Episode 61 Andrew Stembridge
Executive Director of Iconic Luxury Hotels

I love the challenges of operating hotels… well, even if I don’t necessarily love them, because it’s really hard, I do at least find them utterly fascinating.  We’ve not been to a hotel for a while, but I so enjoyed chatting to Gareth Banner from The Ned a fair few episodes ago, I thought it was time to return.  This time, instead of one super huge hotel in the city, we’re taking a look at a few stunning properties spread over a somewhat larger area. 

And If you want examples of how hotels can evolve with the times, and bring in new types of guests, without alienating their traditional following, this is the episode for you.     

Andrew Stembridge is Executive Director of Iconic Luxury Hotels. They are a small and impressive collection, including The Lygon Arms, a coaching inn that dates back to the 1600s; Cliveden House, a stately home and Chewton Glen, an 18th Century manor house which has enjoyed half a century of award-winning 5 star-hospitality.  

As you’ll hear, Chewton Glen has led the way over the decades. It was one of the first hotels in the country to open a spa, in 1990. Under Andrew’s leadership, it has also become very family-friendly, with wonderful tree house lodges (more on those in a moment), the Beehive Kids’ Club, and classes at the hotel’s cookery school, The Kitchen.   And by hosting Chris Evans’ Children in Need events, it’s broadened its fanbase even more, and helped to raise millions of pounds along the way. 

So how do you introduce so much change, and still maintain the historical spirit  of a place?  Keep listening, and you’ll find out.   

Episode 24 Gareth Banner
The Ned (Soho House / Sydell)

There has never, ever, been anything quite like The Ned in the UK before. Created from the former headquarters of the Midland Bank, in the heart of the City Of London, the Grade I listed building is now home to 10 restaurants, 250 bedrooms, 6 private event spaces, a spa, a gym and a club with over 3000 members…  

In any given week, 30,000 meals are served on the ground floor alone.  As its managing director, Gareth Banner, says modestly, for a single address there are a lot of moving parts….’  

Just three years ago, when he was looking through the dust and the scaffolding at what was the final phase of five years of renovation, he knew it would be special.  As you’ll hear, his career – which takes in stints with global brand The Marriott as well as iconic boutique hotel, The Hempel – is also impressive. It went some way to prepare him for this amazing project.  But actually, as you’ll hear, the biggest learning has happened since The Ned opened its doors to the public two years ago.