Hotel Cateys 2015: Front of House Team of the Year

02 December 2015
Hotel Cateys 2015: Front of House Team of the Year

Sponsored by Tetley

Macdonald Randolph Hotel, Oxford

The front office team at the Macdonald Randolph Hotel in Oxford work tirelessly to ensure the expectations of guests are always met. But the team members have also proved they are more than capable of dealing with the unexpected equally well.

Earlier this year the hotel suffered a catastrophic fire; fortunately, no one was harmed. It took the Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service a total of 15 engines to extinguish the flames and several days to establish that the property was safe. The overall damage to the hotel was kept to a minimum, which was in no small part thanks to the hotel's team and their willingness to go above and beyond the usual call of duty. After evacuating all the guests from the hotel, the team set up a triage centre at the Oxford Playhouse.

When the fire broke out, the hotel had been hosting a major conference, so not only did the team have to try and find 138 bedrooms across Oxford, they also had to organise adequate rooms for the conference.

The team carried on working until the early hours of the morning, arranging transportation to the hotels to minimise the inconvenience for guests.

While firefighters were investigating whether the building could be considered structurally safe, guests were unable to retrieve their personal belongings, leaving them without the necessities for their hotel stays. To alleviate this, the front of house team bought essential items, such as toiletries, clothing and non-prescription medicine, for the guests.

Some international guests had all their travel documents and passports along with their belongings in the hotel bedrooms, so the team liaised with the fire authority on a priority basis to retrieve these items so guests would not miss their flights.

On less eventful days the team has numerous examples of going the extra mile to deliver exceptional customer service. They are personable hosts who are organised and systematic in delivering the highest level of care. They make sure first and last impressions are perfect, and aim to ensure the same for every moment in between. It starts with the little things, based on attention to detail and the personal interests of guests, not only as customers, but as individuals. Team members make use of any information that could help improve and make a guest's stay more memorable.

What the judges said

"I felt that the way they dealt with the post-fire situation was really commendable. It is one thing to have a business continuity plan, but to action it and go to that next level takes real character. It's a great example of teamwork, with many hours put in to look after guests. Overall, a really good example of great customer service."

Ben Seager, deputy general manager, the Montague on the Gardens

"The team stepped up to the enormous challenge of ensuring excellent customer care: extra hours, working through the night and shopping for essentials and missing items to take care of guests' needs. The team worked well together as a unit."

Colin Houston, industry manager 2020, VisitScotland

"This was an innovative approach to resolving guest issues and restoring confidence. The team went above and beyond to ensure the guests were cared for under great adversity."

Gary Kelly, assistant human resources manager, Park Plaza Hotels


  • The Capital London
  • Macdonald Randolph Hotel Oxford
  • Premier Inn Newcastle (Washington) Hotel

Past winners

  • 2014 Macdonald Windsor Hotel
  • 2013 Radisson Blu Hotel Edinburgh
  • 2012 Flemings Mayfair, London
  • 2011The Cavendish, London
  • 2010 Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, Oxfordshire
  • 2009 Malmaison Leeds
  • 2008 Jurys Inn Manchester
  • 2007 Rudding Park Hotel, Spa & Golf Harrogate

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