Leading hotelier Michael Grange, who was general manager of the Macdonald Randolph hotel in Oxford, has passed away suddenly at home. He was 61.
He had headed the five-AA-star, 151-bedroom hotel for 12 years, and been in continuous employment for 39 years.
Having joined the hotel industry in 1978 as a trainee on Forte Hotels' renowned graduate management training programme, he remained with the company through various changes of ownership. Five years after the acquisition in 1996 of Forte by Granada, the Heritage part of the business, for which Grange worked as regional general manager in Bath, looking after the city's Bath Spa and Francis hotels, was bought by Macdonald Hotels & Resorts.
Grange's first role with Forte was at London's Grosvenor House hotel, before moving on to Brown's hotel, London as banqueting manager. In 1983 he joined the Queens Hotel & Spa in Cheltenham, as deputy general manager, and three years later transferred to the same role at the Post House in Milton Keynes.
Grange's first general manager role was at the Star Inn in Alfriston, East Sussex, where he stayed for two years, before moving to his second general manager post at the Swan hotel in Lavenham, Suffolk, from 1990 to 1997.
Just over two years ago Grange was praised for the way he looked after the guests and staff when a catastrophic fire broke out in the ground-floor kitchen of the Randolph hotel, just after work had started on a £5.6m refurbishment of the property.
The hotel's front of house team were presented with the front of house team of the year award at the Hotel Cateys 2015 for going above and beyond the property's emergency plan. As a result of that success, Grange was invited to become a judge for future Hotel Cateys awards and just 10 days ago joined fellow hoteliers at London's Dorchester hotel on the 2017 judging panel, where he made a valuable and enthusiastic contribution.
Leading the flood of tributes, Donald Macdonald, founder and executive chairman of Macdonald Hotels Group, said that the news of Grange's death was devastating.
"Michael was a universally popular and greatly admired hotelier and his many friends and colleagues will be in shock.
"He was the complete professional, with a unique combination of warmth, attention to detail and charm. He guided the careers of many, many hospitality professionals over the decades and leaves behind him a lasting legacy in the industry in Britain.
"The five-star status of the Randolph was something of which he was enormously proud and over the past eight years he had built up a tremendously professional and attentive team, setting standards not just for Oxford, but for the UK as a whole.
Macdonald added that Grange was "instrumental and inspirational" in ensuring the Randolph quickly returned to normality after the major fire in 2015. "He loved the city and will be terribly missed by everyone who knew him - colleagues and guests alike."
David Guile, who was chief executive of Macdonald Hotels & Resorts for six years until 2014, described Grange as "a consummate professional hotelier who inspired many throughout his career".
He continued: "I was privileged to have worked with him for over 20 years and he continually displayed a passion for customers who he treated as his personal guests. He will be greatly missed and is a sad loss to the industry."
Harry Murray, chairman of Lucknam Park, near Bath, met Grange when he joined the Bath Spa in 1999.
"I'm deeply saddened by the passing of Michael who gave up his lunch seat for me at the Dorchester recently prior to the Hotel Cateys judging. He was one of the kindest people in hospitality who really cared about his staff and was always prepared to help colleagues, including competitors. My thoughts are with his family at this very sad time."
Robin Sheppard, chairman of Bespoke Hotels, was general manager at the Bath Spa prior to Grange's arrival. "Michael was a gentle, gentleman with a kind heart and a caring spirit. He hosted his many hotels fastidiously, with a smile; and nurtured many aspiring young hoteliers along the way. He is a great loss to our industry."
Hotel consultant Philip Newman-Hall met Grange as fellow member of the Oxford Hoteliers' Association when he was managing director at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons in Great Milton, Oxfordshire.
"He was always a gentleman, a gentle man and a consummate hotelier who was loved, admired and respected by his team," he said. "When the fire at the Randolph happened he was there for everyone."
Fire at Oxford Macdonald Randolph hotel ‘started in kitchen' >>
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