Congratulations to the Hotelier of the Year

12 November 2010 by
Congratulations to the Hotelier of the Year

They say you know you are getting old when the prime minister of the day is younger than you. Happily, David Cameron was born a year before me. But at 39, new Hotelier of the Year Andrew Stembridge is a different matter. The MD of Chewton Glen last week became the fourth Hotelier of the Year produced by the iconic New Forest hotel, following in the footsteps of Martin Skan, Peter Crome and Robin Hutson.

Despite his tender age, Andrew can boast a quarter of a century's experience in the industry, having begun washing dishes at a brasserie in the Scottish borders at the age of 14.

Like all previous winners, he possesses inspirational management, leadership and communications skills; a commitment to employees and the industry at large; and a consummate attention to detail.

This last quality was in evidence when I called Andrew to break the good news to him in September. I started by asking how he was. "Very well, thanks", he replied. "Someone just handed me a glass of champagne".

It was the first time a winner has had a glass of bubbly in hand before I've even told them they've won. I took it as a sign of Andrew's almost prescient attention to detail.

This week, Andrew credits Ken McCulloch, for whom he worked at Glasgow's One Devonshire Gardens, for this eye for the million tiny details that make a great hotel. And he doffs a cap to Skan and Crome for teaching him the value of PR and the importance of developing your employees. In so doing, he emphasises just how crucial a good mentor can be to building a career.

Today (Friday), Andrew will be presented to an admiring audience at the Hotel Catey awards. Doubtless his success will inspire them, just as his hotelier heroes inspired him.

Mark Lewis, Editor, Caterer and Hotelkeeper

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