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How I got here – Roberto Pajares, GM, the Trafalgar

09 November 2006

Roberto Pajares, 35, is the manager of Hilton's best-kept secret, the Trafalgar hotel in London. Located in the city's famous square of the same name, home to Nelson's Column, the swish 129-bedroom property was the former headquarters of luxury cruise line Cunard.

The Trafalgar is a lifestyle hotel and has at its heart the Rockwell bar and restaurant. Lacking even a hint of Hilton branding, the bar is a stylishly understated space, with local design students showcasing their work on its walls and a strong walk-in trade, especially in the evenings.

London-born Pajares's Spanish father is a Four Seasons veteran and former managing director of London's Savoy hotel, but he says he wasn't pushed to join the hospitality industry, choosing it himself after a summer job at the city's prestigious Claridge's hotel.

The young general manager took the choice soon after this experience to study for a degree in hotel and catering management at the University of Surrey to kick-start his career.

Operational role

Although useful, he saw the real benefit of this later on, and argues "getting stuck in" in an operational role is probably just as useful initially.

Either way, roles in food and beverage abroad with InterContinental in Dubai, Egypt and Athens followed, but Pajares found himself attracted to the buzz surrounding the restaurant scene, and the Conran group in particular, back in London.

In 2000 he was appointed pre-opening general manager of Conran's Coq d'Argent before graduating to the company's operation at the Great Eastern hotel, also in the capital, in September 2000.

Pajares was director of operations for Conran at the Great Eastern when Hyatt took over at the start of 2006 and, having been there for more than five years, decided to move on, arriving at the Trafalgar shortly afterwards.

"I had put a lot into the restaurant at the Great Eastern and just felt it was time to move on," says Pajares. "There simply comes a time when it's important to look for that next step."

The lowdown

The Trafalgar hotel, London, has…

Bedrooms: 129 (two suites)

Staff: 70

Rack rate: £279-£309

Annual turnover: £9m

Occupancy: 80%

Customer mix: 70:30 business to leisure

Pajares's key skills and duties cost control and revenue management; ability to combine creativity with pragmatism; leadership; attention to detail; eye for latest trends and hotel fashions

TagsHotels and Careers
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