Tewkesbury Park - A Jewel In The Crown
10th August 2017 Paul Andrews
At Tewkesbury Park they live and breathe hospitality. Making every moment memorable is truly the raison d’être for the family behind this quintessentially British hotel set in the rolling Gloucestershire countryside.
Set back from the road down a sweeping drive, just a stone’s throw from the scenes of some of the bloodiest battles during the Wars of the Roses, Tewkesbury Park is once more vibrant and full of life following the investment and dedication of the McIntosh family who have spent time and money restoring it. The hotel is beautiful and reflects the desire of the family who want to create the ‘top luxury hotel in the region.’
The journey started over three years ago now when Chris, Claire and their mother bought the hotel. As Claire explains, “Just over three years ago I had no direct involvement in the hotel sector but had worked in hospitality before with an operational HR role at Mitchells & Butlers and have always been fascinated by hotels. My Mum, Dad and brother are also keen golfers and lived locally so when we saw the hotel on the market there was an inevitability about the outcome!”
This is a family with a vision and a belief in all that they do and it resonates the moment that you enter reception and are greeted by the staff. The family are on hand to oversee the developments and staff are attentive, willing and helpful at every stage, clearly sharing the pride and the warmth that the hotel exudes. As Claire continues, “This has been a real journey for us and we love it. We’re so pleased to have reached this stage with the central areas and all existing bedrooms refurbished, nine decadent historic suites and two new spa treatment rooms created, the health club given a facelift and the stunning new events and conferencing suite, the Cotswolds Suite, opened this summer.“
Tewkesbury Park was already a hotel when the family acquired it but it is fair to say that it needed significant investment and a dose of TLC to restore it to its former glory days.
As a family, it took a little time to define roles and responsibilities, but having done so they’ve worked well together… the scale of the refurbishment projects has certainly helped maintain the focus. As Claire adds, “We just had to make decisions and work together to keep to the timetable and budgets. The fact that this was such a large project and we had so much invested in it, we spent hours discussing the plans and working together right from the start. We talked about the hotel a lot, and still do, and spend a lot of time together as a family in and out of work, so it is great that we all get on!”
Like many families in business, getting time away from work is key to finding the right balance. For Claire, whose husband is a full time barrister and who has two young children, maintaining that balance is key: “Jack is six and Chloe is seven and they really do help me to switch off. They help to keep me grounded, and at their young ages they remain a priority for me.”
This business is going from strength to strength and the family are continuing to find new ways to enhance the overall hotel and the experience for their guests. The long term plan is to build the hotel as a luxury destination hotel , a road that they are already a long way down, but what of the future? Claire is pragmatic in her response, adding that “who knows what the future holds and with the next generation still so young it is difficult to know if the business will pass to the next generation. We will encourage them to follow their dreams, create their own journey, and, if it results in one day them being the right people to work in and lead the business going forward, that would be great. But, we are a young business with lots of plans and don’t want to put any pressure on them either.”
Within the hotel sector, people are the key to success, and having a clear vision and set of values at the outset is essential. As Claire explains, “values and tone of voice are incredibly important to us and our team here. We have taken the time to work out who we are and how we want to be recognised. This is really important and as a family we are here to help, on hand to deal with the guests and we really do live out the values that we uphold so dearly.”
The staff are key too and like many family firms, the team here do go the extra mile. Family firms invest in their staff the length and breadth of the UK and we come across many that value the contribution of older employees too. One such example is Joyce who is now in her 81st year, has been at the hotel for 27 years and still works in the restaurant on a regular basis. As Claire points out, “the guests love her, as do we, and she is part of the fabric of who we are. Returning guests are delighted to be greeted by her when they sit down to dinner, and they send her flowers to the hotel on her birthday too!”
Claire and her brother Chris are at the hotel most days and have clear roles and responsibilities, yet discuss things relating to the hotel on a regular basis. They are also collectively responsible for delivering the broader brand values of Independence, Hospitality and Distinction, which are evident to anyone staying at the hotel.
As Claire concludes, “The hotel is a great way for us to work together and has really played to our strengths and skills as a family. I have loved being closely involved with the refurbishment and the proudest moment for me has been how the new manor house suites have come together and represent a real step forward in pursuit of our luxury hotel vision. We are always looking for the next step and the Cotswolds Suite and Berkeley Bar have been a fantastic addition to the hotel.The level of weddings and conferences in the diary going forward continues to increase, so we must be doing something right.”
This is a family that have clearly enjoyed their journey to date, a successful one that has created a real jewel in the Gloucestershire crown, and one that is not only steeped in history but luxury too. A quintessentially British hotel in beautiful surroundings, history on the doorstep and clearly with lots more exciting plans for the future, a business that will undoubtedly make its voice heard further and further afield.
Tewkesbury Park was one of the family firms visited as part of the 2017 Family Business Road Trip.