Riddian Davies is the general manager of the Grosvenor, the 357-room hotel in Victoria, London, which will be rebranded from a Thistle to a Guoman property following a £20m refurbishment. He talks to Janet Harmer about the opening today of the first element of the redesigned hotel, The Brasserie, and what is to follow, on this major project
Caterer Tell us about The Brasserie
Riddian Davies It is a 200-seat all day dining restaurant, open from 7am, and has been developed within what was formerly the Grosvenor Lounge and Club Bar. The interior reflects the quintessential English feel of the hotel's heritage as a grand Victorian railway hotel, with deep burgundy furnishings softened by taupe. Overseen by the hotel's executive chef Robert Prendergest, the menu is predominately British in flavour with a hint of French and Asian influences. There is a good choice of everybody's favourite dishes such as high quality grilled steaks and fish and chips.
CatererWill The Brasserie be the only restaurant in the new look hotel?
RD No, it will be joined on 1 November by The Grand Imperial restaurant, a 170-seat Cantonese restaurant, which will open in the space presently occupied by Chez Gerard. The head chef will be Rand Wing Shing Cheung, who is originally from Hong Kong and has worked in Singapore and Malaysia. He will be bringing 10 chefs from South-east Asia with him.
Caterer What are the other key elements of the refurbishment?
RD All the bedrooms are being refurbished, with the number falling from 357 to 348. The existing single bedrooms will be converted to doubles and two new penthouse suites will open, with fabulous views over London. There will be a new fitness centre, a two-level Guoman club lounge, and an additional entrance opening on to Buckingham Palace Road. Air-conditioning, which is currently in only half of the hotel, will be installed throughout.
Caterer Is the hotel going to remain open during the refurbishment?
RD Absolutely; we shall be 100% operational throughout. The beauty of the large size and L-shape of the building is that we can close off a specific floor or wing without disturbing the rest of the hotel. We've currently got 30 bedrooms out of action and the public areas are being done section by section.
Caterer When will the refurbishment be complete?
RD It will be finished by December 2011, up and ready for the Olympics.
Caterer How will The Grosvenor look by then?
RD This is a badly needed refurbishment and by the time it is completed, the hotel will be rated as a four-star deluxe property. I can guarantee that it will be second to none and that no other hotel at a similar price level will be able to beat us on quality within a two to three-mile radius. We intend to capture the luxury traveller who arrives in London via Victoria station.
By Janet Harmer
E-mail your comments to Janet Harmer here.
If you have something to say on this story or anything else join the debate at Table Talk - Caterer's new networking forum. Go to www.caterersearch.com/tabletalk
Looking for a new job? Find your next job here with Caterersearch.com jobs