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Cateys 2019: Hotel of the Year – Independent – Rudding Park

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Written by:
Cateys 2019: Hotel of the Year – Independent – Rudding Park

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Over a period of 22 years, Rudding Park in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, has grown from a £1.5m-turnover business with 15 employees to one that notches up annual sales of £19.5m and deploys a 300-strong team of staff. During that time, the hotel has continually invested – spending a total of £26m – to take the property up to 90 bedrooms with a four-red-AA-star rating and two restaurants with two and three AA rosettes respectively.

Rudding Park has consistently punched above its weight, winning a string of hospitality accolades, including being named Best Hotel in England in the Visit England Awards for Excellence 2018. And this year it has secured a second Catey, following on from last year’s Accessibility Award.

Success for Rudding Park has come about as a result of a well-thought-through vision, diligent hard work and careful management by the owner Simon Mackaness and his family, with all investment funded via bank loans. Mackaness is supported tirelessly by Peter Banks, the hotel’s charismatic managing director, who works tirelessly to motivate the team to ensure they exceed guest expectations.

The focus on staff has been a key priority, starting with the hotel’s strong links with local schools through a project called School of Industry, where students are introduced to the business through the creation of menus and restaurant concepts alongside work experience opportunities.

When it comes to recruitment, Rudding Park staff are supported through apprenticeships and training programmes for local people who are looking to transfer their skills from other sectors. Offering a diverse, respectful culture and innovative working patterns has resulted in an impressive fall in staff turnover from 54% in 2016 to 37.8% last year.

Other recent standout initiatives include the opening in May 2017 of a £9.5m spa, with three floors of treatment rooms, pools and relaxation areas over 45,000 sq ft. The spa generated over £4m in sales in its first full year of operation, a period in which total hotel revenue increased year-on-year by 16.4%.

Rudding Park is to be applauded for its successful journey in expanding from a business focused on conferences and banquets to a multifaceted, destination resort that is widely regarded as a beacon of excellence.

What the judges said

“Rudding Park’s innovative marketing and digital expertise has enabled it to compete with the global brands to offer a truly differentiated, authentic and memorable Yorkshire experience.”
Ciarán Fahy

“Rudding Park has become a destination property as a result of its consistency in offering high levels of service, great cuisine and huge investment made over many years. The new spa is fabulous and the hotel is one of the very best for ensuring its facilities are accessible for all.”
Jonathan Raggett

“The Mackaness family has diligently built a hotel that is outstanding in its class and region. Its success is built on firm financial and operational foundations and the recent addition of the spa has taken it to new heights.”
Simon Rhatigan

The shortlist

Fonab Castle Pitlochry, Perthshire

Rockliffe Hall Darlington, County Durham

Rudding Park Harrogate, North Yorkshire

Yorebridge House Bainbridge, North Yorkshire

The judges

Ciarán Fahy Head of hotels, Spartan Advisors

Melvin Gold Founder, Melvin Gold Consulting

Andrew McKenzie Managing director, the Vineyard, Stockcross, Berkshire

David Morgan-Hewitt Managing director, the Goring, London

Simon Numphud Managing director, AA Hotel Services

Jonathan Raggett Managing director, Red Carnation Hotels

Claire Randall General manager, Idle Rocks and St Mawes hotels, Cornwall

Simon Rhatigan Managing director, Bike & Boot

Dan Rose-Bristow Owner, the Torridon, By Achnasheen, Wester Ross

Tom Ross Group operations director, Home Grown Hotels

Andrew Thomason Managing director, Gravetye Manor, West Sussex

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