The hotel stars of tomorrow

24 September 2009 by
The hotel stars of tomorrow

Hotels editor Gemma Sharkey takes a look at the careers of some of the outstanding young talents in the industry - and asks what drew them into hospitality and what they think their future holds.

When it comes to chefs it's easy to think of the bright young things of tomorrow, garnering a reputation for themselves in the foodie world. But with hoteliers it seems somewhat trickier, with many trailblazers going unnoticed, which hardly seems fair. With this is mind, Caterer decided to do some digging to unearth the young stars of tomorrow. Our money's on the following to be in the top 10.


Ages Matt 38, Shelley 37

Current roles She is general manager of Cecconi's and Soho House West Hollywood, and he is executive chef at Soho House.

CV highlights Shelley: Working with Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers at the River Café; Matt: His first head chef position at Babington House.

Why they're hot Nick Jones has picked the pair to open the newest Soho House property in West Hollywood early next year.

Nick Jones, founder of Soho House, on the Armisteads "Shelley oozes style and has a fantastic knowledge of food. She's bubbly, gets on with lots of people and has a very professional attitude but goes about things in a nicely relaxed way. She's my eyes and ears over in West Hollywood. When you operate from a different country you have to employ someone who would lay down in the road for you. And she would do that.

"Matt is a down-to-earth guy from Blackburn who has a love for the industry, and his food is fantastic."

Why did you choose hospitality? Shelley: "I had to pay my way through school in South Africa, and waitressing got me through. It was easy money, as apartheid had just been abolished and the tourist trade was booming in Cape Town. It got into my blood - it fulfils my love of food, socialising and, because I'm such a bossy boots, I get to tell people what to do. I wouldn't work for anyone other than Nick Jones; what he has taught me about the business I would never have learnt from anyone else. He is a true visionary."

Matt: "Because I was never going to be an academic, I was always going to work with my hands. My mother is an excellent cook and a real foodie. There was always a huge focus on meals together as a family. Food and cooking is a way of life, the social aspect of that fits well with the hospitality industry."

Proudest achievements Their two sons, Joseph and Isaac.

In 10 years' time "We'll be living on a farm, chasing our boys down from the treetops, raising our rare-breed pigs, making our own hams, honey and English version of pecorino. We want to own a food establishment that will be a true ‘Matt and Shelley' family business, maybe with a couple of rooms and a tent thrown in."

Top tip for getting ahead? Shelley: "Believe in who you work for - always aim for people who are at the top of their game - and absorb like a sponge."

Matt: "Know what you are getting yourself into and believe in what you do. I waited for a year to get into the River Café, because I really wanted to be there."


Age 29

Current position Resident manager at the Stafford hotel in Mayfair, London.

CV highlights General assistant at the Sloane Club; front-of-house manager at Dukes hotel before; joined the Stafford in 2006 as assistant manager.

Why he's hot Under 30 and number two at one of London's best hotels.

Stuart Procter, general manager of the Stafford hotel, on Baum "Leon runs the Stafford in my absence, and the client feedback is never anything short of exceptional. During the downturn over the past six months the controls he has put in place have resulted in excellent profitability for the hotel. He is charming and approaches the team with understanding - his approach and style is second to none and they all respect him for it."

Why hospitality? "I have family ties with the hotel industry: my uncle has worked in London hotels for the majority of his life. At an early age I visited him in London and it seemed a very grand world. He worked for Forte for 26 years and ended up running the Grosvenor House hotel in the early 1990s. It's something I've always wanted to do. It's so diverse, working with all different cultures, and every day is different. There's also the opportunity to travel the world, and I love anything to do with customer contact. I'm very fortunate to work with some very professional people in this industry."

Proudest achievement "Most recently being promoted to move up to resident manager at the start of this year, after two years."

In 10 years' time "I'll be working in hotels across the USA as general manager."

Top tip for getting ahead "Make the most of opportunities."


Age 30

Current role Commercial operations director for Searcys 1847, looking after De Vere Resorts as food and beverage director.

CV highlights Food and beverage director Malmaison and Hotel du Vin 2006-08; general manager of Malmaison London 2003-06; food and beverage director De Vere Resorts in 2008

Why he's hot He has been brought into Searcys to expand its presence in high-profile contracts around the City.

Robert Cook, chief executive of Hotel du Vin, on Boyce "I think he's definitely the top one for his age - he's remarkable. Paul's been with Malmaison since 1999, when he was just 20, and people are now looking to him for inspiration. He commands huge respect, and he does his duties with ease and no questions asked. He will be a leading light and, I have no doubt, the chief executive of a company one day."

Why hospitality? "I was roped into it by my brother, who worked as the F&B manager at the Queens Moathouse in Hertfordshire. One day he called me up and I sensed some real anguish in his voice, so I agreed to help him and then fell in love with it. I enjoyed looking after people, making people have a good time, and learning about food and drink. It definitely wasn't the money: I was getting paid £8,000 a year as assistant restaurant manager at 17."

Proudest achievement "There's many I have been proud of. It was a very proud moment winning an Acorn in 2005 and then in 2006 the Hotel Catey for Food & Beverage Manager of the Year."

In 10 years' time "I would like to be in a position where I'm working for a very successful business - my own or otherwise - developing people, contributing to the industry and spending time with my family."

Top tip for getting ahead "Your priority has to be to look after people - your guests, your staff and yourself."


Age 39

Current role General manager, Fanhams Hall hotel, Hertfordshire

CV highlights Started as receptionist at 27; with Trusthouse Forte 1987-97; joined Exclusive Hotels as deputy events manager at Pennyhill Park; became general manager of Fanhams Hall hotel in 2005.

Why she's hot She's the only female general manager at Exclusive Hotels.

Danny Pecorelli on Guy "Debbie has an insatiable appetite for moving her product forward and developing what, for us, is a new brand and a new concept. She's constantly seeking out new ideas and, as a result, is generating huge loyalty and a huge fan base with both the staff and our customers."

Why hospitality? "When I was growing up my father was an area manager for Midland Bank, and when we moved home we used to have to stay in hotels for a month or two at a time. Sometimes the hotel staff felt sorry for me and let me sit behind reception, and that's how my love for hospitality started. And I still love it as much as when I started. I love the customer contact, the freedom of creating a product that customers enjoy using, the pleasure hotels can give guests, and all the buzz and excitement of it. Two days are never the same."

Proudest achievement? "Becoming general manager of Fanhams."

In 10 years' time "I'll be running a few hotels as operations director within the boutique market."

Top tip for getting ahead "Determination and a can-do attitude."


Age 32

Current role General manager of Firmdale's Crosby Street hotel in New York

CV highlights Joined Firmdale at Dorset Square hotel in 1994 as a luggage porter, then head receptionist and night manager. In 2000 he became deputy general manager at the Covent Garden hotel until 2004 before moving to be deputy general manager at Charlotte Street hotel. Promoted to general manager of the Knightsbridge hotel in 2005 and then general manager at Charlotte Street hotel in 2006.

Why he's hot Carrie Wicks chose him to run the über-design hotel company's first property outside the UK in New York City.

Carrie Wicks on Hansen "Jakob's the only male general manager in the Firmdale stable, but I've worked alongside him since he joined the company.Jakob understands the Firmdale ethos, and his all round experience has given him an eye for detail and a grasp of the high standards expected at Firmdale. I have no doubt that once he has experienced the opening of Crosby Street and increased his knowledge, he will in time go on to head up the New York arm of our hotel developments."

Why hospitality? "I initially went to university to study finance and got a job as a luggage porter to support myself, but when I started whistling to work every morning I knew that was a good sign. I fell in love with hospitality. I love the way that the world that surrounds us is not a normal one; you're part of something very special. And every day you get to be whoever you want to be - it's sort of like being on stage in a way."

Proudest achievement "When I was first promoted from deputy general manager to the general manager at Knightsbridge at 31."

In 10 years' time "I'd like to be operations director for all of our New York hotels, assuming Firmdale gets even bigger."

Top tip for getting ahead "Attention to detail. And never ever compromise on your appearance, your beliefs or your standards."


Age 38

Current role General manager of Selfridges' new hotel project

CV highlights St Julian's scholar, Cranfield; trainee with InterContinental; general manager of Coq d'Argent; general manager of Great Eastern hotel, London.

Why he's hot He's been picked to head up shopping Mecca Selfridges' first hotel.

Nicholas Rettie, most recently project director of the Aviator hotel in Farnborough, on Pajares "Roberto fitted the bill to take on this pretty significant task of running four bars and five restaurants at the Great Eastern. He took over shortly before 9/11, which caused a dramatic reverse in climate to what we'd all expected. But he attacked the job with incredible energy and vigour and good humour. He was a great member of the team and a very strong manager - taking hard decisions and not afraid of wielding the axe - but he would do it with fairness and as a decent human being. I could see him running his own business eventually."

Why hospitality? "My introduction started with summer jobs from the age of 16 in hotels. I then went to Surrey University to study hotel and catering. My father was also absolutely a major influence, but I've gone in a very different direction by working in contemporary places. What I love about it is the diversity: every day is different. I love the interaction with customers and staff, the product, the team you work with. It's a career that's been good to me."

Proudest achievement "I was most excited about opening the Coq d'Argent seven years ago. After working for InterContinental it was a totally different direction. It was a smaller project that I saw through from start to finish."

In 10 years' time "I'll be running my own business - ideally a small group of boutique hotels in the UK."

Top tip for getting ahead "Do something you love. Pick something you're passionate about rather than what you think will be good for your career. Choose something exciting."


Age 34

Current role General manager of the Glasshouse and the Scotsman in Edinburgh

CV highlights Pereira has been working at the Glasshouse since May 2004 and, more recently, at the Scotsman. As well as managing both hotels he has played a key role in the development of the two, refurbishing and restoring the buildings and restructuring the management teams.

Why he's hot He's been promoted six times in as many years.

Peter Tyrie, managing director of the Eton Collection, on Pereira "I hired Daniel some years ago and he's been promoted several times in the space of a few years. What made him stand out was his enthusiasm and energy for the work. He's got a very good eye for detail, is a good leader and a great motivator - all of which make him a seriously good manager. He's definitely got a bright future ahead of him."

Why hospitality? "It's a vibrant and exciting industry - no two days are the same. You deal with all sorts of situations on a day-to-day basis and that's now a way of life for me."

Proudest achievement "I was a finalist at the Cateys for Manager of the Year this year for the work I've undertaken across both hotels. It's nice to be recognised by your peers."

In 10 years' time "I'll be heading up a high-profile hotel in a bigger property."

Top tip for getting ahead "Always strive for excellence."


Age 39

Current role General manager, Lime Wood hotel, the New Forest

CV highlights He started his career at London's Grosvenor House hotel in 1989 before moving to the Sloane Club in Chelsea in 1995. He was with the Firmdale Group between 2000 and 2002, then Compass Group from 2002 to 2003, when he joined the Zetter.

Why he's hot He opened London's Zetter hotel - which quickly featured in Conde Nast Traveller‘s 50 Coolest Hotels in the World list.

Robin Hutson on Pinchbeck "Part of why I selected and recruited Justin was that I liked that he had traditional training and rose up through the ranks like I did. I'm a great believer in that. He's able to be very flexible in his approach to managing people and to engage with the team - he can be a disciplinarian when required but also has a degree of empathy for the individual. He makes decisions in a considered way and doesn't knee-jerk to a situation. He's a very personable person: someone both guests and staff like, and has a good old-fashioned passion for hospitality."

Why hospitality? "My father was in the hospitality industry, and I was brought up from the age of six at the Imperial hotel in Torquay. I always wanted to follow in his footsteps."

Proudest achievement "I have to say opening the Zetter was my proudest achievement. When I left that job to come here I looked around the room at what it had become - the strength of the brand, of my team - and felt incredibly proud. I'd like to do the same here."

In 10 years' time "I'd love to design a hotel from scratch and put the infrastructure and systems in place. I have a real passion for that."

Top tip for getting ahead "Lead by example and mean it."


Age 33

Current position General manager at the Hoxton Urban Lodge in Shoreditch, London

Why he's hot As well as being the GM of one of London's coolest hotels, he'll be a key player in the company's expansion plans.

CV highlights Part of the opening team at the Great Eastern hotel 1999-2001; director of sales, Sofitel St James 2001-03; director of sales and marketing, Jumeirah Carlton Tower; director of sales and marketing, Great Eastern hotel 2005-06.

Stephen Lloyd, managing director of WS Hotels, management company behind the Hoxton, on Taylor "David's a super guy who's been with us since we opened the hotel three years ago. He started as director of sales and took over as GM a couple of months after that.

"David's biggest skill is his leadership, the way he deals with people at all levels. He's extremely polite and charming with the guests, but is able to lead and influence a team. He's aware of commercial opportunities and is profit-focused but upholds very high standards of guest service. It's hard to define the magic ingredients he's helped create in the business, but it's helped us be successful.

He's destined for very very big things, and we're really lucky to have him."

Why hospitality? "As a kid, I stayed in great hotels when travelling with my parents and became fascinated by them. At age 15 I walked past the newly opened Hyatt hotel in Birmingham and thought it would be a great place to work. I ended up there as front office trainee after my A levels. I enjoy people, motivating the team, interacting with our guests and the innkeeping side of things."

Proudest achievement "The three hotel openings I've been involved with: Great Eastern, Sofitel and the Hoxton. In addition, obtaining a Master Innholders scholarship last year."

In 10 years' time "I'll still be with the Hoxton team. I'm excited about our future development plans."

Top tip for getting ahead "Get the right team around you, engage them and share the success."


Age 33

Current role General manager, Hotel Missoni, Edinburgh

CV highlights Completed her hotel management education in Stavanger in 1998 with the solid aim of becoming a hotel general manager before she turned 30. Began her career as a food and beverage trainee at the Radisson SAS Caledonian hotel in Kristiansand. Became general manager of the Radisson SAS hotel, Belfast, in 2005.

Why she's hot Williamson was the first female general manager in the Rezidor Hotel Group UK & Ireland and the youngest general manager in Northern Ireland. She was picked to head its foray into the fashion-hotel world with its new Missoni hotel in Edinburgh.

Mark Willis, regional director UK, Radisson Blu and Hotel Missoni, on Williamson "Carina is highly motivated. She's an enthusiastic person, quick to see a business opportunity, and entrepreneurial. She's not boxed in, nor held back by her age, or sex. It's a huge thing to be given the opening for the first Missoni hotel and is a reflection of our belief in, and expectations of, her. She's a sure thing."

Why hospitality? "I worked in my dad's restaurant when I was little, and he was a hero to me. After a few years I just knew that this was what I wanted to do. I loved the buzz and the madness - I needed to be around people. You have to sacrifice a lot, but I do it because I love it."

Proudest achievement "Definitely launching Hotel Missoni. It's the most exciting project I've ever worked on and the highlight of my career."

In 10 years' time "I'd love to be an operations director with Missoni. I've found the dream company to work with."

What is your top tip for getting ahead? "Work as hard as you can, be committed, and have a very positive attitude."

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