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Top 100: Jonathan Raggett, Red Carnation Hotels

19 April 2018 by
Top 100: Jonathan Raggett, Red Carnation Hotels

Overall ranking: 60 (39 in 2012)

Hotelier ranking: 9 (8 in 2012)


Jonathan Raggett is the managing director of Red Carnation Hotels. He originally joined the company as general manager of the Rubens at the Palace and Hotel 41 in 1998. The 17-strong hotel group is privately owned by the Tollman family, which has properties in the UK, Ireland, South Africa, the US and Switzerland.

Raggett's 30-year career in the industry began with an HND in hotel management at Westminster College, and his first position was as a management trainee with Norfolk Capital Hotels. After two years he moved to the Old Swan hotel in Harrogate and then to the Highcliffe hotel, where he gained front of house experience. In 1988 he was appointed deputy general manager of the Londonderry hotel (now the Metropolitan). In 1990 he moved to South Africa as hotel manager at the Maharani hotel in Durban for three years before moving to the St Pierre Park hotel in Guernsey as director and general manager. Raggett moved on from Guernsey to join Red Carnation Hotels.

What we think

The hotel group has held the Investors in People gold accreditation for more than 10 years, which speaks volumes for the importance the company places on its staff, as does the fact that company founder Bea Tollman personally selects presents for all her employees every Christmas.

The group's people-first approach has been recognised on a number of different levels: from the company achieving second place on The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For list in 2015, to Tollman winning the Lifetime Achievement award at the Catey Awards 2016. The Red Carnation human resources team was also recognised as HR team of the year at the 2015 Hotel Cateys, when it was praised for working tirelessly to ensure everyone at the company feels included and heard.

In turn, the focus on people has positively affected Red Carnation's performance: Hotel 41 holds the number one spot out of 1,065 hotels in London on TripAdvisor, with three of the group's hotels rated in the top 10.

In 2015, Raggett oversaw the two-year refurbishment of Ashford Castle in County Mayo, Ireland, and the adjacent lodge, which Red Carnation acquired in 2013 off a guide price of £21.4m. It was a mammoth task, primarily because so many different permissions had to be obtained at the property, which partly dates back to the 13th century. The effort paid off - Ashford Castle was named Best Hotel of the Year 2015 by luxury travel company Virtuoso. Last year, the Rubens at the Palace in London's Victoria relaunched with a new brasserie, the English Grill, following a five-year, multimillion-pound refurbishment.

Most recently, Raggett oversaw the multimillion-pound refurbishment of the Rubens at the Palace, including the addition of two new restaurants, having started his career at the hotel nearly 20 years ago. His plans for 2018 are to reposition the hotel to attract more high-end leisure and command a room rate increase of £50.

Raggett is also a regular mentor for Oxford Brookes' hospitality students, a trustee for Hospitality Action, a former chairman of the Master Innholders, has been awarded an honorary fellowship from Westminster Kingsway College and, in 2009, was named The Caterer's Hotelier of the Year.

Further information

The Caterer interview: Jonathan Raggett >>

Viewpoint: It's crucial that we look after our staff >>

Regal refurbishment of Rubens at the Palace unveiled >>

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