AA Hospitality Awards 2013-14: Hotel & restaurant winners’ reactions

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Hotel

Rockliffe Hall is the only hotel in the North East to be awarded the AA’s coveted five red stars
Rockliffe Hall is the only hotel in the North East to be awarded the AA’s coveted five red stars
World-renowned chefs, prominent hoteliers, hospitality gurus and key industry media descended on London last night for the annual AA Hospitality Awards. While Tom Kerridge took home the big award of the night,22 UK establishments were rewarded for excellence and success within their chosen categories.

The Awards, which were hosted by Channel 4 presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy, saw guests treated to a three-course meal created by five-AA-Rosette chef Sat Bains, as well as a display from members of the Strictly Come Dancing cast.

Winners were said to have shown a significant improvement in the preceding 12–18 months, proving their dedication to raising industry standards and enhancing both their guest and diner experiences. Here's some of the reactions from the night.

  • Hotel Group of the Year

For the second time in five years, Macdonald Hotels & Resorts scooped the prestigious AA Hotel Group of the Year award.

Chief executive David Guile said the award underlines the group’s commitment to deliver outstanding standards of product and service across its 40-strong estate.

“We are both delighted and proud, on behalf of all our employees to have won AA Hotel Group of the Year,” said Guile.

“This award is a testament to the quality and dedication of our Executives, Hotel Managers and all our team members, each of whom have played an important role in our commitment to service excellence and the continued financial success of the group.”

This latest accolade comes just 12 months after the 40-strong hotel group was crowned the AA Eco-Hotel Group of the Year in recognition of its commitments to fulfil self-imposed ‘Room 15’ energy saving targets.

  • Eco Group of the Year

Hotel giant Accor took home the award for Eco Group of the Year, for the on-going success of its sustainability programme, PLANET 21.

The group’s sustainable development strategy, which launched in April last year, defines 21 commitments and ambitious goals looking to 2015 and includes a program to inform guests and employees and encourage them to contribute to reinventing hotels, sustainably.

Karelle Lamouche, vice-president of multi-brand marketing services for Accor UK & Ireland, said: “This recognition from the AA reflects our longstanding commitment to operating as a responsible and environmentally-conscious business.

“This year, we announced that our Plant for the Planet program will fund 200,000 trees in the United Kingdom in a pioneering project designed to promote sustainable food production and nurture links between hotels, guests and farms. We are proud to focus our efforts on protecting the planet, its people and the environment.”

  • Hotel of the Year (England)

Country house hotel Gravetye Manior was named the AA Hotel of the Year for England. The award is the AA’s ‘ultimate accolade for hotels in the UK’, and is presented to hotels that are recognised as being outstanding examples in their particular market.

Gravetye’s managing director Andrew Thomason said: “We are thrilled to be recognised by such prestigious groups and awards. Our aim has always been to operate a luxury hotel whilst offering impeccable service within a relaxed and comfortable environment.

“These awards are a true testament to what we are trying to achieve and we are confident that we can continue to build on this over the next few years."

  • Hotel of the Year (Scotland)

Cringletie House Hotel near Edinburgh was awarded the Hotel of the Year for Scotland. Owners Jacob and Johanna van Houdt explained that the entire Cringletie team has worked very hard since they acquired the property in 2003.

“Receiving red stars was the first step on this quality ladder and since then the owners and their team have worked tirelessly to maintain and improve those standards in relation to guest approach; or in the words of a recent Dutch hospitality trainee, ‘Surprise and Delight’.

“Winning this award is a huge morale boost for all the team (led by general manager Vivienne Bardoulet and head chef Patrick Bardoulet) as they all form part of the enthusiastic group of employees that managed to secure this award.”

  • Five red stars

Rockliffe Hall in Hurworth, County Durham, received one of the most prestigious industry accolades, becoming the only property in the North East to be awarded the five red stars.

The resort already held five black stars but the red stars are considered to be the highest award in the hospitality industry, with only several properties each year receiving the accolade.

Managing director Nick Holmes said: “Being awarded five red stars is considered the ultimate accolade in the hotel sector and shows that a property is the very best of the best. I am hugely proud of the team as this award is all about them and their undying hard work and commitment to Rockliffe Hall. 

“To be placed alongside iconic, well-established names such as Le Manoir and Claridge’s is fantastic- especially just four years after we opened. We have come such a long way in a very short space of time, in difficult economic times, and this latest award really does recognise the tremendous effort everyone puts in.

“I am just very, very proud that Rockliffe Hall can be part of putting the North East and Yorkshire on the tourism map.”

  • Five Rosettes

Midsummer House, the two-Michelin-starred restaurant in East Anglia, achieved five AA Rosettes. Daniel Clifford, who has also just celebrated the 15th anniversary of the restaurant, said he was ‘completely overwhelmed’ by last night’s award.

“We've spent 15 years progressing the business at Midsummer House and have finally achieved the coveted five Rosettes. I am so proud of my team."

Midsummer House was awarded its first Michelin star in 2002, followed by a second star in 2005. It is ranked 14th in the latest Waitrose Good Food Guide.

  • Three Rosettes

The Pompadour by Galvin in Edinburgh was awarded three Rosettes. The restaurant opened in September 2012 at Edinburgh’s Caledonian, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel as part of Michelin-starred brothers Chris and Jeff Galvin’s expansion north of the border. 

Chris Galvin said: “Jeff and I are thrilled that The Pompadour has been awarded three Rosettes. We congratulate the whole team in Edinburgh for their efforts, in particular executive chef Craig Sandle. 

“Craig has been instrumental in marrying our signature style with some of the best Scottish ingredients to deliver a world-class dining experience north of the border”.

Executive chef Sandle added: “It’s great recognition for the team’s hard work and a super platform to build from”.

Sister Edinburgh restaurant Galvin Brasserie de Luxe was awarded one Rosette.  

  • Wine Award (England)

Northcote restaurant in Lancashire took home the AA England Wine Award 2013-14 for its ‘outstanding contribution to promoting wine understanding and appreciation’.

The venue’s wine team comprises of Craig Bancroft (managing director); Nick Adams (First Glass Wine Services); Julian Kaye (owner of Wright Wine Company) and Adam Pawlowski (Head sommelier). It was established to have a dedicated team to develop, review and constantly improve the wine offering at Northcote.

Bancroft said: “The award means a great deal to me personally and all the wine team. To be recognised by the industry at this level is such an honour and a great achievement. It truly reflects all the hard work and research that we have carried out these past 24 months to ensure we offer our customers a great selection of wines whilst dining with us.”

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