Dale MacPhee, general manager at Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – the Caledonian, wins Manager of the Year, sponsored by Hotel, Restaurant & Catering (HRC) and Independent Hotel Show.
With 30 years at Hilton Hotels and Resorts and 11 years at the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – the Caledonian, Dale MacPhee is well-known as a general manager in Scotland and across the UK.
Her career-long approach of mentorship, education and support of her surrounding communities has stood her in good stead during the pandemic and afterwards. For example, in 2021, MacPhee and her team at the Waldorf Astoria, affectionately known as ‘the Caley', launched a new Afternoon Tea at Home, to allow the local community to experience the hotel's Peacock Alley restaurant, as well as an afternoon tea partnership with Edinburgh Zoo, raising £8,394 for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland.
MacPhee oversaw the refurbishment of the Peacock Alley, the Caley bar and the arrival lounge with existing hotel furniture to offset the cost, and she added two new bedroom suites, increasing the room offering type by 30%.
During the pandemic MacPhee's submission for a Visit Scotland support package grant of £238,000 was awarded, allowing the business to support payroll, promotion and the upkeep of the historic hotel as well as the implementation of Hiton's Clean Stay programme.
MacPhee has demonstrated sound financial performance and has leveraged creative partnerships to generate incremental revenue for the hotel. Although 2020-2021 was incredibly challenging for the industry, MacPhee encouraged problem-solving and resilience in her leadership team, resulting in a number of financial successes, including an increase in the average daily rate by 123% in 2021 versus 2019, and with just six months of trading in 2021 the hotel's spa still saw an increase in revenue of 24% compared to 2019.
MacPhee also places an emphasis on career development. One month prior to the pandemic, the hotel's director of operations departed, leaving a leadership role vacant. Rather than filling this role, she integrated these duties, which enabled two team members to develop within their roles.
Outside the Caley, MacPhee is a board member and trustee for HIT Scotland and 14 of her team members attended the HIT Scotland leadership program. She is a mentor for Business Women Scotland, offering resources for up and coming young women in business, and a member of the Edinburgh Hotel Association.
What the judges said
"Dale is the consummate hotelier and an incredible manager. This was an extremely difficult category to judge with the highest number of nominations ever seen, so to come out on top is an amazing testament to her." – David Connell
"As a leader, Dale does it all. Her passion, creative thinking and supportive leadership have ensured that throughout the pandemic her team has thrived, the hotel has outperformed its market, the community has been supported and our industry has benefitted." – Joanne Taylor-Stagg
- Michele Caggianese, 5 Hertford Street and Oswald's
- Malcolm Hendry, Red Carnation Hotel Collection
- Dale MacPhee, Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – the Caledonian
- Simon Mahon, the Grand, York
- Peter Avis, general manager, Galvin Restaurant
- Sally Beck, general manager, Royal Lancaster London
- David Connell, general manager, South Lodge
- Liz McGivern, vice-president people and culture, Red Carnation Hotels
- Philip Newman-Hall, consultant, PNH Hotelier
- Justin Pinchbeck, general manager, Sheraton Grand London Park Lane
- Laura Sharpe, general manager,Ham Yard Hotel
- Fred Sirieix, customer services consultant and TV presenter
- Joanne Taylor-Stagg, general manager, the Athenaeum Hotel & Residences