Service with a smile 21 February 2020 Tom Kemble of the Pass at South Lodge cooks up a pumpkin masterclass and shares why it’s important for chefs to meet their customers
In this week's issue...Service with a smile Tom Kemble of the Pass at South Lodge cooks up a pumpkin masterclass and shares why it’s important for chefs to meet their customers
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The Caterer

Brits Abroad – Leesa and Kenton Jones

05 October 2012 by
Brits Abroad – Leesa and Kenton Jones

Husband and wife Kenton and Leesa Jones are joint general managers at Necker Island, Richard Branson's home and exclusive resort, operated by Virgin Limited Edition in the British Virgin Islands. They tell Janet Harmer how they met and about raising their children on the island

Q How did you both get your jobs at Necker Island?

Leesa Jones I took a secondment as a beauty therapist from Virgin Atlantic Airways to set up the spa here 10 years ago. Since we met, we've had two years away from the island managing our sister property in Morocco, Kasbah Tamadot.

Kenton Jones I arrived on the island nine years ago as a general assistant and watersports instructor and taught Richard Branson to kite surf.

Q Describe your role as the island's general managers?

LJ & KJ Between us we look after 70 staff across the 74 acres that comprise the stunning island. Our aim is to ensure our teams work together to provide the best service possible for up to 28 guests while enjoying their job and the company they work for. No day is the same.

Q How did you earlier careers prepare you for you current job?

LJ I have always worked with companies that aim to provide the highest levels of customer service and love to now watch our team on the island deliver the highest standards possible wherever we can.

KJ Sunsail, where I worked as a yachting instructor, taught me the importance of guest interaction and making a holiday above all fun, something which Necker - and all the properties within Virgin Limited Edition - do so incredibly well.

Q When did you arrive in Necker Island and how long are you expecting to stay?

LJ I originally arrived 10 years ago to set up the spa… I told my parents I would be gone only six months. Six years later I was still here and married before moving to Morocco with our nine-month-old son! We love it here and the British Virgin Islands is very much home to both us and our children and a wonderful place to bring them up.

Q What are the key challenges of working on Necker Island?

LJ & KJ Being a private island in a fairly remote location, getting the highest-quality products here isn't always easy. However, the British Virgin Islands is continually developing and there is more and more we can get locally all the time, which is fantastic.

Q What do you enjoy most about your jobs?

LJ & KJ From the guest side, we love making people happy and ensuring they go home having had the most amazing holiday ever. And from the staff point of view, we enjoy bringing teams together and developing people's strengths. By doing this, we can help them excel and ensure they enjoy their jobs. Stepping out of my office after a long stint on the computer and seeing one of the most stunning views on Earth always makes us want to pinch ourselves!

Q Is there anything you don't like about being on Necker Island?

LJ & KJ No, not at all, we're extremely happy here. If we ever feel like we might be getting island fever, we'll take a day trip to discover the rest of the British Virgin Islands or head further afield.

Q Do you live on the island?

LJ & KJ Yes we do, our kids' school run is by boat each morning and afternoon!

Q How many staff work with you?

LJ & KJ We have approximately 70 staff, half of whom are British Virgin Islanders, with the rest coming from all over, including other Caribbean islands, the USA, the UK, Italy and New Zealand.

Q Were you on the island at the time of last year's fire [lightning from the tropical storm Irene is believed to have been the cause of the blaze which destroyed the island's Great House] and how has it impacted the operation of the resort?

LJ & KJ We were on holiday, but flew back straight away. It was devastating, but the main thing was that no one was hurt. The past year has been an amazing year for teamwork. Getting the operation back up and fully running within a matter of a few weeks after the fire was tricky, but we did it and it's something we're very proud of. We are all now excited about the reopening of the Great House, which we hope to be completed in summer 2013.

Q How often do the Bransons visit the island?

LJ & KJ Necker Island is the Branson home, so when Richard is not travelling the family like to spend their time here. They are all amazing to work for and are all very warm and welcoming.

CV Kenton Jones

2010-present General manager, Necker Island, British Virgin Islands
2008-10 General manager, Kasbah Tamadot, Morocco
2005-08 Assistant manager, then operations manager, Necker Island
2003-05 Watersports manager, Necker Island
2002-03 Manager, Solent Sailboards Kitesurf School, Southampton, Hampshire
2000-01 Yachting instructor, Sunsail, Portsmouth, Hampshire

CV Leesa Jones

2010-present General manager, Necker Island, British Virgin Islands
2008-210 General manager, Kasbah Tamadot, Morocco
2006-08 Front of house manager, Necker Island
2004-05 Spa director, Kasbah Tamadot
2002-04 Spa director, Necker Island
1997-02 Beauty therapist, Virgin Atlantic Airways

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