Lindsey Ueberroth, CEO of Preferred Hotels and Resorts, above, opened the group’s regional meeting at THE LONDONER, 20-21 September 2022. There were well over 250 delegates, mostly from Europe but supplemented by keen Preferred members from the USA, Africa and the Middle East and, especially, India.
The considerable Preferred presence included Chairman John Ueberroth, Vice Chairman and Chief Creative Officer Gail Ueberroth, President Michelle Woodley, Chief Revenue Officer Cheryl Williams and EVP Europe Brenda Collin. After sharing facts and figures there were two days of meetings, kept up to time by Peter Hancock, Master of Ceremonies.
There was big emphasis on sales, and on sustainability. Memorable sales instructor Marcus Cauchi used old-fashioned flipboard and marker pens to stress empowerment and trust others to carry transactions through. He was followed by peripatetic Elly Sy, a stripling who somehow squeezed the entire world of what is happening and what will happen, both really and in a secondary world spiced with NFTs and the like, into her allotted 30 minutes. STR’s Aoife Roche, by contrast, spoke at a comprehensible pace and produced graphs showing that Covid-19 is already not the dominant issue.
Sustainability was introduced by Kate Orszulik, from The Considerate Group. She stressed taking stock, setting objectives, making plans and taking action, reviewing and reporting. There are over 180 relevant certification programmes, of which only four, Earth Check, Green Globe, Green Key and Travelife, appear to be hospitality specific. She was followed by an extremely relevant hoteliers’ panel, moderated by Preferred’s Saurabh Rai. The Lancaster, London, has doorknob hangers encouraging guests to plant a tree. Alpina Grand, Gstaad, recycles unused bread into flour (it has also replaced disposable slippers by rotables). Outside, in the exhibition area, Clean The World had tubs of ingredients to produce hygiene kits for local homeless: along we went, in order, take an airline-size plastic bag, put in a dental kit, and one each from succeeding tubs – the finishing touch was write an encouraging card, seal the bag and toss it in a waiting receptacle.
Long before the gala dinner, delegate networking was keeping bar staff from being bored. And then, thanks to Standard Textiles, the Veuve Clicquot reception began, with plenty of smoked salmon skewers to keep the wolf from the door. Dinner was MAGNIFICENT. The Londoner’s crew had had about 90 minutes to turn the ballroom from meeting to eating. Tables for 10 were all decorated with centre-pieces of at least 25 white candles, different heights, some in sleeves and all lit. Cleverly, everyone picked up a two-fold name card which identified table numbers. There, laid-out A5 menu cards were personalised, so you found your place and could then stand up the two-fold card. Food was pre-chosen, veggie or non-veggie. If the latter, you had, at perfect timing, Yellowfin tuna tartare, Lobster and mascarpone ravioli with Scotch bonnet labneh crème, Filet mignon with chanterelle parmesan crème and black truffle dauphinoise, Strawberry and mango salad with crème fraiche sorbet, manuka honey and toasted brioche (and, if choosing the red, Valpolicella Classico Le Poiane Veneto 2017 with perfectly-timed top-ups).
Awards, announced during the dinner, honoured outstanding hotel teams – Tim Weiland accepted the social media honour for his Alpina Grand colleagues. Leadership awards went to Valentina De Santis, CEO of Lake Como’s Grand Hotel Tremezzo and Passalacqua, and to Stafford Collection CEO and GM The Stafford, London, Stuart Procter, who quickly posted on LinkedIn • The entire assembly was ecstatic at these choices. Preferred is a networking family. Having John and Gail Ueberroth throughout exemplified this feeling. Interestingly, Juliet Njogu, Developer and Co-Owner of the newly-opened The Social House in Nairobi’s chic Lavington district, says she had talked to numerous luxury brands but found them too controlling. She chose Preferred because she and her husband would maintain charge, and she had been welcomed into the family.
Finally, hear Lindsey Ueberroth here – and, as of Saturday, hear her anew on https://www.patreon.com/mginnercircle