Getting to know… Paul Cookson, general manager, Oddfellows Hotels

We grab 60 seconds with Paul Cookson, general manager at quirky boutique hotel Oddfellows on the Park, to find out his biggest pet peeves, his future in the industry and who he’d love to invite round for dinner.

Highlight of your career so far? Opening Oddfellows On The Park – the whole process from the concept to final delivery was just an amazing experience. It was like giving birth to a wonderful new child!

If you could choose three guests, dead or alive, to dinner, who would you choose? I’d like to have the three people who have mentored me –  Richard Young from Lords of the Manor, Peter Hazlerigg from Regency Hotels, and of course, Jonathan Slater, who I’ve worked with for 15 years next year at The Chester Grosvenor and now at Oddfellows..

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Last hotel you stayed at? The Goring. It was impeccable.

Best piece of advice you ever received? Never cross the line – with your team especially. You need to respect your team to earn that respect back.

Biggest service bugbear? I was in a restaurant the other night where a waiter had his thumbs in the bowl. That completely put me off my meal. Basic cleanliness and appearance is so easy to achieve and there is no excuse to fall short of it.

If you went on Stars in their Eyes, who would you portray? Gary Barlow. He’s a Cheshire institution.

Which other company (inside or outside the industry) do you most admire and why? Inscape School in Cheadle– we are working with their young autistic adults to offer them ‘industry insight’ sessions. The staff really inspire me with their over-and-above dedication to these children that need that extra bit of support.

What’s the first thing you do when you get to work in the morning? Whichever hotel I land in first, Chester or Cheadle, I am walking the floors by 7.30am, along with my head housekeeper or maintenance manager.

Your first job? Straight out of my hospitality management degree, I became Trainee Manager at  Lords of the Manor. Working under the beady eye of Richard Young!

If you weren’t a hotelier what would you be doing? Undoubtedly a social worker. I have three boys and young teams at both hotels. It’s important that kids get the right start in life.  I pride myself on trying to provide that.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time? With Oddfellows, with more hotels under our umbrella. Doing exactly what I do now!

Your dream job? This one. Maybe with hotels in the Scottish Highlands and one in the Caribbean!

Something you wish you knew before joining the industry: The extremes that people will go to get a freebie!

In one word…

Favourite food? Roast beef

Favourite UK city? Canterbury

Favourite request on the jukebox? Black Velvet,

Favourite drink? Sauvignon Blanc

Favourite holiday destination? Scotland

Favourite film? Shawshank Redemption

Favourite gadget? Beard trimmer!

Favourite thing you own? My patterdale, Alf.

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