Describe your role in one sentence Cycas has a mantra that ‘our job is not over until we get a smile’, so the number one priority of my job is to make sure we get that smile from guests, employees, owners and investors alike
What are you most proud of after over a decade with Cycas? I’ve had so many proud moments, from high guest satisfaction scores across our portfolio to opening the UK’s first dual-branded hotel in Stratford for the 2012 London Olympics. But my number one will always be opening Cycas’s first hotel in 2008 – the first Staybridge Suites outside North America. As GM of our Liverpool property I helped develop Cycas’s distinctive culture and helped popularise Europe’s branded extended-stay concept.
How do you juggle working with so many brands? Being brand agnostic, Cycas has a fantastic relationship with all the hotel brands and international companies we work with. Having the opportunity to explore the nuances of each one gives me a more rounded insight into how hospitality is evolving. Our focus is to build the best hotels, irrespective of the flag we are operating, and we do this by recruiting Cycadettes who share our commitment to constantly seeking new ways to deliver positively outrageously service.
What are the biggest challenges as Cycas grows? Cycas Hospitality has always stood out for our company culture, which puts people front and centre of everything we do, ensures we take having fun seriously, and makes working hard look fun. Given our ambitious growth plans, finding the right talent will be crucial to maintain Cycas’s award-winning culture.
What industry trends excite you most? Probably the fact that the extended-stay sector is starting to gain real momentum across Europe and is now recognised as a mainstream player. A decade ago we expected the aparthotel concept would primarily appeal to corporate travellers or project workers looking to stay upwards of five or six nights. As travelling styles have evolved, so have our guests and their length of stay. The facilities and service offered by brands in this field also appeals to transient travellers; so much so that full-service brands are now beginning to replicate hospitality elements – including the service culture – initially associated with extended-stay hotels.
The Fun Five
What makes you smile? Getting on a plane and starting my annual vacation. I work hard, but every year I make sure I take a two-week holiday to somewhere on my bucket list to fully recharge those all-important batteries.
What’s your motto in life? ‘Choose your attitude’ is a saying that has resonated with me throughout my career. The hospitality industry is full-on and can come with some long hours, so it’s important not to be solely reliant on others for positivity. A good attitude will always increase your productivity and ensure you are a better team player and role model.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? I always wanted to be an English Literature teacher! I had just finished my A-levels and enrolled to start university when I was offered an internship with Cresta Hotels and Resorts in Southern Africa. I decided to do it for a year before going to university and promptly fell in love with the world of hospitality.
Where would we find you at the weekend? I am currently redecorating my apartment, which has taken over my free time for the last few months. So, much as I normally love getting out and about, at the moment I’m more likely to be found stripping wallpaper, tiling, laying floors and painting.
What would the industry be most surprised to discover about you? During my hospitality training in Southern Africa, I trained and became a safari guide for three months at a luxury game reserve in Zimbabwe, complete with my own rifle and Land Rover!