, which went to Graham Foster from the Food Packaging Association, and the ‘Nearest to the Pin’ award, which was presented to Sean Coxon, sales manager of Classic British Hotels and Ewart Munday, national sales manager of Wyboston Lakes. “The HBAA Annual Golf Classic has again proved to be a fantastic success,” commented Juliet Price, chair of the HBAA. “It was great to see so many corporates joining us for the occasion and I hope we will see many of them back again in 2012.”
Poor recycling record for hotel sector The British hospitality sector recycles less than half of the 3.4 million tonnes of waste it produces each year, according to a new report by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) public body. The Composition of Waste Disposed of by the UK Hospitality Industry found that only 1.6 million tonnes (48 per cent) of waste – which typically includes food, glass, paper and card – is recycled, reused or composted, while almost 1.5 million tonnes (43 per cent) is thrown away, mainly to landfill. WRAP recognised recent efforts by the industry to increase recycling rates, but expressed concern that the amount of waste going to landfill remains an issue. Over 70 per cent of the mixed waste currently sent for disposal could be recycled using existing markets. Richard Swannell, director of design and waste prevention at WRAP, believes the findings suggest there is a real opportunity to reduce waste and costs further across the hospitality sector. “It is clear that much work has been done by the hospitality sector to reduce waste to landfill in favour of increased recycling,” he said, “but more could be done. Businesses are keen to recycle – or recycle more – but often come across barriers, such as a lack of space. “Working together, there is a real opportunity to reduce waste and recycle more, delivering reductions in carbon dioxide emissions and generating cost savings.”
Docklands hotel unveils light sculpture The Hilton Docklands Riverside hotel recently underwent an extensive refurbishment overhauling its lobby to create “a light and contemporary” public space with an innovative aquaticthemed light sculpture. Taking inspiration from its riverside location in the heart of London’s Docklands, the Scarbettidesigned sculpture forms a shoal of thousands of tiny white porcelain fish, individually attached to steel wires set on a frame and lit from within with LED spots. “The refurbishment of the lobby area has made the reception area a truly amazing place to greet guests,” explained general manager Patricia Mahon. “The light sculpture adds a completely new dynamic to the hotel and is something that looks great day or night.”
AND BRIEFLY Hotels strong but service sector suffers Britain’s hotels and restaurants bucked the downward trend in the UK service sector in April, reporting growth of 0.9 per cent compared to a drop of 1.2 per cent for the service sector as a whole, new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed. April’s decline in service sector output followed a 0.8 per cent rise in March. Hefty fines imposed for unlicensed pubs Three pubs were fined a total of £2,480 last month for airing live television without a valid TV licence. The Insole Arms in Cardiff was given the maximum fine of £1,000, while the owners of the Royal Oak in Llanelli and the Oak Inn in Walsall were fined £600 and £550, respectively. Jon Shaw, a spokesman for TV Licensing, warned that hotels, pubs and bars that show live television must be covered by a valid licence. “We appreciate these are tough times for pubs,” he added, “but to be fair to the majority who do pay the licence fee, we have to take action against those who watch TV illegally.” Llangollen Hotels put up for sale The Llangollen Hotel Group, which runs four profitable hotels in north Wales, is up for sale after falling into administration. Administrator KPMG has instructed Colliers International’s Manchester office to sell Bodidris Hall, near Wrexham; and the Wild Pheasant; Bryn Howel and the Chainbridge, all of which are in Llangollen itself. Hostel franchise helps struggling hotels A new business billing itself as “the world’s first hostel franchise” is hoping it can help struggling hotels to turn around their fortunes by taking advantage of the current trend for hostelling. “We’ve put hostels in a range of different properties over the last two years,” explained Stephen Holland, CEO of Journeys (www.visitjourneys.com), “but it makes the most sense to work with hotel owners who may be struggling in the current financial climate. Although it’s not quite as simple as swapping double beds for bunk beds, most hotels already have the infrastructure to make them successful hostels and the changeover can be quick and relatively hassle-free.” Best Western adds to its portfolio Global hotel brand Best Western, which is reporting a 20 per cent growth in bookings so far this year, has added nine new hotels to its British portfolio. Seven of the new properties are spread across the Midlands and north of England, with one new member in Scotland and one more in south Wales. Keith Pope, director of Best Western, said the new hotels “truly represent the Best Western ‘Hotels with Personality’ ethos that you just don’t find in the mass brands.”
Staycationers responsible for boost in domestic spending Domestic overnight stays increased by five per cent in the first quarter of 2011 as Britons continued to holiday at home. That’s the message from English tourist board VisitEngland, which also revealed that trips taken in England by so-called ‘staycationers’ increased by four per cent and visits to English attractions by seven per cent during the same period. Holiday travel was reportedly the main driver for the rise in domestic traffic, with increases of six per cent and seven per cent in holiday trips taken in Britain and England, respectively, between January and March. The agency added that the boost in visitor numbers equates to an increase of more than £170 million in spending.
Budget fruity rosé tikkas all the right boxes A budget rosé has beaten wine from around the world to be crowned the best match for Britain’s favourite curry; the chicken tikka masala. Aldi’s own-label rosé scooped one of the top pairings in a competition that aimed to match complementary wines to Britain’s top 10 dishes. The judging panel of What Food What Wine, which included sommelier Gerard Basset OBE, said the Toro Loco Spanish Rosé 2010’s light strawberry fruit flavours “enhance the delicate spice in the curry and soothe the heat slightly, bringing the flavours to the fore,” and called it “a great curry match at fantastic value.” A Bordeaux from Aldi also beat off stiff competition to win the best match for cheese, while the overall prize went to the winner of the ‘over £10’ category – Framlingham’s Classic Riesling 2009. Other dishes matched included roast lamb, lasagne, mushroom risotto, apple crumble and chocolate mousse. For a full list of What Food What Time winners, visit www.whatfoodwhatwine.com
Online wedding service undergoes overhaul Online wedding-finding service Your Wedding Venue has undergone a multi-thousand pound overhaul with a view to making it easier for wedding professionals to tap into the £6 billion-a-year British wedding market. To back the re-launch, the website is running an extensive marketing and PR operation that includes a search engine optimisation (SEO) campaign to further boost the site in organic search rankings, and is offering wedding venues a free page for three months. “While the existing concept was delivering good results, it was time to make improvements to enable us to be sure that businesses using the site were getting the very best service,” explained manager and French restaurateur Serge Tassi. “By reacting to feedback from both the professionals and couples who’ve used the site, we are sure the improvements will make a real difference. For instance, venues have more space to showcase their properties with an extended gallery. Allowing couples to have a complete picture of what is available.” To sign up, visit www.yourweddingvenue.co.uk/be-listed
Beach huts at Torbay (image: Britainon View)
West Country tops tourism poll The south-west of England is the best region for customer service in the British tourism sector, a new survey by the Institute of Customer Service (UKCSI) has revealed. The region attracted almost a quarter of the vote, ahead of Scotland, Wales, London and north-east England. The survey also found, encouragingly, that 85 per cent of Britons who recently took holidays in the UK did so through choice, and that 73 per cent of consumers rated British customer service as equal to, or better than, that encountered abroad. Jo Causon, chief executive of the UKCSI, commented: “UK tourism appears to be going through something of a renaissance. The industry has capitalised on the trend for ‘staycationing’ in the recession to showcase what it now has to offer, and shake off any lingering image of Fawlty Towers-style poor service, inedible food and shabby accommodation. “However, the London Olympics will be the largest peacetime mobilisation our country has ever faced. The British tourism industry can ill afford to rest on its laurels.”
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New appointments Keeping up-to-date with the representatives of your industry
Siemens’ Building Technologies division has appointed Nigel Galling as national account manager hotels – a newly-created position designed to provide “dedicated support and enhanced bespoke solutions” for the hospitality sector. Siemens says Nigel will focus on aligning the company’s “environmental portfolio and sustainable offering to further meet the needs of the hotel industry.” He will head up a team of representatives from across Siemens, all of whom will focus on hospitality-related products, solutions and services. “I’m looking forward to working with the team to grow Siemens’ presence in this important business area,” Nigel commented. “We aim to be the most innovative, reliable and competent strategic partner for the planning, implementation and management of all electrical and mechanical equipment in the hospitality environment.”
Guoman Hotels’ flagship 5-star the Royal Horseguards has welcomed a new bar manager to head up its recently-opened destination bar, the Equus. Neil Millington brings over 10 years of bar management experience, having most recently held the position of bar manager at the Chiswick Moran Hotel’s Globe Bar. Prior to that, Neil – a cigar connoisseur and author of The Ultimate Cigar Encyclopædia – spent over a year at boutique hotel and cigar lounge La Casa Del Habana in Wardour Street in Soho.
BookOTel Business travel agency BookOTel has welcomed Justin Dilks as its new business development manager. Justin has over 15 years’ of experience in the hotel sales industry and will join the company’s existing sales department with a focus on the acquisition of new business. Nick Scott, managing director of BookOTel, stated: “We are excited and privileged to welcome Justin to BookOTel. Not only does he bring years of experience but his ambition and customer service values make him the perfect addition to our existing team.”
Drayton Manor The senior management team that will run the new 4-star, 150-bedroom Drayton Manor Hotel, located on the site of the Drayton Manor theme park, has been finalised in advance of its opening on 15 August. The team consists of Martin Wright, general manager; Michelle Dean, revenue manager; Julia Freeman, sales and marketing manager; Toni Higginbottom, finance manager; Stephanie Tandy, human resources manager; Alan Bell, head chef; and Gerry Ross, food and beverage operations manager. The hotel will have 11 Thomas and Friends-themed family rooms, tying in with Drayton Manor’s Thomas Land Park. Each will feature Thomas and Friends décor and specially-designed Thomas the Tank Engine bunk beds. “I’m confident that we have a strong and capable management team that will provide a first-class service from day one of the hotel’s opening,” commented Martin Wright.
Rocco Forte Hotels Rocco Forte Hotels has recently announced two new personnel appointments – one at the company’s head office in London, and the other at the Augustine Hotel in Prague. Ivan Artolli, who will be based in London, has been appointed operations director for Rocco Forte’s properties in the UK, Belgium and eastern Europe, overseeing operations at Brown’s Hotel in London, the Lowry Hotel in Manchester, the Balmoral in Edinburgh, Hotel Amigo in Brussels, the Augustine Hotel in Prague and Hotel Astoria in St Petersburg. Ken Dittrich joins from a position as general manager of the Corinthia Hotel St Petersburg, and has been appointed general manager of the Augustine Hotel with immediate effect.
Hotel du Vin Since he took his first steps into the world of hospitality working at his local football ground, Giles Hammond always knew he wanted to manage a hotel. Some 13 years later, he has fulfilled this lifelong ambition and has now been appointed the general manager of Cheltenham’s Hotel Du Vin in Parabola Road. The 28-year-old has moved from one of the chain’s sister businesses, the Malmaison in Oxford. He said: “My parents are both accountants and I think they wanted me to go into something similar, but I knew I wanted to be in hospitality. I’ve wanted to do it ever since I started work selling hot drinks and food at my home town club, Nottingham Forest, and I’ve never really considered anything else.” Among his future plans for the hotel, he plans to increase business outside of festival times, promote the hotel’s terrace and continue to help local food producers.
oo Sweetbird’s Passionfruit Lemon and Jasmine Lime Iced Tea Syrups have been developed as a quick and easy alternative to standard methods of making iced tea. These two new flavours join the rest of the Sweetbird Iced Tea Syrup range of Original Iced Tea, Peach Iced Tea, Raspberry Iced Tea and Chai, which can be prepared as both a hot and chilled beverage. To be in with a chance of winning one of three mixed cases of Sweetbird Iced Tea Syrups, point-of-sale material and pumps, email your name and business address to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Sweetbird Syrup” in the subject line. Information: 0117 953 3522 or email@example.com
Marketplace Three of the UK’s leading booking system providers have joined forces to provide the “highest specification” online channel manager to hotels and guest houses. The system enables automation of availability and prices to all the main agencies, such as Booking.com and LateRooms. While being rivals, Peter Shearn of CaterBook, Chris Noon from One-Up and Paul Grimster of Angelfish said they recognised they can work together as a team on this project to deliver “better systems and choice to their individual client bases.” Information: www.caterbook.com, www.1-up.co.uk and www.angelfishsoftware.co.uk
AMI Furniture is pleased to present the Belluno Arc Tub Chair. Combining Italian design with exceptional comfort, it is ideal for hotels, restaurants, bars and cruise ships. The solid beech show-wood frame can be stained to individual specifications, and upholstery can be in fabric, leather or another choice of material. The comprehensive Belluno family includes a side chair, four armchairs, a high stool, three tub chairs, two sofas and a pouffe. Information: 0115 985 0515 or firstname.lastname@example.org
pp “Stimulating the senses while capturing the exotic aromas of the East,” Duck Island says its toiletries add a touch of luxury for guests and transport them to “the opulence of the royal courts of Europe” with their time-honoured and fragrant combination of mandarin and bergamot. Information: 0800 218 2258, email@example.com or www.duckisland.co.uk
oo Antique Furniture Warehouse, based in Oxfordshire, stocks over 1,500 items of antique furniture dating from 1640 to 1940 and many other decorative, interesting and unusual items. The majority of stock is sold to domestic and overseas trade buyers, with all stock sold in original condition. It has the ‘country house’ look, plus many stand-out items for a contemporary setting. Open Tuesday to Friday, from 10am until 5pm. Information: 07710 561 505 or www.ruperthitchcoxantiques.co.uk
oo The launch of a new range of washers, dryers and stack units has been announced by Armstrong Commercial Laundry Systems. The eight-kilogramme Horizon washer is extremely energy efficient and can save as much as 40 per cent of the water consumption of some commercial washers. Sophisticated but easyto-use controls allow selection from a range of programmes, all of which can be tailored to exactly the requirements of each installation, and the machine spins at 1,000 rpm to maximise overall laundry efficiency and reduce drying times. The quiet, efficient, complementary dryer has a large door that can be hinged on either side and an airflow of 220 cubic feet per minute, which produces quick drying results and keeps operating costs low. It is also easy to maintain, owing to all key components being accessible through the lower panel and a highly-visible lint filter.
J. U. Furniture has been supplying the trade for many years with high-quality furniture and urges hoteliers to look no further if they are considering refurbishing a hotel or B&B. This mahogany, ebonyfinished, Eastern-style four-poster is just one of its beds, and is ideal for a bridal or master suite. The company offers a huge collection of mahogany, ranging from contemporary to antique reproduction, with a bespoke made-to-measure service or design assistance if required. “With value for money, excellent customer service plus no minimum order value, refurbish now for 2012 Olympics,” J. U. comments.
Information: 01635 263 410 or www.armstrong-laundry.co.uk
Information: 01730 895 500, 01730 895 588 or www.jufurniture.co.uk
oo Setting the right atmosphere for any venue is as important as the décor and the food, and RS100 says that’s why it has now put together a quality sound system using the latest ceiling speakers from Bosch that give “exceptional quality at a very affordable price.” It has several packages, from four speakers to 20, and can also design low-cost multi-zone systems. The company can also quote for individual venues. Please contact Roddy Stewart for more information. Information: 0141 337 1100 or firstname.lastname@example.org
pp WRS Systems specialises in the supply and installation of innovative and cost-effective EPoS systems. WRS has been committed to reliable and secure EPoS technology for over two decades, and is a Toshiba EPoS systems partner, supplying its full range of point-of-sale terminals. “We supply state-of-the-art software, including modules for EPoS, stock control and back office,” comments the company. “This depth of functionality allows us to scale our solution to fit exact requirements in high-volume catering; front-end retail; hospitality for bars, clubs, cafés, hotels and restaurants; mixed mode environments, such as theme parks, golf clubs and conference centres; through to full back office stock control.” Information: 01983 533 888 or www.wrssystems.co.uk
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Technology master or slave?
The rapid advances in modern technology should make life easier for today’s hotel owner or manager, says Simon Bull, director of marketing and communications at the Institute of Hospitality
Technology does seem to perpetuate customer service gripes, as it creates a level of expectation of speed and efficiency that’s increasingly difficult for the people on the ground doing the legwork to match. The solution, of course, is finding a way to manage the technology to your best advantage without becoming a slave to the ith an iPad in our bag, a systems designed to support managers. battle to stay two steps ahead of the smartphone to our ear and To help keep information overload at dreaded boredom factor. a fully-loaded MP3 player tucked Make a customer wait longer than a few bay, and maintain clarity in decisionaway in our pocket, it’s no wonder minutes or, at a push, an hour or two, for a making, membership of a professional body we’ve become technology-obsessed. response to their enquiry and they’re likely can be a weight off the shoulders of a busy As quickly as ‘innovation’ is available, to stray to a competitor who is more on the manager inundated with new web tools, we’ve incorporated its revolutionary consumer technology trends and business ball. We’re utilising the internet to power new function into our day-to-day life as reservation and guest management systems management tools. though it had always been there. Without professional support, networks and host the interactive websites that form The idea of not having remote access to and responsive information services like part of the essential marketing mix for emails, updating LinkedIn from our phones hotels, restaurants, leisure operators and the sector-specific eBooks library and or sacrificing our electronic calendar in more. Fail to provide a real-time reservation technique-focused newsletters offered by favour of a cumbersome, handwritten the Institute of Hospitality, information facility with live availability on your hotel beast, seems completely impractical. We dissemination would be much tougher or restaurant’s website – instead favouring crave convenience and anything less than and it would be all too easy to get bogged the enquiry form method – and you instantaneous is simply a drain. alienate consumers eager to book there and down in the detail. Choose your hardware In 26 years we’ve leapt from the and software wisely, search for solutions then, without delay. invention of the domain name and the Similarly, if you launch a Twitter account, that improve the ease and effectiveness advent of mobile phone calling in the UK, a Facebook page, a LinkedIn business of performance management and utilise to today’s ability to manage a business, the professional networks to support your forum and the like, ensure you have the working relationships and a social life all career and profile within the industry. resources to maintain the presence to from the palm of our hand. To discover more about the benefits which you initially committed. It’s become Hospitality businesses are leading the of access to the Institute of Hospitality’s a job of considerable skill and nifty time way in many respects, and consumer information services and targeted online management to negotiate commitment demand for instantaneous reservations management resources, visit to tasks like social media engagement systems, satellite navigation for location www.instituteofhospitality.org and monitoring, press liaison, customer tracking and smartphone-powered venue marketing via websites like TripAdvisor and ‘check-ins’ on apps like FourSquare room rate or flight price aggregators. The Institute of Hospitality is the professional body for only serve to whet the appetite for even Treasure your fans and followers as managers and aspiring managers, providing support more advanced interactive engagement though they were all paying customers, to improve and develop their professional skills. In addition to its suite of awards and qualifications, it also tools. The fear is that technology won’t and their impression and experience of offers a wide range of information services designed move quickly enough to keep pace with you, and your business, are your most to help those working in the hospitality sector. Further information is available at www.instituteofhospitality.org consumers’ wants and wishes and we powerful assets.
Front of house
The Howard family have taken a property steeped in history and given it a contemporary twist. The hotel they now run was once home to a renowned beauty who dined in the company of princes and presidents
Front of house
We thought we were doing pretty well, but there were evidently some things the inspector, Ruth Watson, felt she could do to help us”
hen Pamela Howard bought the Langtry Manor Hotel in Bournemouth over 33 years ago, she acquired a property with an illustrious history. Formerly called the Red House, this was the royal love nest of King Edward VII and his mistress Lillie Langtry. When the Howard family renovated the Red House in the 1970s they retained many of the original features that Lillie herself specified. The foundation stone is engraved with ELL (Emilie LeBreton Langtry) and the date, 1877 – the year in which the future king – then Prince of Wales – purchased the land for her. The huge oak-carved fireplace remains – reflecting the couple’s love of the theatre, with hand-painted tiles depicting scenes from Shakespeare’s plays in blue and white enamel with gold leaf. The prince’s chamber has a lofty ceiling specially designed to disperse his cigar smoke, while the outside wall of this room bears the motto ‘Dulce Domum’ meaning sweet home. Pamela and her daughter Tara run the hotel today and, like the famous actress, have taken their own place in the show business spotlight. They both appeared on Channel 4’s The Hotel Inspector and, as Tara explains, certainly found this daunting. She says: “We thought we were doing pretty well, but there were evidently some things the inspector,
Ruth Watson, felt she could do to help us. It was quite stressful having her and the film crew around, but the worst bit for me was the first interview – Ruth doesn’t mince her words.” Tara goes on to add that one of the reasons the production team were attracted to the hotel was its history; that, and the fact that she and her mother had several differences of opinion during the course of filming. She says she’s not sure if the programme tried to made her look like a spoilt brat or her mother appear to be a dominating old woman, but it ultimately made good TV. They did take on board many of the comments, modernising what was described as a fusty and old fashioned restaurant and updating the bathrooms by adding jacuzzis. Clearly, their appearance on the warts-and-allshow has not affected the hotel’s success as it has been described by Lonely Planet as “by far the best place to stay in Bournemouth,” while The Guardian has bestowed it with the title of “the best hotel in Bournemouth.” As the manager of the hotel, Tara has instigated some major changes to achieve her ultimate aim of combining “beautiful Edwardian elegance with contemporary style.” Guests can enjoy the best of modern amenities including free Wi-Fi, LCD flatscreen TVs, whirlpool baths, walkin showers and personal bars. The hotel ▶▶▶
Front of house
The biggest challenge we have faced is
maintaining the old building – the running costs far outweigh those of a new build” has wide appeal – Tara says it’s suitable for the young to the more ‘experienced’ in life. She also adds: “Our year ahead is looking very promising. We have over 60 weddings booked, which is up on last year, and our occupancy has increased too. Afternoon teas have seen the biggest increase – while they don’t generate huge profits it gets people through the door who come back to try out the restaurant.” Tara continues to capitalise on the hotel’s history by offering Edwardian banquets revealing the fascinating ‘Life of Lillie.’ Famed for her beauty and feisty personality, Ms Langtry left her visitors in no doubt as to who her mystery benefactor was, with curtain tie-back hooks brazenly embossed with the Prince’s emblem and a defiant statement etched beneath the minstrel’s gallery: ‘They say. What say? Let them say.’ Tara admits that running such a historic hotel is not without its problems, adding: “The biggest challenge we have faced is maintaining the old building – the running costs far outweigh those of a new build – however what the property lacks in efficiency it makes up for in charm.” Lillie and the prince loved to entertain guests at their home and created a magnificent dining room which, to this day, still retains the original peephole from where His Royal Highness could view his guests before deciding whether to join them. Today Langtry’s Restaurant echoes the original Edwardian grandeur, from the period chandeliers and 16th century handwoven tapestries to the stained glass window etched with the letters ELL and the lovers’ swans.
Although an attraction in its own right, the hotel is also situated in one of the country’s most popular coastal towns. As Tara says, “Bournemouth has many qualities that appeal to visitors from all over the world. The main attraction would be the beachfront, which is a mere five minute walk from the hotel. Other attractions include Boscome Surf, the wide range of nightclubs, restaurants and wine bars, and the Bournemouth Eye, which can take you 500-feet over the town itself.” With all this on her doorstep, it is not surprising to hear that Tara has no immediate plans to leave the area, expand and buy new properties elsewhere. She adds: “We love what we have so much, we want to make it the best we can and share the Langtry Manor experience with our customers.” She does admit that certain trends in the hotel sector will make this challenging and she will have to continue to make her hotel stand out from the crowd. She adds: “I see an even bigger running cost divide between a premier-style establishment and independent quality hotels, which puts even more pressure on the individual style establishments to differentiate themselves from basic accommodation.” However, as owners of such a unique property, the Howard family are already one step ahead of the competition, and as for the hotel’s manger, she certainly shares a few traits with the Red House’s former owner in her “passion, attention to detail and determination to make her own mark, not just on the hotel, but on the community as a whole.”
Alvaro Rey, general manager of the InterContinental London Park Lane, reveals more about his life in the hospitality sector and his role at one of the capital’s most prestigious properties
nce the site of a royal residence, the InterContinental London Park Lane Hotel is situated in the heart of the capital at one of the city’s most exclusive addresses. Last year the hotel had one of the most profitable years in its history and credit for this must go to its dynamic manager, Alvaro Rey. Fluent in Spanish, English and Portuguese, he took up the post of general manager in January 2009. He says: “To become the general manager of this flagship hotel was an amazing opportunity and something I’m incredibly proud of – my dream job.” He was born in Medellin in Colombia and developed an interest in the hospitality sector at an early age. He recalls: “As a child I used to travel a lot with my family, and on one trip, when I was about 11 years old, we arrived at our hotel and I told my father I really wanted to see ‘the inside’ of the hotel.” His father approached the manager, who offered them an impromptu tour of the
hotel that revealed its inner workings from the kitchen to the laundry room. Alvaro says: “I remember thinking it was like a mini-city and I wanted to be the mayor.” The experience fuelled his passion for the hotel industry and he secured a position with the InterContinental Medellin shortly after graduating from the Ecole Hoteliere Les Roches in Switzerland. Starting out as a food and beverage assistant, responsible for opening up the restaurant at 6am and then closing up at 2am, he quickly rose up the ranks to become the hotel’s executive assistant manager. He says: “Friends kept telling me I was working too hard, but I loved it and, of course, still found time to have fun.” He has also worked at InterContinental hotels in Venezuela, Jordan, Argentina, Australia and the United States where he had the task of overseeing the opening of the InterContinental Kansas. Since he took over the running of the Park Lane, it has consistently exceeded its targets, as
and picnic in Hyde Park. The purpose is to levels of service and identify true hoteliers allow me to have informal time with the right from the start, as it’s these people that team and for them to get to know people can make the difference. beyond their own department, creating Alvaro will also have the task of gearing a sense of community within our four up his team for the Olympics – a milestone walls.” He has also introduced staff football for tourism in London and an exciting and he explains: “The last couple of years have and volleyball in Hyde Park, which is also challenging time for the brand’s flagship seen the revenue, profit, quality, staff and proving popular. hotel. He is excited by this opportunity and services levels of the hotel really grow and His own working day generally starts at is looking forward to offering an exceptional develop significantly.” 4.30am so that he can catch up with all the experience for guests. He concludes: “I truly The hotel attracts a diverse array of guests night staff and find out what’s happened don’t believe there is anything challenging, if from all over the world, from corporate during the course of the evening. He says: you do it with passion.” groups and families to leisure travellers. The “Another absolutely critical source is my UK is the hotel’s biggest market, closely guests – I talk to them about the hotel followed by the Middle East and America. and their experiences but also about the Chef Theo Randall is also proving a big world itself.” On the rare occasions he does draw, scooping Italian Restaurant of the take time off, he returns to his farm in Year in 2008 at the London Restaurant Colombia with his wife and two children. Awards and winning over the critics. He says: “We go home every December – According to the Sunday Times, “Theo it’s when I don’t shave, I eat with my hands Randall at the InterContinental brings and I forget my manners!” a ray of River Cafe-style sunshine to the No doubt his friends are still telling him plusher surroundings of Mayfair.” that he is working too hard but it appears A recent refurbishment programme he is still enjoying life in the hospitality has further added to the hotel’s appeal, sector. He says its appeal lies in the fact that which included the lobby, Arch Bar it “offers the opportunity to make others and Wellington Lounge. The result is, happy, to be creative, to grow every day as as Alvaro explains that, “there is a really an individual and, if one is curious enough, wonderful mix of guests at any one time. the opportunity to see the world without Kings, queens, heads of state, celebrities leaving the hotel!” and normal people all feel great when As for the future, he wants to continue they come here and what’s more our staff nurturing and developing his staff. He adapt quickly to each individual guest and believes that every brand has a responsibility anticipate their personal needs.” to build the right team, deliver the right It is the staff that Alvaro believes make the hotel as great as it is and he says the secret of his success has been staff retention. One of his main objectives since taking “ believe it’s critical to identify who really on the role of general manager has been to wants to grow in the hotel industry” reduce staff turnover, which has dropped from a high of 54 per cent to just 27 per cent in the past three years. He adds: “Along with the head of department and HR, I interview every single potential candidate, as I believe it’s critical to identify who really wants to grow in the hotel industry and the IHG group.” He also feels it’s essential to invest time into any team and to lead by example. He was the chief instigator of ‘Boris Bikes’ for the hotel – the cycle hire programme which was introduced by the Mayor of London. He is a supporter of the scheme and adds, “I take advantage of them every Wednesday and take five staff – all from different departments – out for a bike ride
“ remember thinking it was like a mini-city and I wanted to be the mayor”
Hotel and restaurant reviews
Critical Mass Peter Hancock discovers that bad publicity is better than no publicity and it is better for a hotel or restaurant to be reviled than ignored by the critics
hen is a meal “historic”? Answer: when Michael Winner writes about it for the Sunday Times... and only then. The same plateful may be described by his stable-mate AA Gill as pretentious, while Charles Campion in the Evening Standard might call it heaven. You or I would probably just say we liked it. But how dull those articles would be if their authors simply told us things were nice. They’d be sacked for sure. Up against the likes of Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Littlejohn for our attention, columnists must strain every creative nerve to make their comments interesting – and this often requires unashamed exaggeration. Critics are guilty of peppering their reviews with superlatives like “best”, “worst”, “most disappointing” and “finest” when such terms should, strictly speaking, be reserved for that one occasion in life when something really is the best or worst they’ve ever sampled – and there’s the rub. In their efforts to satisfy the reader or editor, critics may be tempted to overstate the strengths and weaknesses of the places they visit, with potentially dramatic results for the objects of their reviews. When asked what makes a good food critic, Giles Coren said: “It is someone who understands that your first job as a journalist is to sell newspapers and to do that you need to entertain people. Your opinion is neither here nor there. Almost all restaurant critics are rubbish. Worldwide, 99 per cent of them are a waste of time. The only ones that are any use at all are here in the UK and there are probably only three or four who are really any good. The ones who show off about each mouthful of food, trying to describe how it was cooked and give you the biography of the chef, are tedious bores. If you were next to them at a dinner party, you would just kill yourself.” Passing comment on the work of hospitality professionals has grown into a business of its own, with the most informative or entertaining exponents enjoying a high level of recognition. For many of us in the hotel trade, the first page we look for in the papers is the dreaded hotel review. Was Fiona Duncan impressed by the attentive staff? Did Sally Shalam get a decent room? Their views can have a direct impact on business levels and we ignore them at our peril; the aforementioned, incidentally, being among the most respected in the trade because of their integrity.
Passing comment on the work of hospitality
professionals has grown into a business of its own”
Whatever the effect of newspapers, multiply that by 10 when talking about television. Such is the power of the small screen that a fleeting glimpse of a hotel or restaurant lasts in viewers’ minds for years. Witness the Adelphi in Liverpool, which featured in a 1997 BBC series which shared its name with this magazine. The programme was hilarious and showed incompetent staff struggling to cope with the demands of hapless guests with one disaster leading to another. Through it all, a charismatic manager engendered our affection and the hotel made a surprising comeback thanks to this exposure. History appears to have repeated itself at Cumbria’s Damson Dene Hotel, now that Channel 4’s cameras have departed. Both of these hotels have benefited from the exposure, though at a heavy cost to any reputation they may have enjoyed for professionalism. This brings us to The Hotel Inspector, in which first Ruth Watson and then Alex Polizzi took us behind the scenes at some of the less successful small hotels in Britain. They have both put their incisive flair for business at the disposal of proprietors, who must have known what they were getting into, only for their advice to
Hotel and restaurant reviews
“ ike so many strands of popular entertainment, criticising restaurants and hotels works best when the object, or victim, is publicly humiliated”
Bailiffscourt Hotel and Spa
be shunned time and again. In many cases I found the personal chemistry, or lack of it, between hotelier and presenter the most compelling reason for watching. As far as critical observations go, they don’t come much stronger than Polizzi’s “what you’re doing here is little better than polishing a turd!” Like so many strands of popular entertainment, criticising restaurants and hotels works best when the object, or victim, is publicly humiliated. The more extreme the charges against any hapless host, the better. What effect does all this criticism have on businesses? I suspect less than one imagines. Owners tend to take any snide comments very personally, which is not surprising, but many of us believe that all publicity has some value, even when calculated to do harm. The saddest fate to befall a hotel or restaurant is to be forgotten and ignored, so even a harshly critical review is, arguably, better than none at all. But of course we all prefer to be heaped with praise. Many operators regard recognition in the leading guides as essential to their success. A Michelin star, rosettes or red stars from the AA,
rave reviews in the press and good comments on TripAdvisor are all obviously helpful and worth nurturing. Let’s remember, however, that such things only happen when you are already doing a great job in looking after your customers. Positive recognition is not the cause of success, rather it is the result, just as winning an Oscar confirms your status as a fine actor long after you have proved the fact to an audience of millions. So, we should thank the critics for their part in making us seem interesting. If they slate us we must lick our wounds and learn from the experience; if they celebrate our strengths we can bask for a moment in the glory. And as Giles Coren so eloquently explained, their masters will always be the editors and readers first. I am lucky enough to know several very successful hoteliers and restaurateurs. Most of them have a pragmatic approach towards reviews and other accolades, seeing them as a desirable consequence of doing well. They are merely the icing on the cake. Making your customers happy is the cake. Peter Hancock FIH FTS is chief executive of Pride of Britain Hotels, a consortium of 39 luxury independent hotels throughout the UK and the official hotel partner to the National Trust (prideofbritainhotels.com). Peter is also a professional after-dinner speaker and event host and belongs to several hospitality industry bodies.
About turn With almost two centuries of experience in the hotel sector, the team at Inverlochy Castle Management aims to turn around the fortunes of failing hotels
hen the much-coveted Scottish Hotel Awards were held in Edinburgh last year, one company scooped a plethora of awards on the night including Best City Hotel, Hotel Management Company of the Year and perhaps most significantly, Best Turnaround Hotel, which was precisely why Inverlochy Castle Management was founded. Inverlochy Castle Management International (ICMI) was established to provide a consulting and management service to underperforming hotels in the hospitality sector. A seven-strong team of industry professionals are behind the
company, and between them can offer almost 200 years of industry experience. They include legendary French chef Albert Roux; Conde Nast editorial director Darius Sinai; John Green, of John Green Communications, to advise on marketing strategy; and Malaysian businessman and owner of Inverlochy Castle, Dr Sin Cha. Also on board is German hotel manager Norbert Leider, who describes the purpose of the company. He says: “We manage small and medium-sized hotels on behalf of different owners. Through our sales, marketing and operational experience we can make these hotels achieve the best
financial results. We drive occupancy, improve operational standards and help to increase the value of the asset.” The organisation was founded to capitalise on the surge of hotel buyers in the Scottish market, as Mr Leider explains: “The Scottish hotel industry has seen a great deal of activity, with work underway in Glasgow alone to build or refurbish 1,200 rooms by 2011, and other cities are seeing similar activity.” As Mr Leider continues: “With such interest from buyers and investors, now is a good time for independents to consider a sale, as long as you get the best price. We know what buyers want to see from the basics of the hotel’s appearance to the profitability of the kitchen.” ICMI’s huge success with its own two Scottish hotels, Inverlochy Castle and Rocpool Reserve, prompted the idea of
Greywalls Dining Room
offering a consultancy service to other private hotel operators. As Mr Leider adds: “We currently have six properties within our portfolio. Inverlochy Castle in Fort William, Rocpool Reserve in Inverness, Greywallis just outside Edinburgh, Inver Lodge in Lochinver, Blanefield House in Turnberry and Villa Giuseppinna in Italy. We have increased occupancy and taken the operational headaches away from the owners. All our hotels have an excellent reputation and will in time gain value as an asset.” Although the focus for the venture has so far been Scotland, there are plans to extend the service across the UK and beyond. Mr Leider is hoping to announce several additions to the current portfolio in Italy, Spain and Wales. As well as looking at how the hotels are run and the facilities they offer, one of the keys areas the company addresses is
the provision of food and beverages, and who better to take charge of this aspect of the business than legendary chef Albert Roux. The once ailing Inver Lodge Hotel has undergone a massive refurbishment programme since ICMI took over and also now boasts a menu inspired by Mr Roux, who says the restaurant offers, “hearty cooking using all the wonderful products from the sea, which is literally on the doorstep.” Many of the award-winning chef ’s own signature dishes grace the daily menu, from the classic soufflé suissesse to the caramelised lemon tart. The Chez Roux concept began when ICMI assumed management for the Rocpool in Inverness and asked Mr Roux to introduce his unique style to the restaurant. On taking over the kitchens, he explained: “I wanted to create the kind of restaurant I remember from my home town, offering
good and honest country cooking. The kind of place you can go to eat without ringing the bank for permission.” Today Chez Rous offers Scottish ingredients with a French twist and ICMI has extended the brand to other properties in its portfolio, including the Greywallis in Muirfield. Mr Roux adds: “We try at all times to exceed the customers’ expectations. In other words, we do not know how to say no and we are totally committed to excellence at all levels.” It is this ethos that is at the core of all ICMI’s activities and earned it the title of Hotel Management Company of the Year after only months in business. Mr Leider says the ultimate aim is not to create a chain of ICMI hotels, but instead to ensure “each property is treated as a different proposition, yet offering the same excellent standard of service, while holding great potential for the future.”
Dining out with… Matt Wardman, new executive head chef at the award-winning Cotswold Georgian dining Inn at Fossebridge 26
aving worked for many years as a senior chef de-partie at the RAC Club in London, and more recently as the senior sous chef at the prestigious Russell’s of Broadway restaurant in Worcestershire, Matt has joined the kitchen at the Inn at Fossebridge. His aim is to bring a “back to the land and no waste” attitude to the menu by using only seasonal produce and incorporating every part of the animal in his dishes. He has already devised a smaller, fresher menu which changes daily, depending on what’s available at the butcher’s that morning, and plans to introduce a vegetable and herb garden in the extensive gardens of the inn.
Chicken liver parfait, Sauternes jelly, brioche This beautifully rich, smooth parfait is packed full of flavour and a winner on any restaurant menu, at a dinner party or a humble Sunday roast at home with the family. The Sauternes jelly I have chosen as an accompaniment adds a new dimension, its zingy, bright freshness cuts through the dense, creaminess of the parfait, really lifting the dish. The brioche’s buttery, cake-like texture paired with the parfait and the Sauternes jelly highlights the contrast of sweet and savoury. Marrying this classic oxymoron of flavours really gives this starter a unique edge and a definite sense of sophistication.
Pan fried fillet of seabass, crushed Jersey Royals, vine tomatoes, balsamic syrup This delightful main course really emphasises the wonderful produce we have to offer on our little island in the northern hemisphere. Jersey Royals are quite simply the ‘daddy’ of all new season potatoes; light, waxy and full of flavour. British vine tomatoes; fragrant, sweet and ruby in colour, with a patriotic nod to the royal red of the English flag. While all of the ingredients combined create a winning harmony, it is the seabass that really makes this dish sing. This fish promises the undeniable taste of the sea while delivering a subtle yet powerful flavour and a succulent, almost meaty texture.
Lavender crème brûlée What can I say about this dish? Crème brûlée is a real favourite of mine; it evokes many fond memories, having spent much of my childhood in northern France unknowingly creating a platform of food awareness and a love for French cuisine. Lavender grew in abundance in my grandparents’ garden in Somerset, the colour and fragrance of this tremendous flower holds much personal significance to me, as well as being a key component in the creation of my signature dessert. The flavour of the lavender lends itself superbly well to the velvety texture of the brûlée and the classic sweetness of vanilla.
Marketing Matters Michael Cockman urges independent hoteliers not to be scared of branded budget hotels
can understand why independent hoteliers keep their heads down and try to ignore what is going on outside their door. If you read about the onslaught of the branded budget hotels, particularly Travelodge and Premier Inn, it would be enough to give anyone sleepless nights. But unfortunately these brands are a fact of life and they will not go away. However good you are, and however loyal your customers, if a Travelodge is built next door it will definitely have some effect on your business. But it does not need to be terminal. There are things that you can do. But first, some facts*: • The market share of branded budget accommodation has grown from 12 per cent of the UK-serviced hotels at the end of 2007 to 16 per cent at the end of 2010. • By 2030, the UK-serviced hotel sector will reach 856,750 rooms with around 225,000 of these in branded budget hotels, which will increase the branded budget market share to 26 per cent. • Two key players dominate the budget market, Premier Inn with 42,654 bedrooms in 585 hotels and Travelodge with 30,988 bedrooms and 452 hotels. • The four largest brands – Premier Inn, Travelodge, Holiday Inn Express and Ibis (Accor) account for 84.3 per cent of budget hotel supply. • The UK-branded budget hotel sector has grown 10 per cent per annum in the past decade and exceeded 20 per cent in the previous decade. In the next 20 years a UK budget hotel will be built, opened or converted every five days. It seems to me that the two main brands, Travelodge and Premier Inn, have a slightly different market position. Travelodge is a bit more ‘stripped down’, very much focusing on delivering value through lower
prices, whereas Premier Inn focuses more on facilities first. However both provide a high level of basic amenities all designed to give guests a good night’s sleep. In my opinion these two brands have set the standard for what every hotel (and that includes pubs with letting rooms) in the independent guest accommodation sector needs to supply as a minimum. If you are not up to this standard then you will find it very difficult to compete at all. The bar has definitely been raised over the last few years and to be in the game at all you need to aim to have: • en-suite bathrooms with power showers; • king-size beds with superior quality mattresses; • flat screen TVs with Freeview; • free W-Fi Internet access; • blackout curtains; • tea and coffee facilities.
Online bookings These brands get around 90 per cent of their reservations through their websites. Although your figures will not be anywhere near this, it does show the public’s willingness to use the internet, so long as the system makes it easy for them. However many rooms you have, you should offer the facility for online bookings. There are plenty of software providers and if you already have a property management system it will have an online booking module. If you want to experiment you can try www.freetobook.com.
Competitor monitoring Anyone who has tried to book a room at the advertised £19 or £29 will have been frustrated at the lack of availability. Of the seven million rooms Travelodge sold last year they claim that 40 per cent were sold
for £29 or less. Both Travelodge and Premier Inn have developed a very sophisticated pricing model, abandoning the one price fits all approach, and taking market pricing to another level. Not only are there reduced price advanced purchase options, you can also include breakfast and dinner in a price plan. The key point is that these companies constantly monitor competitive prices throughout the day and modify their offers accordingly. Are you doing the same? If not, you are definitely missing some occupancy opportunities.
Personality Both Travelodge and Premier Inn are managed operations. There is a big difference between hospitality delivered by a dedicated proprietor whose livelihood depends upon happy guests coming back again and a manager whose focus is more on margins, performance and their next promotion.
In the next 20 years a UK
budget hotel will be built, opened or converted every five days While the budget hotel provides a standardised and consistent product, there are plenty of business and leisure guests who want a bit more engagement when they travel. They appreciate the personal attention from someone who is prepared to put themselves out. It’s really all about personality and about displaying the differences between a proprietor-led business and a managed business, but at the same time underpinning your whole approach with a minimum quality of facilities that is now expected by all guests. * Many of the figures used are from a report for Travelodge by Melvin Gold Consulting. Michael Cockman is a hotel marketing mentor and writer who specialises in helping independent hotels maximise their revenue opportunities. You can subscribe to his newsletter at www.hotelprofitsystems.com where you will also find details of his book Putting Heads On Beds. Details of his internet and website outsourcing programme can be found at www.hotelsearchmarketing.co.uk
St Michael’s Manor Hotel Keen to make the most of its Tudor heritage and picturesque five-acre gardens, St Michael’s Manor has unveiled a restaurant with a difference. Jon Chapple takes a look at the new orangery
lthough nowadays it’s been largely superseded in private residences by the modern conservatory, from the mid-17th to the late-19th centuries the orangery – originally, as the name suggests, an early kind of greenhouse used for the cultivation of exotic citrus trees – was an essential addition to the homes or grounds of those who could afford it. A symbol of prestige and wealth, the usually classically-styled orangery served as an elegant talking point and fashionable way for polite society hosts to entertain their horticulturally-minded guests. However, for the St Michael’s Manor Hotel in St Albans, the construction of a
new orangery is all about offering guests an improved dining experience. Replacing the previous conservatory-style restaurant to increase the 16th century hotel’s dining capacity from 90 to around 120, the orangery, which was completed in late April and known as the Lake Restaurant, offers diners clearer views over the property’s extensive five-acre gardens and one-acre lake and integrates more sympathetically with the main building. “We’ve gone for a slightly more modern classical style that is still in keeping with the traditional design of the building,” explains marketing manager Geoff Goddard, “and, of course, enhances the comfortable atmosphere we’re famous for.” Menu-wise, the Lake is strictly à la carte, and includes – in addition to regular weekly favourite, the Lake menu, which offers three courses for £21 – a range of new dishes created by young head chef Daniel Park. The hotel says the new dishes complement its “usual classics” and some of Park’s creations were recently featured in the Sunday Telegraph’s Stella magazine and the Sunday Times. Many of the furnishings and décor throughout the ground floor of the hotel have also been refreshed, with two specially-commissioned pictures of famous local landmarks hung at the back of the restaurant and an original painting in the Manor’s Cedar Suite. Goddard is quick to praise the contractor that carried out the refurbishment work, David Salisbury, for its “commitment to quality”, completion of the project two weeks ahead of schedule and for allowing the hotel to stay open while work was
underway. Design group Stefan Tollgard advised hotel owners David and Sheila Newling Ward on the restaurant’s interior design theme and choice of décor. The total cost of the refurbishment ran to nearly £500,000 – a staggeringly large amount of money and a bold move in such a difficult economy. However, the Newling Ward family, which has owned and run the hotel for the past 45 years, says it is “extremely confident of its product and investment” and will continually update St Michael’s Manor, with a refurbishment of 12 bedrooms planned for the next 18 months. “The positive reaction to the improvements from visitors has been amazing, and many guests have also given us some stunning reviews,” comments Goddard, “and to add to this, we’ve recently had an excellent report from Quality in Tourism. Credit for all this is mainly due to the staff for the outstanding service they’ve been providing.”
01727 864 444 or www.stmichaelsmanor.com Fishpool Street, St Albans, Hertfordshire AL3 4RY
Theft and fraud are now the biggest security problems in UK hotels, but the prevention of these incidents could be less expensive than you might think. Andrea Ashfield finds out more
recent study by health and safety specialist, the Security and Risk Organisation, revealed the biggest securityrelated problems in UK hotels are theft and fraud. Of the two, theft is considered to be of most concern, with problems often occurring in back of house areas. This can represent a significant financial burden for any business, and one which is often improved with the introduction of a security system. However, according to expert Mark Susca, hoteliers are failing to realise that the best weapon in the prevention and detection of crime is one which requires no extra expenditure – the hotel’s staff. While front of house security serves both as a deterrent and a reassuring sign that a hotel takes the safety of its guests and their possessions seriously, it is important to protect less visible areas, too. “Theft and fraud at front of house is where most attention is paid, mainly with primary crime prevention methods such as ‘target hardening’, access control and CCTV, but it must also be stated that many places are being robbed via the back door,” says Mark Susca, senior advisor at the Security and Risk Organisation. “Theft is sometimes committed by cash handling staff, or those who believe that taking a
few items home from work is a perk of the job.” All the resources put into front of house security could well be wasted if the back door is not being watched. “The cost of a fillet steak or a bottle of vodka being taken on a regular basis can be far greater in the long term than a one-off front of house incident,” he adds.
‘ ll the resources put into A front of house security could well be wasted if the back door is not being watched’
Hoteliers also need to be aware of the potential for more serious threats, such as terrorism. “In view of the horrendous attacks in Mumbai in 2008, and the impending influx of tourists for the 2012 Olympics, hotel security has been brought to the forefront of the minds of the public, as well as those of the security services, analysts and most importantly, hotel owners and operators,” Susca continues. While such attacks are mercifully rare, hotels need to be mindful of the risks. “Threats of this magnitude should not
be ignored,” he adds. “Vigilance by staff, good relations with local police and guidance from educational projects like Griffin and Argus are more than sufficient. However, the more immediate threats are undoubtedly theft and fraud.”
Crime prevention There are many security-related products on the market which can help to protect a property, but Susca believes a hotel’s biggest asset is one that already exists – its employees. “If I could implement any system in a hotel, I would keep it simple and cheap,” he advises. “There are undoubtedly requirements for access control methods and CCTV, but the most effective and intelligent security system available is the hotel’s staff. By implementing thorough training and procedures to help harness all that the brain and body offers, employees can be the best thing to improve security. It is also a more attractive prospect than spending thousands on integrated security systems, that frankly can’t match human eyes, ears and natural inquisitiveness.” While encouraging employees to be vigilant is undoubtedly a good idea, it will not help if it is members of staff who are causing the problem. “Senior
Lock, stock & barrel Making sure guest bedrooms are safe is an important part of any security plan, and Richard Martin, director of Cocy Lock UK, believes he has found the perfect solution. The company produces a range of affordable RFid non-contact key cards, tags and wristbands, which Martin believes will take over from unreliable magnetic cards. Using the new system, it is possible to offer a single key card or wristband to provide access to a guest’s bedroom, as well as car park barriers, changing room lockers and other leisure facilities. It can also integrate with the hotel’s EPoS, eliminating the need for cash payments. In addition, staff RFid cards can be restricted to certain times of the day or night, preventing fraudulent use and ensuring that employees are only allowed to access rooms during working hours. The system can be easily fitted by the hotel’s own maintenance staff, with no interruption to the day-to-day running of the hotel. management need to be made aware of the risks from internal crime,” adds Susca. “Training, awareness and procedures to aid detection and prevention can be useful and hoteliers may wish to install CCTV in staff areas to assist with monitoring and provide a deterrent.” Before purchasing new equipment, it may also be useful to contact an advisory company which can provide a full risk assessment. “I like to sit down with a hotelier and spend time understanding the business, its staff and its customers,” says Susca. “No two hotels are the same, so there is rarely an off-the-shelf solution. A tailored approach is more effective, both financially and in terms of results.” Hotel community networks can also be useful. In Edinburgh, for example, hotels can take advantage of a low cost network known as CheckIn, which allows city centre hotels and the police to share real time information and images of offenders and suspects. “Combined with staff training, this community approach provides the best counter measure to any of the threats to the UK hotel industry,” says Susca. He also advises fostering a good relationship with employees. “Staff are the key to security management,” he says. “They provide so much, not only with their visible
with this problem, says SALTO Systems’ UK sales manager Dean Pendlebury, is to “ he most effective and use a flexible time limited access system. He adds: “In practice this means that hotel intelligent security system guests usually stay for short periods of time available is the hotel’s staff ” after which their access authorisation is automatically withdrawn from the room lock and any further changes of the system presence but with their natural awareness of require intervention at the lock with a what is going on. I would advocate making ‘management card’. sure that your employees feel valued, so that The company installed a highly secure any security issues also affect them.” and flexible access control system in the Procedures that enhance customer service Lough Erne Golf Resort across the while simultaneously improving security, 85 bedrooms in the main hotel and in the such as meeting and greeting, can also 25 external lodges. The advanced design deliver effective results. “A lock can only incorporated proximity Mifare operation, stop a robber once they try to get in, and anti-vandal protection to safeguard the CCTV can only alert you to a problem electronics and battery life for up to if someone is watching the monitors,” 45,000 openings. Patricia Donohoe of he continues. “However, your reception the Lough Erne Golf Resort says: “It gives staff, bar workers and housekeepers can us the ability to cancel key cards from spot suspicious behaviour at 10 paces and the system when guests leave, lose or do prevent problems from occurring. There is not return them and this enables us to no doubt that security procedures involving maintain high levels of security, ensuring staff are far simpler and more cost effective a secure and accessible environment for than any other system.” guests and staff alike.” Although staff can be vigilant, one of the main drawbacks of a hotel is that guests Supplier listing come and go at all times of day and it is Cocy Lock UK: www.cocylock.co.uk impossible to keep a check on every single Salto Systems: www.saltosystems.com Security and Risk Organisation: www.securityandrisk.org person. One of the ways hotels can deal
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First past the post
President of TravelClick International, Jan Tissera, explains how hoteliers can stay one step ahead of the competition and remain aware of their place in the market
magine the scene – it’s August 2012 and Usain Bolt is lined up for the 100 metres Olympic final. The world record holder will be feeling he’s in with a good chance of taking gold – after all, he’s got natural talent and the pedigree to back it up. But that’s not all it takes to be a winner. Staying at the top of your game means knowing everything about the others in the race, and Usain will be well-acquainted with the strengths and weaknesses of his fellow finalists. It’s a lesson independent hoteliers should take on board. Being in great shape goes beyond knowing what your competition is offering – it is understanding their product, pricing, target customers and overall strategy for expansion and success. By learning their approach you can identify any potential pitfalls and costly mistakes they have made and avoid them. By accessing ‘on the book’ reservation data such as room demand for the future, you can get a great sense of which hotels and specific markets are showing an improvement and which ones need help. Understanding who your competitors are is crucial to survive and succeed. Take a spa hotel in Torquay as an example. Would it class the competition as other hotels in the area or focus on spa hotels which may not even be in the vicinity? When consumers choose a hotel they will have triggers for booking. If it’s the spa break, as in the example, the location may be less important and the spa facilities and any special offers could be the deciding factors. Thus, a hotel providing all of this in Torquay might in fact name properties in Edinburgh, Wiltshire and Cardiff in its competitive set. Once you have established your set, you must carry out a regular competitor
analysis. By analysing key indicators, such as room demand and average daily rate patterns, you can stay ahead of the game. You can use this information to identify targets for marketing campaigns, pricing trends and get advance warning and confirmation of demand changes. The hotel market is beginning to stabilise and chains and independents are starting to see a recovery. To capitalise on this, hoteliers should focus on winning business from the competition. A simple marketing method such as a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis on your business will help you understand your hotel’s market position. By researching your competitors’ tactics and including their specific activities in a SWOT analysis, you can evaluate your current status and identify any clear gaps in the market for exploitation and growth. Consumers are increasingly looking to online booking and you must include an online strategy in your sales and marketing plan to stay ahead of the competition. You should also offer this channel to corporate businesses attracting them with flexibility, occupancy for larger room bookings and competitive pricing. Ultimately, you need to set your prices cleverly – too high or too low, may see you out of pocket. Knowing what your competitors are setting their rates at, months in advance, will help you stay ahead of the game, something we at TravelClick are constantly assisting our clients with.
www.travelclick.com – to find out how TravelClick can help improve your revenue management with unique forward-looking data, call 0800 324 7831.
TravelClick’s top five online tips: • SEO – gone are the days of flicking through the Yellow Pages for information – everyone hits Google to get answers and do their research. Ensure the keywords you include in your website copy reflect the words your target consumers are searching for – you can do this via Google or other keyword search tools. By optimising keywords and phrases, you will increase your ranking on web searches and visibility to potential customers. • Consumer-generated content – people listen to people. Opinion and reviewing is so powerful, you simply cannot ignore it. Including a review section on your site will allow customers to share experiences and effectively become members of your sales team. Tread carefully though, negative reviews may happen from time-to-time, so monitor the site regularly and liaise directly with the customer. • Monitor competitor’s web activity – take a look at what they are doing and beat it! Do they have a Twitter feed or a blog? Do they have a review section and what are their keywords and video content like? Even having a small web presence like a review section or changing your keywords to your competitors, could make a difference. • User friendliness of website – get a friend or family member to try out the website. How easy is it to view pictures and book online? If it takes too long, customers may grow tired and choose to book with a competitor. Don’t have too many competing deals at once and ensure room descriptions mean something (intangible phrases such as ‘deluxe’ or ‘premier’ say nothing to consumers). • Images – ever heard the saying “a picture speaks a thousand words?” Guests need to look around before they buy, so having a relevant, high quality image gallery is paramount. You should also check out the images on your competitors’ websites so you can either match or better these – never underestimate the power of pictures.
When he’s revisiting the land of the living, the Savoy is Oscar Wilde’s preferred destination.’
Laying the ghosts to rest Britain is reputed to be one of the most haunted countries and Mike Kiely discovers how hoteliers are capitalising on this interest in the paranormal
hen it comes to investigating haunted hotels, your senses become more acute, the hairs on the back of your neck are just that bit quicker to stand to attention; in short you are more easily spooked. Many guests checking in at the Jamaica Inn must be familiar with that particular sensation – and not just because of the untamed beauty of Bodmin Moor that envelops them. The building itself, dating from the 18th century, has provided the basis for more than a few tales down the years, not least of which is the eponymous novel by Daphne Du Maurier that accounts for a decent revenue stream courtesy of the author’s sizeable fanbase. Paranormal activity is another attraction – witness the relevant section of the property’s website that features tales of the clattering hooves of invisible horses on the cobbles,
footsteps along the corridors in the dead of night and a poor unfortunate who was murdered after leaving the bar late at night and reputedly returns to sit outside the hotel and watch latter-day customers. Is he hoping to warn others of the dangers that lurk after twilight? This is just a snapshot of the hospitality niche market that involves a varied range of properties the length and breadth of the UK. Coaching inns dating from the Jacobean era are a given, included alongside Scottish castles, manor houses and Victorian townhouses in this paranormal portfolio. Don’t think for a minute that the spirit world is put off by the bright lights, either – the Cadogan Hotel is hardly anyone’s idea of nightmare in Knightsbridge, yet its corridors are said to be patrolled by the Victorian actress Lillie Langtry. Lillie’s friend and mentor
Oscar Wilde was another regular on the hotel’s register. But you won’t find him whispering any witticisms into the ears of petrified guests at the Cadogan because legend has it that when he’s re-visiting the land of the living, the Savoy is his preferred destination. The characters that make up the ghostly ensemble who reputedly spend their time frightening guests, intimidating housekeeping staff, and providing TV documentary crews and professional mediums with plenty of material, range from dogs to monks, lovesick damsels, mischievous children, chambermaids and members of the armed services. They go bump in the night, are responsible for sudden drops in temperature and regularly indulge in impromptu feng shui sessions. Langtry and Wilde aren’t the only famous visitors from this other world – Mary Queen of Scots is claimed to roam the Talbot Hotel in Oundle, Northamptonshire. While some property owners may mumble a swift denial when questioned at the front desk about the paranormal reputation of their bricks and mortar, there
‘Not on a Saturday night, because that is when I am always full.’ I wouldn’t want to do a deal on a Friday or Saturday. Sunday night, yes, quietest night of the week, they can do what they like.” Noel Mines, general manager at the Mercure Telford Madeley Court, is another who does not close his mind to the commercial possibilities of resident phenomena: “There have been reports from staff of seeing ghostly figures in the corridors of the old manor house, but mostly it is guests commenting on everything from apparitions in corridors, such as a praying monk and an old woman that sits on the end of your bed, to a general sensing of a presence or feeling a chill in specific rooms. “Our business model is not affected by possible paranormal activity and it is not an element of our business that we have marketed strongly. We regard it as a positive for the business, and something I am keen to exploit further.” One potential avenue for Mines would be via a package operator such as Eerie Evenings. Its themed events are hosted at a number of Midlandsbased properties including the Feathers Hotel in Ludlow and the Station Hotel in Dudley. Chris Arnold, an investigator with the company, says evidence of the paranormal is particularly prevalent in the region – apparently, Derby is widely regarded as the UK’s most haunted city. But why does he think hotels feature so prominently among reports of such activity? “One of the main theories is that is a surprisingly large number who welcome so many people have lived and worked in it with open arms, glad of the revenue these buildings over the years and also the stream from haunted weekend packages amount of people passing through on a and tours. At the Old Bell, hotel director regular basis.” Simon Haggarty can see the advantages: The property that sticks in Arnold’s mind “If 30 people want to come and stay, and I during his work with Eerie Evenings is the allocate them rooms in the area where the Station Hotel, and, specifically, the cellar activity normally seems to be, I would see it area. “We had one incident where we heard as positive marketing.” How would the prospect of a team of psychic investigators roaming the property “ f 30 people want to come and sit with other guests who were simply stay, and I allocate them rooms after a quiet weekend in the Cotswolds? “I would say, ‘If you want to do something, in the area where the activity start at midnight, when most people have normally seems to be, I would gone to bed; if you want to do something see it as positive marketing” in the bedrooms, well they are your bedrooms,’” says Haggarty. “I would say,
footsteps walking down the corridor and someone whistling. I thought it was one of our members of staff from upstairs but there was absolutely no one there. Also the entire group heard what sounded like, from the next room in the cellar, a barrel being dragged across the floor.” Does he find such an incident frightening? “When it is so completely unexplained and so tangible and when you then realise there is no rational explanation, yes it is unsettling.” Unsettling would be something of an understatement for guests at the Jamaica Inn, recalls assistant manager Julia Lawrence. Having checked into room five, the producers of the Most Haunted documentary series – ironically broadcast on the Living channel – hastily vacated the hotel at night for the sanctuary of their car, as they felt they were being watched. However, this incident hasn’t deterred a long line of customers enquiring about the availability of number five. Lawrence has been at the inn for 15 years. Asked about her experience of working there, her reply is straight out of a 1970s Hammer horror script: “There are always shadows moving. If you are cleaning at night, something will catch your eye, you’ll turn around and there is nothing there. It is a very spooky place, especially in the winter when it’s blowing a gale outside and everything is creaking.” Whether you are a true believer or a no-nonsense sceptic, there can be no doubt that haunted hotels can bring in business. Take the hauntedhotelguide.com, the website developed in 2005 in response to the growing demand for a definitive directory of haunted accommodation throughout the UK. Its aim is to offer its customers “the luxury of a comfortable hotel with the extra bonus of possibly spotting a ghost or two.” It offers haunted hen nights and weekend stays, and rather than boasting about the availability of en suite rooms and TVs, it focuses on how many ghosts a hotel has and where in the grounds a headless horseman gallops. Author of Haunted Britain and Ireland, Richard Jones, sums up the appeal of these properties: “Everyone needs a little mystery in their lives, something to wonder at and ponder on, and haunted places can be a real thrill to discover.”
Better by design
Better by design Hailed as a breath of fresh air when they first appeared, boutique hotels continue to be big business and Michael Northcott looks at some of the ways hoteliers can imitate their design and style
he explosive growth in the popularity of the boutique hotel has heralded a new era for the innovative small independent. With large chains such as Marriott launching boutique branches of their portfolio, and new companies starting from the outset as boutique chain operators, a bespoke look and feel for a hotel’s interior is fast becoming the norm. Gone are the days when the bland and antiseptic world of the chain hotel was the professional benchmark of interior design. Creating a bespoke, boutique feel in a small independent hotel is easily achieved, as most of it depends on simple things like colour scheme and furniture. The range of products and services available to the hotelier is exceptionally wide ranging, so finding cost-effective solutions to the dream upgrade is something many companies can assist the hotelier with, especially in this booming area of the hotel sector.
Graham Johnson, managing director of Anderson Bradshaw Boutique Hotel Furniture, says achieving the boutique style does not cost as much as people might think. “If you do the thing with antiques it will cost a fortune, but reproductions can work, too.” According to Johnson, a lot of customers will just buy one or two pieces at a time to complete the process gradually, or try out the company without making too big an investment. “A lot do come and check out the showroom and some take their own ideas away. Often, with people whose business is a long way from our showroom, we’ll give advice over the phone. The fact we can make bespoke pieces makes a big difference as old properties often have funny shaped alcoves and spaces, so we can tailor furniture to fit properly.” With older buildings, remaining in keeping with the original fixtures and fittings is of paramount importance, and it can
Better by design
Firmdale: Refuel Bar at The Soho Hotel
be a way of adding value to the appearance at low cost. For Jordan Williams, project manager for hotel interiors specialist Chrysalis Contracts, the process of reaching boutique quality is “cosmetic” as much as it is about furnishings. “Paying attention to background things like the existing fabric of the hotel – original large doors, original architraves, cornicing, plaster texture – can make it easier to create the boutique feel.” Chrysalis is currently running a campaign promoting its new package deals, one of which is specifically tailored to boutique requirements. “We get a lot of independents through the door,” says Williams. “You get some who want 10 to 20 rooms doing and they are a crucial part of our business, so they’re not overlooked or regarded as second-tier contracts. “We engineer our designing and work out the best possible solution, always working for cost-effectiveness. If it’s an
independent on a budget, then we can work with their requirements in detail,” he adds. Chrysalis offers a free design service, working closely with the hotelier on both large and small projects. The company aims to make the whole process bespoke for each hotel, offering individual furniture to fit well into awkward nooks and crannies and making sure the finished job is in harmony with the room’s period qualities. Manchester-based interior design company Decor:Fusion’s comprehensive ‘Design Proposal’ offer is also proving popular with small hotel chains and independent hotels. It gives a hotel manager or owner everything they need to make an informed decision about their refurbishment plans such as 3D visuals, material samples, furniture layout plans, indicative budget cost as well as specifications and schedule of furniture, fixtures and equipment. The company worked on a new extension at the Brockley Hall Hotel, an elegant Victorian house located on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors. With the addition of 11 bedrooms and a sun lounge, the aim was to create a multi-functional area while keeping the space light and fresh. This was achieved by using a neutral colour palette and display curtains that were not functional but solely used to add a feature. The furniture was a mix of low, comfortable seating and dining areas with upholstery to complement the warm, neutral tones. Whereas Decor:Fusion used curtains to make a bold design statement, Oceanair use blinds made from cutting-edge fabrics in a comprehensive range of styles from powered and pleated to Roman and Venetian. The company has recently released a new Venetian blind product featuring leather bound slats. Oceanair explains that leather or faux leather is hand stitched around sustainable hard wood slats, “creating a tailored blind with inherent in-built strength.” Originally a company producing for the marine market, Oceanair now supplies the hotel market, too. “The Oceanair range includes systems for windows, hatches, port lights and doors. In addition, a range of soft furnishing products are now available to complete any interior.” The range is entirely made to order and provides infinite versatility through cushions, curtains, bolsters, bedspreads and throws in a wide range of fabrics to complement any room interior. Size, shape, design and filling can all be personally selected for a unique touch, whether aiming for an opulent, romantic or simple and comfortable atmosphere. Oceanair’s sales director, Ian Howarth, says: “Our soft furnishings department is currently one of the busiest in the building. Our customers are investing with us, therefore we wish to invest in them, and since every product is made to order and custom specifications we are using new technologies and machinery to develop our soft furnishing range and to successfully meet the ever-building volume of orders and customer requirements.” A key feature of any guest room will be the bed, which can be dressed and accessorised to suit any theme or style. From international hotel groups, spa and vacation properties to independent hotels, inns and B&Bs, Hypnos has helped to create some of the most comfortable bedrooms and most memorable sleep experiences in the world. Each bed can be tailored to the ▶▶▶
Better by design
Hypnos: Hotel Indigo
individual décor of any hotel bedroom simply by choosing a preferred divan fabric. Even greater versatility comes with a zip and link bed to turn a double bedroom into a twin or by choosing a divan with a hidden extra bed under it to create a family bedroom. While every mattress is handmade, meets the highest fire retardancy safety standards and carries the Royal Warrant mark of excellence, Hypnos says it is the service that sets it apart. The unique Hypnos project management approach extends from bespoke design service, manufacturing and dedicated installation teams to bed disposal and recycling – a carbon neutral solution that ensures beds no longer need to go to landfill at the end of their life. The independent hotelier can bring a bespoke, high quality feel to their rooms, lobby, restaurant or bar with a few thoughtful
Hotel du Vin, Newcastle
steps. With demand for the boutique-style hotel growing, getting on this bandwagon could be an excellent forward-thinking move for any small hotel business and it need not be a bank-breaking process, either. Completing individual rooms or areas one at a time can make the process considerably more affordable, and wholesale refurbishment or refurnishing is not the only way to do it. Additionally, being able to put great images of your beautifully designed rooms on a website can help boost the conversion rate of website visitor to hotel patron. Supplier listing
Anderson Bradshaw Boutique Hotel Furniture: www.andersonbradshaw.co.uk Chrysalis Contracts: www.chrysaliscontracts.com Decor:Fusion: www.decorfusion.com Hypnos: www.hypnosbeds.com Oceanair: www.oceanair.co.uk
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Unwelcome guests Cockroaches are potential vectors of diseases such as dysentery, gastroenteritis, typhoid and poliomyelitis. Their diet is omnivorous and includes fermenting substances, soiled dressings, hair, leather, parchment, wallpaper, faeces and food for human consumption. The latter may be contaminated either by the mechanical transfer of causative agents of disease here is a well-known saying in the materials. The housefly or Musca domestica from the insect’s body or by transmission pest control industry: how do you is the most common species, accounting for in the faeces. spot the pest controller in a hotel? He’s the approximately 90 per cent of all the flies in Monitoring is essential, although one who never unpacks his case! households, hence its name. successful control of cockroaches is a Pest controllers are very much aware They can transmit intestinal worms and complex subject and depends very much of the risks involved and the ease with their eggs, with the incumbent risk of upon tailoring measures to the species which it is possible to pick up ‘passengers’ disease such as dysentery, gastroenteritis, concerned. Infestations can be difficult while travelling at home or abroad. We typhoid, cholera and tuberculosis. They will to control as cockroach eggs are poorly recently had an enquiry from a whole group frequent and feed indiscriminately on any penetrated by insecticides. Consequently, of young men who had been on a stag liquefiable solid food, putrefying material surveillance of the area by the pest control weekend to Poland and brought home the or food stored for human consumption. contractor may need to be prolonged. dreaded bed bug as a memorable souvenir! The common housefly will not react to Ants/wasps Pests in the hospitality sector can electronic fly catchers or ultra violet light be troublesome, time-consuming and machines. Proofing plays an important role Ants are a constant source of summer pest control activity but there are now species expensive to deal with. They can spread in any control measures with fly screens in the UK making their homes in warm, infection, contaminate food and cause being the most effective method. commercial environments all year round building damage ranging from ruined Cockroaches and hotel kitchens can provide an ideal fabrics to electrical fires. A lover of warm, damp conditions, breeding ground. Generally, pests can become established cockroaches – contrary to popular opinion Foraging worker ants cause a nuisance very quickly leading to control problems – will infest even the cleanest business. They as they travel widely in search of food, and spiralling costs, especially in thrive in hot and humid conditions such as following well-defined trails and clustering accommodation and food preparation laundry rooms and kitchens and can be very around food sources, with sweet substances areas. This can then severely impact on difficult to eradicate. Cockroaches are found preferred. They are obviously an unpleasant the running of the hotel, never mind worldwide in forests and fields, heath and sight and may damage food for human the catastrophic effect pest sightings and moorlands, and the species now established consumption. Although frequently infestations can have on its reputation. in the UK includes the German cockroach inaccessible and difficult to destroy, ants’ Here are some of the most common pests nests must be eradicated and gel baits can you may have the misfortune to encounter: and the oriental or common cockroach. Gregarious and nocturnal, they spend be very effective. Houseflies the day hiding in cracks and crevices The common wasp is capable of There are more 120,000 known species around areas such as sinks, drains, cookers, building a nest that can house up to of flies worldwide, from the housefly and the back of cupboards and in refrigerator 10,000 occupants by the end of August cluster fly to the bluebottle and greenbottle. motor compartments. They favour and September. They can prove both a Blowflies and houseflies are particularly buildings with service ducts and complex nuisance and a danger for hoteliers that are common during the summer and develop plumbing installations, which allow them staging outdoor summer activities. Stings in household waste, manure or other animal to travel freely. can be painful and some individuals are
The warm summer weather can bring a whole host of problems for hoteliers, from flies and wasps to rats and cockroaches. Graham Smith from Advantage Environmental looks at some of the common pests and how to deal with them
particularly sensitive. Every year around 12 people die as a result of wasp stings and it could be argued that hoteliers have a duty of care to their guests where outdoor tables are used for garden eating and drinking.
Rats There is another saying in the pest control industry that people in the UK’s cities are never more than 20 yards from a rat. We have seen an alarming number of callouts in recent years indicating the numbers are on the rise. A national rodent survey conducted in 2009/2010 by the National Pest Technician’s Association concluded: “We believe the UK is in real danger of losing control over both rats and mice across much of the country,” with local authorities cutting back on the pest control services they offer. A year-round problem, rats carry a number of diseases that can be transmitted to humans through ectoparasites such as fleas and ticks, via contaminated rodent faeces and urine, and through passive or physical transmission from their bodies, fur and feet. The diseases causing the greatest problems are Weil’s disease, salmonella, listeriosis, cryptosporidium, toxoplasmosis, rodent/human tapeworm and Hanta virus. Mice are distinguished by their smaller size and larger ears and are widely distributed in all types of commercial and residential properties. Common locations in hotels include under fridges and behind panelling in kitchens and bars. Eradication for both species can involve the use of bait boxes, rodenticides and traps. These should always be used by a suitably qualified pest controller who can inspect the premises, decide upon the right course of action and monitor the progress of any pest management programme implemented.
Auditing premises When carrying out an audit of any premises, it is important to first look at building security, with careful consideration given to any point of entry, along with air vents, air bricks and weep holes, followed by drainage, guttering and roofs. Building fabric should be maintained to a high standard and repairs instigated for any cracks in plaster or woodwork and gaps around windows, door frames and pipe work should all be sealed off. All fitted
appliances should be checked for security and fit, especially in kitchens. All of these areas can provide excellent harbourage, if not maintained to a high standard. In food preparation areas and kitchens, fly screens must be fitted to any external opening windows and walk-through screens for all exit doors should remain closed at all times. If windows are to be opened, fly screens must remain in place to ensure effectiveness. Food stuffs should be covered or stored in pest-proof containers. A method statement should be in place to contain and clear any spillages so they are promptly removed. Waste should be stored in a manner suitable to prevent access by pests. Accumulation of stagnant water should also be avoided. If the audit is effective and recommendations are followed, then it reduces not just the occurrences of pest problems but also the use of rodenticides and chemical insecticides. According to the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, “pest minimisation and pest proofing are important steps in reducing the risk to public health and to safeguarding high quality hospitality and accommodation services.” All owners and managers of premises also have a duty of care under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to provide their employees, customers and contractors with a safe working environment. They are expected
to employ pest control professionals and follow safe, effective and sustainable pest control methods. You should also ensure that any contractor you use, is qualified and working within the Code of Practice as defined by the BPCA (British Pest Control Association). All pesticides must conform to the British Standard 1831, and be used with regard to the Control Of Pesticides Regulations, COSHH Regulations and HSE. Even if you find you have taken all the necessary precautions to prevent infestation, it may not be enough. The important thing is not to panic, but get the advice of a competent pest control company and don’t be afraid to involve your local environmental health officer (EHO). In fact, the EHO can be an invaluable source of free advice and information and is there to help. The British Pest Control Association and the National Pest Technicians Association will put you in touch with your nearest qualified member. Advantage Environmental Pest Control and Hygiene Management is based in Great Yeldham, near Halstead, Essex. Its pest control solutions are ecologically sound, with careful consideration paid to public sensitivities, customer needs and the humane treatment of wildlife. Our goal is to provide economical and socially acceptable solutions to the conflicts that result between man and pests. Contact us on 0808 108 0118 or 01787 238 515, anytime to have a chat, obtain free advice or request a free no-obligation survey.
Bedding down According to MidMos Solutions, bed bugs have made a significant global come-back, and in some cities they have reached epidemic proportions affecting hotels, homes and even public transport. MidMos offers a wide range of products to help the individual and the pest control professional deal with infestations. The BB ALERT range includes monitors to provide early detection and devices to eliminate bed bugs. The BB ALERT Passive Monitor is easy-to-install and quick to check and is designed for the routine long-term monitoring of susceptible areas. It contains no pesticides, requires no maintenance and provides continuous checking for up to 12 months. MidMos says that by using the BB ALERT system to identify bed bug infestations at an early stage, treatment is usually less expensive, more likely to succeed and hotels guests are not subjected to annoying and painful bites. The company also offers a pesticide-free system for the elimination of beds bugs – called O2PM – where infested items such as mattresses, delicate soft furnishings, electronic items or clothing are enclosed in a specially designed ‘flexibag’. Oxygen is removed from the bag, which deprives the bugs of the ability to survive – a wellresearched technique that has been proven to be effective against all stages of bed bug development, including eggs which are not killed by many traditional methods including pesticides.
corporate facilities Check out...
Companies are turning to budget brands when it comes to corporate bookings, with roadside hotel chains such as Premier Inn and Travelodge offering every comfort for the business traveller
ith many companies looking to cut back on the cost of business travel, booking rooms at lower star hotels has become widespread and a 2010 study by the Hilton Garden indicates this trend is set to continue. However, lower grade doesn’t necessarily mean less comfort, with even the budget brands looking to provide a wide range of amenities that the business traveller requires. When business travellers were asked what they wanted as standard at their hotel, an overwhelming 48 per cent said free unlimited internet and Wi-Fi access. Broadband and internet services are vital for corporate guests as it enables them to carry out work while at their hotel. In the past, people were happy to pay for what was considered a luxury, but with the widespread use of the internet, both business and leisure guests are now demanding this service for free. RIEO Communications Ltd specialises in the development and installation of high speed internet access. The company firmly believes that hotels can differentiate their guest offering through the availability of high quality internet connectivity and technology services to give both business and leisure customers the same or better functionality they enjoy at work or home.
The company recently completed work for the prestigious Apex Waterloo Place Hotel in Edinburgh. Andrew Jacques, IT director for Apex Hotels, says: “We were extremely pleased with the solutions RIEO Communications delivered, with the work completed to budget and on time with minimal disruption to our guests. An effective internet service is essential in allowing us to meet the expectations of the business traveller and, without it, we would see a significant negative impact on our business. We now have a strong working partnership with RIEO Communications, which will continue into the future.” With the advent of the digital era, many business guests are now looking to unwind after a day’s work by listening to music on the latest sound systems in their hotel rooms. Steeped in ‘high-end’ audio heritage, Vita Audio installed its R2i tabletop stereo system in one of London’s most iconic hotels – the Savoy – offering refined looks and rich sound quality. The company has also supplied other top class establishments including the Soho Hotel, the Angel in Bury St Edmunds, Eshott Hall in Northumberland and the Trinity Hotel in Westcliffe-on-Sea. Just as business travellers are demanding state-of-the-art facilities in their rooms,
they also want the latest in modern technology for meetings, from ceilingmounted LCD projectors and sophisticated lighting systems to flat screen TVs and video conferencing rooms. AVER (Audio Visual Equipment Rental) stocks and supplies a wide range of sound, lighting and video equipment including projectors, plasma screens and cameras. With such rapidly advancing technology in the audio visual industry, AVER can offer the latest solution to suit any corporate event. It is also one of the few audio visual rental companies that lets customers make an offer on price and then tailors a quote to suit their needs. AVER also offers one day hire on most AV equipment and a pay-as-you-go option on LCD projectors and there are “no contracts, no delivery charges, no minimum terms and no fuss.” The design of the room is also important to the business traveller and one of the key aspects is a desk and chair. Deloitte says that 60 per cent of business travellers work in their rooms and they will need space for their laptop and papers or to prepare for a meeting or presentation. UK furniture manufacturer and soft furnishings supplier Curtis Interiors’ designs are tailored specifically for use in the contract environment. The company has worked
AVER Vita Audio
Craftsmen Quality Lockers
with leading hotel chains including Hilton, De Vere, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Sheraton Hotels and Best Western plus independent hoteliers throughout the UK. Products supplied for the corporate sector have included executive cantilevered desks and desks with integrated lift-up mirrors. Anita Lowe, chief executive of Venues Events Management, says: “the provision of fitness facilities by hotels is now a key preference among business travellers.” The company carried out a snapshot survey of a sample of executives and found that 73 per cent said it was important to them to be able to exercise while away on business and all agreed this can help to alleviate stress. Lowe cautions: “Properties who ignore this trend are increasingly finding themselves low on the list of accommodation options.” While taking advantage of the hotel’s leisure facilities, whether it’s exercising in the gym or pool or playing a round of golf, the business guest will want to ensure items such as laptop, BlackBerry, iPhone or mobile are safely stored away. For the past 20 years Craftsmen Quality Lockers have created unique designs for clients across the leisure industries including golf clubs, spas, hotels, health and fitness centres and local authorities. Working to the exacting ISO 1901 quality standards, CQL delivers
over 400 changing rooms each year to a constantly expanding customer base both in the UK and throughout Europe. Other tactics are also being employed to capture a share of the corporate bookings market, such as guaranteeing a good night’s sleep. Premier Inn offers guests their money back if they don’t, while Travelodge employs sleep wardens to patrol the hotel’s corridors. Crowne Plaza has introduced its own Sleep Advantage Programme that provides guests with comfortable new beds, wake-up calls, quiet-zone floors and sleep amenities that include eye mask, earplugs and a lavender spray to promote sleep. London-based company Podtime first introduced its power-nap facility to workers in Canary Wharf and the city, providing them with a sanctuary for rest during the day. Podtime’s founder Jon Gray says: “By initially offering the pod rental services we wanted to see if this well-known Japanese concept worked in a Western environment – and indeed it did.” The company has now evolved to manufacture a much higher spec version of its pods, which it describes as “the smallest hotel room on the market.” Podtime is now reaching out to hoteliers who may be interested in developing a Japanese-style pod hotel using the modular Podtime units. Each pod includes features
such as digital radio, headphones, magazine rack, mirror, an interior light and lockable doors. The pods can also be equipped with TV, DVD and sprung mattresses for overnight use. It has been estimated that a frequent business traveller can be on the road for up to 40 weeks of the year, and with companies looking to cut back on corporate travel, there is greater potential for smaller, independent hotels and budget brands to step in and capture a share of this market. Adam Weissenberg, vice chairman and tourism, hospitality and leisure sector leader at Deloitte LLP says: “Consumers are more value-conscious than ever and have been conditioned to expect more for their money after a steady diet of recession-era deals. The tipping point for hotels to differentiate their brand offering and strengthen loyalty among the post-recessionary business traveller will be providing additional complementary services and amenities tailored to their guests’ specific needs.” AVER (Audio Visual Equipment Rental) • www.audiovisualequipmentrental.co.uk Curtis Interiors • www.curtisinteriors.co.uk Craftsmen Quality Lockers • www.cqlockers.co.uk Quadriga • www.quadriga.com Podtime • www.podtime.co.uk RIEO Communications • www.rieo.co.uk Vita Audio • www.vitaaudio.com
Hotels for sale
Key commercial properties currently on the market
Successful highland business put up for sale Property consultant CKD Galbraith is offering the Bridge Hotel for sale. Located in the Highland town of Helmsdale in Sutherland, it was originally built as an inn in 1816. It exudes elegance and warmth with its open fireplace, collection of stag heads and traditional furnishings including Caithness slate and an ornate wooden staircase. On the first floor is the residents’ lounge – a large Victorian room boasting an original open fireplace. Immediately below, on the ground floor, is the function room which has direct access to the walled garden. The Green Stag restaurant has become a well-established and renowned business in its own right specialising in serving fresh local produce including fish and game. The 19 bedrooms have all been decorated and furnished to a very high standard with en-suite facilities. The highlight of this accommodation is the Presidential Suite, which includes a large bedroom, sitting room and bathroom. There are also five staff bedrooms and two staff bathrooms for those who wish to live on-site. A guide price of £925,000 has been set for the hotel, which includes all the furniture, fixtures and fittings. For further information, please visit www.ckdgalbraith.co.uk or contact James Carnegy-Arbuthnott of CKD Galbraith on 0131 240 6960 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Outstanding opportunity you’d be Scilly to miss A premier hotel and restaurant on the Isles of Scilly is being marketed for sale by Christie + Co. Located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the St Martin’s on the Isle Hotel is regarded as one of the best hotels and restaurants within the archipelago. It is a member of Pride of Britain Hotels and is about two miles north of St Mary’s, the administrative centre of the Scilly Isles. It has 30 individually-appointed guest bedrooms, a fine dining restaurant, indoor swimming pool, stunning beachfront location and a private quay overlooking Tean Sound and Tresco. Planning permission has also been approved for four new two-bedroom apartments within the grounds. Director of Christie + Co, Simon Stevens, says: “For over 15 years, St Martin’s on the Isle Hotel collected many renowned industry accolades for excellence. This represents an excellent opportunity for a forward-thinking individual or existing operator who is prepared to continue to invest in the hotel’s future potential.” Offers over £2.5 million are being sought for the leasehold interest in St Martin’s on the Isle Hotel. For further information, please contact Simon Stevens on 0207 227 0700 or email@example.com or Simon Harvey on 01392 285 600 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Much-loved hotel and wedding venue in Wales Strutt & Parker is offering an opportunity to acquire a hotel and wedding venue on the southern coast of the Llyen Peninsula in north west Wales. Mynydd Ednyfed Country House is set in over five acres of delightful grounds with coastal views, above the picturesque resort town of Criccieth. Portmeirion, Abersoch and Snowdonia National Park are a short distance away and guests can also visit the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland railway located just five miles away at Portmadog. The hotel has 10 bedrooms (nine with en suite bath and shower rooms), dining room, guest lounge and bar, function room and tennis court. There is also owner’s on-site accommodation comprising sitting room, dining room and two bedrooms and planning consent has been granted for four cabins in the grounds. The property has proved a consistently profitable business and has been marketed for sale for the first time in 20 years due to the present owner’s retirement. The price is £850,000 freehold. For further information, contact Chris Gooch on 01722 344 055 or email@example.com
1 Location, location, location
Once a key site has been found, the next step is negotiating the commercial lease or freehold purchase. Careful negotiation is essential especially in areas concerning rent review, break clauses, assignment and the carrying out of refurbishment works in leases, so claims against the vendor can be minimised at the outset. 2 Show me the money
As with every business, additional capital may be required. You may seek equity capital or debt financing in the form of seed, angel or venture funding. The benefits of external financing are clear but do present challenges including repayment covenants, giving of security and hedging propositions. Third party investors will want a right to be involved in decision making or you may face a difficult shareholder who refuses to co-operate in the running of the business. A good shareholder’s agreement should offer effective dispute resolution and exit, ensuring all parties understand their rights and obligations in good times and bad. 3 Handling suppliers
You’ll deal with suppliers on a daily basis and it’s crucial to ensure they fully understand their obligations. Be aware of their terms of business, negotiating these where necessary to ensure they conform with your expectations. Ensure you have a right of redress for any failure to perform and check they have not limited liability to the extent the contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. 4 There is no ‘I’ in ‘team’
You are obliged by law, in most cases, to give employees within two months, a written statement containing the details of their employment. A well-drafted employment contract should include posttermination restrictions, confidentiality and restraint of trade provisions. These will protect against errant employees taking your company’s trade secrets to your competitors when they leave.
Top 10 Legal Tips Whether you are running a successful hotel or starting a new venture, Shainul Kassam shares her top legal tips for those working in the hospitality sector fixtures and fittings in case of fire or flood. Check the small print and don’t buy insurance unless you are certain it’s right for you. 6 Licence to thrill
All restaurants and bars require a premises licence to supply alcohol, entertainment or late night refreshments. Once granted by the local authority, it lasts for the duration of the business, subject to payment of an annual fee. In addition, a personal licence authorises a specified person to supply alcohol or allow the supply of alcohol at a premises that have a valid premises licence. These are valid for 10 years. Check you have a valid licence and back-up plan if the individual who holds the licence is dismissed, suspended or chooses to leave. 7 What’s in a name?
If your hotel has a unique concept, name or logo distinguishing it from your competitors, you should protect this. These can be registered as a trademark in the UK, EU or worldwide. As the owner of a registered trademark you could sue for infringement and it will also have real tangible value, reflected in the sale price on exit. Carry out a trademark search to ensure it’s available and confirm you are not infringing someone else’s mark. The last thing you need is a stern solicitor’s letter from a business owner who had the idea before you. 8 Marketing yourself
Comparative advertising is where you mention a competitor, usually with a claim 5 Laying down the law that your goods and services are better All employers in the UK are legally obliged than theirs. A comparative advertisement to carry employers’ liability insurance with is permitted, provided it is not misleading, minimum cover of £5,000,000. If your does not create confusion and does not business operations were to injure or cause discredit or take unfair advantage of illness, a claim could be made against you. another hotel. Successful claims for false, Think about additional insurance to protect deceptive or misleading advertisements your hotel premises, stock, equipment, are expensive and could result in loss of
consumer confidence in your business. Not all PR is good PR. 9 “You’re on your own, but not alone”
The benefits of franchising to expand a business are two-fold. One, it involves low capital investment by the franchisor, as the capital is provided by franchisees, and two, the franchisor places the expansion of his/ her business with people motivated to make it work. By using franchisee capital, the franchisor can establish a large number of outlets in a short period of time. Setting up a franchise business requires commitment and business acumen. Franchisees require support, training and assistance with marketing, research and development and a proven business model. The financial rewards can be high, but you must put in the groundwork to benefit from them to secure a sustainable return. 10 Begin with the end in mind
All businesses at some stage will face friction between staff, shareholders, suppliers or co-directors. Even bestsuited business partners often end up in disputes after years of running successful ventures together. Set time aside to consider what might happen to you and your investment if individuals begin to show their unpredictable side. Do you have well-drafted shareholders’ agreements or employment and supplier contracts with effective dispute resolution and exit strategies? Make sure you know where you stand, so you can move on and concentrate on what is important – your business. Shainul Kassam is the MD of Fortune Law, a niche company commercial practice based in London. Fortune Law provides practical advice to business owners in the hospitality sector focusing on commercial leases, freehold purchases, dispute resolution, employment, business sales and purchases and intellectual property. For further advice, please contact us on 0207 440 2540 or visit: www.fortunelaw.com
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Better by design Better by design
BETTER BY DESIGN
Hailed as a breath of fresh air when they first appeared, boutique hotels continue to be big business and Michael Northcott looks at some of the ways hoteliers can imitate their design and style Graham Johnson, managing director of Anderson Bradshaw he explosive growth in the popularity of the boutique hotel Furniture, says achieving the boutique style does has heralded a new era for the innovative small independent. Boutique Hotel not cost as much as people might think. “If you do the thing with With large chains such as Marriott launching boutique branches antiques it will cost a fortune, but reproductions can work, too.” of their portfolio, and new companies starting from the outset According to Johnson, a lot of customers will just buy one or two as boutique chain operators, a bespoke look and feel for a hotel’s pieces at a time to complete the process gradually, or try out the interior is fast becoming the norm. Gone are the days when the without making too big an investment. bland and antiseptic world of the chain hotel was the professional company “A lot do come and check out the showroom and some take design. interior benchmark of their own ideas away. Often, with people whose business is a long Creating a bespoke, boutique feel in a small independent hotel way from our showroom, we’ll give advice over the phone. The is easily achieved, as most of it depends on simple things like fact we can make bespoke pieces makes a big difference as old colour scheme and furniture. The range of products and services properties often have funny shaped alcoves and spaces, so we can available to the hotelier is exceptionally wide ranging, so finding tailor furniture to fit properly.” cost-effective solutions to the dream upgrade is something many With older buildings, remaining in keeping with the original companies can assist the hotelier with, especially in this booming fixtures and fittings is of paramount importance, and it can area of the hotel sector.
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This beautifully rich, smooth parfait is packed full of flavour and a winner on any restaurant menu, at a dinner party or a humble Sunday roast at home with the family. The Sauternes jelly I have chosen as an accompaniment adds a new dimension, its zingy, bright freshness cuts through the dense, creaminess of the parfait, really lifting the dish. The brioche’s buttery, cake-like texture paired with the parfait and the Sauternes jelly highlights the contrast of sweet and savoury. Marrying this classic oxymoron of flavours really gives this starter a unique edge and a definite sense of sophistication.
Pan fried fillet of seabass, crushed Jersey Royals, vine tomatoes, balsamic syrup
DINING OUT WITH… Matt Wardman, new executive head chef at the award-winning
Cotswold Georgian dining Inn at Fossebridge
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Chicken liver parfait, Sauternes jelly, brioche
This delightful main course really emphasises the wonderful produce we have to offer on our little island in the northern hemisphere. Jersey Royals are quite simply the ‘daddy’ of all new season potatoes; light, waxy and full of flavour. British vine tomatoes; fragrant, sweet and ruby in colour, with a patriotic nod to the royal red of the English flag. While all of the ingredients combined create a winning harmony, it is the seabass that really makes this dish sing. This fish promises the undeniable taste of the sea while delivering a subtle yet powerful flavour and a succulent, almost meaty texture.
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independent on a budget, then we can work with their requirements in detail,” he adds. Chrysalis offers a free design service, working closely with the hotelier on both large and small projects. The company aims to make the whole process bespoke for each hotel, offering individual furniture to fit well into awkward nooks and crannies and making sure the finished job is in harmony with the room’s period qualities. Manchester-based interior design company Decor:Fusion’s comprehensive ‘Design Proposal’ offer is also proving popular with small hotel chains and independent hotels. It gives a hotel manager or owner everything they need to make an informed decision about their refurbishment plans such as 3D visuals, material samples, furniture layout plans, indicative budget cost as well as specifications and schedule of furniture, fixtures and equipment. The company worked on a new extension at the Brockley Hall Hotel, an elegant Victorian house located on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors. With the addition of 11 bedrooms and a sun lounge, the aim was to create a multi-functional area while keeping the space light and fresh. This was achieved by using a neutral colour palette and display curtains that were not functional but solely used to add a feature. The furniture was a mix of low, comfortable seating and dining areas with upholstery to complement the warm, neutral tones. Whereas Decor:Fusion used curtains to make a bold design statement, Oceanair use blinds made from cutting-edge fabrics in a comprehensive range of styles from powered and pleated to Roman and Venetian. The company has recently released a new Venetian blind product featuring leather bound slats. Oceanair explains that leather or faux leather is hand stitched around sustainable hard wood slats, “creating a tailored blind with inherent in-built strength.” Originally a company producing for the marine market, Oceanair now supplies the hotel market, too. “The Oceanair range includes systems for windows, hatches, port lights and doors. In addition, a range of soft furnishing products (curtains, cushions, upholstery, bedspreads and throws) are now available to complete any interior.” The range is entirely made to order and provides infinite versatility through cushions, curtains, bolsters, bedspreads and throws in a wide range of fabrics to complement any room Firmdale: Refuel Bar at The Soho Hotel interior. Size, shape, design and filling can all be personally selected for a unique touch, whether aiming for an opulent, Signature menu romantic or simple and comfortable atmosphere. be a way of adding value to the appearance at low cost. For Oceanair’s sales director, Ian Howarth, says: “Our soft Jordan Williams, project manager for hotel interiors specialist furnishings department is currently one of the busiest in the Chrysalis Contracts, the process of reaching boutique quality is Our customers are investing with us, therefore we “cosmetic” as much as it is about furnishings. “Paying attention to building. wish to invest in them, and since every product is made to background things like the existing fabric of the hotel – original order and custom specifications we are using new technologies large doors, original architraves, cornicing, plaster texture – can and machinery to develop our soft furnishing range and to make it easier to create the boutique feel.” successfully meet the ever-building volume of orders and Chrysalis is currently running a campaign promoting its new requirements.” customer boutique to package deals, one of which is specifically tailored A key feature of any guest room will be the bed, which can requirements. “We get a lot of independents through the door,” and accessorised to suit any theme or style. From dressed be and doing rooms 20 to 10 want who some get “You Williams. says hotel groups, spa and vacation properties to they are a crucial part of our business, so they’re not overlooked or international independent hotels, inns and B&Bs, Hypnos has helped to create regarded as second-tier contracts. some of the most comfortable bedrooms and most memorable “We engineer our designing and work out the best possible the ▶▶▶bed can be tailored to▶▶▶ sleep experiences in the world. Each solution, always working for cost-effectiveness. If it’s an
Lavender crème brûlée
What can I say about this dish? Crème brûlée is a real favourite of mine; it evokes many fond memories, having spent much of my childhood in northern France unknowingly creating a platform of food awareness and a love for French cuisine. Lavender grew in abundance in my grandparents’ garden in Somerset, the colour and fragrance of this tremendous flower holds much personal significance to me, as well as being a key component in the creation of my signature dessert. The flavour of the lavender lends itself superbly well to the velvety texture of the brûlée and the classic sweetness of vanilla.
aving worked for many years as a senior chef de-partie at the RAC Club in London, and more recently as the senior sous chef at the prestigious Russell’s of Broadway restaurant in Worcestershire, Matt has joined the kitchen at the Inn at Fossebridge. His aim is to bring a “back to the land and no waste” attitude to the menu by using only seasonal produce and incorporating every part of the animal in his dishes. He has already devised a smaller, fresher menu which changes daily, depending on what’s available at the butcher’s that morning, and plans to introduce a vegetable and herb garden in the extensive gardens of the inn.
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.INSPIRING . . . . . . . . . IDEAS ............ St Michael’s Manor Hotel boasts a newly refurbished restaurant with lakeside views
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lunch! Old Billingsgate Market, London www.lunchshow.co.uk
ETOA Global European Marketplace Workshop (GEM) Wembley Stadium London www.etoa.org
GÄSTE Leipziger Messe, Leipsic, Germany www.gaeste.de
World Food Awards Grosvenor House hotel www.worldfoodawards.com
Speciality and Fine Food Fair Olympia, London www.specialityandfinefoodfairs.co.uk
London Restaurant Festival Events across London www.londonrestaurantfestival.com
HBAA Annual Forum Ramada Jarvis Manchester Piccadilly Hotel Manchester www.hbaa.org.uk
VisitBritain International Business Exchange (VIBE) Hilton London Metropole, London www.visitbritain.org
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British Food Fortnight Events nationwide www.lovebritishfood.co.uk
The Restaurant Show Earls Court 2, London www.therestaurantshow.co.uk
Leisure Industry Week NEC, Birmingham www.liw.co.uk
host FieraMilano, Milan, Italy www.host.fieramilano.it/en
Group Leisure and Travel Trade Show NEC, Birmingham www.leisureshow.com
Ice Cream Expo Yorkshire Event Centre, Harrogate www.ice-cream.org
Decorex International Royal Hospital Chelsea, London www.decorex.co.uk
The Luxury Travel Fair Olympia, London www.luxurytravelfair.com
ETOA Global European Marketplace Gala Dinner (GEM) Sheraton Park Lane London www.etoa.org 7–10 November
World Travel Market ExCel, London www.wtmlondon.com 11–13 November
MasterChef Live Olympia, London www.mastercheflive.com 11–13 November
The Wine Show Olympia London www.wineshow.co.uk 23–27 November
BBC Good Food Show Winter NEC, Birmingham www.bbcgoodfoodshow.com 24 November
HOSPACE 2011 Hotel Sofitel London Heathrow London Heathrow Airport www.baha-uk.org