Behind the Business with Crathorne Hall Hotel
Bdaily goes behind the business with Peter Llewellyn, General Manager at Crathorne Hall Hotel. Crathorne Hall is a 37 bedroom country house hotel with a selection of meeting/function rooms and an award winning restaurant, along with relaxing lounges and 15 acres of grounds overlooking the Leven Valley.
Mr Llewellyn has covered 30 years in the hotel industry in high end hotels within the UK and the Caribbean, of which 15 years has been in hotel management.
What key challenges has your company recently faced?
There have been a number of key challenges recently within the hospitality world that many hotels face daily, relating to the increasing costs from supplies to the concern that it is becoming harder to find chefs of quality and experience within the different levels of the brigade. Within the local hotels market in this region, we are all trying to obtain the same style of business. So, it is very much down to us to make sure we always offer the best friendly and caring service, great product and high end quality to our guests which we hope creates the opportunity to welcome them back again in the future. Crathorne Hall has a special place in many of the community’s hearts due to the years it has established itself as a hotel of grandeur, which is affordable and we very much appreciate the loyalty from all.
What is your biggest achievement over the past 12 months?
Having been with Crathorne Hall for nearly three years my greatest achievement came when we had the major ‘incident’ a couple of years ago that saw the hotel close then reopen within 8 weeks. This took a lot of planning and adjusting to be in a position to not only open as an operational hotel but also see through the re-development that gave us the opportunity to recover fully within one year. Thanks to the support of Hand Picked Hotels head office and the builders involved, this was very encouraging and certainly gave us the platform to return sooner and with more scope for success as a business.
What is your most important focus for the coming year, and what do you hope to achieve?
As with all businesses one area of focus will be the increased hourly rate of pay in October for the National Minimum Wage and then there is a high chance the National Living Wage will increase in April both of which will increase payroll which needs even more control than before. Costs overall increase and as a business we need to make sure we are offering the best level of service while giving an experience guests will enjoy.
What excites you most about your industry and business?
Technology has come on so much over the last 10 years with the ability to have a quicker paced booking system and responses to our guests that makes access easy to respond to as a business. Ordering systems with ipads and blue tooth pdq machines have been around for a while but now you can even check in and open your bedroom door with your phone! So you wonder what will come next but I hope whatever it is, the idea helps guests have a great experience and not struggle with some random concept that will not catch on.
What do you wish you’d known when starting out?
When I first started my career in hotels, I certainly did not know enough about how you could travel the world with your skills you have learnt and gain more experiences. Later on in my career I found out more and started to use some contacts which took me to Bermuda, Barbados, Turks & Caicos and Tobago – the world is certainly your oyster in this industry!!
What will be the “next big thing“ in your industry, and how do you plan to handle it?
I’m not sure what will be the ‘next big thing’ but I do believe it is really important to always look at what new products are coming out that would be exciting for guests to enjoy and enhance their stay where you can. Hand Picked Hotels has recently enhanced the breakfast quality through the continental aspect of this service with a bigger selection while still offering a great choice of hot breakfasts. There has also been an intense review of our meetings brand standards and we have re-launched the new version of this in September. This has focused on the meeting room set up and extra products for delegates to use while making sure that, as food is such an important part of the day that, menus and break refreshments have more selection while keeping a local produce theme.
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