After more than half a decade of recession, Britain’s Independent Hoteliers are fighting back and it seems that success is down to consistent excellent service and the overall experience they are delivering to their guests.
This was the view of Peter Hancock, chief executive of Pride of Britain Hotels and Tom Bell, editor of Alistair Sawday’s British Hotels and Inns who were judging this year’s Independent Hotelier of the Year Award, which was won by the Boundary Hotel, Shoreditch, run by Sir Terence & Lady Conran and Peter Pescott. The Outstanding New Hotel of the Year was won by the New Forest hotel, The Pig, run by Robin Hutson.
London hotelier Jeremy Goring, also on the judging panel, said: “The calibre of the shortlist chosen by the nominations committee reflected the very high standard of new independent, boutique and luxury hotels that have opened across the UK in the last three years and their dynamic presence in this market. “
Incidentally, we did have one local nominee and that was the Michelin Star Lucknam Park Hotel and Spa just outside Bath – great result for them!
The awards were made at the Independent Hotel Show at London’s Olympia Conference Centre last week. Although only in its second year, the show managed to double its number of exhibitors, giving hoteliers a chance to meet and view exhibits from a wide spectrum of potential suppliers, at the same time giving the exhibitors a unique opportunity to pitch to an audience which is normally very hard to reach.
The main aim of the event is to showcase some of the unusual products and services that can help independent hotels to create their unique ambience. These ranged from information technology and interior design to audio and entertainment and health and wellness.
Alongside some amazing exhibits, hoteliers were also able to take part in a series of discussions on business issues and industry issues. Some of the big names taking part were Brian Turner CBE, President of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, Declan Curry, the BBC economics reporter and Philip Newman Hall, Managing Director of le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons.
But I’ll leave the last word to Toby Sawday, son of Alistair, the founder of Sawday’s – the ultimate directory of special places to stay.
“Those places that do best have something special about them,” he said. “They have personality, and that personality comes from the people who run them, who dare to defy convention and do things their way. So, decide what makes you different and be proud and bold about celebrating this.”
But, he added, the fundamentals of a good hotel remain unchanged; fabulous (and appropriate) service, a deliciously comfortable bed, a quiet room, staff who put you first and a sense of generosity in how you’re treated.