Having just celebrated her second anniversary at Southampton’s Chilworth Manor Hotel, director of sales Rachel Denham, is readying the team for the busy season ahead.
The second half of the year is traditionally a hectic one for hospitality professionals with the ever-nearing festive period becoming bigger and bolder every year. Not so for Rachel, as she takes it all in her stride; “I’m desperate for Christmas time to come around! We’ve just refurbished our Coach House Suite so it is transformed as our premier event and meeting space, ideal for the party season. The whole place shines now, thanks to the stunning star effect lighting. The glassware and table centres are just so twinkly and inviting you can’t help but feel festive.”
Yet the pressures on the hotel sector are no light matter. Increasing competition, new players to the market, and industry disrupters mean a constant learning curve for those at the forefront.
To combat this, Denham asserts; “There has never been a more important time to know what your guests’ needs are and who your competitors are. We pride ourselves on ensuring a deep connection with our guests and delivering on the high standards they have come to expect of us.” The stats prove it with large numbers of return business, continued popularity amongst the corporate crowd, and annual events growing footfall and takings.
Chilworth Manor Hotel is well known within the community though for giving back as well. “Our charity events can really make a difference to the local organisations we work with as we can be one of the largest sponsors. It’s very fulfilling to be able to work with charities close to my heart such as No Limits, Countess Mountbatten Hospice and Honeypot.”
This giving back nature has further encouraged the team to focus on sustainability and ensuring eco-friendly practices are implemented. “With the Coach House Suite refurbishment, we were adamant that the new lighting would be more eco-friendly and so now there’s approximately 70 LEDS in the new ceiling. It’s all about making those little changes that do add up.”
Rachel notes the beauty of her role being in the varied, and often surprising, work she gets to do. Whether that is meeting guests and clients, co-ordinating business exhibitions and events, or getting involved in some of the wackier sides of sales. “Modelling on a cat walk at the Southampton Boat Show, racing sailing yachts around the Solent, and even booking a foot archery contortionist who shoots arrows with her feet. I think I can handle just about anything now!”
The atmospheric Edwardian manor house may be the focal point, but the gardens and grounds hold the true heart of the venue for Rachel. “They are a constant joy throughout each season. The best view of the gardens is from room Number One, no wonder it’s my favourite.”
Contact the team at Chilworth Manor Hotel for more information about events and meetings, or to book a tour, on 023 8076 7333 or visit www.chilworth-manor.co.uk.