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Stewart Lorimer – My Life in Hospitality

20 November 2009 by
Stewart Lorimer – My Life in Hospitality

Stewart Lorimer is the area general manager, North of Scotland, for Hilton Hotels.

It would be easy to say Stewart Lorimer was destined for a life in hotels. When he was born, his father was a hotel general manager and when he was seven, his parents ran their own hotel.

"It's what I knew," he says. "But I wasn't encouraged to follow in my father's footsteps - in fact, my mother was not particularly pleased when I did, as the life of a hotelier is 24/7."

As a teenager, Lorimer enjoyed helping his parents in the hotel, rising each morning to set out the milk and butter, make toast and restock the bar.

"At that age, the opportunity to earn cash and do something hands-on was great," he says.

When he turned 16, Lorimer spent two summer seasons in a hotel in Largs, Ayrshire, which cemented his determination to pursue a career in hospitality.

In 1985, Lorimer went to Strathclyde University where he did his degree at the Scottish Hotel School, before joining the Embassy Hotels Group (which later became Jarvis) as a trainee manager.

Following eight years with Embassy, Lorimer began his career with Marriott in Aberdeen at the Amatola, where he eventually became general manager at just 26.

"I was working at the Caledonian in Inverness when I got the call to ‘start tomorrow'. I packed my bags and drove down that night," he recalls.

Lorimer's career path with Marriott saw him work in a broad cross-section of hotels. As operations manager, he helped to plan and open the Worsley Park hotel and country club in Manchester.

"I was sat in a Portakabin for six months with no customers and no staff; just a blank piece of paper to plan the hotel," he explains.

After two years, Lorimer returned to the role of general manager, this time at Newcastle Marriott Hotel Metrocentre, which was another big change. He had gone from a historic country resort to a bustling city centre hotel, with a mixed trade of mid-week business clientele and weekend shoppers and party-goers.

"My first task was to attend Marriott's general managers' conference in New Orleans during Mardi Gras," he says. "I thought I'd died and gone to heaven."

A year later, he moved to the 178-bedroom Marriott Gosforth Park, before taking up the post of cluster manager at Marriott for the North of England, which he held for five years. Success in this role led Lorimer to his current position with the Hilton Hotels group. He credits his constant evolution for his success: "You can't stand still," he advises. "Keep changing things and keep looking for different ways to do things."

HIGHS… As part of an insurance assessment at Gosforth Park, we had a painting that was hanging in the lobby valued. When we discovered it was worth £20,000-£40,000, we decided it was too risky to leave it where it was so we put it in an auction. In the end it went for £140,000. It was a massive boost to our profit and loss figures!

LOWS… One winter at the Amatola, temperatures dropped to double negative figures. I spent the three-and-half days after Boxing Day that we were closed, resetting the faulty, outside boiler every 45 minutes. It was horrendous.

Also, when I was at Gosforth Park we had an outbreak of norovirus. It happened at the beginning of December, which lost the business a lot of money. We managed to contain and manage it very quickly, but the panic that it caused meant we received a lot of cancellations.

Age 42
Family Married, four children
Favourite holiday Fife
Drives Jaguar
Motto Don't have mottos!

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