A Review of 2019
More Than Just A Collection of Numbers
Danny Pecorelli, Managing Director at Exclusive Collection
Published on December 12, 2019
Today marks 20 days until 2020. A new decade for Exclusive Collection and one that is sure to bring about even more product and service innovations - a continued focus on our guest and employee wellbeing, greater ownership of sustainability across our estate and supply chain, and the continued development of our talent so that they possess the personal impact and professionalism that we have become recognised for.
In 2019 we dropped Hotels and became ‘Exclusive Collection’ to reflect that we are in the business of creating lasting experiences for people who appreciate 5-star standards while seeking a more casual approach. Premiumisation is today’s watchword for the hospitality sector, yet few companies can say they remain a family run business and even less can say they learned the trade and its traditions directly from the founder of one of the world’s most prolific hotel dynasties. This heritage, balanced with a forward-thinking outlook is underwritten with a culture that champions wellness, innovation, sustainability and high-performing teams. Throughout 2019, we’ve made huge gains in each of these pillars:
Wellness: we opened our 44,000 sq. foot spa at South Lodge to create one of the biggest openings in the UK this year. With a firm focus on sustainability, the spa blends into its local South Downs surroundings through its meadow-grass roof and the UK’s first ever heated natural swimming pool. The £15m investment has been praised far and wide including Evening Standard, The Times and Wallpaper* who referred to the opening as a ‘show stopping new spa’ and culminated in us winning Best New Spa 2019 in the Good Spa Guide.
We took innovation and tech to task by looking for ways to communicate more effectively amongst our 1,200 strong team across our 6 different sites. Running a 24/7, 365-day business, it can be hard to communicate cohesively, and we worked with Beekeeper to find a solution to help connect, inform and engage with our non-desk workforce. The results were so positive and had such an impact that we were recognised with a Catey for ‘Best Use of Technology’ at the prestigious Hotel Cateys.
Other innovations include shaking up the awkward welcome our conference guests were faced with at their arrival coffee and networking. We introduced interactive technology and have since brought a real buzz to the ritual. The tech brings out the barista and small talk in every guest, helping set the tone for the day ahead, and most importantly, we ensure that we recycle the grounds after.
Sustainability is everywhere we look and for Exclusive Collection local is the order of the day. We’ve strived to promote and work with British and local suppliers where possible; from the artwork at South Lodge to Jonathan Spiers use of the South Downs larder at Botanica where his signature Wasted Burger repurposes the leftovers of the morning’s juices. We also work with Love for Local who champion the use of wonky fruit and vegetables, each one unique and individual but just as wholesome and nutritious. We recognise that the team has a social conscience too and have therefore introduced vegan Monday’s for them and electric charge points for their cars.
Our people have been one of the biggest highlights in 2019 with the team performing to incredible standards, resulting in numerous stand out moments; we were highly commended at the Afternoon Tea of the Year awards thanks to Sarah Frankland from Pennyhill Park who also won Chef of the Year at the Craft Guild of Chefs Awards 2019, along with many other accolades and also competed on Bake Off: The Professionals 2019.
Away from the pass we’ve worked with rugby legends Eddie Jones and Jonny Wilkinson to conceive and bring to life our new networking forum for our corporate buyers; Flock. On two occasions we’ve gathered some amazing clients and business leaders to network and gain insight from leading voices in professional sport and part of high performing teams. And using one off access to the England Rugby Team training ground we even had guests learning from Jonny to work together and create a line of faultless consecutive passes: team work at its best!
In 2019 we were responsible for just over 2 million hours of sleep for our guests, served almost 1,600 wasted burgers, relaxed more than ten-thousand spa guests and made some huge memories for 100 couples who celebrated their marriage at one of our properties. Stevie Ball will become our longest standing member of the team (42 years) and Steve Smith our newest as he takes the helm at the Latymer.
While these numbers are big and bold it’s the people who are at the heart of our business as they provide us with the differentiator for which we are recognised. We opt to use names rather than numbers on our bedrooms too and as we approach this next decade as a family owned business it is ever more apparent that it is people and personality that help us hit and make these big numbers. Our business is more than just a collection of numbers, it’s a collective of people each with a voice and an opinion creating exceptional service in standout surroundings.
I wish everyone in the team a fantastic festive season and look forward to seeing what we, Exclusive Collection, can achieve not only in a new year but in a new decade.