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2014 Winner: Midland hotel, Manchester
The Midland hotel in Manchester has undergone many rebirths during its 101-year history, but arguably the most successful is the one that has taken place over the past two years.
The judges agreed that the hotel's operator QHotels, together with general manager Mike Magrane, had finally taken this grand dame of a property back to its former glory.
Originally built by the Midland Railway as the northern terminus for its rail services to London St Pancras, the four-AA-star, 312-bedroom hotel is located in an Edwardian Baroque-style, Grade II-listed building and is where Rolls met Royce.
More recently it has been the meeting of Magrane with two-Michelin-starred chef Simon Rogan that has propelled the property to new heights. The decision to sign Rogan to take over the management of the long established French restaurant and transform the former Colony outlet into Mr Cooper's House & Garden has boosted business in the two restaurants, and has also helped create a new income stream for the bedrooms. Turnover in the French increased by 300% immediately after its opening, with dinner bookings secured months in advance. It swiftly achieved three AA rosettes, with Mr Cooper's being awarded two.
But despite now becoming one of Manchester's prime food and beverage venues, the hotel is much more than that. With 14 conference and meeting rooms catering for a maximum of 700 people, from the largest and most contemporary Alexandra Suite to the historical wood panelled setting of the Stanley Suite, it is frequently the setting for many of the city's leading events. The Midland has played a considerable role in QHotels' success
in winning the VenueVerdict Gold Standard Group Award in 2011, 2012 and 2013 - presented to the company with the guests most likely to recommend the business.
The hotel has a solid environmental policy, which includes the collection of waste oil, carbon offsetting for conference delegates and actively getting involved in the local community. Francis House Children's Hospice in Didsbury is the hotel's chosen charity. Money has been raised via collection boxes placed on the reception desk, a rowathon undertaken by the leisure team and auctions of hotel stays.
Looking ahead, the recent improvements at the Midland will continue with the development of a new spa and the addition of extra bedrooms. The recent renaissance of the hotel is set to grow and grow.
What the judges said
"During the past few years Mike Magrane and his team have successfully re-established the Midland as a leading grand hotel. In addition the
French, under the direction of Simon Rogan, has added a quality food and beverage restaurant to this popular property."
"Looking at its impressive achievements over the last year, the Midland is a particularly worthy winner, with an innovative product and service combined with strong financial results to create a strong performance."
"Great hotels don't happen by accident, they require heavy investment, a great leader, strong teamwork and excellent food; the Midland has all of these in abundance. Much credit for the hotel's success must be attributed to Mike Magrane - a true professional and an inspiration - while the partnership with Simon Rogan has firmly put Manchester on the culinary map."
Shortlisted The Caledonian, a Waldorf Astoria hotel, Edinburgh Grand Central hotel, Glasgow
Midland hotel, Manchester
The judges Gordon Campbell Gray, chairman, Campbell Gray Hotels
Stephen Carter, managing director, De Vere Cameron House on Loch Lomond
Giovanna Grossi, group area manager, AA Hotel Services
Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive officer, British Hospitality Association
Harry Murray, chairman, Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa
Jonathan Raggett, managing director, Red Carnation Hotels
Marvin Rust, senior managing director, FTI Consulting
John Stauss, regional vice-president and general manager, Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane