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30 July 2014

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Meet the GM - Roland Smith

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Roland Smith - Roland_Smith_resized.jpg I fell into this industry after taking a sabbatical out of a mechanical engineering degree, I never went back.

  My first job was as a commis waiter in a three-rosette restaurant.  

I have enjoyed all of my previous roles. I believe that if you don’t like the job, you should just move on.  

The best part of my job is coming to work every day. It’s such a beautiful place and we do so many different events, so it’s always interesting and challenging.

My motto is: ‘Your back of house should be as good as your front of house, if not better’. If your operations back of house are smooth, it makes life a lot easier front of house and ultimately you can pay more attention to your guests and they get a better experience.

We have just finished a refurbishment project in the Astor Wing, which I have managed from start to finish. It’s not easy in a listed building such as ours. We have also just launched our luxury bed and breakfast, also in the Astor Wing. Hever Castle works best for weddings, particularly in the Palladian-style Guthrie Pavilion, which is set in the Italian gardens next to the lake. The Astor Wing works brilliantly for exclusive hire, especially for meetings as it is very private and secluded from the rest of the castle.

My biggest challenge was when I took over the management of the team here at the castle. It was like starting from scratch, although I was fortunate to have some very good help from new and existing members of the team. But, as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It wasn’t easy. 

  If I wasn’t a house manager I would have loved to have been a pilot. 

  In my spare time I walk my springer spaniel, look after my garden and three chickens and religiously follow Formula 1, with a little bit of time left for the gym. Just a little bit, though. I have three daughters who keep me on my toes.  

My favourite hotel is Domes of Elounda Boutique Beach Resort in Crete. It’s the perfect place to relax and unwind.  

Ten years from now I would like to be managing an historic estate in the UK, may be Hever – who knows.


This article was first published in Square Meal Venues & Events, summer 2012


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