The Tollmans are originally from South Africa but they emigrated during the apartheid era to London, where they purchased the Chesterfield Hotel in Mayfair. Now in her 80s, Beatrice Tollman oversees the management of 17 hotels.
‘Mrs. Tollman is an incredibly inspiring leader. She’s so warm and welcoming – she greets all 800 staff members individually and her values and ethos are heart-warming and why she’s been so successful,’ said Front of House Manager, Elysia Shettler.
The ethos behind The Duke of Richmond and all the other hotels in the group is that staff will go above and beyond to create a personal and welcoming experience for their guests. They are family-orientated and have lots of special touches designed for kids.
Children get their own mini bathrobes and slippers, a kids’ TV channel, colouring books and pencils and their own special beds and sheets. They are also treated to their own personal check in on arrival during which staff will ask them what their favourite food is and what they like to do.
‘This serves two purposes – firstly the children are engaged and entertained after what has potentially been a stressful journey while the adults do the necessary paperwork. And secondly we are fact finding! Whatever the children tell us will be used during their stay. If they like orange juice and chocolate ice-cream then we will make a point of serving them these things with their meals,’ said Elysia.
In 2017 the Red Carnation Group, of which The Duke of Richmond and also The Old Government House Hotel & Spa are a part, won the Princess Royal Training Award for their Management Training Programme.
The programme covers everything from time-keeping and reservation training to a module called ‘Tiny Noticeable Touches’ where staff are encouraged to always be on the look-out for ways in which to surprise guests.
‘We had a couple staying here last month who actually got married in Guernsey but hadn’t returned for almost 40 years. They were celebrating their anniversary.
‘We set about making lots of little origami hearts out of red paper and sprinkled them over the bed. We also made a card signed by all the staff congratulating them. We are always trying to push the limits of our guests’ expectations so people come away feeling like they matter and have been cared for,’ said Elysia.
This isn’t just for hotel guests but for locals dining in the restaurant or enjoying the range of events put on throughout the year. There are regular themed menus and events – such as the heritage menu and red carpet pre-dinner drinks in honour of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society Film.
Every Friday evening there is jazz entertainment as well as a regular themed kids’ afternoon tea event.
‘We are very happy for kids to come and enjoy themselves here. There is an outdoor space perfect for relaxed dining with views out across to Herm and we don’t mind at all if children want to get up and explore. It’s not a case of ‘seen but not heard’. If a child is having a bit of a moment, then we will do everything in our power to help,’ said Elysia.
Islandmums members enjoy free children’s meals on Sundays, a complimentary glass of prosecco with any Afternoon Tea events and children eat half price for breakfast for every adult’s cooked breakfast.
Staff are treated well within the Red Carnation Group – they are encouraged to grow and progress and challenge themselves and are supported throughout with mentor schemes. The resulting low turnover and loyalty to the company helps make the guest experience consistently positive.
‘I think there’s a bit of a misconception that The Duke of Richmond is only for corporate or business guests, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. We’re close to town so yes we do benefit from this demographic, but we are also incredibly warm and welcoming of families and even pets! We make it our mission to get to know you, to find out about your stories and when we do, we challenge ourselves to surprise and delight you. It keeps it creative and interesting for us and helps you have an experience you will remember,’ says Elysia.