Gérard Sintès has been general manager of the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park London for the two years. Katherine Price asks him about letting TV cameras into the hotel for the Channel 4 documentary A Very British Hotel.
How did A Very British Hotel come about?
How does it differ from other similar documentaries?
The public will love it because it tells the story of people. It goes into the personalities, the charisma of individuals who provide service in a five-star, luxury environment. Who are those people? What time do they have to get up in the morning? And what challenges do they face? What's important to them? Why do they do it? Why did they choose that career? It's all about our industry and it's a great insight for the public to see what we do, not only us here as a hotel but as an industry, what we are all about, and we are about people. I think that's really the highlight of the show.
Did you have concerns about inviting cameras into the hotel?
We had, yes, for the obvious reason: to protect the guests' privacy and confidentiality. You cannot just start filming people eating in your restaurant or arriving in your hotel, so we had to communicate with guests. We had to warn guests that if they bumped into a camera and if they felt they had been filmed, to tell us, and then we'd make sure that bit had been cut at the right time. So that was the main role for us: how do we make sure we respect our guests' privacy while doing this? Having said that, we also had guests who wanted to be on the documentary. They loved it.
You've seen the documentary already; did you have any favourite characters?
I could not say. I work here, I know those colleagues, we see each other almost every day. It's very rewarding to see them on the screen talking about what they do and why do they love doing what they do and what it takes to do what they do.
Are you hoping to see an uplift in business following the show?
A bit of publicity doesn't hurt. We are very humbled and honoured to have been approached to do it. Who wouldn't be? It's a great opportunity for us to showcase what we do and what makes us different to the others.
Do you think people will recognise you more in the hotel?
Who knows? We may be submerged by a wave of people crashing through the doors asking for our colleagues. I'm sure we will have people coming here to see where it was filmed, or to see a particular concierge. I'm sure we'll have some of that. And that's great.
What do you hope people take away for it?
I hope people understand what we do better, and maybe some more young people will say 'I want to go into the hotel business, it looks interesting'.
I would like them to take the opportunity to discover what we do. It gives a good idea about what we do, and if only people take that with them and think it's an interesting business and maybe they'd like to work in hotels, or they change their perspective of what we do in hotels, I think if we achieve that it's already great.
Read more interviews with staff from the hotel:
A Very British Hotel is a three-part series on Channel 4 starting 9pm on Thursday 2 March.