Meet the Team: General Manager Oliver Bateman
Having been in the hotel industry his whole working life, our new General Manager shares with us his initial impressions of the Royal Garden Hotel, his journey leading up to this point and his vision for the future.
What was your impression of the Royal Garden Hotel before you came here?
Iconic. Red five AA star hotel. One of the greatest hotels in London. And I’m not just saying that because I’m here now!
And you were at The Hilton?
Yes, for 16 years.
And before that?
I started off in a little hotel called the Sanctuary House Hotel in Westminster where I was earning money to go on a gap year and then never left. And after working in two hotels for Fullers, my boss at the time moved to The Hilton and took me with him.
What sort of roles were you doing at The Sanctuary House?
I started as a barman, I did some cheffing work, then moved to bar supervisor, then bar manager and onto guest relations, housekeeping and finance.
What was interesting about doing so many different roles at The Sanctuary House?
I think, at that stage I was 19-20. It was just the excitement of seeing customer service and it was a pub in effect, with rooms on top. But enjoying the customer service, enjoying the interaction between team members, the social aspect as well as the professional aspect and actually, with all of those roles you get an understanding of how a hotel/business runs and that excited me.
What was your experience of The Hilton?
A very memorable, valuable experience. I worked in Green Park and helped open Canary Wharf as a Junior Manager. I moved to Newcastle so went to see a city outside of London, it was fabulous. I then moved back to the London Syon Park, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel and following that onto the Hilton Heathrow Terminal 4. I moved to London Hilton on Park Lane Park Lane next, then went to Islington and then finally came here!
What did that teach you about managing hotels?
Everything. 5-star service, dealing with very important people, celebrities, businesspeople and families alike. Running commercial businesses in different locations has many different challenges and really keeps you on your toes.
Had you been here before and does it live up to expectation?
I had been here twice, yes. It’s everything and more. It’s always been renowned for its service and its distinctive service and it certainly lives up to that. The outlets, Min Jiang and Park Terrace are fantastic. I’ve eaten in Min Jiang a few times with our owners and it’s stunning food and great service while the views over Kensington Gardens are some of the best, if not the best, in London. The hotel itself has a nice family vibe about it and everything that it says on the tin it does very well.
What are the main points for how you see the hotel in the future?
Status, status in London and that comes through the hotel winning awards but also individuals in the business winning awards for what they do. This breeds a successful team culture and awareness of the fantastic industry that we are in and I think that’s very important, especially in this day and age.
In terms of rewarding people, there are so many people here who have worked here for such a long time….
The length of tenure at this hotel I’ve never seen before, certainly in this kind of business. And I think that people are very proud to work here, as am I.
There’s that modesty here which is lovely…
This is it. We had a very famous sports team in, just over the weekend, and our team don’t treat them any differently from anyone else because we treat all of our guests in the same manner. The warm friendly and distinctive personal service whether you are a family coming down for the weekend, a businessman, a celebrity, or a sports team is the same for everyone.
New General Managers tend to come in with a plan, sometimes that’s revolution, sometimes evolution. What’s your view?
Certainly evolution. We have an inspirational team and hotel and I look forward to adding to the story in the coming years….