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Minute on the clock: Robert Touzel, Hand Picked Hotels

15 January 2021 by
Minute on the clock: Robert Touzel, Hand Picked Hotels

The sales and marketing manager of Hand Picked Hotels' two Jersey establishments, L'Horizon Beach Hotel & Spa (pictured) and the Grand Jersey hotel in St Helier, speaks to Caroline Baldwin about navigating the pandemic on the Channel Islands.

Tell us a little bit about why Jersey is special to you.

It's my birthplace, and although I have lived in London and the US, Jersey has always been home. It has stunning natural beauty, from rugged cliff-top walks to expansive sandy beaches, fascinating heritage, amazing wildlife and outstanding seasonal produce, which can be enjoyed in many local restaurants.

How has your role changed over the last year in response to the Covid-19 crisis?

The Grand and L'Horizon have well-established reputations on the island and we have been lucky to enjoy the support of the island community in booking staycations throughout the year. The local Jersey community has always been a valued source of business for our two hotels – now more than ever we have sought to provide unique experiences for our local clientele, as Covid-19 travel restrictions have limited the opportunity for in-bound visitors to the island.

How has the hotel responded to the pandemic?

Creative and safe dining options have been our focus, and 2020 was the year of alfresco experiences, helped by Jersey's warm and sunny climate. Last summer we launched an enhanced destination bar and outdoor dining venue on the Terrace at L'Horizon, which proved to be a crowd-pleaser with locals and visitors alike. It serves amazing seafood and offers views directly over Jersey's arguably most beautiful beach.

Earlier in the winter, we also reimagined our Winter Domes experience at the Grand, offering light bites and winter-themed drinks in contemporary Scandinavian-inspired domes.

Do you think any of your new initiatives will be adopted long-term?

Enjoying the Grand or L'Horizon at home has been immensely popular and I am sure we will continue this offering longer term. L'Horizon, for example, supplied all you need for an at-home gourmet barbecue last summer, and now provides the ingredients for the ultimate Sunday roast to pick up and enjoy at home.

What else is on the menu?

Jersey is a small island with a huge natural larder. The distance from farm to table or sea to table is tiny, so you can always be guaranteed that the abundance of local, seasonal food is the very freshest that it can be, often served with a creative twist by our talented executive chef Nicolas Valmagna, who secured a four-AA-rosette for Tassili at the Grand.

Are you confident in the hotel market?

Yes, Jersey is a perennial favourite for tourists and there will certainly be pent-up demand for hotels – both for leisure and business – once travel is easier. Jersey is perceived as a safe and secure short-haul destination, which I am sure will appeal to many as they plan their first trips after the pandemic.

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