Sponsored by Christie & Co
The spa and health club department may not be the largest within Hand Picked Hotels’ portfolio of 20 country house properties, but it certainly punches above its weight in terms of its contribution to overall group revenue.
The 10 spas and health clubs across the group accounted for 10% of revenue and 12% of operating profit in the financial year 2016-17. In one hotel, the spa and health club contributed more than 30% of the hotel’s revenue.
Lesley Bacon has played a key role in building up the spa and health club offer at Hand Picked since joining the company 12 years ago. As group health club and spa manager, she is responsible for a team of 171 (92 in the health clubs and 79 in the spa) across the group – from Edinburgh to the Channel Islands – overseeing development and training as well as looking after the spa treatment programme, which involves nurturing relationships with leading product houses. Bacon is also responsible for the fitness programmes, gym equipment, health and safety, and food and drink offer.
Beyond the business, Bacon is well-known within the wider hotel spa industry and networks tirelessly with her peers to ensure she stays abreast of new trends and opportunities that can enhance the customer experience. She speaks at national spa conferences and visits health and beauty colleges close to each hotel to help drive recruitment.
Bacon aims to ensure that members of her team are as well looked after as hotel guests, and employee wellbeing is at the forefront of her mind. Knowing only too well how physically and mentally demanding the job of a therapist can be, she has introduced the role of roaming therapists across the group to ensure the spa team are restricted to a certain number of massages per day. This has helped to contribute to an employee retention rate of more than 70%.
Bacon believes that everyone should take time for fitness, particularly when travelling, and has helped guests to do so by introducing the concept of Yoga in a Bag. Guests are now able to take the time to stretch, tone and meditate in the comfort of their own room, regardless of whether there is a spa or health club available on-site.
Among Bacon’s recent key achievements has been the opening of the spa and health club at St Pierre Park in Guernsey, involving a £5m development project. The spa is now one of the largest on the island, with five treatment rooms and an indoor swimming pool, which in 2017 won the Good Spa Guide’s Best Spa award in the Channel Islands for the second year in a row. All 20 Hand Picked spas now hold one of the top two ratings – four or five bubbles – from the Good Spa Guide.
Finally, as someone who is always focused on the wellbeing of others, it is no surprise to learn that Bacon played an instrumental role in turning the Hand Picked central support office pink to raise money for Cancer Research earlier this year, as well as leading a group of female staff in a local Race for Life event, raising more than £2,000 for the charity.
What the judges said
“Lesley is a strong, highly experienced manager with fantastic commercial acumen and long-term development plans.”
Nicki Kurran, consultants, Nicki Kurran Spa Consultancy
“Lesley is an all-round spa professional who is well-respected throughout the industry. She is someone we all look up to.”
Anna Thomas, spa operations manager, Stoke Park Country Club, Spa and Hotel, Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire
Lesley Bacon Hand Picked Hotels
Zoe Douglas Dormy House Hotel & Spa, Broadway, Worcestershire
Darren Dixon Pennyhill Park, Bagshot, Surrey
Helena Grzesk The Midland Manchester
2017 Leon Trayling Principal Hotels, InterContinental Hotels Group
2016 Cathy Ball Calcot Hotels
2015 Lucy Mingo Headland Hotel & Spa, Newquay, Cornwall
2014 Kerry Hudson Chewton Glen, New Milton, Hampshire
2013 Anna Williams Stoke Park, Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire
2012 Gemma Hulme Cottons Hotel & Spa, Knutsford, Cheshire
2011 Liz Holmes Rockliffe Hall, Darlington, County Durham
2010 Hannah Henley Donnington Valley, Berkshire