Michele Mella certainly gets our vote as one of the hospitality industry’s most charismatic figures. As general manager as a one of the best-loved country house hotels in the Cotswolds, he excels in his role at Barnsley House that is a world away from where he started out his career.
With more than 25 years in the hotel sector, he first found his feet in London working as a room service attendant at Claridges. He spent six years here before moving on to The Dorchester to a similar role. Working at two of the most prestigious hotels in the capital – which at that time were real institutions – for over nearly a decade, he perfected the art of great hospitality catering for some of the world’s most high profile guests, from royalty to global leaders.
He says: “I think that helped me to put things into perspective– if you are a human being, you look after people, if you are passionate about the industry, it doesn’t matter who it is, I do it because I want to do it.”
When the bright lights of London became a bit too much for Michele, he moved out to the Cotswolds and found himself at Calcot Manor in 1998. The 35-bed boutique hotel has carved itself a hugely successful reputation in the country house market since it opened its doors almost 30 years ago, and Michele quickly became a guest and staff favourite. He took on a number of roles here, including restaurant manager and deputy general manager, until 2009, when Richard Ball, chairman of the Calcot Collection asked Michele to go and head up the brand’s newest project, Barnsley House ‘just for a few weeks’.
A few years, one major renovation project and a careful hiring process went by, and Michele wasn’t going anywhere. He has become a firm foundation on which the ethos Barnsley has been built on and now sitting on the board of directors for the Calcot Collection – consisting of Calcot Manor, Barnsley House + Village Pub, Lord Creme Arms and The Painswick – he embraces the chance to have a real influence in the business and share his passion with like-minded people.
“When people get to know me, I’m all hugs and kisses; you can’t really do that in the Dorchester or Claridges!” he laughs.
His professionalism and expertise are still used however, just in a more relaxed manner and this is where he has really found his niche.