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It was a risk employing Andrew Foulkes as general manager of the 62-bedroom Abbey hotel in Bath back in 2014. The move took him out of his mainly five-star comfort zone and demanded the smooth running of the hotel during the refurbishment of 42 of its bathrooms and the creation of two bedrooms. And yet, under owner Ian Taylor's leadership, Foulkes blossomed into a strong manager who demands an impressive performance from his team when it comes to sales and keeps a keen eye on costs to reach above average profitability.
Foulkes is a graduate in hospitality management from Bournemouth University, and he also studied at Cranfield University on a Master Innholders Scholarship.
Having started his career as a commis chef for Heston Blumenthal at the Fat Duck, he joined Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons as a junior sous chef in 2005 before moving front of house four years later.
He moved with the company to the Bath Priory in June 2013 before joining the Abbey hotel in September 2014.
Since Foulkes has been in the position, the Abbey's rating has increased from three to four AA stars and he has also played an integral part in influencing the food and beverage profitability, which has increased from £10,000 in 2012 to £345,000 in 2016. He forecasts a minimum profit and loss on any major business decisions and has the ability to think creatively about how best to market and sell his ideas. Turnover at the hotel has increased from £1.8m in 2013 to £5.9m in 2017, and EBITDA from £460,000 to £1.5m in the same period.
Foulkes works closely with the marketing team and helped create the marketing strategy for the hotel, which saw successful campaigns for the festive periods in 2015 and 2016.
His tenure has also seen the creation of new office spaces, staff areas and a new management training programme that took two years of tenacity to get signed off. He has also introduced a new health and safety policy with updated fire risk assessments and fire policies.
Foulkes organised a pop-up terrace concept for summer 2016 with Ridgeview wines and has built on existing relationships with Great Western Wine and Enotria & Coe to put on 10 wine dinners a year, while also expanding the events calendar to include celebrity chef dinners, supper clubs and the popular drag queen bingo.
He also works closely with Bath College and the city's two universities on student workshops and mentoring programmes, and is a member of the board for Hospitality Action.
Ultimately, he is described as "incredibly supportive, loyal and great guy to have as a GM" by his colleagues.
What the judges said
"Having had the opportunity of working with Andrew for many years, I have seen the way he has developed and become a leader, a businessman and a great ambassador for our industry. A very worthy young winner who still has
a fantastic career ahead of him."
"The impact he has made since joining the Abbey has been phenomenal - transforming the business and developing his team but still doing his bit to give something back. He's a role model."
Oliver Brown, general manager, Wivenhoe House, Colchester, Essex
Andrew Foulkes, general manager, Abbey hotel, Bath
Mukesh Kumar, General manager, the Belfry Hotel & Resort, Wishaw, Warwickshire
Peter Avis, Babylon at the Roof Gardens
Silvano Giraldin, Service and management consultant
ZoÁ« Jenkins, Coworth Park
Liz McGiver, Red Carnation Hotels
Philip Newman-Hall, Hospitality consultant
Chantelle Nicholson, Tredwell's and Marcus Wareing Restaurants
Anne Pierce, The Springboard charity
Justin Pinchbeck, Beaverbrook
Fred Sirieix, Galvin at Windows
David Taylor, Starwood Capital Group