staff spotlight: an interview with residence manager heike taylor

Hidden Mayfair gems, planning guest journeys and backstage passes to Rod Stewart

What was your first hospitality job?

I did an apprenticeship for three years at the Kurhotel Brugger am See in the Black Forest, Germany; it’s a privately owned hotel with 120 rooms and a private beach. I worked in housekeeping, reception, and the kitchen. And then I had school alongside it followed by exams. Afterwards I stayed with reception and moved from the Black Forest to Hamburg and started my career with Marriott.

The river Schiltach in the village of Schiltach in the Black Forest in Germany.
A village in the Black Forest, Germany. Photo: Harke/Wikimedia Commons (cc-by-2.0)

Can you tell us about one of the most exciting moments in your career?

When I worked in hotels in Germany, we had a lot of artists and singers staying with us. We had Aerosmith, Rod Stewart, and some other big names. I had coffee with them to discuss their plans and what they needed and we got tickets to their concerts, most of the time backstage, as well as to the after-show parties… That was awesome. I also worked for five years in a private hospital in Harley Street. Once the Queen came to open a new centre. I was responsible for security and it was amazing to plan everything with the directors and with her team.

Harley Street, London. Chemical Engineer/Wikimedia Commons (cc-by-SA-3.0)

What do you like about your current role?

I love getting the guests into the building and finding them the apartment they need. Because they stay with us for three months plus you build a rapport with them. Whether they’re corporate, medical, students or leisure – it’s a good mixture. You build that relationship and these people come back every year. And that’s the same with the agents; I’ve worked very closely with some of them over the past 10 years.

What do you think makes Hyde Park Residence special?

The people working here. And that is feedback which we have had from previous guests. Some people have been working here for 20 or 30 years. I think that tells a story – there isn’t high labor turnover. Our people are proud to be working here and want to make sure that the guests get the service they deserve. And they feel proud to give that service. It’s a small, lovely team.

A portrait of Hyde Park Residence Colleagues including Heike Taylor
Members of the Hyde Park Residence team with residence manager Heike Taylor (middle).

What things do you think are key to providing an outstanding hospitality experience?

I think the main thing is that you need to plan the guest journey. And listen for what the guest wants that you can prepare. If the guest says ‘I want a bottle of gin for my arrival, or a hot water bottle’ – make sure that is there. So I think it’s all the planning, communication, and listening to their needs and requirements. Housekeeping goes in twice a week to do maid service. Sometimes the guests are there, sometimes they aren’t. But if they’re there and they mention something, take note. There’s nothing worse than people not listening to what you’re saying. Being alert and communicating is everything.

An interior shot of an apartment at Hyde Park Residence.
An interior shot of an apartment at Hyde Park Residence. Courtesy: Penguin’s Egg.

Finally, do you have any top Mayfair recommendations?

There’s a little park around the corner from us; it’s called Mount Street Gardens, and there’s nothing better than to get a cup of coffee from The Connaught Patisserie and sit there for half an hour, which I do regularly with one of my colleagues. We see the same people in the morning, and it’s quite funny because you don’t know their names, you don’t know where they come from, but you obviously guess. What they do and things like that… And they have the same routine. It’s so beautiful. It’s like a little village. Even though you’re a ten minute walk from Oxford Street, and ten minutes down the road you have Regent Street. But you feel very secluded. It’s like, ‘Oh, it’s my Mayfair village.’

A palm tree and a sculpture in Mount Street Gardens Mayfair
Mount Street Gardens, Mayfair. Courtesy: Penguins Egg Photography