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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
This 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!!
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!!
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!!
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.
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.
I hope you are all having a fantastic week – London has been bathed in sunshine for the last few days which has been a very welcome relief from all the wind and rain we were battered with over the weekend!
As always there has been plenty keeping us busy at the hotel this week – on Tuesday we were attending an internal briefing at one of our ‘cousin’ Thistle hotels – The Kingsley which is managed by the divine Johan Sweepers. Johan was awarded the top accolade for Thistle as General Manager of the Year for the Thistle group so we were in very esteemed company – but if you are looking for a great hotel that has just been transformed with a £10 million renovation – I can highly recommend The Kingsley located in Bloomsbury near Covent Garden!
It is London Fashion Week next week and all the Guoman hotels are very excited about our designer doorman hat collection with a renowned London designer that is due to be launched on Friday 16th September. We have commissioned London based milliner Justin Smith Esquire to create a bespoke, hand made Guoman Doorman hat! Each Guoman Hotel Doorman hat has been modified by design to highlight the character and personality of each individual hotel. The hats will be worn by all Guoman hotel’s doormen from Friday 16th September – and they will essentially become a long standing iconic part of their uniform. The Royal Horseguards also get to play a starring role in the launch of this iconic initiative as we are hosting a big launch party for all the great and the good in the fashion world on Friday evening – and we will also have some of Justin’s couture collections exhibited in the hotel over the next four weeks – so I am sure we will have an exciting fun filled night ahead of us – if you would like to find out more about Justin and his work then do visit his website.
This afternoon I will be spending time with all the Heads of Departments reviewing their balanced scorecard presentations – this year we have been much more defined about what we want to achieve within the business during the course of this financial year – so we have been very clear in setting targets for the business overall and building them into a very concise business plan – and then each member of the management team has those plans cascaded down into their departmental action plans – so it is a good opportunity to see what progress is being made and what has been achieved , what is being focused on in the month ahead as well as check if any support is required to help each department achieve it’s objectives.
If you are stuck for something to do this weekend there is the Great River Race in London – which is London’s River marathon. This race attracts over 300 crews form all over the world. Every level of competitor can take part, from those who enjoy fun, fancy dress and charity stunts to serious sportsmen and women who are in it to win it! The race is run over a challenging 21 mile course past many classic landmarks – including of course the Royal Horseguards! It starts at Millwall Dock Slipway, London Docklands at 1.40pm and finishes at ham – the winner is expected to cross the finish line at about 16.40pm. It promises to be an exciting race with over 2,000 competitors – so it will be quite a sight to behold on the river – if you would like more details then check out The Great River Race Website for more details!
Anyway unfortunately once again my blog time is up for another week as there are people outside my office demanding my presence at a meeting – so I wish you all an exceptionally good weekend and will be back with more updates next week!
I hope you are all having a fabulous week – hopefully made all the better because there is a Bank Holiday on the horizon!
Life has been as busy as usual at the Royal Horseguards – Adam Morriss our Director of Sales has just returned from an action packed trip to the west coast of America – we continue our programme of raising the profile of our hotel and brand in this very key market for us – and there are now another two hundred plus travel agents from Los Angeles and San Francisco that are more familiar with our lovely hotel and we will be looking forward to welcoming their travellers soon – as we already have a number of enquiries and booking that we are finalising this week. It is a tough week to be constantly travelling so Adam has done a great job to bring so much new business back with him – and of course we are very grateful!!
Our company recently undertook an Engagement survey across all staff in all the hotels in the group and next week I will be attending our Annual General Managers Conference – and one of the areas we will be reviewing will be the results for the company and looking forward to receiving our own individual hotel survey results as well. So this week I have been preparing how we will communicate our results into the team here – and also planning a session for all the management team so there is a really clear understanding about what staff engagement is and why it is so important within our business. It is a proven statistic that if you have engaged and motivated staff that there is a direct correlation to sales and profit. Obviously this is not always easy to achieve but it is something myself and the team here will be spending a lot of time on together over the next few months.
The week we also had some good news and some sad news – the good news is that one of our stars James Robson who works as our Inventory Manager in our Reservations and Revenue Department has been promoted – the sad news is he will be leaving The Royal Horseguards to take up a new appointment at one of the largest hotels in our group the Marble Arch Thistle. Marble Arch’s gain is definitely our loss – but sometimes you have to let your stars go so that they can continue to grow and flourish in their careers – we will miss him but wish him every success in his new role!
Another big celebration happening in London this weekend is the Notting Hill Carnival which has been held every August bank Holiday since 1966 – it is the largest festival celebration of it’s kind in Europe. Every year the streets of West London come alive with twenty miles of vibrant colourful costumes, hundreds of Caribbean food stalls and the sounds of traditional steel drums bands – it is definitely one of London’s liveliest and most exciting events of the year!
Anyway dearest bloggers – I hope what ever you are doing over the bank holiday weekend you have a fantastic time and hopefully a well earned break from work as well!
I hope you are all having a fantastic week – we certainly are here at the Royal Horseguards – after months of planning Staff Appreciation Week has finally arrived!!! So we are one day in and it has been a packed day – I had to be up at 5.15am this morning to get to the hotel early to be able to be there for ‘Welcome to Work!’ which is where myself and several of the management team welcomed all the team in this morning with fresh coffee, tea, croissants and muffins!! We moved on to our morning walk round with a big bowl of chocolate and then onto our first morning meeting of the weeks which was a Mexican theme organised by Front Office – by 10.30am my diet for the week was already truly shot for the week – and we still had a cake decorating competition and the Olympic themed lunch to go…..!!
So we are one day in and have a packed week ahead with departmental meetings, staff quarterly meeting (done in the theme of a TV show), star of the day meet and greet, softball in the park and finalising the week in style with a big awards party!! And of course making sure we are not taking our eye off the ball and ensuring we are taking great care of our guests!! This week is all about recognising some of the outstanding individual and team performances – as well as taking time to show appreciation for the efforts of so many of our team members who work at the coal face of our business day in day out in the laundry, the wash up, in maintenance, housekeeping, to mention just a few without who the hotel would not be able to operate! So more to share with you next week but this week promises to be very special for our team and I am sure we will collect some great stories to tell to keep us fully entertained until the next one – and believe you me if you could see some of the awesome out takes from some filming we did for the staff quarterly meeting with the Chef, Stefan our Restaurant Manager and Bechir our Operations Manager – I think you would be laughing for a whole year as well!!
There has been much excitement in Horseguards Parade just next door to the hotel as they get ready for a practice match for the Olympic Beach Volleyball next year. There have been 120 trucks delivering 2,274 tonnes of sand which hopefully should be enough to fill one competition court and some warm up and training courts. The stadium built for the match due to be held this weekend will hold 1,500 people so a fraction of the one that will be built for the Olympics which will hold 15,000 people – so we are looking forward to a busy weekend ahead in the Whitehall area this weekend!!
I am not sure how many of you have been watching the new TV programme called ‘The Hour’ which is a six part drama about being behind the scenes of a topical news programme in 1956 – we are all completely glued to it as some of the scenes have been filmed in our very own historic One Whitehall Place! If you have missed it on TV then I am sure you can still catch it on ITV iplayer – highly recommended!
Anyway dear bloggers I am going to have to love you and leave you for another week – I hope you all have a successful week – and more to follow about life at The Royal Horseguards next week!
I hope you have all had a fantastic week – especially all my regular readers who will be enjoying their summer holidays now the schools are out for the summer! I have to say it has been a complete pleasure to commute into London on the train this week as you can even get a seat! At long last it seems to have stopped raining in London and the weather has finally brightened up and we have even been able to enjoy some sunshine which has been great for the guests using our Terrace!
Trafalgar Square was an exciting place to be this week – as London celebrated the one year count down to the Olympics. We are so fortunate to have these landmark events just a stone’s throw from the hotel – it was a really vibrant and exciting atmosphere with all the great and the good in attendance and of course some of the top British athletes now on the final push of their training and aspiring to be medal winners. Team GB did so well in Beijing so of course as a nation we are all very hopeful we are going to have another successful games especially as it is on home ground!
If you are looking for something to do this weekend, Battersea Park is playing host to the Foodies Festival – a celebration of all things food. Activities include interactive cookery demos at the ‘Chef’s Theatre’ (with the likes of Murano’s Angela Hartnett or The Ivy’s chef Gary Lee on stage), a pop-up ‘Cook School’, drinks master classes, and kids’ cookery master classes, plus there will be stalls from over 100 food and drink producers, as well as a bar tent and dedicated area for hot food – so certainly plenty to see and do!
I was delighted to welcome a new client to the hotel today – Rowena Appel arrived in from the United States this morning – she is bringing a large group of 185 people to the hotel next April for five nights so we were finalizing all the arrangements for her group as there is an amazingly busy schedule to get arranged for them that needs to be planned down to the last detail well in advance – she has managed to rise above the jet lag ( something I really struggle to do!) and has had a whirlwind schedule ever since she stepped off the plane – her levels of energy and stamina are certainly to be admired! Rowena travels extensively around the world and loved the new look of the hotel. This group has not been to London since 2001 so we are delighted to be the ones to entice them back to our vibrant city!
Anyway dear bloggers only a short update this week as time is against me – more about the life and times of the Royal Horseguards Hotel next week!
I hope you have been having a good week – despite the weather!! It seems as if the skies have been gray and overcast and it has not stopped raining for about two weeks now – although allegedly there is better weather on the way for the weekend!
This week we have been doing lots of business planning – we are putting the very final touches to our Annual Strategic Business Plan, on Wednesday we held our monthly Head of Departments meeting where we shared our goals for the next financial year with the whole management team and also presented the new balanced scorecards that each member of the management team will be using in their department to track their goals and targets next year and these have now been carefully aligned with our business plan.
We continue to finalise all the details of our Staff Appreciation week – one of our activities is all of the senior managers will be going back to the floor during this week – so I will be undertaking a breakfast shift in the kitchen – I used to work as a breakfast chef many years ago as a student so I am sure it will all come back to me – I think there are about 350 people in house the night before so let’s hope they will all have a fantastic breakfast as a result of my cooking without any major disaster occurring in the kitchen – although I am much less of a morning person now so it could be interesting all round!!! Some of our other ‘placements’ are as follows Bechir our Director of Operations is going to work in Housekeeping as a maid!! Adam our Director of Sales is going to work with Concierge, Victoria, our Rooms Division Manager is going to work in the Restaurant and Ben Purton, Executive Chef is going to work on Front Desk – I am sure all these new ‘trainees’ will enjoy their work experience and gain a valuable insight into departments they do not usually manage – I am not sure who is going to tell Carol in Human Resources that she is going back to the floor in maintenance……….! Anyway I will be sure to keep you all posted!
It is hard to believe we are now only a year away from the Olympics – so next week I have couple of meetings planned to review our operational logistics alongside other Guoman and Thistle hotels – as we still have a lot to plan for to make sure we can service and more importantly our suppliers can service our business adequately for a sustained period of time at very high capacities – despite a number of restrictions around accessing central London during this time. I did not manage to get any Olympic tickets – but some of our team will have and we also need to make sure our team are able to make the most of the opportunity of working in an Olympic city as this is something that will probably happen only once in most people’s careers! Yesterday visitors to Trafalgar Square were able to get a close up look at the Olympic Torch. It’s in the capital as part of a nationwide tour. 8,000 torchbearers will eventually carry the Olympic Flame on a 70-day relay finishing up at the opening ceremony just under a year away.
I am a founder member of Leading Ladies of London which is a female five star General Manager Association – so we will be having our monthly meeting next week – but a key part of our role is to mentor other females who want to be successful in the hospitality industry so to support that we are all joining the Savoy Society Mentoring Scheme and we have a half day training programme next week on our role as mentors. We are also planning our first networking event for senior females in our industry which we are naturally very excited about as Cartier in Bond Street have agreed to host our first event in September.
Another star we have within our midst here at the Royal Horseguards is Adrian Murfin, one of the bartenders in our Equus Bar who has invented a cocktail called the ‘Undergrad’ which was inspired by one of our guests who was staying with us with her family who was in fact going to be an undergrad in London this September. He invented the cocktail especially for her and her family and then found a competition on line offering a winning prize of a three day trip to Paris for the winner. The Undergrad cocktail is made of up Chambord which is a black raspberry liqueur, fresh apple and apple juice, calvados, raspberry puree, orange bitters and Fever-Tree ginger ale – it is now a personal favourite of mine and we are all keeping our fingers crossed that Adrian’s cocktail will be the winning entry – the competition closes on August 13th and we will find out if he has been invited to the winner’s dinner and of course up to the stage to accept the grand prize. I will keep you updated but of course if you would like to try the cocktail for yourself before it becomes world renowned all you have to do is visit Equus Bar and ask Adrian to make you one!!!
Anyway will need to round off for now and get back to the business plan – but in the meantime I wish you all spectacularly fantastic weekends whatever you might be doing– hopefully with a bit of sunshine to enjoy and I will be back with more news from the Royal Horseguards next week!!
Well another week seems to have raced past at an alarming rate – this is probably our last week with a lot of corporate business in the hotel as most of the schools break up for the summer holidays today so we will start to see a lot more leisure guests from next week for the next six to eight weeks!
This week has always be full of activity – even though it is still only July we have started to finalise the plans for our Christmas decorations – I have to say I think this year we are going to surpass ourselves and the tree in the lobby is going to be a glittering master piece – our Christmas brochures also arrived so believe it or not we are already busy taking bookings!!!
The weather has finally held for the last two nights and we have been able to host some private events on our lovely terrace for some of our clients – as we have started to promote quality cigars to some of our guests it has become a popular evening destination for some of our guest who appreciate some fine wine and be able to enjoy their cigars in a tranquil setting! Not every hotel in London has the benefit of outside space so we are lucky to have such a large area at the back of the hotel that lends itself to so many uses – it is a real sun trap in the morning so our regular guests really enjoy having their breakfast out there and we have noticed quite a lot of outside clientele using it for breakfast meetings now we as well – so if you are looking for some fresh air and a great breakfast you know where to come!!
As I consider myself to be a connoisseur of chocolate I was very excited to welcome one of our pastry chefs back to the hotel after being away for a few days last week. We had sponsored Karolis Suidikas to attend Classic Fine Foods training session at Valrhona’s l’Ecole du grand chocolat in France – basically a course in chocolate!! I think by the sounds of it I would have quite like to have it attended myself but not so sure it would have been such a good investment for the hotel to send me! Anyway he has learnt a whole load of new skills on techniques, textures and style, presentation, afternoon tea pastries and petit fours – so no one is more excited than me to see the fruits of his labour appear on our menus. Tonight we will be introducing his handmade petit fours in our restaurant – and apparently there are some awesome chocolate desserts to come – so I need to find an urgent reason to have dinner in the restaurant soon – quickly followed by a visit to the gym!!!
We are continuing with our Employee Engagement survey this week - we have had 56% of our team complete it so far – so have another week to keep chasing everyone as we need to try and get as close to 100% as we can – it is the first time for a while our company have conducted such a survey. For a General Manager it is invaluable as it gives a great insight into how the team feel about working here – where we get it right and where we need to improve! We are counting down the days now to our Staff Appreciation Week which we will be running from the 8-12th August – we have got some fantastic things planned – including doing a staff quarterly meeting in the form of a TV show – which believe me is really a fabulous idea three months out but three weeks away is now starting to keep me awake at night as it does require a lot of creativity to pull it off – but I am sure with the help of the team we will pull it off – I have yet to tell Adam Morriss – our Director of Sales and Marketing that he is going to be the main anchor of the show with me – but as he is coming back from holiday next week and will be well rested so hopefully it will not take him long to get over the shock!!! But most of all I think it will be fun and I like the challenge of having to do something creatively different – I will keep you posted………!!
Anyway, another weekend is almost upon us – unfortunately it is forecast to rain all day tomorrow – I suppose to be expected as it is summer – now the schools are off and for those looking for something for the family to do the renowned Disney Cars 2 starting Michael Caine, Eddie Izzard, Owen Wilson and Vanessa Redgrave to name but a few – will be having it’s UK premier on Sunday 17th July at the Empire cinema in Leicester Square – could be fun to show up and see the stars!! I hope what ever you are doing you have a fabulous weekend and more updates from the Royal Horseguards to follow next week!
Another wet blustery day in London!! But allegedly there is better weather on the way!! However despite the weather the hotel has been really busy this week – we have had some large groups in house and our meeting rooms have all been fully booked as well! There was a break in the weather last night and we were finally able to host a BBQ on our terrace for eighty people that went off really well!
This week has been a busy week for industry events – I am part of a General Managers association called the Master Innholders and I am a member of the Executive committee – every year this organisation organises a General Manager conference in January – so we discussed the agenda for the next conference which is packed full of really interesting topics and discussion panels and some fantastic keynote speakers – there are usually about 400 attendees – it is the most high profile General Manager event of the year and the conference in 2012 looks as if it is going to shape up as one of the best ever – so would advise anyone interested to book early as it is going to sell out very quickly!
Our company and hotel have been working very closely with a charity called Springboard – which is a charity that for over 20 years have been helping young, unemployed and disadvantaged people into careers in hospitality, leisure and tourism – Guoman and Thistle hotels recently all worked collectively and raised £100, 000 for the charity – and today in the hotel we launched one of their annual initiatives of Summer School for school leavers to give them an opportunity of working in hotels all over London to get some valuable experience of our industry. I welcomed them and gave them a speech about my career to date and then Ben Purton our Executive head Chef set up some challenges for them to try cake decorating, making some canapés, identifying different ingredients etc – so all who attended today I hope you have a fantastic time on Summer school and hopefully this will be the start of some fantastic new glittering careers!!
So another busy week draws to a close with another one looming next week!! If you are at a loose end this weekend Hampton Court Palace Flower show is on, which is the world’s largest annual flower show – not only is there stunning floral displays to look at but you can also learn about growing your own fruit and vegetables, get tips on gardening and shop for all sorts of products – for more information check out – Hampton Court Flower Show.
So I wish you all a wonderful and relaxing weekend and will be back next week with more updates about our lovely hotel!!
I hope you have all had a good week and enjoyed the sunny weather after what has felt like weeks of non stop rain!! As usual we have had a frantically busy week here at the Royal Horseguards! Last night we hosted a bloggers event – where we invited some key travel and hospitality bloggers into the hotel to showcase our new renovation – as a dedicated blogger of note myself ( as I am sure you can all attest to!!) it was interesting to meet some full time bloggers – so thank you fellow bloggers for spending some time at the hotel last night and we will be looking forward to reading about your observations in due course! It is another example of how times have changed so much – in the past we would have relied on journalists writing about the hotel in a publication or magazine – but the ripple affect of having a blogger write about you can reach a much wider audience over a longer period of time – so blogging is definitely the way to go!!
This week we have also done a lot of planning for our Staff Appreciation Week which is going to take place on the week commencing the 8th August – our financial year ends on Sunday – so it is Happy New Financial Year on Monday – but as we embark up on a new year I think it is important we reflect upon and recognise many of the individual and team successes that have been achieved over the last twelve months – so we will have a whole week focused on recognition and appreciation – particularly for the unsung heroes who undertake a lot of the back of house duties and are often the backbone of the hotel and without them working so diligently so many of us would unable to do our jobs and most importantly take care of our guests.
Our Wimbledon Afternoon tea has been really popular again this year – but as the finals approach this week and Wimbledon draws to a close for another year – our Afternoon Tea will be reinventing itself again! So as the school holidays approach we have decided to launch a Children’s Afternoon Tea. So in order to get some constructive feedback I have invited my six year old niece Bella in for tea on Monday – you can always rely on a six year old to tell you in no uncertain terms what they think!
Anyway the weekend once again beckons – so I wish you all a sunny and relaxing few days and will be back with more updates next week!
I hope you have all had a successful and busy week – our hotel has been exceptionally busy – last week in particular when London felt it was bursting at the seams! We had Obama in town, a huge global conference for ULAR which brought thousands of people into the city, it was Chelsea Flower show and then to finish on a high it was the Champions League match between Manchester United and Barcelona – not being a football fan myself I am reliably informed was a fantastic match which Barcelona won!!
This week we have been focusing on the Olympics again – more from an operational point of view as we have a lot to plan for including our staffing plans such as how our teams will be able to get into work – will we need to accommodate some staff during this period. It is also their Olympic city as well so how we will plan holidays and time off so it is fair and equitable so those staff that have tickets for the Olympics will be able to plan to go with their friends and family. A lot of roads around us will be closed so how we will work with our suppliers – most of our deliveries will have to come in during the night as no vans or lorries are allowed into inner London during the day– so we have a huge amount of logistics to plan for. We also had a presentation from the Metropolitan Police about security and crime prevention in our hotels during this time – which also gave us a lot of food for thought. So not a moment to lose and huge amounts to be done!!!
This week we have been doing a lot of work on finalising a big event we will be hosting here at The Royal Horseguards with our sister Guoman hotels for all our Diplomatic and Embassy clients. This is a segment of the business that is important to all of us – so it is a great opportunity to see a lot of people in one go and strengthen our relationships with these key clients – and for us of course not to miss a great opportunity to show off our newly renovated areas!!
If you like jewels – name me a woman that doesn’t!!! London is definitely the place to be next week as it is London Jewellery week and the week is packed with loads of activities all over the city including collection launches, fashion shows, exhibitions and loads more. For more information check out London Jewellery Week. Unfortunately I am going to miss all this excitement as this weekend I am flying over to New York to spend a week with our US sales team with a packed week of sales calls and showcases to raise awareness of our hotel and our other Guoman hotels! So New York I hope you are ready for the whirlwind I will be creating in the Big Apple with James Enright, Michael Laumanns and our newest addition to the team Christopher Monico. It is going to be a fast paced action packed week so there will be a little break from the blog next week while I take America by storm but I will be back as usual the week after!!!
I hope you all have a fabulous weekend the weather is forecast to be glorious so I will think of you all sunning yourselves while I jet over the Atlantic!!!
I hope you are all having a good week with minimal disruption from the dreaded ash that returned unexpectedly this week – thankfully because the weather patterns are so completely different this year it has not brought the whole country to a halt and touch wood everything seems to be back to normal now which I am very thankful for personally as well as I had planned to fly to Geneva this weekend to visit my sister!!
Our hotel has been exceptionally busy this week as there is so much going on in London this week including Chelsea Flower Show and the Champions League Final at the weekend so plenty to keep us all fully occupied this week!! Our Garden Par-Tea afternoon tea which is themed around gardens and floral flavours has been really popular – especially now the weather has improved so much guests really enjoy taking tea ( and drinks and cocktails as well!) outside on our newly renovated Terrace!
Yesterday we held our Viewpoint meeting which is a meeting I hold every quarter with representatives from every department in the hotel to hear and discuss their views on how they feel about working at the hotel. Yesterday we focused on communication and how effective our meetings are – we just held our General Managers Communications meeting last week – so I was listening to what they enjoyed about that meeting and what could be improved – as it is important to me that the team enjoy the communications meetings we hold where we update them on what is happening in all areas of the business – and I am always trying to find new and creative ways to communicate to all levels of the hotel. Last week we also held a social event to thank and recognise everyone for their hard work during the renovation of the ground floor – it was a great night and really appreciated by all the staff so much so they want to do more of them!! I really believe that great working relationships are based on the foundation of good friendship and these evenings are a great way for people to meet and get to know other members of staff in different departments – and clearly I run a hotel here with a team that really know how to enjoy themselves and party – so we discussed ways in which we can try and re-activate the social committee and raise funds to be able to hold more events!!
We are planning to hold a Staff Appreciation Week in the hotel on the second week of August as our financial year ends at the end of July so it is a good opportunity to recognise and celebrate some of the team and individual performances that have been achieved over the last year – the whole week is centred around recognition, appreciation, celebration and of course having some fun!! It is a massive task to organise – so we have a committee all focused on it now – and I will keep you posted on our progress as we get nearer to the date!
Anyway dear bloggers I have a delightful day of an Employee Relations Course ahead of me today at our sister hotel The Grosvenor so I am going to sign off for now and head off to Victoria – I wish you all a fabulous bank holiday weekend – more updates form our lovely hotel next week…..
Well another week seems to be racing by and London is covered in cloud this week – a bit of a shock to the system after all the lovely sunshine we have enjoyed over the last few weeks!!
Last week seemed to rush past so quickly I never got a minute to sit down and write my blog – we attended our budget presentation and finalised our budgets for next year and if that was not enough we have also undergone our internal finance audit which we have passed with a good score (always a relief!) – with a big improvement on last year so that is a good result for all our accounts and front office team who have been working really hard on that for the last few months to make sure everything was in order! So now the numbers are all agreed for next year it is all about focusing on sales and marketing to raise awareness of our newly refurbished hotel to ensure our revenues lift accordingly!! Life for a General Manager is so much easier when the forecast is being achieved – my stress levels drop by about 90%!!!!
On Monday this week I took the management team away from their day to day jobs and we spent the day together on team building – it is really important that we all embark on our new financial year with the right mindset to achieve the targets we have been set – so I always think it is good for a team to spend some time together away from the ‘day job’ really looking at how we work alongside each other – and how we can understand each other better and work more cohesively and harmoniously together to achieve our joint objectives. Often in a hotel the Heads of Department can become very focused on their own department that they can lose sight of the bigger objectives for the business. So we spent some time looking and discussing how leadership must be at the heart of all we do, we talked about staff engagement, the dysfunctions that can radically undermine a teams performance and how we can avoid them and then agreeing what our norms and values of our team were going to be next year and how we were going to live them. Then if that was not enough after a full day of much discussion and debate we enjoyed dinner together in our sister hotel, The Grosvenor in Victoria which is also undergoing a major renovation.
Just a little note about our sister hotel The Grosvenor which is right next door to Victoria Station – it is well worth a visit if you happen to be in that part of London – they have successfully re-launched two new restaurants in the last 6 months – The Brassiere where we thoroughly enjoyed our dinner on Monday – but also The Grand Imperial a stunning new Cantonese restaurant. If you love Asian food it is well worth a visit!
But back to The Royal Horseguards hotel – our new The Terrace is looking really lovely now and we have had so many customers comment on how improved it is since it’s renovation – it is so rare for a hotel to have outside space in London and our has the added advantage because it is quite a peaceful haven away from the hustle and bustle of the city! We are starting to take quite a lot of booking for private parties and BBQs now – and we discussed in our management meeting this morning about having a regular BBQ and music out there every Thursday for all our regular clients. So I will keep you all posted on our plans and what dates the BBQ will be going live. Tonight we are hosting an event with lots of press to showcase the newly renovated ground floor and The Terrace and also our new speciality afternoon tea – Garden Par-Tea which has been devised by our very talented pastry chef Joanne Todd, which we will have on offer throughout May to support Chelsea Flower Show. Then watch out for our next themed tea which will be Wimbledon High Tea which we will be launching in June.
Summer is such a lovely time to be in London – especially now as all the annual events such as Wimbledon, Chelsea Flower Show, Royal Ascot to name just a few are coming up – and then there are lots of other exciting events happening on the Southbank – the Festival of Britain is still going strong with loads to see and do, and Regents Street Association have a number of events coming up including A taste of Spain on 5th June. So plenty to look forward to as we head towards the summer months!
But in the meantime it is back to work now for me as the team are gathering for our morning meeting as I write this – so will have to leave you now as duty calls – until next week with more updates from the Royal Horseguards in the heart of Whitehall!!
I hope you have all enjoyed the extended weekends and I guess should now be right back into work mode! I am very envious of those of you that have enjoyed the full eleven day break! Friday was certainly a phenomenal day to be in London for the Wedding of the Year – it seemed to be a really joyous occasion for everyone. There seemed to be millions of people on the streets and in the Mall – it always amazes me after such a huge event how quickly the city recovers and gets back to normal – on Saturday everything was spick and span again and you never would have known how many thousands of people had just been here the day before!! We had a busy day in the hotel and our Royal Afternoon Tea seemed to be enjoyed by many!
We have lots going on in May – the hotel is much busier as we start to approach the summer months and we also have lots of updates going on – our budgets for next year need to be finalised, we have our Head of Department Balanced Scorecard review, a management team build to strengthen our interdepartmental relationships and set our objectives for our next financial year, and our Staff Quarterly Meeting to update the whole team on our performance so far this year – so certainly plenty to keep us busy.
We finally said good bye to the contractors who have been with us for the last four months last week – so now we can really focus on marketing our new ground floor. Our Photographer will be returning next week to finish photographing the ground floor so that all the new collateral can be produced. We have had some fantastic feedback from some of our regular guests as it is such a transformation from what it used to be!
We are also really excited about our new Apprenticeship programme that we are getting ready to launch – this is something we are working on with our other Guoman sister hotels and Westminster Kingsway College – we hope to be recruiting 12 apprentices that will be learning their craft in front of house and food and beverage service. We hope they all grow with us in and in time become our future leaders in our hotels.
Anyway dear blog readers I am really up against the clock this week and just don’t seem to have enough hours for all the tasks I need to complete!! Oh the joys of being a General Manager!! So just a short update this week but more to come about the life and times of the Royal Horseguards next week!
Well what fabulous weather we are enjoying in London at the moment – our capital city is bathed in glorious sunshine and is also starting to get a very regal feel about it as we are getting so close to the Royal Wedding! Regents Street looks fantastic with all the Union Jacks that have been hung out. Everyone in London is really starting to get into the spirit of celebration now as the big day draws near. We have got over a hundred afternoon teas booked on that day so I am going to spend the day going ’back to the floor’! I am sure our Pastry Chef Joanne Todd is delighted at the thought of me turning up next Friday to be her commis chef – which for those not in the know is really only one level above a trainee chef and one of the most junior roles in the kitchen! Hopefully I will not be too much of a hindrance and I will have to draw from my kitchen experience from (a few) years ago on how to work quickly and efficiently – so I do not hold the team back and of course I still remember how ‘clean as you go!!’ was drummed into me when I was a management trainee – thankfully I don’t think I will actually be doing any cooking so there should not be an abundance of burnt pans for the stewarding department to have to worry about!!! I am really looking forward to it and will of course keep you all posted how I get on!
We are excited about starting to get ready to re-launch our new restaurant now as well – we have appointed a new Executive Head Chef called Ben Purton who will be joining us at the end of May. Ben has a proven track record of working within five star environments – and when he came in for his test cook he produced a lamb dish that was to die for so I am really looking forward to welcoming him on board and seeing more of his dishes on our menus. We have also welcomed Ryan Mattheson to our kitchen brigade this week – Ryan will be working alongside Ben and will be heading up the part of the kitchen brigade that will be cooking for our customers in our new Restaurant. It is great to have these two really talented chefs joining our team here now at this point in our journey as we reposition ourselves more firmly within the five star market and I am really looking forward to see the impact they will make on our culinary offering within the hotel!
Every morning this week as I have walked from Waterloo station over Hungerford Bridge to the hotel it has been amazing to see the preparations for the Festival of Britain that is taking place on the Southbank over the next four months. This year it is the 60th anniversary of the original Festival of Britain that took place in 1951 on the south bank of the Thames which had been blitzed by bombs in the Second Word War. It marked the beginning of the redevelopment of the area – which today is a hive of activity with many restaurants, cafes and bars as well as being home to the Royal Festival Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Hayward gallery, the British Film Institute and the National Theatre which are just a few of the iconic landmark buildings that have made the Southbank their home. Today the Southbank is also the UK’s largest arts centre and this anniversary is exciting as it will be celebrating the very best of British culture and creativity. If you would like to know more then do visit www.southbankcentre.co.uk where all the event and exhibitions are listed.
Well dearest blog readers unfortunately it is time to leave you now and get on with my day I have a lot to fit in before finishing for the Easter weekend today – my Executive Team have just turned up for our weekly meeting – so I hope you all have a fabulous Easter – the weather is forecast to be beautiful here so I hope you all get to enjoy some of this magnificent sunshine we have been enjoying and are forecast to continue to have this weekend
Well here we are again at the end of another busy week – it has been lovely to see London bathed in some glorious spring weather this week – long may it continue!
This week we have started to get prepared for our budget as our financial year will be ending at the end of June so we have to start all the planning for a new financial year. We have also been doing a lot of work on marketing and how we position the hotel amongst it’s competitors everything from our website, customer journey, collateral and how the Royal Horseguards is positioned within the Guoman brand has been discussed and as always there is a massive amount to do but it is a fascinating part of the job for me and I am sure there will be lots more discussions over the next few weeks as we finalise our marketing plan for the year ahead!
At the end of April we will have completed the ground floor renovation and the hotel will have a fabulous five star product throughout – the work done so far looks fantastic and the hotel is undergoing such a radical transformation in the way it looks it is really gratifying to see and hear how much the guests are enjoying the changes we have done. Now we also have to focus on ensuring our service levels take the same step change as our product. So next week we welcome back Allister Sandall from the AA and every member of staff will attend a three hour workshop on what the expectations of guests are within a five star hotel. Improving service levels is ongoing never ending journey that remains at the heart of every thing we do here.
The good weather seems have brought a lot more tourists into the city this week which is good for all of us – we are so fortunate to have such a dynamic city with so much going on in it – there are some great new theatre shows coming up in the next few weeks. Flarepath at the Haymarket Theatre that the Royal Horseguards is a primary sponsor for has had some great reviews, a number of our guests have been to see it this week and have really enjoyed the performance!
Anyway I have a breakfast meeting that I need to get to so will finish for now – I as always wish you all a fabulous weekend – don’t forget the clocks will be going forward this weekend and also it is Mothering Sunday next weekend!
Well another exciting week in the life of the Royal Horseguards – this week we were delighted to have opened our new Equus Bar which has had some fantastic feedback from many of our regular guests. Last night myself and the sales and marketing team entertained some journalists visiting from Italy and Spain so that we can start to showcase our beautifully renovated areas and it also gave our new bar team the chance to show off their newly acquired cocktail making skills! As it is St Patrick’s Day today they are busy up selling an Irish cocktail which of course has liberal amounts of Irish Whisky to all our in house guests!!
Next week we start the one of final phases of the renovation with the main restaurant and the ground floor meeting rooms will be undergoing their upgrade and then we will finally have a pristine brand new hotel in all areas!! Once it is all done we can start implementing our marketing and PR plan in earnest so that we can really start to promote the hotel and in particular the new restaurant more firmly within the five star market.
On Monday I had lunch with Michael Laumanns who is our Regional Director of Sales for North America and was in London for a few days on business as I will be visiting New York in June for a week of sales calls and show cases – it can take several months to plan a successful itinerary for a week of sales calls with the right clients so I will work closely with Michael and James Enright who heads up our US Sales team over the next few months to ensure that I can make the most of my time over there and squeeze as many appointments in as possible which as a result will hopefully increase our inbound business from the US!
Even though we have not even got to Easter yet we were heavily into Christmas this week!! We have been finalising the content for our Christmas and New Year Brochure. We are even discussing what colour our Christmas decorations will be this year – as we have renovated all of the ground floor of the hotel none of our Christmas photography from previous years can be used – so we are going to have to partially decorate areas in order to photograph them! I am sure our guests will think we have gone quite mad!! I have often tried to be quite organised about planning for Christmas but this is the first time I will have the decorations out in April – talk about planning ahead!! However I am sure our Marketing Department will be most grateful to us that we are not stressing them out and taking years off their lives by leaving it all to the last minute as they try to adhere to copy and print deadlines – which is what we can have a tendency to do sometimes ……… but not this year!!
Anyway talking about leaving things to the last minute – I must dash now as I have a speech on leadership to write to for a conference next week which should have been done weeks ago……so more updates next week – and wishing you all a fabulous weekend!!