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A true hotel fairytale, Samantha Trinder transformed her family’s B&B into a splendid 15-bed boutique hotel with a Michelin-starred kitchen.
Before I got into the hotel business I worked in PR. As I’d grown up with the family B&B as a child, hotels are very much in my blood.
I got involved in the industry when the family business faced being sold unless one of us kids wanted to take it on. I took up the challenge in 2005 and put together a business plan for a more contemporary, boutique-style townhouse. We raised finance for a major refurbishment and the The Bingham was born.
My biggest challenge in the past was finding good staff, as the property was then an unknown quantity. We had to keep parts of it open while the refurbishment was taking place. There were huge challenges with keeping disruption to a minimum – plus the usual pressures of keeping works on time and in budget. We had to raise some additional funds pretty quickly.
The best part of my job is having happy guests and seeing them enjoy themselves. It’s really rewarding and makes the job worthwhile.
My favourite phrase is “it’s a pleasure”. Our restaurant manager always says it and I love it. You can’t deliver good service begrudgingly so it has to be a pleasure and come from the heart. Good hospitality cannot be faked. I really believe it’s part of having a generous spirit within.
When I get time off I like to go on safari in Kenya. Although you can’t beat an afternoon of wine tasting to get away from it all, either.
The Bingham is ideal for dinners, cocktails, afternoon tea, getting married, business meetings, a romantic weekend… We like to think it’s good for everything.
A new initiative we are trying is planting a new garden of herbs and edible flowers to use in our cuisine. We are also stepping up our ‘mystery shopper’ programme to ensure we keep on top of our service standards. We have catered for a number of community events for charity and are also looking at expanding into outside catering.
My favourite hotel in the world is a tricky one to choose. I love peace and tranquility so there are some great properties on Lamu [a small island off Kenya] and neighbouring islands called the Majlis and Kipugani. I also love Endsleigh in Devon for some rural R&R, but the ultimate for beauty, fine food, wine and history rolled into one has to be Chateau Bagnols in Burgundy. The building is breathtaking and you feel as if you’re in your own castle as the staff are so unobtrusive.
If I wasn’t a GM I would love to run a retreat. I’d still be in the hospitality industry but combining it with my love of naturopathy, yoga and holistic therapies. I would also like to do charity work in Kenya. I’m half Kenyan so I’m passionate about the country and would like to give back to the community there.
The person I have learnt the most from is my mother. She was very inspirational as a businesswoman with a real dogged determination – a touch of which I hope I have inherited.
In 10 years’ time I will hopefully be overseeing the expansion of the business to another property here and maybe even one in Kenya, with an eco-ethos where the property serves its local community as well as stakeholders and guests. I also see myself mentoring and coaching others starting out in the industry because when I was learning, I had little targeted support and it would be great to be able to pass on my experiences.
The Bingham Hotel,
61-63 Petersham Road, Richmond Upon Thames, TW10 6UT
tel: 020 8940 0902, squaremeal.co.uk/bingham
This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events magazine, spring 2011