Meet The Team: Sue Newland
Sue spoke to us about why she enjoys her role so much, the changes the hotel has gone through since she joined over 20 years ago and how her enthusiastic phone manner once landed in her a spot of bother…
What is your role at the hotel?
My role is Telephone and Business Centre Manager. We have a team of ten and operate a 24-hour business centre so that guests can visit at any time. We also have local residents or businesses that come in, and even other hotels use it sometimes. We answer all the telephone calls that come in as well – the nerve centre of the hotel you might say!
How long have you been in this role?
At this hotel? 23 years. I was here in 1996 when the hotel re-opened and 23 years later I’m still here... I don't where the years have gone! The changes here since I first started have been unbelievable. When I first started working in hotels we worked on the old phone system with the cords that you might have seen in films. People couldn't dial into us so everything came through the operator. And now we're working on a very modern IP system, so the technological changes have been incredible really.
What's been the key to your longevity?
It's a very friendly hotel. The staff really get to know the guests. A lot of the same guests come back so over the years, you build up a rapport with them. I enjoy that sort of interaction with the guests and you meet a lot of people from different cultures and backgrounds. I really enjoy it.
Have you had any memorable interactions with guests during your time here?
Well, sometimes I can get a little over-enthusiastic when I'm on the phone. I've been doing this job for 45 years in different hotels and I still enjoy answering the phone. So sometimes people have to say to me "can you be a bit quieter, Sue?". It's the first impression that some people get when they call the hotel so I actually had someone say to me once "you've just burst my eardrum!" We all had a little laugh and were joking that they might decide to ’sue’ Sue!
So where were you prior to joining the hotel?
Well, I started off in telecoms. I then had my first experience of working in a hotel at The May Fair. At that point, I realised I had a real interest in meeting people from different backgrounds. I then went on to the InterContinental, Le Méridien at Piccadilly and Claridge’s for a while in similar positions before I eventually came here.
What does a usual day consist of for you?
Lots of phone calls! We take about 20,000 phone calls a month. We get lots of emails that need attending to as well. Sometimes guests will come in who might need a presentation printed out, or we might be setting up for a conference or sorting out a sound system. And then just helping guests with all their different requests – guests can dial 0 to make a request. We take a lot of the callbacks as well from the different departments, so if they can't answer, then it comes back to us. We’re responsible for the fire panel too, so if that goes off then we need to contact the fire brigade. So quite varied really!
How would you sum up the atmosphere here?
It’s a very, very friendly hotel. We have lots of social events and team-building for the staff, which is really nice. It’s lovely because the guests who stay here have been coming here for years and years come back and see the same faces, which is nice for them. We get a lot of sports teams here as well, which is great as I'm really passionate about sport. I'm a massive Welsh rugby supporter and we had the national team come to stay here, which was probably the only time that I’ve been starstruck.
What makes the Royal Garden Hotel special?
The location is obviously really good and the restaurants are great too. We've got the lovely Min Jiang on the top floor. The view is beautiful there. I think it's nice that guests are so familiar with us and they feel like it's one big family. Also, we try to tailor any service that we provide and see if there's something special that we can do that make guests’ stays more memorable.
In the Telephone and Business Centre, we're open 24 hours, which I think is unique. You can come in any time, and there will be someone there to help guests with scanning, printing, anything really.
What would you recommend in the area to guests?
It's a really lovely area. You've got the parks, of course, the museums, the art galleries. And it's so close to the West End if you want to see a show. If you want to go shopping, you've got Harrods and Harvey Nicholls too.
What do you get up to outside of the hotel?
I watch rugby! When I'm at home, I like watching rugby and football too. I'm a big Tottenham fan so I get teased a lot here as there are a lot of fans of the other north London teams – I seem to be in the minority! I enjoy gardening and cooking. I take my dogs for walks on the beach – I live on the coast so I'm very lucky.