Leading hotel industry figure Ramón Pajares has this month taken over as chairman of the Savoy Educational Trust. He spoke to Janie Stamford about his plans.
What does the Savoy Educational Trust do? The Savoy Educational Trust has done a huge amount of work over the past 50 years to boost skills and education within the hospitality industry. We provide funds to support efforts by colleges, other organisations and individuals to advance and develop education and training.
What plans do you have for your new role as chairman? I'm taking over as chairman during a very important year for the trust. With my colleagues, I will use this time as chairman to increase our support and assist in education and training during our Golden Anniversary year.
We are launching a new book, Making a Difference, and holding an event in the Savoy hotel on 4 May to showcase past projects and encourage more organisations to apply for grants.
What have been your career highlights? I've had so many but in particular winning the Hotelier of the Year award in 1984 and the three Cateys - including the Special Catey award in 1997 - whilst managing director of the Savoy Group, and in 2000 I was honoured with an OBE.
Also the turnaround of the Savoy Group. When I took over in 1994 the group registered a loss for the first six months but when I left at the end of 1999, the group delivered about £50m EBITDA.
How has the industry changed? It continues its modernisation, with technical and management improvements. We have many dedicated and good professional people and are more internationally competitive.
There has been a major improvement in the variety and diversity of the restaurants we now have in the UK and the London restaurant scene is currently the best in the world. However, we need to make greater commitments to education and conditions of employment.
Which industry figure do you most admire? Isadore Sharp, founder of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. I worked with him for 24 years. He is a very inspirational and charismatic leader, who has built the best hotel group in the world.