February 11, 2019
Kenwood Hall Hotel & Spa Re-brands to Mercure Hotels
Sheffield’s historic Kenwood Hall Hotel is re-branding to the Mercure Kenwood Hall Hotel & Spa in March 2019, with a significant investment in the Hotel’s facilities over the next two years.
Part of the Vine Hotels group, which owns and operates seven hotels and venues in the UK, the 114-bedroom hotel is currently operating under the Best Western brand and is rebranding to Mercure in late March. To support its move to the new Mercure brand standards, the Hotel will be introducing key changes to its facilities which include creating 24 new ‘Privilege’ bedrooms. These offer guests a refurbished air-conditioned guestroom with king-sized bed, complimentary mineral water, magazines and newspapers, Internet, bathrobes, slippers and personal coffee machines. Alongside this, the Hotels 10 meeting rooms will be upgraded and have added luxuries such as individual espresso machines.
As part of the company’s investment, work is nearing completion on a contemporary face-lift to the changing areas and reception of the Hotel’s spa, and additionally a luxurious new bedroom suite is being created, every bedroom in the Hotel will benefit from new Topbrass beds and a mini fridge, plus an additional 40 bedrooms will have air conditioning added.
Commentating on the re-brand, Garin Davies, chief executive of Vine Hotels, said: “The re-brand of Kenwood Hall to a Mercure hotel is an exciting development for Vine Hotels.
“The Hotel has the advantage of being set in 12 acres of attractive parkland yet is only one mile from Sheffield city centre, so it works well for both corporate and leisure travellers to the region. We already have a strong established leisure market for the Hotel, that takes full advantage of this location. One of our primary reasons for re-branding Kenwood Hall is to further develop our corporate and conference markets. With the support of the Mercure brand, I am confident we will achieve this. The investment in the Hotel will strengthen our offering to all guests; bringing even better facilities to match our already excellent service.”
Thomas Dubaere, COO AccorHotels Northern Europe, commented, “We are seeing a lot of interest in Mercure brand in the UK and Kenwood Hall is one of two Mercure signings in Yorkshire already this year. The region has seen an increase in visitors for both leisure and business purposes and it is important to provide hotels that match the diverse requirements of these guests. The Mercure brand is designed to be flexible so its hotels can incorporate local touches into the design and overall guest experience allowing the hotels to offer something truly different without wavering from the internationally recognised and expected standards.”
October 9, 2018
Vine Hotels Launches Vegan Menus for Delegates
As part of November’s National Vegan Month, Vine Hotels has launched vegan delegate menus across its portfolio of seven UK hotels and venues. The brand-new choice of dishes has been designed to specifically meet the growing demand of delegates who want to enjoy vegan foods as part of their meeting and event experience.
A recent survey found that over three million people* in the UK identify as vegans, and the new menus and dishes will ensure the venues can cater for this increasing dietary trend. Embracing the other big food trend for more relaxed corporate dining and proving that vegan food can be tasty and fun, delegates can enjoy a vegan ‘Street Food’ lunch at Whirlowbrook Hall. There is a tempting choice of Chickpea Falafel, Paprika Cream and Flatbread; Spiced Bean Burger; Mexican Fajita Kebabs, Soured Cream, Tortilla; Hand Cut Chips, Cheese, Spring Onion, Chives; ‘Hot Dogs’, Caramelised Onions, American Mustard, and a Thai Noodle Broth, Pak Choi and Flaked Coconut.
For corporate events or delegate dinners, guests can also enjoy new vegan menus. These feature dishes such as Charred Watermelon, Mint & Chilli Gel, Coconut Sorbet or Tandoori Kebabs, Rainbow Slaw, Paprika Yoghurt, Micro Coriander to start. Followed by Red Pepper and Spinach Lasagne, Saffron Roast Potatoes, Ruby Chard or a Butternut Squash: Risotto, Pureed, Roasted, Fried Sage, Chia Seeds. And if you have room, desserts feature a Raspberry Meringue, Tropical Fruit, Mango Coulis; Carrot Cake, Toasted Pistachios, Carrot Powder, or a Dark Chocolate & Orange Cheesecake, Orange Gel, Chocolate Soil.
The venues featuring new vegan menus include Double Tree by Hilton Sheffield Park, Best Western Cutlers Hotel, Mosborough Hall, Whirlowbrook Hall, Mercure Southampton Centre Dolphin Hotel, Best Western Cresta Court and Kenwood Hotel & Spa.
Commenting on the launch Garin Davies, chief executive of Vine Hotels said: “We have seen the number of enquiries asking for vegan event menus increase substantially this year, and so it is a natural step for Vine Hotels to ensure those demands are comprehensively met.”
He added: “By offering a vegan menu and vegan choices we are ensuring that event and conference organisers can offer another dimension to the food experience at Vine Hotels. The real beauty of the vegan options we have created is that they are all creative, delicious food choices that can be enjoyed by all our guests, not just vegans.”
For further information please visit http://www.vinehotels.co.uk/.
August 3, 2018
Mercure Southampton Centre Dolphin Hotel Appoints New General Manager
The Mercure Southampton Centre Dolphin hotel has appointed Dan Wilson as its new general manager.
Hailing from Southampton, Dan joins the hotel with over 12 years of experience in the hospitality industry. He started his career aged 15 years with work experience for two weeks in a local hotel. This was his light-bulb moment, and from here he decided that his future lay in the hotel sector. Dan worked his way up the ladder, starting as a day porter at the same hotel, and his skills and talent were quickly spotted. He shortly after graduated from the company’s Management Training programme. He then went onto to the position of general manager at the Langrish House Hotel in Petersfield, Hampshire.
Dan has also worked as a general manager and operations manager for various hospitality groups and hotels right around the UK, including Surya Hotels, Whitbread, Marco Pierre White and Daniel Thwaites.
Commenting on his appointment Dan Wilson said: “The Dolphin Hotel holds a special place in the heart of Southampton and it really was a boyhood dream to work here. The quality of the team and the service and facilities is second to none, and I’m delighted that I have been appointed to manage such an iconic hotel and look forward to taking the Hotel forwards.”
Garin Davies, chief executive of hotel owners Vine Hotels, added: “Dan brings with him a wealth of experience of managing hotels around the UK and it was a real coup that we were able to appoint him. As the Hotel looks to the future and goes from strength to strength, it’s important that we have the strongest team possible at the helm. Dan’s skill base will ensure our fantastic service and facilities continue to flourish.”
The Mercure Southampton Centre Dolphin is in the heart of the city and is the oldest hotel in Southampton, dating back over 500 years. The Grade II listed building hosted Jane Austen’s 18th birthday party and has played an important role in the city’s history. It has undergone an extensive refurbishment that has blended modern convenience and comfort, whilst staying true to the hotel’s history and traditional appeal.
THE BELMONT HOTEL WINS MAJOR TOURISM AWARD
Announced as winner of ‘Most Enjoyable Stay – Hotel’ at Leicestershire Tourism and Hospitality Awards 2017
The Belmont Hotel, the family-owned independent hotel in Leicester, has won a major tourism award. The Hotel was awarded ‘Most Enjoyable Stay – Hotel’ in the Leicestershire Tourism and Hospitality Awards 2017 and was also Highly Commended in the ‘Best Front of House Team’ category.
These awards follow the recent announcement that for the first time in its 84-year history, the Hotel has achieved 4 star status from the AA. Earlier this year, it was also awarded two AA Rosettes for Culinary Excellence.
Eloic Montagnier, General Manager at The Belmont Hotel said: “The Leicestershire Tourism Award comes on the back of an excellent year for the hotel following the AA announcements and we’re all delighted with this recognition.
“The 4 star status and second rosette accolades are badges of honour as they reward the high standards that we seek to achieve at the hotel. They have been a source of real pride for everyone involved and we’re committed to building on this strong platform to make the hotel the accommodation provider of choice for visitors to Leicester.”
About The Belmont Hotel:
From Bed & Breakfast in the 1930s to AA 4* rated Boutique & Bistro Hotel in 2017, The Belmont Hotel Leicester has been the heartbeat of Leicester life for over 80 years. Situated in pretty New Walk, it is just a few minutes’ walk from Leicester city centre, the train station, universities and brilliant shopping and entertainment.
Lancashire’s Barton Grange Hotel is Blooming with Added Investment
-as new Garden House bedrooms and ‘wedding’ garden renovations are completed
Lancashire’s Barton Grange Hotel has certainly not rested on its success in the last few years. Having invested £670,000 in the last three years into upgrading its bedrooms, corridors and main events space – the Barton Suite, the Hotel has announced this week that owners have added a further £250,000 into upgrades at the Hotel.
The Hotel has just completed refurbishment to its eight guest rooms in the adjacent Garden House, which is now offered to guests wishing to book larger groups into the Hotel such as for a private party, wedding or conference, or those just looking for extra privacy and a unique garden view during their stay.
Brides and grooms with weddings at the Hotel or companies staging a business event can also now take advantage of a newly landscaped ‘wedding’ garden. Designed by the Hotel’s sister company, the Barton Grange Landscapes, the gardens have been manicured with new shrubs, flowers, paving and lighting, to offer couples the option of hosting an al fresco wedding drinks reception. Of course, not exclusively the realm of wedding guests, the space has the capacity to hold up to 200 people for a private drinks party or corporate cocktail evening, and can be a venue for a marquee seating 240 people.
Lounge area renovations are also complete. With a warm, contemporary style mind, the lounge can now accommodate up to 30 guests for morning coffees, pre-dinner cocktails or night-caps, and adds a welcoming space to relax or meet friends at the Hotel’s entrance.
With general manager Daniel Rich at the helm for the past three years, the Hotel has already seen steady growth resulting from the upgrading of accommodation and meeting spaces, and improved marketing and management – but plans go further.
The Hotel is now expanding its leisure offering, with the addition of a spa treatment services to its current indoor pool and gym. Two new treatment rooms will provide a range of therapeutic, beauty and salon treatments. This will be available to Hotel guests, people living locally and an exclusive club membership from early 2018.
Commenting on the development programme Daniel Rich, general manager said: “The final stages of the changes are about ensuring that the Hotel is very much the ‘go to’ destination for event organisers, wedding couples and leisure visitors to the local area.’
‘The opening of our leisure club’s spa services will give us scope to expand our customer base even further. At the moment it is a strong, growth sector and will enable the Hotel to attract a wider range of leisure travellers, as well as offering a greater service to our wedding couples and corporate clients looking for incentive breaks and bespoke ‘away-days’.’
Daniel added: ‘We are particularly delighted that we were able to use local tradespeople to help with the work carried out. Our philosophy has always been to source locally wherever we can, and this refurbishment has been no exception – from architects to builders, painters and decorators to flooring, and spa therapists to garden landscapers….all from Lancashire.’
“We are continuing to build on our success as the year progresses, with a growth in our events business of 20%, and our accommodation continues to show a strong performance with average room rates up by 10% on last year. These are firm foundations on which to continue to develop the business and I am confident that the investment in further upgrades at the Hotel will play a huge part in seeing the Hotel achieve greater success moving forwards.’
The Barton Grange Hotel:
Once an old manor house, the 51 bedroom four-star hotel has been extended and refurbished over the years to offer a stylish, contemporary setting which still retains the comfort, charm and character of its origins. Recently refurbished guest rooms offer individual Sky TV boxes (free sports and movies in executive rooms), free hi-speed Wi-Fi, handmade British EPOC mattresses, Ruark Bluetooth speakers, and Nespresso coffee machines in all the executive and superior rooms.
The Barton Room and 5 meeting rooms offer versatility to host events from 2 to 300 people, and come equipped with modern audio-visual equipment including ceiling-mounted screens, LCD projectors, sound system, hearing loop, air-conditioning, adjustable lighting and complimentary hi-speed Wi-Fi or wired Internet access.
Set in stunning gardens and situated in the heart of Lancashire, the Hotel is just a short distance from Preston city centre, local attractions such as Blackpool, and the Lake District is easily accessible from junction 32 of the M6.
The ‘Walled Garden Bistro’ offers a traditional Lancashire breakfast with fresh coffees, light snacks and cocktails in the evenings, serving Lancashire food from local suppliers with a traditional home grown bistro menu using our new Inka charcoal grill.
Guests can enjoy a relaxing time in our swimming pool, sauna or work out in our mini gym, or learn to play billiards in our traditional panelled lounge.
Barton Grange Hotel is still a family owned, the original manor house was opened in 1951 by Grandma Topping, and it was then extended by Eddie Topping in 1956 as part of Barton Grange Garden Centre which is now 2 miles away from the hotel which has its own farm shop and narrow boat marina. www.bartongrangehotel.com
PAUL HINDLEY INTERVIEW
Paul Hindley is general manager of the Best Western Cresta Court hotel in Altrincham and this month is celebrating his 20th year at the helm of the Hotel. We met up with Paul to talk about what drew him into the hospitality industry, his passion for golf, the hotel’s recent transformation and his plans for the future.
Paul started working in hospitality industry as a food and beverage stock-taker in a large hotel, and instantly fell in love with the buzz of being involved in such a fast paced environment every day. He worked through the ranks of the business, to take up the role as a regional general manager with Macdonald Hotel. 20 years ago he took on board the job as general manager of the Best Western Cresta Court – and is still as ambitious for the Hotel today as he was then (although he claims with a little less hair on his head these days!).
Paul’s passion for the Hotel, its customers and the team he works with is easy to see as he describes its recent change in appearance. “The Hotel has just undergone its biggest transformations with a £1.2m refurbishment programme that took over two years of hard work! The Hotel looks terrific and, with the addition of the new Townfields restaurant, the facilities really are top notch. I’m so proud of my team for ensuring that the day to day running of the Hotel wasn’t affected by the developments and for their enthusiasm of the changes. Our customer’s love the new look with our profits almost double on previous years. The team we have at present is especially strong and they are what makes the Hotel so successful.”
Paul takes a lot of inspiration for the running of the Hotel from around the world and has become a true convert to the power of social media. “We have worked hard to ensure that the Hotel’s social media profile is relevant to our customers and have built up a really strong personality. Even customers coming to stay with us for the first time feel like they’ve visited the hotel before. The personality of the Hotel has to shine through in everything we do and say, and that’s been a key success for us over the past year. I’m now in touch with hotel’s from around the world on social media and it’s great to be able to see what they are doing and how it’s relevant to Cresta Court.”
The Hotel has recently opened a new conference space to add to their existing conference facilities, which will enable it to further develop its events business, and Paul is looking forward to introducing new technologies into the customer experience over the next five years. “The beauty of the hotel industry is that it is constantly evolving. It’s a real pleasure to work in an environment where we are constantly looking at new ways in which we can improve the customer experience. Technology plays a huge part in what we do. From the introduction to the fastest Wi-Fi connections to touch screen facilities here at the Cresta Court, we are looking at how we can ensure that each stay is tailor made to each individual customer. There will be lots happening over the next few years that will revolutionise the industry so watch this space.”
And with that Paul dashes off with a huge smile and the biggest of handshakes to help with a customer enquiry. Nothing is too much trouble for him.
BEST WESTERN Cresta Cout Hotel, Church Street, Altrincham, Cheshire, WA14 4DP telephone, 0161 927 7272. www.cresta-court.co.uk
The BIG Interview – C Jenno
This is intended as a chatty, friendly interview feature talking to industry leaders about the current state and future of the industry. The answers can be quite detailed – questions can be dropped, adapted, or you can even add your own if there is a topic you think should be discussed – as we have a feature length of around 900-1,000 words, which allows for a couple of nice high res. photographs, including one of the interview subject.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you came to your current role?
I knew hospitality would be the job for me from being aged around 15, so I started to look for part-time jobs in restaurants and hotels to gain some experience. I got plenty of opportunity to learn the business from the base up – and my dishes were spotless I have to say! I moved on to become a management trainee for De Vere Hotels which was a huge learning opportunity, and took up management roles from there. I was asked to join the Lion Quays Hotel & Spa when it launched and still have as much passion for it now, as I did on opening day.
What do you find most challenging about your job?
Time. Fitting everything in a day is always a challenge. I have a great team around me to help, but I am always juggling the diary to make it all work.
What is the best part of your job?
The people I work with and meet. There is nothing better than seeing your team develop, achieve and progress – very rewarding. But I never lose sight of the fact that we are here to deliver real hospitality, so the time I spend meeting guests at check in and check out is a great part of the day.
What do you see as the most important elements in developing your hotel brand?
A hotel brand has to have soul. We have created an ethos at the Lion Quays that promotes a passion for hospitality, in a Hotel that offers a tangible atmosphere and contemporary comfort. The customer sits at the heart of our business, and that’s not just words. Since I have been at the hotel since it’s opening, I have been able to instill the value of developing long-term customer relationships from the out-set, so now it is part and parcel of all we do. I always think that our guests very much make an emotional investment in the Hotel when they choose us – it’s people, philosophy and service – so we must repay that trust with a genuine passion for being hoteliers. ‘Fake’ happiness in service delivery doesn’t cut it at the Lion Quays!
What are the key issues for the sector at the moment?
Brexit and the uncertainty it has brought our economy is a key issue right now. But the hospitality sector is very adaptable and one of the things I love most about the hotel industry, is that we are not afraid to rise to a challenge. It is fast paced, constantly pushing forwards and a very exciting. The speed at which the business moves may occasionally be scary, but there is no better place to work. You are constantly on your toes!
Have you noticed any hospitality trends emerging this year?
Our Spa related business has grown rapidly since we emerged from recession. I could easily double the size of my spa, which is already extensive, and we would still have demand. I think that the culture of well-being has really helped this market, along with the growth in staycations and weekend travel. Shorter lead event bookings also seem to be on the increase. We get a growing number of conferences and events with less than a month lead time. Historically, we would have seen most bookings 4-6 month ahead, but those days seem to have gone.
What makes a great hotel?
Product and service are of course the key, but for me, it’s more about a team that delivers a great welcome and cares about the joy of a guest’s stay. Staff need to love where they work, and they will share that passion in exceptional customer care. The product is also more than bedrooms. A hotel needs to feel like it has a heart and soul. Many great hotels are referred to as ‘she’ by their staff – the business has a personality all of its own.
In general, how do you think the hotel industry is performing at the moment?
It’s strong. We have come through the recession and are delivering great occupancy at the moment and in turn, good visitor growth to the area. The industry as a whole has really seen an upturn in the last couple of years, with a growth in the number of hotels across the UK, global consolidation and mergers with some of the big brand companies, and yet still opportunity for the business to grow.
What are your plans for the future?
Where do I start? Refurbishment of our bedrooms will continue and we recently launched our new conference centre, The Cabinet Rooms. A restaurant upgrade is on the menu alongside spa developments in the next couple of years. We will be busy! I am planning to also incorporate an ‘ambassador programme’ instead of traditional management structure, where team members can become ‘ambassadors’ for the Hotel and play a key role in moving business forwards.
For an informal chat please contact Liz Wood – LWA SALES AND MARKETING
Mobile: 0755 212 8054