This year’s competition was really intense and it was a really tough job to whittle the nominations down to a shortlist of five, let alone choose the overall winners.
As you’ll see from the descriptions below, the winners we decided upon all thoroughly deserved to scoop awards, for not just their contribution to the hotel’s operation, but also the general feeling in their hotel and among their peers.
Bar Manager of the Year – Simon Wood, Oddfellows
Simon is an integral part of the team at Oddfellows. He has re-written the drinks menu with his customers in mind, adding infused spirits and interesting ingredients onto the hotel’s cocktail list. He launched the Perrier Jouët Champagne breakfast this year with the support of Oddfellows’ champagne supplier on key dates in May 2015. The breakfast included a glass of Perrier Jouët Champagne on arrival, followed by a glass of Blason rosé with either a full English breakfast or eggs Benedict, plus a tasting glass of Belle Epoque. The event was an overwhelming success with the both breakfasts sold out and he is planning a series of events this year to capitalise on this success.
Marketing manager, Samantha Ratcliffe said: “Simon has a knack of offering you something that’s just a little bit different, with no compromise on the taste. Simon delivers an amazing bar experience through the training and development of his team. He will not compromise on the service standards and delivers not just a great drink but also enhances the guests experience to make them return time and time again.
Front of House Manager of the Year – Craig Jackson, Northcote
During the past year Craig has achieved a number of significant awards and qualifications, alongside excelling in his role at Northcote, proving his talent continues to grow with age and growth within the industry.
In January 2015 Craig successfully completed the Master Innholders Aspiring Leaders course after being accepted as one of that year’s 17 candidates.
Having successfully completed the Master Innholders Aspiring Leaders course, Craig was promoted to Northcote’s hotel manager at the age of 26. He now manages a team of 22, who report directly to him, from housekeeping; reception; bar & porters. He has a rare set of people skills that gives him the foundation for his attitude at Northcote. The owners of Northcote have high hopes that Craig will be general manager of the hotel soon, and will go on to continue to blossom within the industry.
He also won an Acorn Award this year, after being nominated by his managing director Craig Bancroft. He is passionate about inspiring the next generation and hosts regular college visits to inspire students who visit Northcote.
Restaurant Manager of the Year – Charles Williamson, Christchurch Harbour Hotel
Charles heads up the 60-cover restaurant at Harbour Hotel Christchurch, with a team of 22. Last year, The Jetty served 41,803 covers (average 114 covers per day) with a remarkable occupancy average of 95.4%. Having launched The Jetty in 2011, Charles has proven integral in its success and growth, consistently delivering high standards of customer service. At The Jetty, the staff retention is extremely strong, with a senior team that have all stayed loyal since the conception in August 2010.
Charles was instrumental in delivering another year of record sales for 2014-2015, exceeding budgets with a 19% increase on revenue and even more impressively, a 28% increase on gross operating profit.
Charles drives strong relationships with various brands such as MHUK and Bacardi – this enables him to stage top product training. He has also welcomed masterclass training from the likes of Moet, where staff were given the opportunity to go to London for an exclusive tasting on the full range of Moet Champagnes.
Charles aims to evoke passion in his team, with rewarding staff initiatives. For example, he recently took the team on a fishing trip, bringing to life the restaurant’s philosophy of fresh, local and sustainable seafood.
F&B Manager of the Year – Yohann Thuillier, Polurrian Bay Hotel
Since joining Polurrian Bay Hotel, Yohann has taken on a new team and implemented a staff training programme which he has the F&B staff regularly trained on. He makes sure they have sufficient product knowledge and keeps them up to date with any relevant news. He has already taken on a new team and trained them all before the busy summer season.
Yohann has held successful cocktail events at the hotel with a mobile bar, from sourcing a supplier to making the bar and getting it ready for events. Yohann has developed great relationships with local suppliers –the hotel making use of a great locally sourced produce. He has created a great menu, which generates great revenue and wonderful feedback from guests.
Customer Service Star of the Year – Francesco Antonazzo, South Place Hotel
During his three years as room service manager at South Place Hotel, Francesco has worked tirelessly to deliver exceptional service. His devotion to his role is reflected in the outstanding feedback he receives from guests, which highlights his personable manner, enthusiasm, charisma and personalised approach to customer service.
Francesco’s main criteria when recruiting staff is an engaging personality, coupled with a strong work-ethic. He nurtures his staff, while allowing them to find their own identity and take their own initiative. He identifies values based on the wider vision of the hotel, and encourages his staff to demonstrate these: ‘enjoy work, shine and share your knowledge’.
Francesco designed and implemented the South Place VIP programme, an inter-departmental system built to help the hotel’s mission to achieve 100% guest satisfaction, and also implemented two new procedures: children’s amenities and pet’s amenities.
Francesco recognised an opportunity for adding value around some of the major sporting events too, creating dedicated amenities for each event, along with a personalised letter containing the timings and scheduling of all matches.
Reservations / Revenue Manager of the Year – Holly Kotkowicz, Hipping Hall
Tom Lewis, operations director at Wildsmith Hotels said of Holly: “Holly is one of those rare people who combines a wonderful personality with a real will to please, with effectiveness, efficiency and an eye to detail. Moreover, she also has a true desire to ensure the hotel succeeds, not just from a customer service point of view but also with a focus on the business needs of the hotel. She is financially astute. She also has the ability to identify gaps and opportunities in the business and is a strong problem solver, who always goes that extra mile to ensure our guests are properly cared for and enjoy their stay with us.”
Holly consistently comes up with new marketing initiatives and ideas for the hotel, utilising web and social media platforms. She comes up with pro-active ideas and solutions and always goes above and beyond for guests, ensuring all their needs are met.
Housekeeping Manager of the Year – Angela Ellis, The Zetter
Angela has been instrumental in not only the housekeeping team’s development at The Zetter, but also in fostering other employees from different areas and allowing their career growth and development.
The third Zetter in the portfolio recently opened and Angela played a key part in engineering a smooth transition for her deputy to move across to this property as well as nurturing many of the team on their own journeys.
General manager of The Zetter, Ashley Ely was full of praise for his star housekeeper. He said: “Angela’s attitude has shown huge initiative in problem solving, thinking on her feet and finding solutions where others could not see them.”
Spa Manager of the Year – Davina Hassell, Seaham Hall
Davina has increased the revenue at Seaham Hall’s Serenity Spa by 80% per month and it continues to grow to date. She has grown the team substantially with good retention rates, developing each member with intense training programmes. She has changed the direction of the vision mission and philosophy of the spa, introducing four new product brands and overseeing its refurbishment.
She has increased spa membership by 50% and maintained a 90% ‘excellent’ review status on TripAdvisor. The spa was nominated in the Professional Beauty Awards last year and hosted numerous successful launch events which have resulted in raising the profile of the spa in the media. Davina has been crucial in all this.
Davina always acts upon guest requests and she always goes the extra mile to accommodate.
General manager Ross Grieve said: “Davina never has to be asked for help; if she sees another department struggling, she will always pull up her sleeves and jump straight in!”
Concierge of the Year – Ben Malpass, Belgraves London
Ben manages a team of 11 at Belgraves. Since he arrived in May 2014, guest satisfaction scores have gone from 80/100 to 95/100. He used his previous experience in five-star hotels to introduce ‘the perfect arrival’ at the front desk and introduced new initiatives to ensure ‘yes’ is always the answer for guests. Ben has also reduced pay roll costs by implementing a creative roster that changes in line with business levels.
Once, after looking after the Royal Family from Saudi Arabia for several weeks, the feedback was that Ben’s seamless service provided them with an experience that was second to none.
Ben has raised staff morale and engagement levels through open and effective communication with a ‘hands on’ approach and by leading by example. This has been reflected by zero staff turnover, minimal sickness levels and amazing guest satisfaction scores. Ben actively looks at creative ways to improve service and implements changes proactively. Since joining in May last year, Ben has positively transformed his area as his passion for his profession shines through.
Shining Star Award – Kimberley Dyke, Sweeney Hall Hotel
Kimberley started at the hotel as a part time waitress and housekeeper and she has now achieved the role of supervisor. She shows initiative and is able to run the day-to-day of the hotel without management involvement.
She recently produced a room pack for all the bedrooms at Sweeney Hall Hotel, completely off her own initiative as she felt they needed updating; they’ve been a huge success.
Owner, Sean Evans said: “Kim has worked at the Sweeney since the age of 16, during that time we have seen her blossom into a fully rounded individual with potential to achieve great things in this industry. She has worked her way up from general waiting on duties to running shifts independently as the shift leader. She runs a team of up to eight people servicing up to 60-65 covers at any one time.
“She maintains the in-room packs, writing the latest information updates and uses her knowledge of the industry and this hotel in particular to make these packs not only informative, but also an interesting read for all our customers.”