Ronan Sayburn, director of wine and spirits at the Hotel du Vin group, is to leave his position to join the Dorchester Collection as head of wines.
Sayburn, a Master Sommelier and previous winner of the UK Sommelier of the Year competition, will join the Dorchester Collection on 3 September, where his remit will be to build up the wine offer at the group's three UK properties, the Dorchester and 45 Park Lane in London, and Coworth Park in Ascot.
He will be in charge of modernising the wine offer across the three hotels as well as implementing a wine training scheme for their staff. Sayburn will report to the Dorchester's new director of food and beverage, Stephane Lafon, who will join on 13 August from Hilton.
Sayburn's move comes six months after the Malmaison and Hotel du Vin group appointed Gary Davis as its new chief executive following the departure of Robert Cook, who took Davis' former job of chief executive at De Vere Village.
In May, Davis made the decision to sell off the two Bistro du Vin restaurants in London - launched with great fanfare and aggressive expansion plans last year - to Lobster & Burger for £1.2m.
However, Sayburn said his decision to move on had nothing to do with changes at Hotel du Vin. "After the appointment of the new chief executive, people started asking me questions and I got a number of offers," he said.
"The Dorchester Collection's offer was too good to pass on but my leaving Hotel du Vin has nothing to do with the recent changes. I think some of the changes Gary Davis has made have been fantastic and I think Hotel du Vin is in very safe hands. So far no replacement for me has been found but I know they are keen to find someone."
Sayburn has been involved in the wine business for 20 years. His previous experience includes stints working for Le Manoir Aux Quat'Saisons, Pied à Terre, the Greenhouse - where he oversaw the UK's largest wine list - and wine merchant OW Loeb.
He also worked for Gordon Ramsay Holdings as executive head sommelier for eight years, mainly at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, and created the wine lists and trained wine service teams for Claridge's, the Connaught, the Savoy, Boxwood Café, Maze and several overseas operations.
Meanwhile, the Dorchester's new director of food and beverage, Stephane Lafon, will oversee six restaurants and bars, private and in-room dining. He will report to Roland Fasel, general manager and regional director UK.
French-born Lafon joins from his most recent post as food and beverage operations manager with the Hilton Group. Prior to residing in the UK, he spent more than 20 years in food and beverage management roles at luxury hotels in the USA, including Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort, Windsor Court hotel in New Orleans, Ritz Carlton Palm Beach and Waldorf Astoria in New York.
By Kerstin Kühn
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