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Laurence Beere – My life in hospitality

19 June 2009 by
Laurence Beere – My life in hospitality

Laurence Beere is the owner, of the Queensberry Hotel, Bath.

From the age of 10, Beere wanted to be in the industry, originally as a chef. His parents were very supportive and his mother got him a weekend job at the Selsdon Park Hotel, near Croydon, Surrey, at the age of 14.

"I was a general house porter for housekeeping, taking clean linen, collecting dirty linen, hoovering, and doing all the other little odd jobs for around two years and I loved it," he says.

It proved such fun he applied for and was accepted on the Savoy management training programme after his A levels.

Beere used to be the type of hotelier who was caught up in working 16 hours a day and admits he thought building his career was the most important thing to do and family would come afterwards. But nine years ago, he had a rude awakening when his nine-month-old baby died. This tragic event, he says, has changed the way he views life and work, and now he always tries to balance work for himself and his team.

HIGHS… I spent 10 years with the Savoy and feel like it was a vast proportion of my life. I did a lot of growing up there. I still feel very privileged to have worked there and I am still in awe of the place. I love that it's such an incredible part of history.

It was such a high working there with legends like Anton Edelmann and Angelo Maresca - these were guys who had been in the industry for years and to spend time learning from and working with them was just amazing.

I took over as food and beverage manager at 25 and got awarded one of Caterer‘s Acorns in the same year so that was a real high point in my career.

At 30, I was general manager of the Royal Crescent in Bath and I was awarded the Catey for Manager of the Year. Everyone in the industry knows what the Cateys mean: they're the pinnacle of accolades in the industry, and to have your peers be part of the selection process makes it even more special. It was a fantastic achievement and I'm still hugely proud of it.

Buying the Queensberry hotel and running our own business was a really life-changing experience. It sounds clichéd but work goes from being a job to a real lifestyle statement and it was the best thing we ever did. I think though I'm probably now completely unemployable and could never work for anyone else again! I just couldn't go back from making my own decisions and having complete control over what we're doing.

LOWS… Obviously the death of my daughter Isabel was awful, but it was very complicated. She was a twin and within 36 hours of losing Isabel we were sitting in intensive care with Alice, who we were then told had an undiagnosed metabolic disorder and she wouldn't see her second birthday.

It was a real low point but an incredible gift to us that has made us live our lives in a far better way, realising that life is incredibly short. Doctors respond to Alice quickly now because they realise the severity of her condition. She's now 10 and continuing to confound and stick two fingers up to the medical profession.

I always felt leaving Cliveden was unfinished business. I'd ended up as operations director and had really enjoyed working for the American owners, but then they sold to Von Essen and I decided to take voluntary redundancy. It was a very hard decision, although it did result in us buying the Queensberry.

More recently the difficulty of dealing with banks as a result of the economic situation means we came very close to losing it all earlier in the year. Even though we'd invested heavily in the business and increased its value - in the recession - the bank wouldn't agree to a small increase in our overdraft.

It was a really difficult time, but thankfully we managed to refinance with another bank and are now in a stronger position. It was very scary to almost lose the business through pretty much no fault of our own.

  • Family Married with three children
  • Age 40
  • Favourite holiday Skiing in France
  • Drives BMW 550M Sport - it's my weakness; I love cars
  • Motto There has to be a work-life balance.
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