When I was 21, I left my routine, put a rucksack on my back and went on a big adventure.
For two years I travelled round Asia, Australasia and the Caribbean. I loved the variety of it all.
Getting lost in the richness of colour and the sounds and smells of three-dimensional cities like Bangkok and Vientiane. Or watching the horizon on the beaches of the Caribbean and feeling the sand between my toes. Remembering it all still excites me. And it wasn’t just the big scenery changes that have stayed with me for half a lifetime. It was also the little moments, meeting all sorts of lovely people.
Strangers in remote villages who often had so little from a Western perspective, but still invited me to share their food, drink and stories. Fellow travellers who switched to English so I could join in their conversations. These moments were like little hugs, welcoming me into their lives. And they have become vivid memories – as vivid now as they were then.
That’s why I love hospitality and opened a hotel and restaurants, and even learnt to grow our own produce in a field in the New Forest. Our spaces mean that the big adventure continues. You can read more about my business here https://www.urbanguild.co.uk
I very, very passionately believe that the world should not become overly dominated by big corporate businesses turning hospitality into a commodity. Hospitality is the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers. It’s not a balance sheet and a board of directors in a venture capitalist firm in the city.
In the last few years I’ve become nervous about the big brands, with their huge corporate budgets, making our wonderfully diverse world of hospitality formulaic and dull… with the same repetitive concept on every street corner. It’s not that I don’t respect the brands. Hats off to anyone who has the ability to grow their once seed of an idea into something huge. I just don’t think that should be our only option, and that they squeeze out the thousands of local hospitality humans. And that’s why I want the voices of all those brilliant humans of hospitality – humans, rather than brands – to be heard.
Hence The Humans of Hospitality podcast was born.