David Connell has already started the year pretty well. In March he was granted Master Innholder status – one of the most highly-regarded honours in the industry – and now he is gearing up for one of the biggest spa openings of the year in his post as general manager at South Lodge Hotel.
Part of the Exclusive Hotels and Venues Group, Connell joined the portfolio over 10 years ago, when a position for restaurant manager at Pennyhill Park came up and he moved from London to take up the role. From there he first stepped into full-time management at Lainston House Hotel, another one of the group’s properties, before being approached for the head honcho hat at South Lodge.
That was 2013 and he has spent the past five years fine tuning the product offering at South Lodge Hotel, ensuring that it stays ahead of its competitors in terms of style, service and value. Upon joining he said that the autonomy given to him to steer and change the way the business was encouraged by the portfolio’s very ‘open-minded ownership’, was something he very much enjoyed from day one.
This summer will see the spa launch at South Lodge, a project that has been in the pipeline for some time. Construction began on the three-storey, £11m wonder towards the end of December 2016, with the ambition clear from the start; to make South Lodge one of the UK’s top leisure destinations. For Connell, this new development will give him the chance to master all the complexities that comes with running a luxury spa in addition to the hotel.