There was a resoundingly Great British theme to Tuesday's Caterer and Hotelkeeper Awards. As union jacks fluttered on screens across the Great Room of Park Lane's Grosvenor House hotel, a succession of the British hospitality industry's finest operators blazed a trail across the stage to collect their trophies, like spitfires on a royal flypast.
Only those guests who had flown in from Mars could have missed the reason for our unashamed patriotism. This year, the Cateys fell between two great focal points of national pride - the Queen's Diamond Jubilee turned the world's attention upon us for four fantastic days in June, and we're just three weeks away from the London Olympic and Paralympic Games.
It's fair to say that the Cateys and the Olympic Games share many of the same values. Like the games, our awards are premised upon exceptional performances. And, like the games, they offer the chance to celebrate success by showcasing individuals whose high standards we can aspire to and seek to mimic ourselves.
The Olympic motto of citius, altius, fortius - or faster, higher, stronger - could have been coined with hospitality in mind. Those operators who are quickest to spot a new route to market or an emerging consumer trend, and that offer ever higher standards of customer service and care, will surely build stronger businesses.
The London Olympics and Paralympics offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for hospitality to showcase itself. If the games do benefit our industry, it won't be because of the beds in our hotels, the ingredients in our fridges or the tables and chairs in our restaurants, it'll be thanks to the industry's greatest asset - its people and the world-class customer service they offer.
At Caterer and Hotelkeeper, we believe that people are the foundation stones of great hospitality. People like this year's Cateys winners. Congratulations to every one of them.
By Mark Lewis
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