The Royal Horseguards: Honoured in the 2012 Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Hotel Awards

Hello everyone,

I hope you have not missed me too much whilst I have been away on my travels in the US for the last couple of weeks! I certainly seem to have brought the New York winter weather back with me – let’s hope it is not here to stay for too long and hopefully spring is on it’s way with some warmer weather to look forward to!!

So this week we were delighted to have been notified that the hotel had been included in the Trip Advisor 2012 Travellers Choice Awards which are designed to honour the best hotels – so the team here and I were really delighted to be recognised as one of the UK’s Top Luxury Hotels with a top twenty ranking!! This award means a huge amount to us as it is based on the reviews and opinions of the guests that have stayed at the Royal Horseguards. I am enormously proud of the team here for achieving this award as it really recognises their hard work, dedication and commitment to deliver exceptional, consistent five star service – it is no easy task to achieve day in and day out – and it shows what a dynamic high performing team they are! So tomorrow in our Executive team meeting I will be discussing ideas of how we are going to celebrate this fabulous accolade!!

Today I attended the London Advisory Board Meeting for Springboard where we had some lively and energetic discussions about what our objectives will be this year for fundraising. As I have posted before on this blog Springboard is a charity whose main objectives are to help young people achieve their potential, relieve unemployment and encourage young people to consider a job or career within hospitality – so a lot of our efforts are channelled into fundraising in order to finance some of Springboard’s initiatives such as Summer School for school leavers to give them a taste of working in hotels, Future Chef encouraging 12-16 year olds into careers in the kitchen and also a structured work placement process called Inspire that ensures the experience works well for the school, the student and the employer! It is a great team to be part of this charity as this industry has given many of us so many opportunities so this gives us the opportunity to give a bit back!

We are very proud to have three of our team in the kitchen that have come to work at the hotel via Springboard and are now on our Guoman Kitchen Apprenticeship programme – firstly Ramon Drummond who is 22 years old and heard about Springboard via the Job Centre Plus – his first experience of cooking was at the London Taste Show in 2007 where he saw Chefs creating menus and meal which he found fascinating and exciting and realized he wanted to do the same. Ramon’s mother was a chef so he has been inspired about working in the kitchen from an early age. Ramon enjoys creating meals from scratch using different ingredients and really enjoys the opportunity to attend college and learn more new skills thanks to the Guoman Chefs Apprentice course which he is looking forward to transferring what he has learnt at college into the kitchens at the Royal Horseguards Hotel.

Then we have Terrence Barrow who is 24 years old and also heard about Springboard from the Job Centre Plus – who always wanted to learn to cook but never had the opportunity to learn growing up so he decided to make it happen himself. He really enjoys working as part of the brigade for the One Twenty One Two restaurant in the hotel. He looks up to and is inspired by chefs like Heston Blumenthal. He is really enjoying the responsibility that he has been entrusted with in the kitchen and thrives on being encouraged to come up with new ideas and dishes on a daily basis.

And our third apprentice is Lucy Wigmore who is 17 years old and works in our Pastry Department under the watchful eye of our superb Pastry Chef Joanne Todd – Lucy became involved with Springboard as part of the Future Chef competition where she was mentored by our very own Executive Chef Ben Purton. She is now one of our kitchen apprentices and continues to go from strength to strength –she is also a keen Sea Cadet so holds her own in the kitchen environment!!

As a result of working with Springboard we have been able to provide an opportunity for these three rising stars to grow and develop a career within our industry and we look forward to working with them this year as they complete their apprenticeships.

Anyway time to get back to work – I hope you all have a fabulous and successful week ahead – more to follow from Royal Horseguards in a few days!


January Weather & Valentine’s Day

Hello everyone,

I hope you are all having a fabulous week – even though London seems to be cloaked with gray skies this week – although it has remained mild – but apparently the temperature is due to drop sharply tomorrow so it will definitely feel like more seasonal January weather from tomorrow! I normally have a holiday to the sun planned for January or February but it hasn’t worked out that well this year so I am having to wait until April  and at the moment it does feel like a long wait to see some decent sunshine!!

This week we have been having a mini staff appreciation week in the hotel with lots of different activities – our morning briefing meeting has been themed by different departments, we have had some great inter departmental competitions including cocktail making, cake decorating  and valet standards – which is a great opportunity for staff to showcase to other staff from different departments what they do and what standards they have to maintain – so it is a fun form of cross training! Today we had a wonderful themed Caribbean lunch in the staff restaurant -  the team did a fantastic job – I almost felt as if I was on holiday for the half an hour it took me to have lunch!

We seem to be racing through January at a rate of knots – yesterday we just launched our Valentines packages and menus! We have a delicious six course menu that we will be serving the One Twenty One Two restaurant and then a speciality afternoon tea designed by our lovely Pastry Chef Jo that will be served in the Lounge – or you can package them both up with an over night stay so there are plenty of options at your disposal! As Valentines is on a Tuesday this year  – and not everyone wants to celebrate on a mid week night we have all our Valentines’ offers open for both weekends both before and after the 14th February. Oh and Ladies if you don’t get asked the question you have been waiting for on the 14th February – don’t forget it is a Leap Year this year so you can take matters into your own hands on the 29th February……!!

Next week I will be attending the annual Master Innholder General Manager conference which is probably one of the most important events that takes place for General Managers in the UK – this year we have a record number of attendees – over 450 General Managers are signed up to attend – there is a fabulous line up of speakers notably Danny Meyer who has written a Bestselling book call ‘Setting the Table’ . There are also some interesting panel discussions – in particular one titles ‘Who need who’ which has a panel with representatives from the AA, Trip Advisor , Best Loved Hotels and other industry experts – and will be led by the indomitable Mr Jeremy Rata – Managing Director of Bovey Castle and one of my favourite hoteliers who is never short of things to say or shy in sharing his forthright views!!! So I am sure it is going to be a lively debate!! This is a great conference as it is designed to be relevant to managers of differing levels across the spectrum of our industry – from large five star corporate hotels to smaller family run hotels. It remains the only conference of it’s type that is organised by General Managers for General Managers   – and it is also one of my favourite events to attend as it gives you the chance to catch up with so many friends and colleagues in the industry that you do not often get the chance to see!!

Even though it is January – London as always has plenty to offer and if you are at a loose end this weekend here are a few thoughts of things to do – The London Bike Show is on at Excel form the 12-15th January – this is a 3 day show that provides a unique opportunity to meet some of cycling’s top stars, try out the latest bikes and watch some incredible live demonstrations. If you enjoy heritage and Royalty there are also Private Tours of Buckingham Palace still available until the 29th January – this gives you the chance to enjoy a special tour of the Palace’s fantastic state rooms with a private guide – the tour lasts approximately two hours and gives you a great opportunity to see our monarch’s London home at close quarters then I would highly recommend this tour. One other highlight is the Cirque du Soleil has returned to the Royal Albert Hall until the 16th February with TOTEM for four week of awe inspiring acrobatics!! What ever you end up doing I hope you have a spectacular weekend!

Anyway dear bloggers that is all for this week – I am afraid the blog front will be quiet for a week or so as I am heading across the Atlantic again to spread the word about the Royal Horseguards to lots of travel agents in New York and Washington – but I will be back with more updates upon my return!


Happy New Year!

Hello everyone,

Happy New Year
Firstly Happy New Year – I hope you all managed to enjoy the festive season hopefully with some well earned time away from work to enjoy some time with your family and friends – it was probably the mildest Christmas on record for London – although the weather has certainly been very dramatic with lots of gales and rain since the New Year.

The Royal Horseguards had a fairly quiet Christmas as London does tend to be much quieter over this period but a phenomenally busy New Year – it felt like every square inch of the hotel was fully booked and all the events seem to run really well and we have had some fantastic feedback and a lot of guests rebooking for this year – the fireworks were absolutely spectacular and there really is no better location opposite the London Eye than our hotel to see this fabulous display! I think London certainly out did Sydney this year with their firework display!

But now we are well into January and lots going on to keep us all busy – next week we start our second staff engagement survey – we have worked really hard on addressing all the areas the first survey told us  about so hopefully we will see our scores improve in a number of key areas – the team also have their Christmas Party to look forward to on Friday evening  – traditionally hotel teams tend to have their celebration in January as December is so busy for everyone – it is hard to find a date when the staff aren’t all working so at least in January the hotel is a bit quieter and we can organise for as many staff to attend as possible.

Today we were reviewing our sales and marketing plan  – and it hard to believe we are only just out of Christmas and already very busy  preparing for  Valentines Day and Easter – not to mention the Queen’s Jubilee which is planned to celebrate sixty years of The Queen’s reign on the 2-5th June  – there are going to be some great events in London for the Jubilee including a three day open air music festival in Hyde Park starting on June 2nd, a big concert outside Buckingham Palace, a royal procession to St Pauls Cathedral and of course one of the highlights will be the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant – one thousand boats will be involved in the twelve and a half mile long flotilla stretching from Hammersmith to Greenwich  – there will be vessels of all shapes and sizes. This will be the biggest river pageant to take place on the Thames since the reign of Charles II, three and a half centuries ago and it may not happen again for a very long time – so definitely a sight not to be missed!! I think the whole weekend is going to be one of the most memorable times our capital city has seen for some time

So dear bloggers this is my first blog for the new year – I hope your first week back to work has been relatively stress free despite the weather and  I hope 2012 is going to be a fantastic year for you all filled with success, prosperity and happiness – more from the life and times of our lovely hotel next week!


We Wish You A Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year!

Hello everyone,

I hope everyone is now full of festive spirit now that Christmas is only just round the corner! This week seems to have raced past faster than the speed of light – although we have been busy with a number of seasonal activities as well – on Tuesday we held our Staff Christmas lunch in which all the team were served in true five star style by the whole management team in the Whitehall Suite – it was a pleasure to look after so many staff members who work so hard all year round – and  the food and beverage team in particular who do such a fantastic job taking care of our guests to be able let them sit down and enjoy being waited on for a change!! It is one of my favourite staff events of the whole year and this year was no exception!

Today we have had the children in from Make a Miracle for their afternoon tea – they had just come from Madame Tussauds and it had taken them an hour and fifteen minutes to get to the hotel on the bus so they were all ready for something to eat by the time they arrived – in fact for a while there was complete silence once the afternoon tea was served as all their concentration and energy seemed to be on the food!!  Joanne our Head Pastry Chef had created the most beautiful afternoon tea for them which seemed to be quickly devoured -  and then Louis one of our luggage porters very gamely offered to play the part of Father Christmas and hand out the goodie bags we had put together for them – which was followed by a cupcake and gingerbread decorating competition – so pure excitement all round with 22 very exhilarated children!!

We were delighted this week to have had so many positive reviews on Trip Advisor that we are now ranked at 37 out of 1070 hotels in London – we have improved our ranking by over 20 places in the last twelve months as this time last year we were at 59 – so a great testament to the outstanding job the team have done here on delivering exceptional service to so many of our guests – service continues to be at the core of everything we do in the hotel and early next year Guoman Hotels will be launching a service leadership programme for all the managers that will be cascaded down to every member of staff so we hope to continue to build on the foundations we have put in place this year and aspire to improve our service levels even further next year!

Well dear bloggers as always time is against me and there are still a number of things I still need to get done today – so I want to take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful Christmas – this will be my last blog for 2011 – much more to come in 2012 with so many exciting events ahead  – starting off with Chinese New Year on January 23rd ( Year of the Dragon) and also the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the Olympics – so another fun filled exciting year ahead to look forward to! Whatever the year holds for you – I wish each and every one of you every success, prosperity, good health and much happiness & joy in 2012.


Make A Memory – Charity for Christmas

Hello everyone!

I hope you have all survived this wild weather we have been experiencing this week – on Tuesday night I thought the roof of my flat was going to blow off in the storm!! Luckily it did not but the noise of the wind and the rain made sleeping impossible so in the end I got up at 4.30am and came into work – and not being a morning person by any stretch of the imagination you can see how bad it must have been!!

This is probably our last busy week of Christmas functions in the hotel – our Food and Beverage teams have really been focusing on their daily up selling targets this week and taking great delight in beating their colleagues in the rooms division department  by managing to have a higher daily revenue in food and beverage than rooms on three occasions this week! We all get to benefit on these days as when F&B out perform rooms Ben Purton our Executive Chef normally brings us a little sweet treat to the morning meeting to celebrate their success!! So we all enjoyed the waffles with maple syrup – even if our waistlines did not appreciate it!!

In our morning meeting we start the meeting by taking a few minutes to highlight, discuss and celebrate the successes created in the business the day before as we are trying to spend more time focusing on what went well rather than the natural inclination to talk about the negative – so yesterday the Restaurant achieved it’s highest average check ever at £88, Chris Monico one of the sales team based in New York has had some fantastic appointments with a lot of interest for the hotel on a sales trip to South Florida, the M&E team confirmed £54k new business yesterday of which £12k is for January.

The Royal Horseguards Supports Make a Memory

This year we are not sending out Christmas cards from the hotel – instead we have worked with a local charity Make a Memory. The charity’s aim is to support young people to positively contribute to their local communities. They do this by advising and educating them of groups in the local community who need assistance, such as those experiencing hardship due to ill health or disability. They then provide young people with the support and guidance needed in order to plan and run fundraising activities which then fund respite events and experiences.
In 2011 they took children who have been affected by cancer, and their families to Disneyland. They have also organised an annual Halloween party, pamper evenings and trips to adventure parks. The trip to London, which includes an experience at The Royal Horseguards hotel, has been made possible by the fundraising of 6 young students. I think you will agree these families need a break and a bit of fun and happiness if only for a couple of days. Therefore, in the festive spirit, we asked the children to prepare a card themselves on how they see the hotel, in return we have organised a very special event for them with a Christmas Afternoon Tea which we will host next Thursday in true Royal Horseguards style. The picture we have chosen for our card has been drawn by 10 year old Eben Kriek, who has a 5 year old brother suffering from Leukemia  and if you want to see this extraordinary picture of our hotel check it out on Facebook  at Guoman Hotels.

It is hard to believe it is now a year since I started my weekly blog about the life and times of the Royal Horseguards – so I would like to thank the many of you who have followed the blog during this time – and I hope it has given you a little insight about us, our hotel and the ethos of our teams! There will be one more blog to go before Christmas and New Year so I will save my festive messages until next week – until then I hope you survive the arctic weather forecast this weekend and more from our lovely hotel next week!


The Acorn Awards & Future Leaders for the Hotel & Catering Industry

Hello everyone,

I hope you are all still enjoying this unseasonably mild weather in London – hard to believe we are almost into December and we have barely had one really cold day so far!! Hopefully I am not tempting fate by mentioning it on my blog so that I bring a big freeze down up on us!!

We have as ever been kept very busy in the hotel – this week we are upgrading one of our most important systems in the hotel – in our revenue department which is going to streamline a lot of our booking, rate loading and forecasting systems – all of which are quite laborious and manual at the moment so this upgrade to our systems is going to certainly make it so much easier for us to review key data for the hotel. So we are really looking forward to embracing these new processes and system as it will enable us to make much more strategic decisions for the hotel. So Vincent and Cyril in our Revenue Team have a few really busy weeks ahead of them trying to juggle the day job with a big system integration but I know they are looking forward to all the benefits the new system will bring to them – and even though I am not a very system savvy person – so am I!!!!

As we are coming to the end of the year I am spending a lot of time with Adam Morriss as we shape our sales and marketing activities for the next six months – this is a time where try to contact as many clients as possible to thank them for their loyalty to us especially those who have placed the lion share of their r business with us all year and also have the final discussions for agreements, contracts and potential business for next year – so we have a number of lunches and meetings to try and reach out to as many of our contacts we can. Our US team James, Chris, Michael & Charlene also do a sterling job of this on our behalf across the pond – hard to believe it is only four weeks to go until Christmas now – I don’t think I have ever known a year race past so quickly.

The Acorn AwardsThis week as well, we are keeping our fingers crossed for one of our star performers, Adrian Murfin, who works in Equus Bar and has been shortlisted down to the last ten finalists to win an Acorn Scholarship.  The Acorn Scholarship is an independent award created by previous winners of Caterer and Hotelkeeper’s Acorn Awards.

Now in its 10th year, the Scholarship’s objective is to seek out talented individuals within the catering and hospitality industry and help them realise their ambitions and reward their determination.

Adrian practiced his presentation in front of all the management team last week and very gamely took all the constructive feedback that they generously shared with him – but I have to say whether he wins or not we are all extraordinarily proud of him and it goes without saying that on behalf of everyone we all wish him lots of luck and success in his presentation in Exeter this week! I will keep you posted on how he gets on!

A few weeks ago I spoke about the Mentoring programme that we have embarked on in the hotel for our future leaders of tomorrow – I have my first meeting with Umesh Dalal who is currently working in our Meeting & Events Department now – having previously held the position of Assistant Restaurant Manager and aspires to achieve a senior management position within our industry – so I am looking forward to working with Umesh to help and assist him in any way that I can to enable him to achieve his aspirations. I think mentoring is something that has become very important the world of business – not to tell people how to solve their problems and challenges but to help people to step back and perhaps view things form a different perspective. I now have the joy of mentoring four different people at different stages of their careers and I have to say it is one of the more rewarding aspects of my job!

Speaking of job I am afraid dear bloggers I am going to have to take leave of you again as, as always there are a number of demands on my time this afternoon. I hope you all have a very successful week and not to stress you but just in case you have forgotten there are only 26 shopping days left until Christmas!!! If you are in the area pop in and treat yourselves to our Festive Afternoon tea – a great way to relax and unwind after a busy and frenetic few hours in the shops!!


Christmas Markets in London

Hello everyone,

I hope you have all had a spectacularly successful week – I have returned after my whirlwind visit to New York have just about recovered from the jet lag in order to embark on another very busy week!!

I enjoyed my frenetically busy week in the Big Apple working with our US sales team – there are now several hundred travel agents that know more about The Royal Horseguards than there were before we went! I also went to Boston for one day – I experienced the delights of the Amtrack Trains which took three and a half hours but was still quicker than flying and they have free wifi so at least it meant I could catch up on all my ‘day job’ General Manager e-mails while travelling! In the latter three days of the week we went out of Manhattan to New Jersey, Long Island and Westchester to visit different travel agents that were not so familiar with the Royal Horseguards – we took Magnolia Bakery Cupcakes (made famous by being featured in Sex and the City!!) I have to say they looked divine and I am not sure how I managed to resist the temptation to try one – but I did (which is just as well considering how much business entertaining I had to do over there!) – but the agents loved them so hopefully they will also assist them in remembering us when they are booking London next!!!

This week we have had some great meetings in the hotel – Carol Paddison ran a feedback session with all the Heads of Departments so that we can become more accomplished in giving feedback to each other – sometimes it is so easy to get caught up in being so busy we can forget to recognise the team members that go the extra mile and also it is important we are focused and practiced on giving constructive feedback when it is necessary as well! Feedback is an important part of our leadership culture and so this week we thought it would be good to focus on it and practice with each other. Then on Wednesday we also held a meeting for all the senior managers including myself who are mentoring up and coming apprentices and supervisors in the business to ensure we are nurturing our talent and future managers of tomorrow – we spent some time revisiting what the role of the mentee and mentor is and what each party hopes to get out of the meetings – I think this will be a great support to some of our future superstars as they continue to climb the ladder of success.

London continues it’s build up towards Christmas – the Southbank Festival which includes the Traditional Christmas Market opens on Friday 18th November and will be running until the 24th December – there will be over sixty traditional wooden chalets festooned in fairy lights all along the Queen’s Walk offering an array of different Christmas presents – if past years are to go by you can soak up a magical riverside Christmas atmosphere, browse for gifts, eat drink and there is also plenty to entertain the children including a big carousel ride. Also included during these dates are a Christmas Chocolate festival from 9-11th December and two real Food Christmas Markets the first on the 2-4 December and the second on the 16-23rd December – so absolutely loads to do and see on this key landmark site – for more information visit the Southbank Centre website.

Then a highlight to end the week tomorrow night I will be attending The Hotel Cateys which is an industry awards dinner that was created to recognise and applaud people and teams within the industry that achieve great things and also work so hard to support the UK’s hotel sector. There will be over 750 people attending this event so it gives everyone in our industry the chance to celebrate some great achievements and also network and re-connect with friends and colleagues that you don’t always get the opportunity to see very often. So I am certainly looking forward to a fantastic evening – made all the better for being on a Friday so I do not have to worry about getting up early for work the next day!!


Winter is around the corner!!!

Hello Everyone

I hope you are all having a spectacularly good week – even though it has felt as if Autumn and Winter are really here now that evenings are dark so early now after the clocks changing last week! Never mind only another six months and they will change back again – and in the meantime over the next few weeks London will be fully alight with sparkly glittery lights as London starts to prepare for the festive season with all the Christmas lights. It is a really magical time to walk around the city and every year they seem to get more impressive and extravagant – I was out running this morning in Hyde Park and noticed the Winter Wonderland is also starting to be built for this year as well – this is a great trip out for the family and will be in it’s fifth year this year – this year they will be having an ice rink for the first time. The Winter Wonderland runs from 18th November until the 3rd January – and if you are interested in more details check out further details here.

The week we have been doing a lot of business reviews with the Heads of Departments – specifically around their balanced scorecards and our progress with our Engagement Survey Action plan – there has been lots of positive progress made – but we are focusing on making sure we have really specific action plans in every department to ensure all the teams in that department understand what the department goals and objectives are and what needs to be done to achieve them. It is a very new process for the team here so there is still a lot of coaching and mentoring need to get this key process really embedded into the hotel. Our Engagement Survey is focused around 12 questions called the Gallup 12 (if you want to know more about these questions – just Google them and they will appear!) I have just placed a print out of them on the wall next to my desk to remind me to stay focused on them personally and challenge myself as a leader how I can make sure I am applying them consistently when I am walking round the hotel and interacting with the team.

We have also been working on our Apprenticeship programme – Carol Paddison our HR Business Partner had a meeting at Westminster Kingsway College today to discuss how we can continue to develop our apprentice programme further and also develop a bespoke programme for chefs for all the hotels in London. We have also decided to allocate everyone of our current apprentices a senior manager as a mentor to continue to support them as they develop their careers further within our hotel and group – so we will be starting this new initiative next week with a training sessions for the Mentors!

Last night we welcomed about thirty journalists to the hotel where we hosted an event to showcase our food and beverage departments in the hotel – and specifically the creativity of Ben Purton our Executive Head Chef and Joanne Todd our Head Pastry Chef. The event was held in the cellar which is a very historical room in One Whitehall Place as it contains the foundation stone for the building laid by William Gladstone in 1884 – it was also a room used a lot during the war as there was an underground passage here that used to link the building with the War Rooms and the Houses of Parliament – sadly it is blocked up now but it is a great reminder of how the room was used in a different era in time!  The team were also using the event to showcase some of the Guy Fawkes Afternoon Tea which we have on promotion in the Lounge at the moment – the journalists really seemed to enjoy the evening and we had some really fabulous feedback today as a result of the event.

Anyway dear bloggers another post coming to an end – I am afraid there will be radio silence on the blog next week as I will once again be taking the US by storm with a very frenetic and busy week of sales calls in New York and Boston – a big thank you needs to go out to our US sales team – to James Enright, Michael Laumanns and Chris Monico for securing some outstanding appointments for Adam Morriss our Director of Sales and Marketing and myself next week – there is going to be no worries about our time management next week  – practically every minute our feet will be on US soil has been accounted for!! Let’s hope the crazy weather New York has been experiencing will have moved on by the time we arrive in the Big Apple this weekend!

So I will be back with more updates form our lovely hotel on the week commencing 14th November!!


Halloween in London

Hello everyone,

I hope you have all had a fantastic week – despite the weather – it definitely feels as if Winter is well on the way now!

We have had another busy week at the Royal Horseguards starting on Sunday when we welcomed 55 Global Directors of Sales from Preferred Hotels to the Royal Horseguards and One Whitehall Place for dinner and it was also an opportunity to showcase our hotel to them – so we now have another 55 ambassadors that know a lot more about us and can sell our property around the world now! Preferred Hotels were having their global sales conference in London so it was a great opportunity for Adam Morriss our Director of Sales to spend time interacting and strengthening some key relationships  – particularly for some new markets around the world that we are interested in getting more business from.

Today we have our Staff Quarterly Meeting to update all the staff on what has been happening in the hotel and what we will be focusing on over the next three months – we will be spending some time focusing on the hotels vision, reviewing our engagement survey action plan and to make the update on the financial results more interesting we have put that together in the form of a Team Quiz with prizes to be won!  We are also working hard to increase our afternoon tea sales in the hotel – so in order to give everyone a bit more information on Afternoon Tea at the Royal Horseguards we have made a little film on a day in the life of an afternoon tea – which shows afternoon tea being prepared from scratch by the Pastry team right up to being served to the customer! Once we have shown the film we will then serve a sample of the afternoon tea to all the staff so they get to experience the product as well! We try to make this meeting a little more interactive and participative so it is not all about just going through things on PowerPoint presentations – but every quarter we do have to challenge ourselves to think of new ways to be creative with presenting key business messages.

Following the Staff Quarterly Meeting we are holding a staff social evening – organised by our Social Committee in the hotel – so we are all having a buffet and drinks in a  bar close to the hotel –it is a proven statistic that staff engagement is often improved if people feel they have good friends at work – so it is important we provide a platform away from work where people can get to know other staff outside of their own department  – and we can live up to our motto that ‘we work hard and play hard!’ So I am sure the Opal Bar are all ready for our lively team to arrive tonight – and hopefully the DJ has remember to bring his Abba Gold CD along as well!!

Anyway duty calls and I need to get to my next meeting on time so will have to finish off for now – I hope you all have a fabulous weekend and enjoy the benefit of the extra hour on Sunday due to the clocks going back – and don’t forget Halloween on Monday as well – there is a lot going on in London for Halloween this weekend – London Eye, London Dungeon and Fortnum and Mason all have events on for Halloween for more information check out Visit London.


October Half Term & The Halloween

Hello everyone

I hope you have all had a fantastic week and enjoyed these last few days of sunshine.

This week we have been focusing on the forthcoming renovation to our meetings and events space in One Whitehall Place – on Monday I attended a meeting at our corporate offices at Heathrow to review the investment we needed to be able to upgrade this space. One Whitehall Place is made up of some glorious grade 2 listed rooms which are beautiful examples of Victorian architecture  – they were fully renovated about 10 years ago but even though the rooms are full of character and heritage it is time to invest in their appearance by carrying out a soft refurbishment which means we will work with English Heritage – as you cannot renovate any listed areas without having their consent -  and agree a scheme to update the carpets, curtains and redecorate the whole venue! I had a meeting with Lorna Griffiths, our designer on Friday so it is all systems go now – although  it will still be a few months until it comes to fruition as with all projects like this there is a quite long lead time to getting the right permissions and – even once the carpet is designed – it will take at least 10-12 weeks for the manufacturer to make it – as always all the things you want to happen quickly take longer than you would like – but this in particular will be worth waiting for and will give our venue a much needed fresher and more luxurious look and feel.

Half term is fast approaching next week and as always London has lots to offer – many of the museums will have special exhibitions on such as the V&A museum which has the  Museum of Childhood  which has recently had an  extensive refurbishment,  The museum has been amassing childhood-related objects and toys  since 1872 and continues to do so. There are regular exhibitions upstairs and the V&A Museum of Childhood has plenty of hands-on activities for kids and special events at weekends and during school holidays, while the café helps to revive flagging grown-ups.

Halloween is just round the corner as well and there are plenty of kids activities in the city to keep you occupied for that as well such as the London Eye is promoting a wicked witch capsule. Also, Maltida the Musical is due to open at the Cambridge Theatre on October 25th which is adapted form Roald Dahl novel – we are so fortunate in London as it is such a dynamic city with so much to see and do and the October Half Term is a perfect week to visit the city as it is not so frenetically busy with tourists as it can be in the summer sometimes – hopefully the weather will hold and the sun will shine down which makes it perfect for sight seeing as well!

We have had a busy week in the hotel and our Chocolate Afternoon tea sold well as part of Chocolate Week last week – our next special afternoon tea will be for Guy Fawkes so will be available form the 31st October – our pastry chef Jo is busy finalizing the menu for it now – so I will of course keep you posted!!
Anyway dear bloggers that is all for my update this week – you will not hear from me next week as I am taking a weeks holiday but I will be back the week after with more updates from the Royal Horseguards – so I wish you all a very successful week next week – and I also want to wish our newly appointed Inventory Manager Lukas Vaverka the very best of luck in running the Amsterdam marathon this weekend – he is hoping to achieve it in three hours – which is a phenomenal time it is  for someone like me that takes just over an hour to run six miles anyway.