Cafe Royal is London's latest iconic opening, so Caterer.com spoke to Shona Rye, People and Development Director at Cafe Royal, and asked what it's REALLY like working on a new opening...
1. What's exciting about working in a new opening?
The most exciting thing for anyone working on a new opening is the opportunity to be part of something special from its inception. There is always a tremendous amount of dedication, belonging and ownership among the opening teams of new hotels.
It can be exceptionally hard work at times, however once the hotel has opened you can look back at the effort everyone has made during the pre-opening period and be proud of what the team has achieved as whole.
At Café Royal, we are more than a hotel opening. We are part of the renaissance of an iconic London landmark and we are tasked with writing the next chapter of this building’s amazing history which spans over 150 years.
We are located in the heart of the one world’s most vibrant cities with prestigious Mayfair to the west and creative Soho to the east. We want to take a spirited approach to the future whilst being respectful to our rich historical and cultural heritage.
Surely there is nothing more exciting?
2. How do you put your teams together for each area of the hotel?
Our executive management team have been in place for some time and as you can imagine there has been an immense amount of planning behind the scenes, not only in terms of our facilities but also in determining the fabric of our team who will ultimately deliver the service to our guests.
We typically start with the manager who will oversee the particular area or division of the hotel. These managers have the important responsibility of inspiring and leading our colleagues in the delivery of our bespoke services.
Once our management team for a department is in place we re-define the skills and characteristics we require from our colleagues to ensure that we have a structured team that complements not only each other but also the other teams within the hotel. This ensures we become a completely cohesive team with one shared vision. Experience is of course essential for certain positions, however personality and team-fit often plays a more important role, particularly when you are building a team from scratch.
At Café Royal, our colleagues epitomise the very essence of 21st century hospitality; a natural flair for service delivered in a confident and calm manner, passion and enthusiasm and the desire to be the very best at what they do.
3. What is the best part about the opening?
Teamwork and camaraderie is without a doubt the best part about an opening. There is a huge amount of shared pride and achievement in realising a vision and creating a culture that will continue for many years to come. Close working relationships develop among pre-opening teams and many people often create life-long friendships.
4. Are there any opportunities in the future for staff development?
Café Royal is part of The Set so we are not just opening a new hotel, but also developing a new luxury brand. The Set is a collection of contemporary lifestyle hotels designed for the sophisticated and culturally savvy traveller. This individual collection combines prime locations, unique heritage, luxurious design and contemporary environments for local and international communities alike.
Founded in 2012, The Set is currently comprised of Conservatorium Hotel in Amsterdam, The Lutetia in Paris and of course The Café Royal here in London. We strongly believe in the continuous personal development for our colleagues with opportunities within each of these properties as well as future opportunities in other tourist-led cities as the collection grows.
5. What should new colleagues expect when joining Cafe Royal?
Firstly they should expect something very different to a standard luxury hotel, both in the way we approach our guests and colleagues.
Our values clearly define what any new colleague can expect in terms of a working environment. The spirit of belonging is central to our ethos which helps us nurture an environment of full integrity, cooperation, empowerment and shared responsibility.
Learning is important and new colleagues can expect to follow an interesting and dynamic orientation programme to develop their skills and ultimately create a true luxury experience for our guests.
Finally there is a level of fun and enjoyment that we encourage among all our colleagues. Social interaction and communication among our team is of course central to the success of our business.