The Caterer

Hotel Cateys 2019: Front of House Manager of the Year

27 November 2019
Hotel Cateys 2019: Front of House Manager of the Year

Winner: Alex Wilson, Brown's hotel

Sponsored by Nordaq

Our judges were deeply impressed with how much the winner of the Front of House Manager of the Year award had achieved in his short career, both in the Rocco Forte group's Brown's hotel in Mayfair and the wider industry.

Alex Wilson was promoted from reception manager to front of house manager of the five-red-AA-star, 115-bedroom hotel earlier this year. Since his appointment he has introduced a multitude of measures to enhance the guest experience, as well as a raft of training schemes and programmes to support his team in meeting the exacting standards he sets.

As well as giving staff daily training in engaging the hotel's guests and anticipating their needs, Wilson has introduced longterm skills programmes focusing on, among other things, systems training, the supervisory role, awareness of Middle Eastern cultures, upselling and driving revenue. He has also introduced a new staff mentoring programme and established an online daily briefing to share facts and figures with the whole team.

Brown's achieves a 90% standard score for Leading Quality Assurance inspections, but that has not stopped Wilson introducing programmes to continue to improve standards.

A ‘glitch' system aimed at reducing customer complaints has resulted in a 40%-45% reduction in refunds and giveaways, while a SPOT card project has focused the team's attention on capturing insights and data about guests that can enhance their experiences, with a weekly prize awarded to the person who obtains the best qualitative information. Wilson has also overhauled the team's upselling strategy, training individuals to sell higher categories with warmth and flair.

This year's winner is equally inspiring in his actions outside of the hotel. He is on the government's advisory panel for hospitality, management and administration, focusing on the development of new T-level qualifications. On top of this, he is an ambassador for Springboard and has taken part in Hospitality Action events, including Back to the Floor.

Hospitality throws up a myriad of challenges, as Wilson found in May 2018 when he was called to an ill guest and ended up administering emergency first aid, including CPR. His actions saved the guest's life and saw him presented with a Special Recognition award by Sir Rocco Forte.


"Among a field of excellent candidates Alex stood out as the clear leader. In his short career, not only has he achieved significant progress in a very demanding environment, but his other activities are notable, commendable and impressive. None more so than successful CPR!"

Alistair Sandall, head of professional development, Institute of Hospitality

"Alex's contribution to not just Brown's but the industry overall is highly impressive for such a young man. He has had a terrific year and is entirely deserving of this award."

Gareth Banner, managing director, the Ned


  • Esther Pinedo Castresana, The Belfry Hotel & Resort, Sutton Coldfield
  • Suzanna Di Domenico, The Ritz London
  • Alex Wilson, Brown's hotel, London


  • 2018 Xiaomin (Min) Sun, Southampton Harbour Hotel & Spa
  • 2017 Sally Humphrey, the Grove, Herts
  • 2016 Laura Godman, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons
  • 2015 Lorena Somera, the Capital, London
  • 2014 Thoralf Kretzschmar, Lancaster London
  • 2013 Clarisse Abbey-Blackmore, Crowne Plaza London Docklands
  • 2012 Rachel Thomas, Danesfield House, Buckinghamshire
  • 2011 Joanne Alder, Park Plaza Victoria, London
  • 2010 Ben Seager, the Chesterfield Mayfair
  • 2009 Ben Malpass, the Cavendish hotel, London
  • 2008 Carly Taylor, Ston Easton Park, Bath
  • 2007 Felicity Wheeler, Four Seasons Hotel, London

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