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Celebrating Pride of Britain Hotels' most colourful characters

7th May 2014 Print

Whilst many of the 49 hotels within the Pride of Britain Hotels consortium of luxury, independently-owned hotels have fascinating histories, so too do their staff who beaver away – be it in the kitchen, behind the scenes or as front-of-house staff. Here are a few of the consortium’s most colourful characters:

Head Concierge, Grand Jersey – Hugo De Castro
Over 30 years’ experience as The Grand Jersey’s concierge, Hugo has earned himself the title of 'The Oracle' as he remembers so many details about guests and nothing surprises him. One guest brought a goldfish and specified that it had to live in Evian water, so he took care of the goldfish, and kept it in Evian until she came back the following year. Other skills range from taking on the role of marriage counsellor to acting as a personal shopper. Hugo’s mothering instinct ensures that guests travelling home late in the evening are packed off with teabags, cheese, crackers and fruit.

Sommelier, Lords of the Manor – Jeremie Guiraud
When Lords of the Manor’s wine cellar was underwater earlier this year, it was business as usual for the hotel’s flamboyant Sommelier, Jeremie Guiraud. He just popped on his waders so he could fetch the requested wine for his guests. At just 24 years of age, Jeremie is knowledgeable beyond his years, never being afraid to recommend some of the hotel’s more eclectic wines, and he regularly receives glowing praise from his guests.

Hotel Manager, Bovey Castle – Federico Aresti
Dressing up as a rollerblading turkey on Christmas Day is all part of a typical day’s work for Bovey Castle’s charismatic Italian hotel manager of six years, Federico Aresti. He is often mentioned on tripadvisor, too, receiving many outstanding reviews for wowing the guests with his trademark smile and thoughtful advice on how best to enjoy the facilities and activities on offer at the exclusive Dartmoor-based estate.

Gardener, Barnsley House - Richard Gatenby
At the age of 17, Barnsley House’s Head Gardener Richard Gatenby had already identified his ambition, telling his careers officer at school, “I want to work for a big house with a garden all around it”. Richard is clearly ‘living the dream’, having worked at Barnsley House in the Cotswolds since the celebrated gardener Rosemary Verey’s time, when the property was still a private home. Richard was first interviewed by Rosemary back in 1999 and their shared love of whippets (Richard continues to race them today) led to him securing the perfect role.

Chief Engineer, The Chester Grosvenor – Ted Griffiths
Ted Griffiths is an institution at The Chester Grosvenor - well known for his witty repartee and fantastic stories. Ted joined the hotel in 1992 as the hotel’s joiner and was promoted to Chief Engineer in 2000. No two days are ever the same and his jobs may include changing light bulbs (the hotel goes through 10,000 light bulbs per year) or driving Rococo Chocolate’s tuk tuk around the city. Four times a year he winches down the hotel’s chandelier with two other staff members; it gets cleaned and relamped - the whole process takes about six hours - and it always tells an interesting story, too, as everything from flowers to shoes and even a bra have been found hidden within its exquisite crystal glassware.

Hotel Bar Manager, The Capital - Cesar da Silva
Cesar da Silva has spent his entire working life at The Capital, having joined in 1996 whilst combining work at the hotel with studying for a diploma in hospitality. Cesar was then appointed Assistant Bar Manager and two years later, at the age of just 24, he was promoted to Bar Manager, his role ever since. Under Cesar, the bar at The Capital has amassed an almost unrivalled whisky collection, spearheaded by several 40-year-old malts. Cesar has been granted the honour of being the youngest Keeper of the Quaich in the UK - the exclusive international Society founded by leading Scotch whisky distillers – and he has also introduced a unique Whisky and Cheese Pairing Menu at the hotel. Having previously won the Campari Bar Tender of the year competition, he is well placed to run the popular Classic Cocktail master class.

Restaurant Manager, Bailiffscourt Hotel - Franck Mercier
Lurking in the elegant Tapestry Restaurant at Bailiffscourt Hotel on the Sussex coast, amongst the mullioned windows and tapestry-hung walls, is the French restaurant manager Franck Mercier who wows diners with his colourful array of Scottish kilts. At the last count he owned 11 of them which he rotates on a daily basis. However, if he knows any of his regular guests are staying or dining at the hotel, he will be sure to wear their favourite.

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