The Savoy Hotel United Kingdom
Hospitality consists of one or more of the core services of food, drink and accommodation and how they can be used to create a blend of an atmosphere of comfort and serenity. One has to look as far back as the start of civilization to trace the history of the hospitality industry. Thermal baths were erected for rest and recreation in the early Greek villages and the Romans kept travellers who came to town on government business in mansions they built for those purposes. This tradition of catering to people’s needs kept growing with monasteries and religious orders offering refuge and building inns for travellers. In the United Kingdom the hospitality industry boasts of a very large sector and provides over 10% of the GDP while employing a large workforce numbered at over 1. 7 million employees (PWC 2011).
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History of the Savoy Hotel United Kingdom
On opening on the 6th of August 1889, The Savoy was billed as the first luxury hotel in London. It was built by Richard D’Oyly Carte who had garnered experience from his travels to the United States. It was London’s first hotel that utilized various advances in technology with electric lights and lifts being some of those early innovations. The twentieth century saw her host some of earth’s most celebrated personalities – from Errol Flynn to Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor to Marlon Brando. The hotel had seen them all and hosted the most lavish parties. Political figures also frequented the hotel with the likes of Winston Churchill known to have had a meal there often during the Second World War. As her popularity grew The Savoy could be seen as the second home of the illustrious 1% while being the venue of some of the most historical gatherings and events.
His Royal Highness Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin AbdulAziz Alsaud, a descendent of the royal family purchased The Savoy and gave the management over to the Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. This was on the 19th of January 2005 (Wallace 2013). Two years later, Kiaran Macdonald officially announced the hotel closed for the first time in its 118 year history. The closing of the hotel was meant to last 15 months to enable the hotel get restored and a cost of £100 million was estimated to get the restoration done. Like most things, it took longer and cost more than expected to accomplish this feat. However on the 10th of October in 2010 and after gulping £220 million The Savoy is reopen for business. Three weeks later, His Royal Highness Prince Charles officially declares that The Savoy is reopening for business.
Major Problems of the Savoy Hotel
It is difficult for any business to be without problems and the same is true for the hospitality industry. As long as those businesses employ people, utilize products and operate within a government, there are bound to be hitches and glitches. The way the businesses settle the problems is an indicator to the strength of their might. The Savoy Hotel had been in existence for over a hundred years and time had begun to catch up with her as her interiors began to get so decrepit that for the first time in over a century, The Savoy Hotel had to be closed down and remained closed for three years as opposed to half the time as was originally expected. This period saw many of the staff made redundant and artefacts were getting auctioned off. The projected price also more than doubled from £100 million to £220 million and in the process became the most expensive refurbishment for a hotel ever (Wallace 2013).
The Hotel Savoy that had housed royalty and the brightest Hollywood stars and the biggest government officials was now facing uncertainty, enough to make Count Peter Savoy spin in his grave. The revenue that was lost as a result of The Savoy getting closed may never be able to be quantified as human personnel, products and service was being lost. However it is to be believed that £500, 000 was lost for every week that she remained closed. Other hotels were sprouting and trying to take the pole position that The Savoy had relinquished (PWC 2011). A hotel that prided itself as having more than enough glittering history to spare was creating history that it would have been better off not having.
For a long time The Savoy survived on reputation alone till the renovation was not only necessary but also urgently required. The closing down of The Savoy changed all that and reopening meant that they almost had to go back to the very beginning all over again – getting new staff, imbibing impeccable service and hoping that they once again catch the attention of the world’s best and brightest.
While the hotel can be seen to have been refurbished, the delay for completion and reason behind it overshooting its budgets are things that the hotel guests will not see – things like electrics and plumbing and air conditioning. Renovating the plumbing and the electrics also meant that the asbestos had to be removed as well. These various renovations led to other renovations which then led to a long vicious cycle of renovations. While the renovations did great work to the hotel, there was no revolutionary innovation like the electric lifts that The Savoy of old enjoyed. This renovation did not achieve any new breakthrough.
The Savoy and Joint Venture
The Savoy has been involved in a couple of joint ventures over time. For a period of time there was a 50 – 50 joint venture between HBOS and Prince Bin Talal’s holdings. The management of The Savoy also went to Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. They are a hotel group with Canadian origin and they changed The Savoy to The Savoy: A Fairmont Hotel (Wallace 2013). This venture made The Savoy to become the first UK property by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts.
The Savoy and Going Green
Today’s world makes an effort at preservation and The Savoy is not any different. From homes to businesses to companies all doing their bit to help the environment, going green would boost the reputation of The Savoy. They generate half of their own electricity through an investment in combined heat and power (Starley – Grainger n. d.). They also make an effort in recycling their waste and that of their customers as they convert food waste to biofuel. Food and drink is not left out of this green processes as The Savoy is part of the Sustainable Restaurant Association. This means that they utilize a lot of local, organic and seasonal foods in the preparation of their menus.
While a lot has been done for the good of green measures, there are instances where The Savoy chooses the opportunity to maintain her status of luxury as opposed to going green. A very good example is in her selection of fruits. The Savoy has been known to provide exotic fruit as well as flowers of exotic origins. Because of the nature of these fruits and plants they have to be transported down and the process increases global warming.
The Savoy Personnel
As expected from staff and personnel of such an illustrious hotel, The Savoy personnel have a reputation to uphold. While being talented and courteous are traits expected of every member they also have a love and respect for their community. They see first-hand a business that gives generously back to its community and that is a trait they imbibe through their mantra that states – ‘ think global: act local’. The Savoy is located on the side of the Thames River and the personnel puts in the work to ensure that the banks are cleared and the vicinity is kept clean. They are actively involved with the SpringBoard UK which is their primary charity even though they have been known to donate to other deserving charities. The staff and butlers are well trained on how to ensure that their guests can have a memorable green experience with BMW bicycles available for guests as an alternative for transportation. This ensures that the guests know and are inclined to participate in the hotel’s bid for a green environment.
The Savoy – The Trailblazer
The Savoy has always been synonymous with pace setting. As a luxury hotel they were the first in London to use elevators and their theatre was the first public building in the world to be powered electrically. While they are not the first to go green, they have put manpower and resources to ensure that they make a real impact in green matters (Starley-Grainger n. d.). Through their hard work and determination they have been able to accomplish the following eco-friendly feats.
– Energy and water consumption has been reduced by 40% and 25% respectively since the hotel’s upgrade had been completed
– They achieve green heat through the generation of 50% of the hotel’s electricity.
– The heat that is generated from the kitchen further serves to pre-heat hot water
– They have been able to achieve almost a hundred per cent success in waste recycling
– Cooling and lighting is been controlled in the rooms. Motion sensors can tell when the guests are not in the rooms and it then helps regulate the lights and coolants
– They make an effort to work with suppliers and contractors that have the same mind-set as theirs with regards green issues
Reviews of the Savoy
Many things can be said about The Savoy but it is impossible to stay at the hotel and not have an impression. Its location is one of its selling points as The Savoy is strategically located with many interesting sights being just a walkable distance from the hotel. The history of the hotel is also a selling point as this hotel has received her fair share of the world’s 1%. Its prominence grew in the early twentieth century and peaked during the Jazz Age so much so that every celebrity at one time or the other has spent time in The Savoy. Though closed for three years from 2007 till 2010, it reopened and just as easily picked up where it left off.
The Savoy boasts of up to date and impressive facilities. Consisting of four restaurants, a boutique, a florist and jewellers among other facilities. It is however the little touches that make this hotel stand out – concierges that can get almost anything from a guest to other little touches that make a guest feel welcome. The service is as pricey and formal as is expected from any hotel of such a calibre. The menus are decidedly British but the River Restaurant pays homage to the first chef of The Savoy by serving a Franco-British cuisine.
My Take on the Savoy
The hospitality sector is one that will keep on growing and growing and for a sector of this calibre that means they need to keep on reinventing themselves and keeping up with the times. People will always eat and travel no matter how bad the economy becomes and these are two very big chunks of the hospitality sector. Unfortunately for too long we have lived on this world as though we have an alternative and we are now forced to take a step back and find ways to save our ecosystem. Like anyone else change is hard to master but it is necessary and these hotels and other arms of this sector have to get on board.
The Savoy has to be applauded for her contribution and commitment to going green. Many examples have been given above that shows the extent the hotel has gone in a bid to go green. While that is an amazing achievement more can always be done. There are instances where the hotel chooses her luxury status over going green and if there is any change that I would suggest that would be it. One can never be too green and there are many ways to go green and still remain one of the most luxurious hotels ever. Instead of it seen to be tarnishing their image as they may imagine it to be, most of the celebrities and stars that walk through the doors are either aware of the world trying to turn green or are even actively involved with the process. If anything the guests may applaud the decision of such an illustrious hotel saying that they are concerned about where the next generation will live.
The Savoy is amazing with time management but just as is expected as any hotel of this size there are times when time has run out on them and the customers are made to wait for meals or services. While employing more staff may not really solve this problem, a smile and an apology would go a long way to a people who are used to having their time micromanaged for them.
Once upon a time The Savoy was such a big deal and then over a 100 year later she became a story with an uncertain end. Today The Savoy is back on her feet and proving to be a testament to the power and pull of the hospitality industry.
Price Water Coopers (2011). UK Hotels Forecast 2011 and 2012. How Big a Party for Hotels in 2012? Retrieved from
https://www. instituteofhospitality. org/news/2011-news/april_issue/uk_hotels_forecast
Wallace, J. (2013). Savoy Hotel Restructured with £458 Million from Credit Agricole, DekaBank and Lloyds’ Prestonfield. Costar Group. Retrieved from
http://www. costar. co. uk/en/assets/news/2013/April/Savoy-Hotel-restructured-with-458m-from-Credit-Agricole-DekaBank-and-Lloyds-Prestonfield/
Starley-Grainger, J. (n. d.). Expert Review for The Savoy. Eco-Lux Hotels. Retrieved fromhttp://www. ecoluxhotels. com/192_The_Savoy. html