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, gaining  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 contemporary 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 an hotelier).  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.  In his leisure time, Chris is a keen sportsman, still playing amateur football, a passionate skier and can regularly be seen running or walking the fells.

Andrew Burton MCGB (Master Chef of Great Britain)
Joint Head Chef

Andrew joined Chris at Rothay Garden in July 1991, and has been Head Chef for the hotel ever since.  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 in 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, with experience over the next 7 years with the Savoy, Connaught, Berkeley and Dorchester.

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.  In 1991, he was living in the Lake District and joined Chris here at Rothay Garden, to begin a great professional relationship that has now spanned over two decades.

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 to refresh his skills.  With a brand new “state-of-the-art” kitchen, and a creative and dedicated team, he is now creating exciting and delicious menus here at Rothay Garden and hopefully, for many years to come.

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.

Elliott, like Chris has totally “bought into” the Lakeland lifestyle.  Apart from being a keen walker, Chris has introduced him to fell running and probably, if you asked him; Elliott would say his favourite conditions to be out on the fell would be thick snow!   Promoted to Hotel Manager in 2012, Elliott has taken this new position in his stride and grown confidently into his role, allowing Chris to ease off from the front line, just a little!

Adrian Kneeshaw
Joint Head 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.

Ade’s prowess in the Pastry section is recognised by regular patrons time and again and this has been 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.  In 2015 in recognition of his long service and skills and also recognising Andy’s wish to shed some of his work-load, Ade was promoted to Joint Head Chef. This is working well for all concerned. 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!

Victoria Bailey
Duty 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, head down and so work focused.  But how she’s blossomed!  Always hard working, and so, so reliable.

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 Charlie, her second daughter arrived soon after. Consequently, she hasn’t been in evidence quite so much in recent years and has reduced her role to 3 days a week while her parents look after and spoil the girls (as all grandparents should!). 

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 children will make of this conundrum when they grow up?

Jillian Wilson
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 in 2008 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 grown up lads, Ryan and Steve, both born and bred in the village and both of whom have worked here at Rothay Garden.
 

Hannah Fearnhead
Deputy 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/glass stocks, uniforms and with Vicky’s maternity leave, she was introduced to the purchase ledger. Having proved herself with these new responsibilities and with Vicky working part-time, Hannah was promoted to Deputy Manager in 2013 and is again proving herself to be a key member of senior management.

Amanda Harrison
Head Housekeeper

Mandy is an Ambleside lass (it’s always nice to have local people on the team) and joined us in 2013 as Head Housekeeper. Her efforts since then are clear for all to see, her standards are demanding and her bedrooms immaculate but she’s always got time for a friendly chat on the stairs or corridors, for interested guests. Mandy has without doubt been a great appointment and is clearly a major asset to the hotel.

Mandy’s daughter Ebony also worked for us for a while in Reception and the restaurant before moving on to progress her career.

Patrick Turner
Assistant Manager

Patrick, a close friend of Jill’s sons, joined us in the summer of 2011 as a General Assistant at the tender age of 16. Originally, planned to be a “stop gap” position, Pat soon found that the industry suited him and consequently knuckled down to prove himself. Like Hannah, Pat demonstrated a maturity beyond his years and after two years we promoted Pat to Trainee Manager and he spent time in every department before attaining his black jacket. Two years on again and with Hannah being promoted, Patrick was promoted to Assistant Manager. Again, Pat is fulfilling this role admirably and is another key member of the management team.

Pat’ younger brother Brendan, is keen to be a chef and has been working part-time in the kitchen since 2014. He left school in June 2015 and joined us fully at that point. Brendan works 4 days a week and one day release at Kendal College. Brendan is just commencing his career with us but we expect great things from him!

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