The travel and hospitality industries have been two of the hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis, with the World Travel & Tourism Council warning that 75 million jobs are at immediate risk.
From the hotel owner whose thoughtful touches transform your stay to the friendly concierge who tips you off about that great local restaurant, it’s the people behind the places that make travel so enriching and joyous.
In our new series, we’ll be meeting the owners, general managers and founders of some of the world’s greatest hotels to get to know them a bit better. And, perhaps more importantly, we’ll be grilling them for their top travel tips. From where to find pristine private beaches to knowing how to blag a table at the world’s best restaurants, who could be more in-the-know?
First up, London’s iconic The Goring. A royal favourite, it’s the only hotel to have a Royal Warrant and has a long history of serving the Monarchy. The Queen Mother famously loved the hotel’s Eggs Drumkilbo dish (it’s still served today), the hotel’s chefs made Prince Charles’ christening cake, the Duchess of Cambridge chose to stay the night before the royal wedding, and it’s where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stopped for lunch on their last visit to the UK as senior royals.
Opened 110 years ago in 1910 by O R Goring, today it’s run by fourth generation CEO Jeremy Goring. Here, we chat to Mr Goring about his post-lockdown travel plans…
How long have you worked at The Goring?
10 years, with every year revealing a different challenge, especially now.
Why the hospitality industry?
I realised early on that there are great hotels everywhere in the world so hospitality is in more than one sense a passport to anywhere you want to go. Also, all the agonising over the most pathetic details – on one level we are so aware of the total irrelevance of what we do, yet on the other we sometimes accidentally create magic in peoples lives.
Other than the Goring, what’s the best hotel in the world?
Coral Reef Club Barbados. I can wear any shirt I like and there will always be somebody with a sillier one! But Coral Reef Club is the real thing; a rare case of not trying to be anything that you are not.
Favourite little-known, secret hotel in the world:
The €20 a night Chantilly in Cauterets. Although it fell into a river in the Pyrenees two years ago. Perhaps one day they’ll rebuild it.
What makes a hotel truly special?
John Andrews, Head of Concierge at the Goring Hotel. And other people like him, who stop at nothing to make the guest experience something special.
The most heartwarming thing a guest has ever said to you?
Right now we are receiving an outpouring of support from our beloved Goring guests while we are temporarily shut. It’s helping us all get through what has been the most awful three weeks for everybody.
The best part of your job?
Small things such as trying to get the bread right, or finding a kitchen porter drunk in a freezer. Strategic thinking is overrated!
Maddest request you’ve ever had from a guest?
Presumably some embarrassing things that happened while I was a room service waiter…
Tell us about a time you cried happy tears in your hotel:
When chef Paul Gayler called me over to the room service department for an “emergency”, which ended up with the pair of us, and three Turkish waiters bolting a huge glass each of Chateau d’Yquem 1921.
A guest had drank a tiny drop and sent the rest back on his trolley, resulting in the greatest wine experience of my life.
Best view in the world?
The Goring kitchens in full cry during dinner service. I cannot wait for the day when I can see that view again.
Best meal you’ve ever eaten?
Very difficult. We are all so spoilt that I make myself sick answering this. But I could say Faviken in northern Sweden. I spent ten years trying to get in and despite all the expectation it was the most unforgettable culinary adventure ever, and the most immense privilege.
Your favourite city?
London and it’s beautiful ugliness.
Next on your travel wishlist?
I am desperate to get back to Nihi Sumba (formerly Nihiwatu) in Indonesia one day.
Most beautiful beach in the world?
Probably any of the nine palm draped Bacardi advert beaches at Caneel Bay, which I had the privilege of helping to open back in the day. Hotelier Kenyon Price and myself used to get on the company boat with our important looking briefcases and once out around the point, take our shorts out of them and take a little break!
Most treasured childhood holiday memory?
I used to think Cornwall was a separate country to England, so going to England technically was a “holiday”.
Your ultimate bucketlist destination:
A stilt village homestay in the Banda Islands in Indonesia would do it, watching squid float past… One day!
Best place for a staycation?
The Outer Hebrides would fit the bill with crystal clear seas and plenty of whiskey.
Finish this sentence: Travel makes me feel…
Nervous. I’m a very nervous flyer! Getting there on the other hand, especially when a a place has it’s own tropical smell…