Overall ranking: 30
Hotelier ranking: 9
Gordon Campbell Gray - Snapshot
Gordon Campbell Gray is the founder and managing director of an eponymous group of four iconic boutique hotels. The CampbellGray Hotels group comprises One Aldwych and Dukes in London as well as Carlisle Bay in Antigua and Le Gray in Beirut. He cherry-picks his projects with a view to creating a small collection of international luxury hotels and has two more properties in Lebanon currently in the pipeline - Le Gray on Sea, an 80-bedroom property outside Beirut by the coast, and a 50-bedroom ski lodge in the mountains - as well as an eco-based resort in Grenada and the Lodge St Germain in Montpellier, southern France.
Gordon Campbell Gray - Career guide
Despite walking out of hotel school, Gordon Campbell Gray worked through all departments at a variety of properties before landing the role of assistant food and beverage controller at London’s Portman InterContinental hotel, aged 22. He was promoted to purchasing manager, but then his hotel career was put on hold while he ran projects for the Save the Children charity in Bangladesh, Morocco and Nicaragua.
Campbell Gray returned to the UK in 1982 and bought the old Dorchester hotel in Oxfordshire, which he redesigned and relaunched as the Feathers at Woodstock. The stylish Draycott in London’s Chelsea district followed in 1987 on the site of a neglected club.
After selling the hotels, Campbell Gray moved to New York’s Long Island to buy, refurbish and run the Maidstone Arms in East Hampton.
In January 1996 he bought the Edwardian Inveresk House in London and reopened it in July 1998 as One Aldwych.
He set up CampbellGray Hotels - which includes One Aldwych - in 2003 to develop a small collection of individual luxury hotels around the world. Its first new opening was the Carlisle Bay hotel on the Caribbean island of Antigua in late 2003.
In 2006 the group acquired its first management contract, for Dukes hotel in London, and opened Le Gray in downtown Beirut to critical acclaim in late 2009. He has also opened an office in Beirut.
But his achievements in hospitality tell only half the story. Each year Campbell Gray spends some time in a developing country as part of his work with Save the Children, and in 2009 he became chairman of the Considerate Hoteliers Association, continuing his work pushing the industry to become more environmentally aware.
The group has received countless accolades over the years, many recognising its green credentials, but also including Carlisle Bay scooping the Tatler Travel Awards Hotel of the Year accolade within 12 months of its opening and Campbell Gray himself receiving the coveted Hotelier of the Year title in 2002.
Gordon Campbell Gray - What we think
Gordon Campbell Gray has redefined the concept of boutique hotels since the opening of One Aldwych in 1998. He has always worked closely with interior designer Mary Fox-Linton, and their combined flair for design and marketing has proved an enduring success with customers, often proving the money men wrong. Campbell Gray listened to 18 months of "noes" from 66 financial institutions before he secured the funding for One Aldwych.
The recent opening of Le Gray has received international critical acclaim and was also a triumph of persistence, as the work had to stop twice due to troubles in the region. It is confirmation that Campbell Gray has got the right touch.
A pioneer and firm believer in the evolution of “the intelligent guest”, Campbell Gray abhors cookie-cutter hotels and service for the sake of it. In all his properties he looks to have truly personal service and comfort, rather than the blanket approach taken by some of his more corporate competitors.
His trademark touches are individuality, subtlety, understated sophistication and timeless chic, rather than anything too overtly de luxe, trendy or branded.
The group is also defined by its green credentials, something Campbell Gray had been a vocal proponent of long before it became a trend. Its many awards in this area and also for its dedication to investment in people is something that sets the group apart from its competitors.
Expansion has never been the main aim for Campbell Gray, but the group seems to be entering a new phase, with at least four new projects on the horizon – two of which are in Lebanon - and a number of further developments looming in the longer term. His criterion for new projects is the partners who will be involved with him, and the locations – which need to be “somewhere I want to wake up”.
To date, each Campbell Gray project has been an unmitigated success, but the question now is whether the group can maintain this record and its high standards while adding so many new properties to its portfolio.
Gordon Campbell Gray - Further information
Campbell Gray to take over Dukes hotel >>