Matthew Bell, hotel manager at Seaham Hall, County Durham

22 September 2005
Matthew Bell, hotel manager at Seaham Hall, County Durham

Matthew Bell was promoted to hotel manager at the luxury Seaham Hall Hotel and Serenity Spa in County Durham in May. He's based in nearby Sedgefield, the prime minister's constituency, which seems apt considering Bell has a degree in politics and international relations.

Bell describes his education as "invaluable" in the role of hotel manager, as working at Seaham is as much about the people as it is about forecasts and spreadsheets.

Having had an eye on the hospitality industry for some time, after graduation he undertook a diploma in food and wine at London's famed Leiths School of Food and Wine from 1998-99.

A stint as head chef at the Blue Bar Caf in Fulham followed, but Bell soon missed interaction with customers and realised his future wasn't as a chef. But his experience in the kitchen was useful, and a break came in November 1999 when he joined the Great Eastern hotel in London for pre-opening. He spent the first two years of his graduate management role grafting in food and beverage, before taking a sideways step to oversee the opening of the hotel's new Aurora restaurant as acting manager.

Having impressed, Bell was kept on after graduation and made bar manager of the newly launched Aurora bar, which complemented the restaurant.

In May 2002 Bell became operations manager at the Great Eastern, overseeing private dining and events. The scale of the operation and added responsibility blew him away initially, but being ambitious, Bell stuck to his task and in April 2004 took the next bold step in his career, leaving London to head for the North of England to get more personally involved in a smaller, but no less exciting, business.

"I took the opportunity to develop my career and be a much bigger fish in a smaller pond," says Bell, who joined Seaham Hall as deputy manager.

An acting hotel manager role followed in March 2005, before official recognition of his abilities won him his current title earlier this year.

His advice is to focus on where you're going, and talk to people in the industry to learn more about what's out there.

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