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Interview: Getting to know ‘the Farncombe family’

Farncombe

Fresh from winning Boutique Hotelier’s Team of the Year award, the staff at Farncombe Estate talk job satisfaction, the challenges of the past year and their plans for the future.

Deena Bestwick, HR, Farncombe Estate

Can you briefly describe your job role?

My role is providing support in all departments, starting with the HR team and then across all the Estate’s businesses and team as a whole, from the top to the bottom. If an issue is not handled by myself directly, it is part of my role to escalate to the right person that can help.

Every day is different. From issuing contracts, letters, working on the HR system, organising training, keeping trackers on everything so I have information to hand, plus fun things like issuing our team reward incentives – “wow cards”, birthday cards to the whole team, arranging bouquets of flowers to be delivered to the team for their special occasions, to awards for long service.

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I love the fast pace of hospitality – organisation is the key to the role. And obviously a sense of humour! The variety of my role is something I enjoy – I’ll be asked “how do I join the company pension” one moment, and then to focus on staff accommodation needs the next. It keeps me on my toes.

What’s been the most challenging part of your role over the last 12 months? How have you felt supported in this?

Furlough! The closures and the re-openings. It was the great unknown. At times it was relentless with all the last minute changes and, at times, lack of information the Government gave us. I feel as a department we supported each other and we excelled in the challenges. There were some long days and even some late nights but our goal of communicating to the whole team as often as possible was definitely fulfilled, and we had lovely feedback throughout.

What makes Farncombe different to other hospitality employers?

The family factor, you are not an employee number but a name and an individual. We are one Farncombe family, in it together come rain or shine – or Covid!

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Right here if they will still have me!

Vipul Kapur, Hotel Manager, Dormy House

Can you briefly describe your job role and responsibilities?

I am the Hotel Manager at Dormy House, and I am responsible for the day to day running of our award winning hotel.

How has your position evolved since the pandemic?

It has been a steep learning curve. We need to think about the safety of our teams’ and guests’ more than ever. Every little detail in everything we do needs to be constantly reviewed with the ever-changing needs of the current scenario, to ensure we are on top of our game with an engaged team who will in turn create some heartfelt memories and experiences for our guests.

What’s been your biggest learning curve since your promotion?

Managing people in a very different environment, in a very different way to before, to ensure we stay engaged, focused and continue to build on our successes.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Growing with the Farncombe family and adding value each day.

Ed Jessop, House Manager, Foxhill Manor

Can you briefly describe your job role and responsibilities?

My job role as a House Manager is to ensure five-star quality service to all guests during their stay with us, in a warm and friendly way to create our distinctive home from home feel. As a House Manager we act as host, waiter, bartender, receptionist, concierge, driver and a friendly face to all our guests.

How has Farncombe evolved during your time and do you think the team is seen as an important part of this evolution?

I see Farncombe Estate as a continuously evolving and innovative establishment that puts time into their staff, into our training, and that helps us all grow with the Estate. The Fish is a perfect example of this innovative approach, with amazing quirky creations like our Hilly Huts, new Hideaway Huts and Treehouses.

What excites you about your job role?

I get excited to meet new and interesting people from across the world. It excites me to share Foxhill Manor with our guests and to help ensure they have as memorable, enjoyable and relaxing a time as possible, in hope to see them return in the future.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

In five years’ time I see myself leading a team of excellence, producing incredible service, food, experiences and laughs for all who step foot on our lovely Estate.

Meg Riach, Spa Therapist Supervisor, Dormy House

Can you briefly describe your job role and responsibilities?

I work in the House Spa as the Spa Therapist supervisor. My role includes supporting the team and maintaining a high quality of service which keeps guests wanting to return.

How has Farncombe evolved during your time and do you think the team is seen as an important part of this evolution?

My journey at Farncombe first began in 2012 when the House Spa first opened. Since then, I have seen the estate evolve and become more unique. The company are constantly creating new ideas and plans to make us stand out. The team plays a huge part in the customer experience, we are the faces of Farncombe and make Farncombe what it is.

What excites you about your job role?

I’m very lucky to work in an environment where everybody is happy! The thing that excites me the most is receiving feedback from clients after their treatment, it makes me feel appreciated and valued knowing what I have provided has made a positive impact on their day.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

In five years I’d like to be achieving my 13 years working at Farncombe Estate (and if it’s anything like the last eight years it’ll soon be here.) Hopefully, I’ll continue to further my career and be part of the exciting plans for the Spa’s future.

I’m very lucky to work in an environment where everybody is happy!

Meg Riach, Spa Therapist Supervisor, Dormy House

Megan Pickering, Events Manager, Farncombe Estate

Can you briefly describe your job role and responsibilities?

I am the Events Manager for the Estate, predominantly looking after events at The Fish, Foxhill Manor & the Hillside Hangouts, our new self-let houses brand. I look after the planning side of things, from arranging your family birthday meal at The Fish to your whole wedding at Foxhill Manor and your fun filled weekend at Hillside Hangouts, with everything in between.

How has Farncombe evolved during your time and do you think the team is seen as an important part of this evolution?

Nothing ever stands still at Farncombe! Things are always changing and we’re always looking at improving the services we offer. Our new Hillside Hangouts are probably some of the most exciting new product I have seen, so it’s a fantastic opportunity to be involved with this. With the nature of the industry we’re in, it’s people-centric so in order to provide excellent service it starts with the team behind it. My role has evolved and will continue to evolve with our Hillside Hangouts brand especially becoming even more guest focused, as we are offering a personal ‘Host’ service to our guests.

What excites you about your job role?

I love organising, as boring as it sounds. I love going through the final details with guests and planning their event with them, whether it’s just an evening on the Feasting Deck at The Fish, or an exclusive use booking of one of our properties. I like seeing the events come to life and the wide spectrum of bookings we get to work on.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Still planning away I’m sure. Hopefully with an expanded portfolio of Hillside Hangouts and continuing to plan exciting events and bookings for our guests here on the Estate.

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Eamonn Crowe

The author Eamonn Crowe

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