From housekeeping to HR, management to marketing and everything in between
Theres more opportunities in the hospitality and tourism industry than you might at first think.
Like many people I started in the hotel industry by accident taking a summer job at the Grange Hotel in Grange-over-Sands. After a summer spent working hard and playing hard I had a decision to make about whether this was going to be my career or whether I was going to take up my place at Warwick University and follow my father into journalism. The hotel won and I spent the next two years as a trainee manager working in all departments of the hotel.
At the end of that time I had another decision to make – get a qualification or work in London. I did both gaining a place at Leeds Polytechnic on an HND in Hospitality Management (the shortest course in the country) and blagging a degree placement at the Capital Hotel in Knightsbridge.
After Poly I joined Trusthouse Forte with various management positions at the 569 bedroomed Heathrow Posthouse before moving to the Imperial Hotel in Blackpool as Deputy General Manager where I hosted three party conferences.
In 1998 I joined the newly opened Castle Green Hotel in Kendal as General Manager, taking over as Managing Director in 2003, after which we acquired the Princess on Portland Hotel in 2003 (selling in 2008) and the Pinewood on Wilmslow in 2011.
We sold the Castle Green in September last year ‘the largest and most valuable individual hotel sale that has ever taken place in Cumbria’ and still retain the Pinewood
In addition to that I have been on the Interchange and Consort Hotels Board since 2009 and I am currently Chairman. ICH operates the Best Western brand in Great Britain and owns Beacon Purchasing.
“I believe that a career in hotels and hospitality can be the most rewarding and diverse opportunity and I would encourage anybody to explore this industry further.”
Private Hire & Short Break Executive at Mountain Goat Tours
I was introduced to the hospitality industry aged just 14. I worked a weekend job as a pot washer at the popular Renoirs cafe, now named Homeground in Windermere. As a young teenager I always knew I wanted to work in the tourism industry, I was very lucky to have travelled well early in life and this certainly influenced by my passion for exploration and travel.
I have always lived in the Lake District and have grown up surrounded by the millions of visitors each year. I was always intrigued by the reasoning behind picking a holiday destination and how tourists decided what to do when visiting. I often read Visit Britain statistics and continue to be intrigued by the tourism trends year on year.
I was confident early on that the hospitality industry was the career path I wanted to take, so at 16 I started working at MacDonald Old England in Bowness-on-Windermere. Here my hospitality experience progressed to housekeeping and restaurant service. I did both jobs side by side for two years whilst studying at Sixth Form.
After school I studied International Tourism Management Bachelors at UCLAN Preston, and kept working at MacDonald Old England Hotel in reservations. I also took a short internship at Miki Travel in London which gave me fantastic insights into the wholesale side of the industry.
Once I graduated, I took my skills overseas, working in Australia for over two years. I expanded my experience further and worked as a receptionist in Brisbane, and as a front office supervisor in Noosa.
When I returned I landed my current position as a Private Hire & Short Breaks Executive for Mountain Goat Tours. My current role is very rewarding, there is so much interesting variety to working in the hospitality and tourism industry.
Everyday is different, I plan bespoke holiday itineraries for the Lakes, Yorkshire and across the UK. Plus, I work alongside other local businesses to attend a mix of trade and sales shows, some local exhibitions and others are national and international shows.
In the time that I have worked for Mountain Goat I have received excellent support from managers who have given me the freedom to grow and mould my department. Not only that, I have been able to expand my skill set by attending on the job workshops and courses.
Executive Commercial Manager at Lake District Country Hotels
At 16 I joined the waiting on team at the Countess Arms, Shropshire. I instantly enjoyed the job, the interaction with people from different ages, and backgrounds ensured everyday was different. I thrived from the buzz you get as part of a fast paced successful operation. Experience of working in a professional team was good for me and fitted well with my college studies before I left for University.
I went on to study Tourism Studies at Bournemouth University and like many, I was unsure on the career path I would take. My direction was decided during the completion of my placement year at Merewood Country House Hotel in Windermere. I learned a considerable amount and realised working with people in the hotel industry was what I wanted to do.
After graduating I was lucky enough to be invited back to the Merewood as Trainee Assistant Manager and after a year, I became the Assistant Hotel Manager. I was young for the role and recognised that I had a lot to learn. Fortunately I was given fantastic guidance from the experienced team at the time, and still apply those skills today.
After 10 years, I felt it was time to progress and learn more. I moved to the nearby Laura Ashley, Belsfield Hotel. I was involved in the hotels transformation to what it is now, one of the best in Cumbria. The experience was enlightening, the corporate approach was very different to the independent hotel management that I was used to. It was a real eye opener, I learned many new skills and was introduced to a commercial outlook.
This experience stood me in good stead for my current position, I went back to where it all began, and now work as the Executive Commercial Manager for the Lake District Country Hotels group, which includes Merewood, Cragwood and Briery Wood Country House Hotels.
Throughout my career I have had many brilliant opportunities for learning and progression from both my superiors and also from management courses on the job. My experiences have taught me that sharing your skills, approach and best practice is the way forward. This is what inspired me to take the position of Chairman of the Lake District Hotels Association in 2017. I find it an incredibly rewarding role, we have developed a collaborative approach to purchasing, marketing and staffing amongst many other initiatives which are to the benefit of our customers and industry colleagues from across the country.
General Manager at Storrs Hall
My career in the hospitality industry began when I took a role as a Kitchen Porter in an Italian Restaurant. I loved the job and just 6 months later I was given the chance to progress, taking a role as a ‘Starter Chef’. I worked five nights a week, which at the time was great as I was able to earn a wage while also completing a full time College catering course.
It was always my ambition to become a great chef, and through hard work and dedication I became an award winning head chef and worked in a variety of brilliant hotels and restaurants. My progression was achieved through always being conscientious, assertive with a desire to be forward thinking with new ideas. Consequently I consistently delivered a premium product and service.
After a while I felt it was time to apply my acquired leadership, communication, resource management and teamwork skills into a new exciting role. I am now a hotel manager at Storrs Hall, a beautiful, luxury 4 star hotel on the shores of Lake Windermere.
Throughout my career in hospitality I have been given excellent mentoring, and been provided opportunities to learn more about new subjects, this consequently led to new, on the job qualifications. There is certainly a lot more opportunities for an interesting and exciting career in the hospitality industry than you might think.
“Confidence and self belief is key, we really can do whatever we so choose to do”