The Grand, York, wins Hotel of the Year – Group, sponsored by Food Alert
A combination of investment in the business and strong leadership to guide the hotel through challenging times secured the win for the Grand in this year's Hotel of the Year – Group award, according to the judges. The 207-key hotel has seen revenue at an all-time high over the past year, increasing 23% to £2.6m, with a 71% occupancy rate from May 2021 to January 2022.
But these figures don't happen without significant work behind the scenes. The Grand has spent a lot of time understanding its target audience and creating experiential packages to differentiate it from competitors. One example is the Dark Skies Experience, which saw the hotel team with the North Yorkshire Moors National Park to offer a stargazing evening with an astronomer, along with dinner and an overnight stay. The package sold out throughout the autumn and winter months and achieved significant press coverage. The hotel also launched a new room category, the studio apartment, following the refurbishment of an existing bedroom in June 2021. The apartment offers the privacy, space and comfort of a guest's own home, while providing the service and amenities of a five-star hotel.
As well as investment, which has clearly paid off with earnings before interest, taxes, sepreciation and amortisation year-to-date up £1.6m on the same period pre-Covid, the hotel has also worked with local businesses and charities to raise £8,000 for St Leonard's Hospice.
A sharp focus on looking after staff is also key to driving its successes, and the Grand was the first hotel in York to pay above the National Living Wage, introducing it as ‘the Grand's Living Wage' for entry level roles. The business has also trained five mental health first-aiders and a new Grand Plans team supports the charity effort. Meanwhile, a student placement programme offers six people the opportunity to be guided through all departments within the hotel, with expert support from departmental managers – a key achievement in attracting young people into the industry.
Further perks include monthly payday treats; no split shifts; two-way communication in the form of town halls; discounted car parking; and an abundance of training and apprenticeship schemes. This dedication can be seen in the hotel's impressive 94% staff retention rate.
Along with a commitment to becoming a more sustainable business through the Grand Goes Green project and impressive digital marketing practices, increasing its database by 18,000 over the past year alone, the Grand is a worthy winner of this year's Hotel of the Year – Group award.
What the judges said
"It is impressive to see how the hotel has repositioned itself in the market , not only through physical investment but also through strong leadership." – Gareth Banner
"The Grand creates a wonderful, authentic hospitality experience for each and every guest. The team is a beacon of light in taking care of the York community. Onwards and upwards for this fantastic hotel!" – James Clark
- Conrad London St James
- Fairmont, St Andrews
- Southampton Harbour Hotel & Spa
- The Grand, York
- Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – the Caledonian
- Gareth Banner, managing director, the Ned
- Gordon Campbell Gray, chairman, Campbell Gray Hotels
- James Clark, general manager, Hilton London Bankside
- Danny Pecorelli, managing director, Exclusive Collection
- Laura Sharpe, general manager, Ham Yard hotel
- David Taylor, chief operating officer, Lore Group