August 02 2011
Today I am in Florence at our Hotel Savoy. I wake at 7.45 and have a shower and wash my hair ready for our meeting at 9am. I don’t have time for breakfast so eat the delicious flat peaches in my room and have a strong coffee when I get to the meeting room.
We are here for a three-day executive board meeting where we go through in detail the hotel’s sales figures, marketing activity, food and beverage and necessary redecoration works. During the summer we hold these review meetings across all of our 12 properties; they are very useful to help our managers and their teams maintain standards and run their businesses. Today is the last day in Florence and we are focusing on food and beverage with a fairly hefty agenda to get through. There never seems to be enough time to go through everything.
So far we have been to five of our 12 hotels. I must say it is hard to sit through a long meeting in Florence with the sun shining outside and many of the beauties of the city just around the corner. But sit we do from 9am to 8.30pm, with not even half an hour to rush out to the best MaxMara shop in Europe.
In the old days, I used to think people were philistines when they said that hard work had prevented them from seeing the beauties and treasures of the cities in which they had been working. Now I understand that it is very difficult to mix business with pleasure.
Fortunately I had just had my fill of pleasure, with my daughter and granddaughter in our resort in Sicily, Verdura. But it is very hard to relax if you take a busman’s holiday.
One of the things that has really struck me during these visits is the calibre of women coming up in our industry. Our managers are still mostly male, but most of the heads of department are now women, strong, smart, well dressed, concise and hard working. I was especially struck by this in Berlin at Hotel de Rome. They really do put most of the men to shame.
Lunch is in the meeting room at about 1pm and gives the chef a chance to show us his latest creations, always using the best local, seasonal produce. I always ask for a big green salad and Caprese with fresh mozzarella and really ripe tomatoes (which always taste better here than they do in the UK). Fulvio Pierangelini, who oversees all the Italian restaurants in our hotels, joins us for lunch, which gives us the opportunity to discuss plans for the hotel’s new restaurant, due to open later this year. Fulvio is an “over the top” character, very passionate and talented and world renowned for having had a two-Michelin-starred restaurant in Tuscany.
After lunch I have a strong espresso and we rush through the rest of the agenda as we all have flights back in the late afternoon.
We get to the airport just before 5pm to catch the 6.05pm flight to London with Meridiana and are then delayed for two hours, which is most frustrating. I finally get back home at about 10pm, utter a few bad-tempered words to my husband and then collapse into bed.