Andrew Grahame MIH had an inspired vision for a customer-focused property that he has put into practice at Foxhill Manor in the Cotswolds.
There is a new traveller in town and they want a stay on their terms, not ours. Hotels in general are very good at dictating what guests can and can’t do and when they can or can’t do it.
There is a well-known hotel I stayed at a few years ago. I couldn’t walk on the grass. I couldn’t touch the books in the library. Ropes made sure I couldn’t sit on the antique chairs (I still tried) and I was refused a drink in the bar because I didn’t have a jacket on.
We left after one night, gladly accepting their no-refund policy. We were free, delighted to be going home to a drinks fridge that really doesn’t know or care how we are dressed, books we can read, chairs we can sit on – you get the picture! All that, for £350 less.
The idea for Foxhill Manor came shortly after I returned from my ‘weekend break in the Lakes.’ Let’s create the first ‘no rules’ hotel.
And with no clue where to start, we started. It was a concept which a hotelier friend described as “really brave” and it scared the hell out of us. But, undeterred, we came up with the idea of a ‘private house hotel.’
A hotel with no reception, no cocktail lists, no menu and no defined restaurant. Instead, you chat to the chef, tell him what you fancy, visit the wine cellar to select a dust-covered claret, decide where and when you want to eat and you’re all set. It is like being at home but better, like staying with your best friends.
There wasn’t anywhere really doing this that we could visit and no books to inform us of how it’s done, so we simply wrote down what we wanted a guest of Foxhill to see, feel like, and experience. Eventually, after a lot of hard work, false starts, team changes and self-doubt, it suddenly clicked.
A new breed
Foxhill Manor is now a new breed of hotel, a hotel that truly puts the guest at its heart and not on the periphery. Its team is in no doubt as to who is there for who’s benefit.
Hoteliers must stop taking guests for granted and realise that being a hotelier, however accomplished, is no longer enough. We need to be entertainers and help our guests escape.
Don’t ask Friday evening arrivals how their trip was. It was horrendous, that’s pretty much guaranteed. Instead ask what they would like to drink, immediately put it in their hands and help them to forget the last few gruelling hours staring at brake lights.
Let’s create the moments we all fondly remember as children, the moments when life just couldn’t feel any better and we had no cares in the world. Can you remember when you visited an aunt or a grandparent and heard the words: “I have made your favourite.” How good did that feel?!
Modern hotelkeeping is all about capturing that childhood feeling.
Andrew Grahame MIH is the chief executive of Farncombe Estate
Farncombe Estate (Foxhill Manor, Dormy House and The Fish) recently took Company Sponsored Membership of the Institute of Hospitality. Company Sponsored Membership gives hospitality employers the opportunity to purchase membership for a group of their employees. Many companies are already on board and seeing the benefits of investing in the professional development of their staff. At a time when attracting and keeping good staff is essential, let us help you achieve that goal. Find out more.