Industry veteran and former Hotelier of the Year John Stauss was awarded the AA's prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award last night.
"You wonder how you got there, because so many people in the hospitality sector start back of house, as I did. How do you go from where you started to standing in front of the industry receiving an award like this?" said Stauss. The veteran hotelier was general manager of the five-red-AA-star, 193-bedroom Four Seasons London Park Lane hotel for 23 years and has chalked up more than 50 years in the industry before retiring earlier this year.
"It speaks volumes about the hospitality industry," he said, speaking to The Caterer. "You can go from anything to anywhere within the hospitality sector because of the scope and variety of jobs and employers within the sectors. There's the right job for just about anybody."
The award recognises professionals within the industry who have committed their lives to the pursuit of perfection within their discipline and have made significant fundamental contributions to the industry which have had a notable impact.
Stauss said the legacy he was most proud of was those he had trained and mentored during his career, describing the next generation of the hospitality industry as "the biggest gift that any of us can give", and paid his respects to those who supported him throughout his career: "There are many people in the UK hospitality industry who have helped me a lot."
As for pursuit of perfection, he said the ultimate pursuit in hospitality for him has been returning guests: "That's one of the real pleasures of being in the hospitality industry is welcoming people back."
He added: "I'm very happy with what I did - it wasn't always easy, some jobs are very difficult in hospitality, but it doesn't mean they're not funâ¦ I feel strongly that it's a great sector for just about anybody and we just need to do a better job getting the right people in the right jobs."