Crowned officially as ‘The World’s Greatest General Manager’ last month, industry legend David Morgan-Hewitt, managing director of The Goring is certainly an influential character in the world of boutique hotels. We caught up with him to find out which of his impressive career moments make his top ten.
1. Getting my job at The Goring
I still remember the day when George Goring agreed to hire this larger than life character as his restaurant manager, who wore very bright shirts and was not quite what The Goring was used to. At the beginning of December this year, I will have completed 25 years at the hotel and the last nine as managing director. To have found a family like the Gorings was like winning the lottery. They are unique amongst London hoteliers. Each of the four generations who have steered this great ship has had hospitality flowing through their veins. To work with such a family can only be described as a fabulous achievement – certainly from my point of view if not from theirs!
2. Winning a Master Innholders Scholarship to Cornell University in 1997
We have so few opportunities to step outside our day to day role and concentrate on educating ourselves. My two weeks on the General Managers programme opened my eyes to new people, to new ideas and to new experiences. It was also a huge sense of achievement to have been given one of these scholarships in the inaugural year of what has proved to be one of the most exciting investments in the future of hotel management.
3. Being invited to become a Master Innholder
George Goring was a Master Innholder. Therefore, I was acutely aware of the important work that the MI’s were doing for our industry. To become a member you have to have achieved not only in your day job but within the industry as a whole. The ethos is all about giving back. It is all about the future and the young people within our industry. To have been made an MI brought a huge sense of achievement for me personally.
4. When I became a Liveryman of The Worshipful Company of Innholders
The Liveries are ancient bodies who have continued to invest in education and those less fortunate than many of us. The WCI has re-connected with its roots and has actively sought new Liverymen from within our industry.
5. I have been fortunate enough to have been linked to two Catey Awards
Somehow or other I was honoured as Manager of The Year in 2010 – just quite how this happened I have absolutely no idea. It goes without saying I was immensely proud of this achievement. However, it was The Catey for Independent Hotel of The Year (which we won the previous year) which gave me the most pleasure. No hotel is about an individual, it is about a group of wonderful and highly professional people who work tirelessly to care for the many guests who walk through their doors. The staff at The Goring are its greatest asset. Each and every one of them constantly thrills and surprises our guests, they deserved this award and it has pride of place on a plinth in our bar.
6. Winning Virtuoso Top Hotel in the World – Best of the Best
This award further underlined the magnificent job being performed by the staff.
7. Being appointed The Honorary Catering Adviser to The British Army
This post has existed for many years and previous incumbents have included Giles Shepherd, Terry Holmes and Sir Rocco Forte. My initial appointment was for three years which was then extended to five and I have just been re-appointed for another three. The army faces many of the same problems as we do when trying to feed people but of course there are other unique circumstances which come into play. I meet so many incredible people so dedicated, so loyal and so brave. They are an inspiration to me and it was an enormous achievement to have been given this appointment. I also rather like dressing up as a Major General which is the rank I now hold in The Army.
8. The Royal Warrant was granted to the hotel in January 2013
We were the first hotel to be granted a Royal Warrant by Her Majesty The Queen. I was appointed The Grantee for this Warrant. The Royal family have had a connection with The Goring for many years. This mark of recognition was a huge achievement.
9. Becoming Chairman of Pride of Britain
The Goring has been a member of Pride of Britain for many years. This is a wonderful collection of independent hotels across the country. It is a broad church and each property is unique. However, they share one common thread – the art of hospitality. These independently owned and run hotels really understand traditional hotel keeping. They welcome their guests with open arms and create magical experiences for them every day of the year. It was an enormous honour to have been elected their Chairman, a post I am still honoured to hold at the moment.
10. Our involvement in The Royal Wedding
Nothing will ever top that wonderful weekend in April 2011. Kate Middleton and her family stayed at the hotel the night before her wedding. It was a unique experience. The hotel was closed off to the outside world, surrounded by police and besieged by press.
However, inside our doors the most wonderful family wedding was taking place. The pomp and ceremony and crazy world attention was shut out as we closed our doors on this wonderful family and their friends.
Overnight The Goring became the most famous hotel in the world. However, it is the extra ordinary memories which the weekend created for all of us who worked here which we will never forget.
I have led a charmed life so far and if the next 25 years are as exciting and rewarding, I will indeed be lucky!