Katherine Price talks to Henrik Muehle, general manager of the 129-bedroom Flemings Mayfair hotel in London, about the effect its £16m refurbishment has had on the property, what it’s like working in a hotel owned by the family-operated Veladail Hotels Group, and what his work with the Small Luxury Hotels of the World consortium involves
How has the refurbishment been received?
When I was employed as general manager in 2014 my aim was to reposition the hotel into the four-star deluxe/five-star segment through the refurbishment.
It has been received incredibly well; the feedback has been amazing. It took more than two years to complete, during which time I left the hotel fully operational. From the moment of completion and relaunch of the new Flemings, it has been a great success.
Has it had a noticeable impact on business or the guest profile?
During the first full year of operation following its completion in 2017, it exceeded all of our expectations and we were able to attract a strong new corporate business base. This was particularly notable within the entertainment segment, due in part to the new one-, two- and three-bedroom suites/apartments. We are now attracting new markets previously ‘closed off’ to us and the average daily rate has risen by more than 40%.
The addition of Ormer Mayfair, with chef Shaun Rankin, has further established us as a strong competitor in the area. The restaurant and Manetta’s Bar in their own right now attract 80% of external clients and are therefore a destination in themselves.
Do you have any more plans for Ormer Mayfair?
After the closure of Ormer Jersey by Shaun Rankin, he is now fully committed to achieving a Michelin star for Ormer Mayfair.
Why did you decide to hire Paul Rafferty as hotel manager earlier this year?
With the average rate increasing, I felt that a hotel manager needed to be in place to ensure a consistent service throughout the hotel. Also, with the new markets we now attract, such as the US, Canada and Australia, I need to travel more with my director of sales, and I need someone representing me here in the hotel.
What does your work on the board of Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) involve?
With the new ownership of SLH and the attached investment, we are working very closely to ensure the brand remains strong and is able to rise to new challenges.
Flemings Mayfair has been owned by the same family since 1975 – that’s very rare for a hotel in London now, isn’t it?
It is very rare, especially in a major city. I have always worked in privately owned hotels. My first was the Capital, where I worked for seven years with the great David Levin, then came the St James’s Hotel and Club with the Landesberg family and partners, and now Flemings.
I see it as an advantage. It gives me the opportunity to address, change and adapt what is required and I am able to use my own ideas and influences, for example, to create new restaurants, bar concepts, refurbishments and so on.
What are your aims for the hotel?
As we are only in the beginning of the second year since the full refurbishment, it is important to further enhance the offering of Flemings and increase our average rate and turnover further.