Hotels may have more style today, but do they have the substance? This is the question David Elton, director of the Lime Wood Group and Home Grown Hotels, will be posing as keynote speaker at The Caterer’s forthcoming Hotel Forum, which takes place on 4 May at Kings Place in London King’s Cross.
Elton, well positioned to query the current stake of the hotel sector, has been involved from the outset, alongside Robin Hutson, in the creation of Lime Wood, the country house hotel focused on “laid-back luxury” that opened in Lyndhurst, Hampshire, in 2009.
Two years later Elton helped to launch what has gone on to become one of the most successful new hotel brands in recent years – the Pig. The first one in Brockenhurst has since been joined by properties in Southampton, Bath and Studland Bay, all of which consistently run at 95% occupancy throughout the year. A fifth Pig will launch near Honiton in Devon, in July. Strongly focused on the provenance of the food it serves – the majority grown in its own kitchen gardens – the hotels have cleverly successfully captured the imagination of the public.
Speaking at the Hotel Forum, Elton will explain to delegates how changing lifestyles have enabled new products and brands to enter the hotel sector across all areas. He will question if there is the opportunity in the hotel space for operators to create “de-branded” brands, and, if so, why?
“I will ask delegates to think about what their target market really wants – is it more than just a product, can you deliver consistently and is your relationship with your customer real?”
Elton will answer these issues within the context of his experience of both Lime Wood and the Pig.
Prior to working alongside Hutson, Elton had a 20-year career working in hotel sales and marketing. Starting with Trust House Forte, he was appointed director of marketing and sales at the age of 26 at Grosvenor House, London, during which time he was awarded an Acorn Award by The Caterer.
In the intervening years, he worked for Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and Starwood Hotels & Resorts, before launching leaonardo.com – in 2000 – which he built up to become one of the hotel and travel industry’s leading provider of digital content, working with over 200 hotel brands. The business was sold in 2008 to a Canadian competitor.
Elton’s fellow speakers at the Hotel Forum include Jill Stein, founder and co-owner with her former husband Rick, of the Seafood Restaurant group, who will speak about the inspiration behind her interior designs across the company’s portfolio of restaurants and rooms, and Robbie Bargh, founder of the Gorgeous Group, the international hospitality agency and award-winning specialists in bars, cafes, restaurants, brands and service, on the rise of disruptive food and beverage.
Delegates will also be able to hear from 2015 Gold Service Scholarship winner Daniele Quattromini, manager of Club Lounge 39 at One Canada Square, learn about Hospitality Action’s Employee Assistance Programme, which supports employees through personal challenges such as money and debt, health and wellbeing and addiction, and leading hotelier Daniel Pedreschi will share how employing staff with disabilities has enhanced his workforce.
Tickets for the must-attend event for hotel managers and aspiring hotel managers cost £119 per head. They are available now from www.hotel-forum.co.uk.
The Steins on 40 years of the Seafood Restaurant >>
Business profile: The Pig hotels >>
Lime Wood brings laid-back luxury to country house hotels >>