Overall ranking: 66 (27)
Hotel ranking: 15 (8)
Gordon Campbell Gray – Snapshot
Gordon Campbell Gray is the founder and managing director of One Aldwych, the iconic boutique hotel that was hailed as the most innovative luxury hotel in London when it opened in 1998. The hotel, an AA top 200 property with five red stars and two rosettes, set new standards others are still trying to match.
Campbell Gray is chairman of Campbell Gray Hotels which he set up in 2003 to develop a small collection of international luxury hotels. Its first new opening was the Carlisle Bay hotel on the Caribbean island of Antigua in late 2003.
Gordon Campbell Gray – Career guide
Despite walking out of hotel school, Gordon Campbell Gray worked through all hotel departments at a variety of properties before landing the role of assistant food and beverage controller at London’s Portman InterContinental aged 22. He was promoted to purchasing manager but then his career was put on hold while he ran projects for Save the Children in Bangladesh, Morocco and Nicaragua.
Campbell Gray returned to the UK in 1982 and bought the old Dorchester hotel in Oxfordshire, which he redesigned and relaunched as The Feathers at Woodstock. The stylish Draycott in London’s Chelsea district followed in 1987 on the site of a neglected club.
After selling the hotels, Campbell Gray moved to New York’s Long Island to buy, refurbish and run the Maidstone Arms in East Hampton.
In January 1996 he bought the Edwardian Inveresk House in London and reopened it in July 1998 as One Aldwych. He set up Campbell Gray Hotels (which includes One Aldwich) in 2003 to develop a small collection of individual, luxury hotels around the world.
Gordon Campbell Gray – What we think
Gordon Campbell Gray, who was voted the Caterer and Hotelkeeper‘s Hotelier of the Year in 2002, redefined the concept of luxury with One Aldwych, where he worked closely with interior designer Mary Fox-Linton. His flair for design and marketing was illustrated at the Maidstone Arms, in New York where his bid to make it a year-round success included changing the décor and fabrics each summer and winter to match the season.
To hone his vision for the “modern classic” luxury hotel that was to be One Aldwych, Campbell Gray visited 120 of the world’s top establishments. He rejected their “dripping deluxeness” and superfluous touches in favour of a more subtle and sophisticated approach that was original and modern but not “relentlessly fashionable”.
Believing that a purely design-led hotel had no longevity, Campbell Gray put personal service and comfort at the top of his agenda.
His originality unnerved the money men and he endured 18 months of ‘nos’ from 66 financial institutions before he could secure the funding for One Aldwych.
One Aldwich is permeated by Gordon Campbell Gray’s ethical passion for the environment and the individual (a concern that extends to staff as well as guests). The hotel has won many awards for its investment in people and its green initiatives, which range from food sourcing and energy-saving to the use of low-toxicity paints, toiletries and cleaning agents.
His dedication to individuality and his dislike of branding mean that his new ventures will not be clones of One Aldwych. New openings will, says Campbell Gray, be different but smell the same. “I decided to build and operate hotels only in places where I wanted to wake up,” he added.
Carlisle Bay, Campbell Gray’s first overseas project, won the Tatler Travel Award’s Hotel of the Year within 12 months of opening.
Gordon Campbell Gray has now set his sights on the Middle East. He is planning to open a luxury boutique hotel in the downtown Solidare district of Beirut in 2007 and is keeping a close eye on the course of the current troubles in the region. A second hotel is scheduled to open in Oman in 2008, and he has several more projects in the pipeline.
His philanthropic nature is illustrated in his current roles as vice-president of Save the Children and as chairman of the charity’s Annual Festival of Trees.
Gordon Campbell Gray – Further Information
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