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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.’