Nick Jones, variously described as a “maverick” and “one of the most inspirational people” in hospitality today, has been named as the 2015 Hotelier of the Year.
The founder and chief executive of Soho House & Co was presented with his award at a celebratory lunch today at the Manor House hotel in Castle Combe, Wiltshire, by Amanda Afiya, editor of The Caterer, and Tamsin Appell of Casna Group, the award’s sponsor.
A judging panel – made up of past winners, Fiona Duncan of The Sunday Telegraph and Simon Numphud, head of AA Hotel Services – were hard pushed to think of a more influential hotel operator who has consistently maintained a hands on approach in running Soho House for 20 years.
They heralded the much-lauded and copied design ethos of Babington House in Somerset as being revolutionary in comparison to the rigid regimes to which country house hotels had previously adhered. More recently he has opened Soho Farmhouse in Oxfordshire, equally ground-setting with its offer of rustic cabins and extensive eating and leisure outlets within a resort setting. In between he has created a whole raft of impressive city properties, both at home and abroad.
Commenting on being named the 2015 Hotelier of the Year, Jones said: “It really is an honour. This is an industry that I’ve grown up in, so I’m extremely humbled to receive this.”
Gordon Campbell Gray, chairman of CampbellGray Hotels and 2002 Hotelier of the Year, described Jones as a hotelier who is totally in tune with the here and now. “Nick is a man who sees no boundaries and is a total original with an amazing sense of bravado. He curates exciting, sexy places where you absolutely want to be.”
Equally enthusiastic was Robin Hutson, chairman and chief executive of Lime Wood Group and Home Grown Hotels, and 2003 Hotelier of the Year, calling Jones “one of the bravest and most inspirational people” in the industry who “relishes being ahead of the fashion curve”.
Richard Ball, 2006 Hotelier of the Year, who has himself been influenced, as managing director of the Calcot Collection of hotels by Jones, added: “His fresh thinking creativity, innovation, refusal to stay in a box, and ability to make a space exciting and vibrant, has made our industry sexy again. Don’t expect it to stop there, Just as we catch up, he’ll be reinventing.”
Soho House & Co today comprises 15 private members’ clubs – 10 with bedrooms – and 17 restaurant brands. Turnover for the UK element of the business was £83.8m in 2014.
Past winners of the 33-year-old Hotelier of the Year award that attended today’s lunch included Harry Murray (who won in 1986), Andrew McKenzie (2008) and Andrew Stembridge (2010). Last year’s winner, Danny Pecorelli, managing director of Exclusive Hotels and Venues, hosted the event.
* See this week’s issue of The Caterer, on 20 November, for an interview with Hotelier of the Year, Nick Jones
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