The hospitality industry has always been a significant part of my life. My grandparents opened their wine merchants in Edinburgh in March 1948 and both my uncle and mother took over after my grandad retired. I worked in the wine shop from a young age, throughout school and university.
While at university, I worked at Kinloch Lodge on the Isle of Skye for Lady Claire MacDonald and it was after this wonderful experience that I knew that I wanted to further my career in hotels. Having graduated from the University of Strathclyde in 1998 with a BA in Hotel and Hospitality Management, I moved from Scotland to London to work at The Savoy Group of Hotels.
Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge
Starting at Claridge’s in event operations, my passion for event management and wedding planning was further enhanced at The Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge, home to Pierre Koffman’s then restaurant, La Tainte Claire, where I was selling one of the most renowned venues in London as well as launching the now well established Blue Bar.
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
Having worked for three years in London, I moved to Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in Dublin and as one of the youngest Director of Events to be appointed, I was selected to join the pre-opening team at the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo, Nile Plaza.
The Sheraton Grand Hotel
Following four successful years in Dublin, I signed up with Starwood Hotels at The Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa in Edinburgh. The new role allowed me to develop additional skills with managing groups, installing a new Resort Sales Team concept and selling the award winning ONE Spa, as well as continued responsibility for event management and wedding planning.
I was able to fulfill a key career goal in 2007 to move to Dubai for IHG, as Director of Events at the new three hotel complex in Dubai Festival City. As part of the opening team, it was an invaluable responsibility to sell 1,024 rooms as well as one of the largest meeting spaces in the city.
Upon reflection, I had worked in long established luxury hotels and as part of an opening team, however I had never worked throughout a multimillion pound refurbishment resulting in a re-brand of a hotel. In 2009 I was recruited to the then Caledonian Hilton as Director of Business Development. Leading the commercial departments throughout the refurbishment, I was part of the senior project team to re-launch and reposition the now Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian. As the only Waldorf Astoria Hotel in the UK, home to the first two restaurants outside of London for Chris and Jeff Galvin and the first Guerlain Spa in the UK, the hotel has successfully re-joined the league of true luxury hotels, not only in Scotland but globally.
I started in the hospitality industry at a young age working in restaurants at weekends and school holidays before graduating from Wilhelm Gymnasium High School (Abitur) in Braunschweig, Germany.
Steigenberger Hotel School
My skills were further enhanced while attending the Steigenberger Hotel School in Bavaria for one year, where I studied as well as working in all hotel operating departments.
My three year apprenticeship was under taken at the five-star Schlosshotel Buehlerhoehe, Baden Baden, one of the Leading Hotels of the World. Having gained extensive experience in hotel accounting, languages and hotel management, I graduated with a “Hotelfachfrau mit Europaqualifikation”. It was while in Baden Baden that I learned first-hand about luxury service, working in both front of house operations as acting Executive Housekeeper and in the Michelin Star restaurant, Imperial under Klaus Erfort (who now is Germany’s number one chef and holds three Michelin Star’s).
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Dublin
Like Robin, I was recruited to join Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in Dublin where I worked in Front Office and Reservations. As well as being the departmental trainer I was also responsible for launching the new VIK (Very Important Kids) programme, offering families a unique experience, adhering to the standards of Four Seasons while being appealing to children.
After leaving Four Seasons I worked with Ireland’s leading event planning company, Xena Productions, with Tara Fay where I assisted with the organisation of events, weddings and parties.
In 2005 we moved to Edinburgh where I joined the Fund Investment Firm, Blackrock International, working in the finance department. From 2007, I took maternity leave and the family moved to Dubai.
It’s Good 2 Give
Upon returning to the UK, and with our children now in school, I started to work with the award winning Edinburgh based charity, It’s Good 2 Give with their co-founder and Chair, Lynne McNicoll. I organised workshops, fundraising events, as well as finance support for the charity.
With more than thirty years working for some of the best companies in the world, the time was right to convert all of our knowledge and skills gained to launch, Robin Stewart Hospitality Ltd.