product_img_qs%5B1%5D.jpgSome 1200 captains of industry turned out at this afternoon’s BHA centenary lunch at the Grosvenor House Hotel on London’s Park Lane – and I got the first name-check of the event!
Opening the event in front of a packed house, BHA Chief Executive, Bob Cotton said, “now I know how Mark Lewis feels when he opens the Cateys!” Bob went on to point out that the BHA lunch was taking place on the very day that power at No 10 passed from Tony Blair to Gordon Brown, meaning that, for a few hours at least, no one in government was formally responsible for regulating the hospitality industry. (Bob later went on to make a plea to “leave us alone and stop trying to regulate hospitality more and more”).
The guest list read like a who’s-who of the industry. My table alone boasted such luminaries as One Aldych supremo Gordon Campbell Gray, Jeremy Goring of the Goring Hotel and Regent Inns executive chairman, Bob Ivell. There was a very complimentary name-check for Jeremy Goring’s hotel later on in the afternoon, to which Jeremy responded by punching the air and whispering “get in there!” to me.
The afternoon’s two guest speakers were Sir Rocco Forte and Sir David Michels – who were introduced as “two young men with promising careers ahead of them”. In his speech, Sir Rocco questioned the hotel industry’s increasingly short-termist, money-oriented approach. He stressed the value of continuity, dedication, nurturing your staff and treating the customer as king.
My favourite tale of the day? Gordon Campbell Gray’s admission that when he was in Antigua overseeing the development and launch of his Carlisle Bay resort, the task was so all-consuming, and at times such an uphill battle, that when Christmas Day came, he holed up in his room alone and ate a whole box of Quality Street.
Finally, well done to the Grosvenor House – it can’t be easy catering for such a vast number of hospitality bigwigs, and for the record I thought the food was enjoyable and the service professional.