Celebrating International Women’s Day: Q&A With Our Owner

  • By Walwick Hall
  • March 02, 2021
  • Announcement

This International Women’s Day, we catch up with our owner, Rachel, to find out more about what her day-to-day role entails, the advice she has for others looking to progress in a leadership role within the hospitality industry, and much more in our latest article.

What does a typical working day look like for you as a Hotel Owner?

Every day is different for me, which is part of the appeal of my role. I’m very much a person who plans everything; but even my most carefully bullet-pointed schedule can be thrown all over due to the nature of this fast-paced industry.

I always start by saying good morning to my Breakfast Team and touching base with them; checking whether there have been any issues during the night that were reported to our Reception Team. Then, I walk through our dining room area, wishing our guests a good morning and making sure they slept well and asking what their plans for the day entail – I aim to see each guest again before they check out so it’s nice to catch up with them about how their plans went.

From there, I meet with the Duty Manager to ensure we know who is arriving that day at both Walwick Hall and Chesters Stables, and make sure we have everything in order that caters to the guests’ specific needs. This is one of the most important things we do to prepare for a guest’s arrival – we take our time on this and make sure things like birthdays and favourite wines are not overlooked (we usually have notes of this on file from previous stays, or through our correspondence before a guest’s visit).

We’re a Boutique Hotel, so it’s these small touches that really set us apart from others and remembering these little details is something I’ve paid particular attention to when developing the brand. Once the guests arrive, it’s then a case of welcoming them in and making them feel at ease the second they arrive with us.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

I have two favourite parts of the job…

The first is the evenings at the Hotel when most of our guests have finished their Dinners and have retired to The Drawing Room – it’s here where I get to enjoy talking to them and am really able to learn so much more about them. Over the years, I’ve heard such fascinating tales about our guests’ interesting lives and have learnt so much! In many industries, you wouldn’t get the opportunity to talk and get to know people like you do at the Hotel, so I’m blessed with this.

The second is when the full team is together for Menu tasting, which we tend to share and post about on our social media channels. Our chef team is fantastic and works really hard to develop and change our Menu every two months according to seasonal produce and ingredients.

We believe that the full team should get the chance to taste these incredible dishes. This way, each member can pick a favourite dish to recommend, as well as being fully informed about the entire Menu to ensure our guests get the best possible Dining experience from us. All in all though, I love seeing the team together. We have a good laugh and use one another to bounce our ideas around – with them suggesting lots of things to me as well as me to them! I use the word ‘team’ a lot as we really understand the meaning of that here.

What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of running a hotel?

It’s full on – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 of them each year!

I haven’t found the off switch yet – even working when I’m away on holiday. Because, even though I have a great team behind me, there’s always something that needs looking at or I believe could be improved and requires me to cast my eye over. Having said that, I believe that same sentiment applies to anyone in business and isn’t unique to hospitality only.

Do you think it’s important to have a team of women working alongside you in your job, and if so, why?

I have a fantastic group of women working alongside me but, equally, I also have some fantastic men that I work with too, and I couldn’t be without either! To be honest, from where I stand I don’t see gender – I look at someone’s capabilities of doing a job and that’s the most important thing for me.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

My Dad always used to say to me, “this too will pass” – it stuck with me ever since and I say it in my head every day. Whether I’m facing a challenge, a moment of mental block, or even if I’ve come across something positive, I say this and it helps me clear my mind and refocus – something that is quite often needed, particularly in this role.

Is there a particular woman you look up to and why?

In terms of businesswomen, I look up to the likes of Victoria Beckham. Not only is she a fantastic fashion designer and businesswoman who has maintained a high-end luxury brand throughout her career, but she’s done this while successfully juggling motherhood and family life. She is always looking at new ways to expand and still remains very much involved in everything that her name touches.

In day-to-day life, it has to be my own mum. People know my dad as an extremely successful businessman, but behind him, my mum has always been there to offer her support and guidance in each decision. That’s what she does for me too – I bounce ideas off her all the time and she offers so much advice and guidance, I’m very lucky to have her.

As a mother yourself, how have you balanced being a parent and a working professional?

It’s such a hard juggling act – I’ve got 4 children! But they’re so great and understanding of work, they’re used to having hard working people around them so it’s in their blood. In normal, non-covid times (ie. non-homeschooling!) they’re at school and nursery during the day which helps to balance my job and family roles.

I spend as much time as I can with my children when they’re not at school or nursery – which I’m only able to do by delegating jobs to my wonderful team and sharing evening and weekend work. But I often still have to be at work during these times, and the children have adapted and understand this (they can often be found over at the Hotel anyway, stealing some food or a drink!).

What advice do you have for women looking to progress their careers to leadership roles within the hospitality industry?

Do it! As with any industry, you just need to go for it. If you enjoy something and believe it’s something you want to carry out as a career, push for it and find new ways and ideas to help progress you into the role you want. Gender should never come into it, so this statement applies to everyone.

So there you have it – our quick catch up with Rachel, sharing some behind-the-scenes insight into what running Walwick Hall and Chesters Stables means and feels like to her. As we celebrate the 8th of March this year, we also look forward to a summer of guests returning to our boutique hotel and luxury self-catered accommodation. To ensure you don’t miss out on a magical spring and summer, take a look at our Hotel packages or explore our unique stable suites and book your stay experience today.

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