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Nick Jones, founder and chief executive, Soho House & Co
The judging panel of the 33rd Hotelier of the Year award was hard-pushed to think of a more influential hotel operator in terms of design and style who has consistently maintained a hands-on approach to running his business than Nick Jones.
With Babington House, Jones kicked off the concept of laid-back luxury mixed with glamour in a country house, while just three months ago he opened Soho Farmhouse, a unique resort-style concept within a 100-acre Oxfordshire estate.
His journey to the top is an inspirational one when considering the battle he has had with dyslexia. He was diagnosed at the age of 10 or 11 and went to Shiplake College in Henley-on-Thames, where pupils are encouraged to reach their potential, whatever their ability.
He entered the industry on the Trusthouse Forte training scheme, working in the Westbury, Grosvenor House and the Hyde Park Hotel before gaining experience at Pasta Mania and Maxwell's bar and grill in Covent Garden.
Jones set up in business on his own in the 1980s, launching an unsuccessful restaurant called Over the Top, before in 1995 founding Soho House, which today is a global company with 15 clubs and 17 restaurant brands.
The success of Soho House - and all other Houses that have followed - stemmed from Jones' desire to kick into touch the plethora of rules and regulations he was often faced with when staying away. "Why, for instance, could I never get eggs and bacon in a hotel at 4pm on a Sunday afternoon?" he said.
"I wanted to create bedrooms that were so much nicer than guests had at home. So we put in Sky TV as a time when hardly anyone had Sky TV, piles of fluffy towels and lots of bathroom amenities. It was important to provide a sense of generosity."
Jones' approach has paid off with an almost continuous occupancy of 98% at Babington House over the past 17 years. Across all the hotels, occupancy averages 90%.
The judges awarded Jones the UK's highest accolade for hoteliers for creating a new breed of hotels which have been endlessly copied, but rarely improved upon.
What the judges said
"It's impossible to overstate the influence Babington House has had on the sector."
Richard Ball, executive chairman, Calcot Collection
"Nick sees no boundaries and is a total original with an amazing sense of bravado. He curates exciting, sexy places, where you want to be."
Gordon Campbell Gray, chairman, CampbellGray Hotels, and 2002 Hotelier of the Year
"Diplomat, designer, gourmet, entrepreneur - but above all, he has the ability to sell an idea."
Robin Hutson, chairman and chief executive, Lime Wood Group & Home Grown Hotels, and 2003 Hotelier of the Year
"This country should be proud that he is, first and foremost, a British hotelier."
Fiona Duncan, hotel critic, The Sunday Telegraph
2014 Danny Pecorelli
2013 Stuart Bowery
2012 Stuart Johnson
2011 Stephen Carter
2010 Andrew Stembridge
2009 Jonathan Raggett
2008 Andrew McKenzie
2007 Michael Gray
2006 Richard Ball
2005 John Stauss
2004 Patrick Elsmie
2003 Robin Hutson
2002 Gordon Campbell Gray
2001 Karen Earp
2000 Peter Crome
1999 Nick Ryan
1998 Nicholas Rettie
1997 Peter Lederer
1996 Chris Rouse
1995 Ricci Obertelli
1994 David Levin
1993 Ken McCulloch
1992 Dagmar Woodward
1991 Martin Skan
1990 George Goring
1989 Grete Hobbs
1988 Ronald Jones
1987 Eoin Dillon
1986 Harry Murray
1985 Terry Holmes
1984 RamÁ³n Pajares
1983 Richard Edwards