The service and culture of a hotel is the reflection of it’s leadership


If you ever want to find me it is usually in a hotel somewhere around the globe, I will either be training them or staying there in order to develop teams elsewhere. Luckily for me gone are the days I have to stay in the travellodge at Chively services….. the lorries swop loads as they move cargo from North to South throughout the night. Great if you are one of those people that collect the names on Eddie Stobart lorries and write them in a little notebook especially when you discover Dolly Parton has just pulled up but it’s not so great if you need to get a good nights sleep.

At the hotels I stay in the beds are usually fall into comfortable where they surround you in a big hug, the bathroom mirrors scary…..they show every pore and if you are very lucky the bathroom products are more Selfridges beauty department than Chinese mini pots of goo. The Conrad Hilton even offers you a menu of bathroom goodies to choose from before you arrive, my favourite is the Aromatherapy range.

Despite the quality of the properties I have stayed in whether they are boutique chic, 5 star chinz or iconic properties restored to their former glory the service has varied from ‘died and gone to heaven wonderful’ to ‘do you even like people?’. It seems brand  does not necessarily guarantee an extraordinary stay, in fact sometimes your expectations are high due to the reputation of the brand only to be let down with resounding thump when they have not even been close to meeting them.

In my experience it is the quality of the leadership that dictates the level of service. Great general managers and MD’s create a culture of excellence and guest focus that an SOP alone cannot achieve. Chewton Glen has Mark Bevan and Andrews Stembridge’s personality stamped all over it and which makes a stay there glorious. The Trafalgar St James has Joanna Taylor Staggs people focus and excellence as a thread that runs through the business. On meeting Kevin Kelly at the door of the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay, welcoming, smiling and joking with the team and guests alike it was no wonder every person I encountered had the same charm and twinkle in their eye that made it bucket list worthy.

Good leaders attract good leaders, who attract good teams it is as simple as that. 

This week I am lucky enough to add the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace, to the list, I could not find fault. The team were incredibly attentive without being over bearing, their individuality shone, the standards were exceptional and it ran like a well oiled machine. Despite it being a huge property I felt comfortable and cosy. During my time there I encountered the General manager on many occasions, he is definitely from the manage by walking around not sitting down school of leadership and it showed.

This will definitely be added to my must return list, not because of the extraordinary views or cosy bar but because the service was faultless. It is therefore no surprise that the winner of this years Bucherer Trophy, The Swiss Receptionist of the year was won by Florence who is on the front desk here, and despite dancing till 3am the night before she looked fresh and was her fabulous engaging self at 7 am the next morning not because she had to but because she wanted to.

Thank you Michael Smithuis, Katya Marshall and your amazing team.

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