Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Danny Pecorelli, Exclusive Hotels

01 July 2011
Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Danny Pecorelli, Exclusive Hotels

Overall ranking: 85 (ranked 80 in 2010)

Hotel ranking: 17 (ranked 18 in 2010)

Danny Pecorelli - Snapshot

Danny Pecorelli is the managing director of Exclusive Hotels, which owns and operates four country house hotels in the South of England, EH Venues with two properties designed for conferencing and management company Exclusive Hotel Management. The business was founded in 1981 by his father, Giuseppe Pecorelli, with the purchase of the jewel in the crown, Pennyhill Park in Bagshot, Surrey, and this year celebrates its 30th anniversary. The group now turns over around £400m a year and employs more than 600 staff.

Danny Pecorelli - Career guide

From 1988 Danny Pecorelli undertook a four-year training programme which saw him work in the kitchens and restaurants of London's Savoy hotel and the Four Seasons Inn on the Park. After graduating from Cornell University Summer School, Pecorelli spent a year working for Sheraton in the USA in sales and marketing.

In 1991 he became general manager of Exclusive's Mannings Heath Golf Club in Sussex, which, on acquisition, had been a private members' club with a £600,000 turnover. Over the next three years he doubled its turnover and developed a new clubhouse and a second 18-hole championship course.

In 1994 Pecorelli moved to the four-star, £2.5m-turnover South Lodge hotel in Sussex, where he achieved year-on-year growth, record profits and an AA red star rating. During the next decade the Pecorellis added three more country house hotels and a secong golf club. He took over as managing director of Exclusive in 1997 when his father assumed the role of chairman.

The group now consists of Lainston House Hotel in Hampshire, South Lodge Hotel plus Mannings Heath Golf Club in West Sussex, Pennyhill Park Hotel and Spa in Surrey, The Manor House and Golf Club in Castle Combe, Wiltshire, Fanhams Hall Hotel in Hertfordshire and the Royal Berkshire in Ascot.

Four of the properties have AA4 and 5 red stars and are amongst the UK's top 200 hotels. Each of its fine-dining restaurants has 3 or 4 AA Rosettes, between them boasting two Michelin starred restaurants (Latymers at Pennyhill Park and ByBrook at the Manor House) and 17 AA Rosettes.

The EH Venues brand was launched in 2005 with Fanhams Hall Hotel with the Royal Berkshire hotels added to the collection this May.

Pecorelli also launched Exclusive Hotel Management in 2009.

Danny Pecorelli - What we think

Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year Pecorelli has certainly shown that he and the group have longevity, but he's also proven that country houses don't have to be staid. Rather than rest on his laurels, under his stewardship, Exclusive Hotels is continually evolving with new brands, new contracts and quirky propositions.

In October 2007 Pecorelli pulled off a coup by recruiting Michael Wignall, executive head chef at the Michelin-starred Devonshire Arms in Yorkshire, to join Latymers at Pennyhill Park. The move proved a success, with the restaurant picking up a Michelin star in 2009, which it has since retained.

2007 also saw a £7.5m investment into South Lodge, which involved the recruitment of 35 new staff and the addition of a new wing, doubling the accommodation from 41 to 89 bedrooms. The property's Camellia restaurant was joined by a second restaurant, the Pass, complete with a new £500,000 kitchen. The 22-seat fine-dining restaurant contained within the kitchen is possibly the last word in chef voyeurism.

The investment and hard work paid off. The hotel, which was awarded its fifth star and three AA rosettes in January 2009, was chosen to host the G20 finance ministers' summit in March 2009 and picked up the Best Group Hotel Catey in 2009. Previously, Pecorelli's successful Breakfast at Tiffany campaign aimed at female corporate events bookers, won the Best Group Marketing Campaign in the 2006 Cateys.

As the recession took hold Pecorelli revealed that Exclusive Hotels, which is an owner-operator, was moving into management "because there is more money in it and it is easier to leverage. We have been approached a lot recently to do management contracts by banks, because they are looking for good operators," he said. "It is a good way for us to expand at a time when funding is hard to come by."

In May this year he added the 63-bedroom Royal Berkshire hotel in Ascot to the EH Venues portfolio, buying it from Aviva, the holding company of Jarvis hotels for nearly £14m. He now plans to spend £2m over the next two years updating the property to become a high quality, quirky training and wedding venue.

Pecorelli has also admitted he is actively looking to expand the group further and is now keeping a close eye on the 28-strong Von Essen group, which went into administration this April. "However, there are very few Von Essen hotels we would actually be interested in," he told Caterer recently.

Danny Pecorelli's ranking in the 2010 100 >>

Royal Berkshire hotel to become an EH Venues property >>

Exclusive Hotels buys the Royal Berkshire >>" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">
Exclusive Hotels website >>

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