Hotel Cateys 2019: Hotelier of the Year
2019 winner: Sally Beck
Sponsored by Casna Group
Sally Beck was literally born and bred into the hospitality business. She arrived into the world at a Somerset pub run by her parents, and went on to live in a succession of other pubs and a hotel.
No surprise, then, that on leaving school she pursued a course in hospitality at what is now Grimsby Institute, leading to her first full-time job as a trainee manager with De Vere Hotels in Bournemouth. As her career took off, she became focused on working in sales and marketing, eventually being promoted to her first sales and marketing director role at the Conrad Chelsea Harbour.
She later moved on to the same role at the Royal Garden and then the Landmark London, where she remained for 11 years. Keen to broaden her direction as a hotelier, Beck joined the Royal Garden's sister hotel, the 411-bedroom Royal Lancaster, as hotel manager in 2012. A few weeks later her boss handed in his notice, giving her the opportunity to land her first general manager position.
Her appointment turned out to be inspired. Beck's solid sales and marketing background helped carry the Royal Lancaster through a challenging £85m refurbishment, enabling the hotel celebrate its 50th anniversary in style (in 2017). She is set to reach a targeted turnover of £50m by 2021, up from the current figure of nearly £40m.
Most impressive of all is how she has transformed the culture of the hotel. She has energised the 465-strong team by creating an inclusive environment and bringing the staff into the decision-making process.
Not only is the much improved property now enjoying improved revenue, room rate and occupancy figures, but it is also well on the way to becoming what Beck intends to be "the happiest hotel in London".
Beck's caring approach extends far beyond the hotel. She is a passionate supporter of the Royal Lancaster London's Community Consortium, which works closely with local churches, police, schools and residents to assist five nearby charities. She also engages with industry bodies, the Clink Charity, Springboard and Hospitality Action.
Members of this year's judging panel, made up of past winners of the prestigious award, were effusive in their support for Beck. They called her "charismatic", "inspirational" and "a true industry ambassador".
Sue Williams described Beck as "a beacon of the industry, who truly values people – as highlighted by the fabulous culture she has created through her hotel".
Andrew Stembridge said that Beck has set an exceptionally high bar in terms of her influence on young people and engagement with the wider industry. "If this isn't impressive enough," he added, "she has achieved this while successfully transforming the Royal Lancaster both physically and culturally."
And finally, in the words of Jonathan Raggett: "In the challenging years ahead of attracting more British talent to join hospitality, I can think of no better person to make this happen than the new Hotelier of the Year."
- 2018 David Taylor, InterContinental Hotels Group
- 2017 Sue Williams, Whatley Manor
- 2016 Craig Bancroft, Northcote
- 2015 Nick Jones, Soho House
- 2014 Danny Pecorelli, Exclusive Hotels
- 2013 Stuart Bowery, Grosvenor House
- 2012 Stuart Johnson, Brown's Hotel London
- 2011 Stephen Carter, De Vere Cameron House Hotel
- 2010 Andrew Stembridge, Chewton Glen
- 2009 Jonathan Raggett, Red Carnation Hotels
- 2008 Andrew McKenzie, Vineyard at Stockcross
- 2007 Michael Gray, the Churchill
- 2006 Richard Ball, Calcot Manor
- 2005 John Stauss, Four Seasons, London
- 2004 Patrick Elsmie, Gleneagles
- 2003 Robin Hutson, Hotel du Vin
- 2002 Gordon Campbell Gray, One Aldwych
- 2001 Karen Earp, Four Seasons Canary Wharf
- 2000 Peter Crome, Chewton Glen
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