The General Manager’s Christmas Speech

December 21, 2018

Stephen Owen

As always at this time of year, our team are busy with a wide variety of festive events, from the pre-Christmas get-togethers, to usual (eventful) party nights, and the final bits and pieces of planning for Hogmanay, but it is a time to reflect on the year almost passed, and to look forward to the year ahead.

I suppose that the role of a hotel general manager in a building such as Rufflets is difficult to describe. There are so many different components of the role that I still enjoy hugely – but perhaps the varied nature of every day is the key thing that makes it so rewarding.

At the end of the day, it is all about the customer, and I have three. Our paying guest, the team of people that I work with, and also our owners. All three have different expectations, needs and desires – and all three require looking after in different ways. Quite subtle, but all equally as important.

Looking back on 2018, whilst there have been (and always will be) ‘challenges’, there have been many positives, and I have had the privilege to meet a large number of wonderful people who have come through the front door. I hope, when they leave, they feel that their time and money has been well spent, and the hospitality that we have delivered has gone some way to make their visit all that little bit more special, and memorable for all the right reasons.

Looking ahead to 2019 (without the benefit of a crystal ball) I am thankful that we have so much to look forward to. It appears that we will be welcoming even more of our overseas clients – some for golf, most for a little bit of peace and tranquillity that can be discovered and enjoyed at Rufflets. We also will be welcoming a number of excited brides and grooms, who have chosen us as the venue for one of the most important events in their life. We are fortunate that many return to Rufflets to celebrate anniversaries too!

What it is that helps me to do my job? Clearly without our guests it would be difficult, and without my team, impossible.

However, I always keep in mind words of wisdom from one of my mentors who was one of my lecturers all those years ago in Edinburgh. “Remember it is all about the KISS principle – Keep It Simple, Stupid”. Simplicity is the key. With so much technology available to us in running a hotel, we do sometimes forget what true hospitality is all about, and so for me, to lose touch with the simplicity of the process can be a danger.

One final thought, more of a little story that I would like to share that underpins why being able to look after Rufflets makes it all that more rewarding…

In May, we received a call from a client who wanted to book afternoon tea for a small family group to celebrate their grandmother’s 90th birthday in August. When we asked for further information, it turned out that the birthday girl had been evacuated to St Andrews during WWII, and had been lodged with a couple who lived in our Gatehouse. The husband was chauffeur to Mrs Gilroy (the original owner who built Rufflets in 1924). As a wee girl we were told, the now 90 year old lady was given a special treat every Thursday and was taken to school in Mrs Gilroy’s Rolls Royce!

Her family had thought that she would love to be able to return to what had been a temporary home to celebrate a very special occasion. Not a big event, but what made it so important for me was the fact that I had been able to meet someone who has strong links to this beautiful house from almost 80 years ago.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Stephen Owen, General Manager

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