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Duncan Palmer Managing director, Langham hotel, London

04 May 2006

Born in Loughborough, Leicestershire, Duncan Palmer's career as a hotelier has seen him spend long periods away from the UK. Initially tempted away by a thirst for travel, Palmer, 47, has worked in hotel management around the globe and immersed himself in many countries' cultures.

After graduating from Westminster Kingsway College, Palmer took the opportunity to work abroad - at the Dubai International hotel - as part of a six-month structured training programme monitored by Trusthouse Forte. The programme allowed him to fix his feet firmly on the first rung of the ladder and resulted in his appointment to assistant food and beverage manager.

Palmer then moved further east, to Macau, and the Mandarin Oriental hotel, where he was allocated the task of overseeing the opening of the hotel's eight food and beverage outlets. After their successful introduction, promotion to resident manager beckoned.

After two years as manager of the Mandarin Oriental Manila, Palmer moved to Bangkok - where his personal touch helped the Mandarin Oriental scoop three magazine awards in the same year: Institutional Investor, Executive Travel and Business Traveller International magazines all found the hotel to be worthy of their honours.

Palmer was now ready to take on a fresh challenge as general manager of the Mandarin Oriental Jakarta.

After 14 years away from the UK, the offer of a top job at London's Savoy hotel was enough to bring Palmer back to Blighty, and yet again his work earned praise. Taking Executive Travel's Worldwide Hotel of the Year title for the Savoy was a source of pride, as it was the first time in 15 years that the award had not gone to an Asian hotel.

Deciding to stay on in London, Palmer was made general manager of the Connaught.

Now at the top of his trade, as managing director of the Langham hotel, Palmer says: "I wouldn't have got where I am today without the help of those around me."

By Mark Newton

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Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.

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