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 58 Will Beckett
Hawksmoor

If there is one restaurant on this planet that embodies purity of intent and an obsessive eye for detail, it’s Hawksmoor. 

Whether you’re in London, Manchester, Edinburgh or New York (which will, or has opened, depending on when you listen) you know you’ll be given exceptional food, but with none of the stuffiness that used to come with such wonderful dining. 

As regular listeners will know, I have the privilege of interviewing dozens of hospitality legends.  Without fail, whenever the Hawskmoor name crops up, people express their appreciation for the awesome, well deserved, and exceptionally consistent reputation.

Hawksmoor’s founders, Will Beckett and Huw Gott, have stuck to their original vision, doing simple things really well and delivering them in beautifully relaxed settings, which feel like they’ve been there forever.   

But doing simple things brilliantly takes a lot of time and effort. My conversation with Will gives you an insight into the incredible amount of thought that goes into every tiny detail – from sourcing ingredients from the best ethical producers to calibrating the level of smoky grit on the grills used to cook the famous Hawksmoor steaks…. To even rummaging through second-hand shops to find the right architectural features for each of their venues. 

Hawksmoor is an inspiring example of how you can build your business with integrity, on both sides of the Atlantic.  And if you’re wondering why Hawksmoor dares to bring its offering to the USA, home to the steak restaurant, start listening now to find out…