Rothay Garden Hotel

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Meet the Team

One of the key strengths of Rothay Garden is the professionalism and friendliness of our staff. The hotel is not just about bricks and mortar, or fixtures and fittings, or even great food and wine. It's a fact that the quality and attitude of the management and staff in a hotel can make or break your holiday or short break, and we're proud that we have some of the most dedicated people here to look after you when you visit Rothay Garden...

Chris Carss FIH (Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality)

Managing Director

Chris originally hails from Newcastle, and entered the industry as a trainee in the Lake District in 1974.  He worked his way through all departments, attending college on day release.  Moving on, he gained experience in corporate and chain hotels, before attaining his first management position in 1982 at the 4-star stately home, Crathorne Hall in North Yorkshire.
From 1985, he was General Manager of the Borrowdale Hotel, Keswick, prior to acquiring Rothay Garden (with investors) in 1990.  In 2002 he bought out his co-directors and since then, he has worked tirelessly and invested major funds to develop Rothay Garden into the quality 4-star hotel that it is today.
One of Chris’s big interests is wine and he is highly qualified having attained his Wine & Spirit Education Trust Diploma (a rare qualification for a hotelier). He puts this knowledge to good use in compiling the hotel wine list from wines sourced upon his travels.
Keen to promote the industry, Chris has served on many tourism related bodies, including Cumbria Tourist Board, the Institute of Hospitality, the British Hospitality Association and many other local initiatives.
Chris is a keen sportsman, still playing amateur football, a passionate skier and can regularly be seen running or walking the fells.  He has skied the classic “Haute Route”, run the “3 Peaks” and recently ascended Kilimanjaro.  He also has two stunning daughters, his eldest Kristen is following him in the hospitality industry and Melanie is an aspiring singer and actress.

Chris says: "Upon buying out my co-directors in 2002 I set about my long term vision for Rothay Garden in earnest. With the major development and investment over the last 4 years which has re-positioned Rothay Garden as one of the leading hotels in the Lakes and which has in the process, created a very stylish property, I feel I have already taken Rothay Garden further than even I had ever envisaged, when I arrived here back in 1990.  And with the great team of key personnel we now have in place, I feel we can look forward to even greater times ahead."

 

Andrew Burton MCGB (Master Chef of Great Britain)

Head Chef

Andrew joined Chris at Rothay Garden in July 1991, and has been Head Chef for the hotel ever since.
Andrew’s CV is second to none:  Coming from Suffolk Andy is definitely a “country boy” at heart, which is probably why he has settled so well in Grasmere.  Commencing his career with Maison Talbooth, Deadham Vale, Suffolk (one of the leading and innovative country house hotels of its time), he learned his trade before moving to London to gain the vital experience that the big hotels offered.  In the next 7 years Andrew gained experience at the Savoy, Connaught, Berkeley and Dorchester amongst others.  With experience like that and a natural flair for good honest food, a respect for rural ways and a willingness to embrace new techniques and innovations, it’s easy to appreciate that Andrew has the respect of so many of his peers.
Upon leaving London (the countryside was beckoning), Andrew located to Grasmere to work at the Wordsworth Hotel and the Michelin-starred Michael’s Nook.  After 7 years as Sous Chef, Andrew was looking for his own kitchen, but having bought a house in the village and with his daughter Amy about to start school, he didn’t want to move too far.  Luckily Chris was now in the village and looking for a new chef to move Rothay Garden forward and so began a great professional relationship that has now spanned two decades, and without doubt Andrew has been a cornerstone in the foundations of the Rothay Garden success story to date.
During the re-development period in 2008, Andrew spent time at the two-Michelin starred Andrew Fairley at Gleneagles and the Michelin starred Northcote Manor.  On the strength of Andrew’s years of dedication to Rothay Garden, he received a brand new “state of the art” kitchen, which he says is one of the best kitchens he has ever worked in and easily the best kitchen outside London.

Andrew says: "One doesn’t realise how, day by day little improvements are always being made but as I look back over the years, it’s amazing how far we’ve come and what Chris has achieved, in those 20 years.  At interview, I was arrogant enough to state that unless Chris wanted to be the best hotel in Grasmere, if not one of the best in the Lakes, then I wasn’t interested.  I think he has fulfilled his promise and I hope I have fulfilled mine"

 

Adrian Kneeshaw

Sous Chef

Adrian, from Knaresborough, joined us from Scarborough College in 1995 as a Chef de Partie and quickly proved himself to be a key member of the brigade.  Promoted to Sous Chef in 2000, Ade has been a stalwart support to Andy and Chris and is without doubt one of the “backbones” of the hotel.  His prowess in the Pastry section is recognised by regular patrons time and again and this is indeed, his main area of responsibility.
It is also however, his ability to jump into a section that is under pressure at a moment’s notice and resolve any difficulties, that has always impressed Chris.  As an aside, it’s also rather nice that Ade’s old secondary school Form Tutor is a regular guest at Rothay Garden and has enjoyed watching his career progress!

Adrian says: "I really enjoy working at Rothay Garden and living in Grasmere.  I was made really welcome from the start and quickly became part of the team. I never thought I would be here so long but with someone like Andy to learn from and a great kitchen to work in, I am still throroughly enjoying my job and career."

 

Elliott Waugh

Hotel Manager

Elliott, also from Newcastle like Chris, joined us in 2005 as a Deputy Manager.  It’s always difficult being introduced into a small organisation in a position of authority, above people whom have been there for some time but Elliott managed this effortlessly, quietly assessing the situation and personnel before asserting his authority.  It is this quiet confidence, as well as a very professional demeanour that has impressed Chris over the intervening years.  Elliott’s background was pub management and relief management in and around Newcastle. Chris was confident, that after being dispatched to establishments with either staffing, financial or customer profile problems that any issues facing Elliott here would easily be addressed.
Understandably with his background, Elliott’s main areas of responsibility are guest satisfaction, wet stocks and recruitment.
Elliott, like Chris has totally “bought into” the Lakeland lifestyle.  Apart from being a keen walker, Chris has introduced him to a bit of fell running and probably, if you asked him; Elliott would say his favourite conditions to be out on the fell would be thick snow!   He also now has an allotment, so if you see a young man turning over his potatoes down by the Waterside hotel, then no you are not imagining things, this is indeed the person looking after you during your stay!

Elliott says: "I could never have imagined in my early pub days in Newcastle that peaceful Grasmere would become my home.  It seems my move across couldn’t have been better timed.  The progression of the hotel and the opportunity to learn from Chris have provided me with a focus on guest satisfaction and a much better understanding of the business side of the operation.  Chris has become a friend as well as my boss and I believe I will learn a great deal more from him and the great team I work with, throughout my career."

 

Victoria Bailey

Deputy Manager

Vicky, a Lancashire lass from Bolton-le-Sands, joined us originally in 1996 for the summer before returning to college but she enjoyed it so much that she decided to stay and what a great decision that turned out to be, for all of us!  Many regular guests will remember that timid diminutive girl (with the clumpy shoes!), head down and so work focused.  But how she’s blossomed!  Always hard working, and so, so reliable; Vicky actually asked Chris for the opportunity to be considered for Assistant Manager, when the post became available.
At first, he wasn’t sure but she was so adamant that she could do the job that she convinced him and of course, we’ve all seen Vicky further develop again, once in a management position.  Promoted to Deputy Manager in 2004, Vicky’s responsibilities have seen her take on a large part of the accounts and administration and her meticulous attitude has made her the ideal person to deal with the purchase ledger.
Vicky’s first child, Paige, was born in March 2011 and consequently, she hasn’t been in evidence quite so much in the hotel during 2011.  But we expect to see her back in harness later in the year in some capacity.
Many regular guests will know that Vicky is a huge St. Helens (rugby league) fan, however her partner Craig, is a huge Wigan fan, so what will the poor child will make of this conundrum?

Victoria says: "Having joined Chris, as a 17 yr. old trainee and now a mother to Paige, I can’t believe the transformation of the hotel in that time and that15 years could possibly have gone so quickly.  I look forward to re-joining the team by Christmas 2011"

 

Jillian Raine

Front of House Manager

Jill joined us originally in 1998 as Head Housekeeper.  This was an area in which we had previously struggled for consistency and quality.  Jill quickly proved herself to be organised, motivated and very hard working and our housekeeping department went from a weakness to a strength.  Jill however, was ambitious and soon became involved in other front of house duties, effectively having dual responsibilities for housekeeping and Front Office. Upon re-development this dual role was no longer feasible, the hotel size and star rating demanding specific responsibility for each department.
Jill therefore became our Front of House Manager and has gone from strength to strength in her new role.  Jill’s particular responsibilities are personnel, payroll, administration and room management between 3rd party booking agents and websites – a critical role in these modern times.  Jill is also a big St. Helens fan (hailing from there) but thankfully not as fanatical as Vicky!  Jill has two great teenage lads, both born and bred in the village, of whom she is rightly, very proud.

Jillian says: "It’s been a pleasure being a key part of the team as the hotel has developed over the years and I look forward to an exciting future with Rothay Garden"

 

Hannah Fearnhead

Assistant Manager

Hannah, a local girl from Sedbergh, originally joined us in 2006 as part of the joint Cumbria Tourist Board/Kendal College Apprentice Scheme, (of which Chris was one of the founders and a member of the steering group).  As Hannah moved through our departments, she quickly demonstrated a maturity beyond her years and immediately stood out as someone who had the application and ability whom could be developed into a key member of staff.  Upon re-opening the hotel after the development in 2008, Hannah was appointed Trainee Manager and as expected, did a great job.  Her composure in handling staff was again beyond her tender years and at the end of two years, Hannah was promoted again to the position of Assistant Manager.
Hannah’s responsibilities are restaurant linen and crockery stocks, uniforms and with Vicky’s maternity leave, she has been introduced to the purchase ledger.

Hannah says: "I have really enjoyed coming through the various departments of the hotel and feel I have learnt much from my senior colleagues, whom I respect very much"

 

Donna Jonberger

Receptionist

Donna is another recruit from the North East!  Although from Durham, Chris and Elliott have made her an honorary Geordie in order to swell numbers!  Upon re-opening in 2008, it soon became obvious that we needed to further strengthen our office capability and Donna, having been part of a busy reception team at the Red Lion, joined us to further her career.  Their loss was our gain!  Donna has quickly settled into the team and proved herself to be a key member of management, ably assisting Jill with the administration of the hotel.
Donna is married to a fellow professional Daniel, whom is currently part of the management team at Holbeck Ghyll.  As can be discerned from the surname, Daniel hails from Sweden, so lucky Donna and family (they have a teenage son and young daughter) get to holiday every year in Sweden!

Donna says: "I really enjoy working at Rothay Garden. The team are great and have made me feel really welcome and part of the team. It’s great to be able to really enjoy my job again"

 

"The Rothay Garden offered comfort, cleanliness and the sort of food for which some people would die … Here was a hotel which placed its guests above all else … Heaven on earth."

Yorkshire Post


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News 02/10/2014
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