In many industries, the word "group" can be synonymous with poor standards and a lowest-common-denominator philosophy. Not so, however, in the hospitality industry, where it is the group establishments that have led the way in recent years, setting the highest standards and driving innovation, while meeting increasingly tough shareholder targets.
The task facing group hotels in today's business environment is by no means an easy one and represents a fine balancing act between often conflicting objectives:
l Raising standards while keeping costs under control.
l Driving revenue growth against a background of increasingly stiff competition.
l Extending the brand without causing long-term damage.
l And, of course, for individual properties in the group: developing a unique personality and proposition, which allows the establishment to stand on its own merit as well as being part of a larger concern.
Last year's Group Hotel of the Year, the Berkeley hotel, London, was universally acclaimed as a worthy winner, achieving the very highest levels of excellence in product and service, as well as impressive financial results.
Described as "the benchmark for the very best in hotelkeeping and service" by the AA Hotel Guide 2000, the standards set by the Berkeley were already remarkable, but even more so when viewed against the background of the takeover of its owner, the Savoy Group, in 1998. Rather than being unsettled by the change of ownership, the Berkeley pressed ahead with its programme of improvements, bringing Pierre Koffmann's La Tante Claire restaurant into the hotel and continuing to build on the establishment of new leisure and conference facilities.
As is often the case, it was a key member of staff, general manager Jean-Jacques Pergant, who was seen as the driving force behind what last year's Catey judges described as "a style and level of service not often found these days in London".
As organisers of the industry's premier events serving the food service, catering and hospitality market (including Hotelympia and IFE), Fresh RM is delighted to be sponsoring the Group Hotel of the Year Catey and to be associated with the recognition of excellence in this sector. Competition is sure to be stronger than ever for the 2001 award, with a number of smaller groups emerging to challenge the dominance of the larger operators in the sector.
The group hotels sector is arguably one of the most challenging environments in which to operate, and we invite you to play your part in recognising outstanding achievement, at whatever level, during the past year. To nominate a property for Group Hotel of the Year, please complete the form below. n