Meet the Team: Andoni Sanchez
Andoni is HR Manager here at the Royal Garden Hotel. He spoke to us about the special atmosphere around the hotel and why so many of the staff stay here so long…
What is your role at the hotel?
I'm the HR manager, which involves recruitment as well as looking after our staff. That could be welfare, advising people in their roles, challenges they might have comes across, as well as supporting department managers.
How long have you been in your position?
I've been here for three-and-a-half years now. My previous role was at the Kensington Hotel down the road and before that, other hotels in London like the Andaz Hotel and the Metropolitan Hotel.
So did you always want to work in the hotel industry?
Not really actually! I sort of fell into it by chance. When I first came to London, I didn't speak any English, so I looked for a job where I needed to interact with people and I thought hotels would be a good place for that. I was also looking for a company which had an HR department as that was what I was doing back home before I came here. Once I started working in hotels, I liked it so much, I have never looked back.
Do you like London?
Yes, very much. It’s an exciting city. You never get bored here. There are always new things to do, new places to see and new people to meet. It's just a bit colder than back home in Spain!
What was your first impression of the hotel when you came here?
A very big building, lots of people around and everyone was very friendly and welcoming. There was a real feeling of being a family.
How does the atmosphere at this hotel compare to other hotels you've worked at?
Because this is a standalone hotel and people have been working here for such a long time, there is a real sense of belonging – it’s not only a place where people come to work and pay their bills. The company looks after its staff very well and everyone is very supportive of each other across all the departments.
What does a usual day consist of?
Well, no two days are the same! There are six members of staff in our department who I manage. We have an open-door policy in the office so there are people coming to see us non-stop and the phone doesn't stop ringing. You plan your day but usually end up doing something very different to what you were intending... though in a good way! We get involved in a lot of things throughout the building so it's not like we are just stuck in our office and we don't know what happens in the rest of the building. We might be attending meetings with managers or employees, doing recruitment or planning activities for the staff. So it is very varied.
When recruiting, how do you ensure prospective staff will be a good fit for the hotel?
Well, it really is crucial because our values and culture are very important to us here at the hotel. We want new people who come here to share those values with us. We want people to come to a place that feels like their second home. We listen to the things they say when they talk about their previous experiences and what they enjoy, so if they talk about being part of a community then you know they are a good fit for us.
What are the key skills you need to do your job?
You need to be empathetic, be a good listener and have objectivity. Critical and analytical thinking is important as well – to be able to see the big picture rather than being distracted by small details.
What sets the Royal Garden Hotel apart from other hotels?
I think as a company, we are not only thinking about profit, we want to create a place people feel a part of. We want to be a family, that's what we aspire to. When guests come here, they can see people are happy and I think that is reflected in our relationships with guests.
It seems like there are quite a few long-serving members of staff at the hotel. Why do you think they have stayed here so long?
Well, we are always very supportive of our employees in their development and moving between departments. But also, when people need time off because of family situations etc, we generally allow them to take the time they need and come back when they are ready. We also have several staff members who work flexibly so that they can fit in around family commitments.
Does the hotel do anything to recognise long service?
We have long service awards, so from the third year of employment, staff receive an award. The longest-serving members of staff have been here for 22 years since the hotel opened – there are 21 employees who have been here from the start! So that's what we call the ‘Twenty Plus’ club and every year we host a meal for them in Park Terrace.
What do you get up to away from the hotel?
I really like the theatre, so I usually go at least a couple of times per week. West End shows, musicals, ballet, opera... I have a very eclectic taste when it comes to shows.