Friends and colleagues share memories of Stuart Johnson

27 January 2023 by
Friends and colleagues share memories of Stuart Johnson

Friends and colleagues of Stuart Johnson have shared their memories and tributes to a "gentleman" and "consummate hotelier" following his death.

Johnson was managing director of Brown's hotel in London's Mayfair and the 2012 Hotelier of the Year. Read more about his illustrious career here.

Robin Sheppard, chairman, Bespoke Hotels

"Ever the gentle gentleman, he was the quintessential hotelier. Urbane, polished, professional and supremely kind. He had the uncanny ability to make you feel as though you were the most important person in the world at any time that you were engaged with him.

"Always immaculate, thoughtful, ‘firm but fair'. He was an exemplar of what it takes to run a high-quality business with panache, verve and style. He is a terribly sad loss to our industry."

Harry Murray, former chairman of Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa

"I was so deeply saddened and heartbroken to learn that Stuart Johnson had passed away at the young age of 64. Stuart was a consummate hotelier with meticulous attention to detail, a warm host to his concerning guest and a deep caring for his staff.

"He was appointed chairman of the Master Innholders in 2010 and unanimously voted Hotelier of the Year in 2012. He made an enormous contribution to the hospitality industry, and he will be sadly missed by all those who knew him.

"Stuart has been a good and loyal friend for the past 30-plus years and, following the sad and untimely death of his wife Penny 10 years ago, my wife Susan and I were delighted and happy he had a new partner and we were hoping he would soon announce he was to marry Wendy Drew.

"Our thoughts are with his partner Wendy, his daughter Lucy, his son Edward, his family and friends and his team at Browns at this very sad and difficult time. RIP Stuart."

Peter Hancock, former chief executive of Pride of Britain Hotels

"I first met Stuart at Cliveden where his formality threatened to get in the way of our becoming friends. In fact, we didn't get to know each other well until, as his predecessor in the role of publishing director for Johansens, I spent time introducing him to the team and a few of our clients around the country during a month-long handover. That was in 2000 and, since then, whenever we met, usually at a lunch, dinner or conference, the laughter came very easily indeed.

"On the occasions when we met alone, just for lunch or drinks together, he would open up about his private life and his appreciation of the people and places he loved. He surprised me once by admitting that his ever so posh speaking style originated as a way to overcome a speech impediment. It later became his trademark, of course.

"Stuart was immensely proud of his successful team at Brown's and clearly had great affection for his employer, Sir Rocco Forte. What a loss he is to this industry and his many friends."

Simon Fennell, director of rooms, Hard Rock Hotel London

"SPJ (as he was known to his staff) was a true, authentic, old-fashioned British hotelier, the kind you read about in books. He would go out of his way to help people who wanted to grow and follow in a career of serving others. I owe him a lot and will always be grateful for the conversations and advice he gave me."

Christine Hodder, managing director, CHC Hotel Consultancy

"Like everyone in the industry I am so sad at the passing of a great hotelier and gentlemen. I had the pleasure of introducing Stuart when he arrived in Shanghai to many good friends and colleagues, who instantly warmed to him. He will be sorely missed."

Nick Yarnell, general manager, the Six Senses London

"I was a trainee at the Savoy when Stuart was the hotel manager. He was always incredibly kind with all of us, a true gentleman and someone we all looked up to as a role model. One year, probably around 1992, we had a very particular and well known guest who stayed several months with us and I was his floor service waiter.

"Anyway, one year later I had moved on to the Connaught when Stuart called me to say he had an envelope for me. Later that evening, immaculately turned out in black tie as was his way, he personally delivered the envelope to me, informing me that the famous guest had wanted him to deliver it to me with apologies for not having done so himself on his departure the previous year. Inside were 50 crisp £50 notes, a fortune back in the day...never forget the humanity, kindness and sheer class of the man."

Jonathan Raggett, managing director, Red Carnation Hotels

"I am still in total disbelief and sadness of the passing of my friend Stuart. We spoke regularly about industry trends and challenges but always found time for a few laughs too.

"Stuart was an amazing supporter of industry charities and particularly Hospitality Action of which I have been a trustee for more than ten years. He was always up for a challenge and I remember me convincing him two years ago he would be able to cycle 250 miles in two days with industry peers.

"There was a little apprehension but once he committed there was no turning back. Stuart rode the miles with determination, a big smile and was the rider who raised more money than anyone else.

"Thoughts are with his family, friends and team at RF hotels. RIP Stuart."

Andrew Warren, former Managing Director of Conde Nast Johansens

"The departure of Peter Hancock from Johansens to ‘Pride of Britain' left us with a challenge and our principal candidate Stuart Johnson with an opportunity which he very quickly adopted. Hotelier turned hotel inspector with typical enthusiasm! Stuart was a great ambassador to the industry and is already missed."

John Sheppard, Hotel Advisers

"Stuart was a good friend for over 30 years. He was the consummate professional, operating at the highest level but always in touch with the challenges of everyday life.

"I will miss his good humour and friendship."

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