December 19 2012
The hotel is in good shape this morning when I arrive – which always keeps the GM happy – and our 9am meeting is dominated by feedback from our food and beverage team. Christmas is the peak time of year in our restaurants and bars; all are incredibly busy and our banqueting rooms are booked out with parties. You can feel that the countdown is in full swing, and we have to focus on managing the volume of guests and maintaining the special Claridge’s style with which we look after them all.
This morning I meet with my friend Clive Darby, who, after his time at Kilgour on Savile Row, is now the creative director of his own menswear label, Rake. He designs some of the finest suits and seems intuitively to understand what men need. In fact, my favourite suits are my Rake ones. The cuts and fabrics for me are simply spot on. Clive and I always find ourselves discussing the luxury market and which trends and requests are at the forefront, as we often have a crossover of clients. We both agree that luxury customers are becoming more non-conformist, and that brands need to retain a strong language and identity while giving the client complete flexibility to use that identity in many different ways at the same time. When Clive leaves, he does so with one of Claridge’s famous Christmas puddings for him and his family to enjoy on the 25th. The desserts follow a secret recipe we have been using here for more than 60 years.
One of my closest colleagues within the Maybourne Hotel Group is our chief executive, Stephen Alden. I have a very important get-together with him in the afternoon, as we are currently working on a new space within the hotel, which we will launch in February: the Red Room. It will be a serene haven to look after guests who travel with their work, a business lounge Claridge’s style, with beautiful materials and emotional references to the romance of the golden days of travel. We have a conceptual meeting in preparation for tomorrow, when we will see the Linley design team, who are creating the interior for the Red Room, as well as working on new suites for 2013.
Stephen and I have an ongoing dialogue about how
we can make Claridge’s even better, what elements are needed to meet the
demands of the modern day traveller and how we can create an experience that is
beyond our guests’ expectations. Linley is creating the most exquisite
marquetry work for the new business lounge using amazing woods, but our mutual
favourite piece in this space will be the “transatlantic chair”, designed
specially for us. You cannot imagine how often we changed our minds until we
found the perfect fabric for it. We now believe we have it just right.
This evening the hotel is buzzing and full of the sheer wonder of Christmas. I
spend a lot of time in our lobby and foyer, talking with our guests – many of
whom ask to be photographed by our famous Christmas tree. This has become
rather an annual institution in London, for over the past few years we have had
it designed by some of our most distinguished guests. Last year it was Alber
Elbaz for Lanvin, and this time we asked the floral genius Kally Ellis from
McQueens, who has created a magical natural forest tree called Forest Murmurs.
I am so happy that our guests love it.
Finally back at home, it’s time for a quick bite to eat. Tonight it’s leftovers from Sunday’s organic roast chicken. Roast chicken is by far my favourite dish, and so is on the menu almost every weekend. Thankfully there is always some left over, which makes for a perfect sandwich after a long day’s work.