Blog. National Hospitality Day at Farncombe Estate

September 7, 2021 | Author: Giuliana Vittiglio

On September 18th we’ll be calling on the nation to support our beleaguered industry by visiting their favourite venue and celebrating National Hospitality Day. The day will be a nationwide celebration of our brilliant and resilient pubs, bars, hotels, cafes, restaurants, event spaces and foodservice outlets, and the suppliers that support them.

We recently caught up with Andrew Grahame, Chief Executive of Farncombe Estate - home to Dormy House, Foxhill Manor and The Fish to learn about what they have planned and why Hospitality Action means so much.

How have things changed for you and your team since the onset of the pandemic?

Everything has changed, the way we operate, the lens we look at the business through, our priorities and how we view our Farncombe Family. We have become stronger as a team and as importantly more aware of our business and specifically which parts of it are low in margin and high in effort. When you’re forced to throttle back your business it’s amazing what you discover during that process and we now know the absolute margin of every segment of our business. Thankfully we have three businesses that enjoy high demand and as a general rule No doesn’t exist within our culture but we’ve learnt that not every piece of business is good business and when you’re running reduced capacities we’ve had to be quite selective. We have made changes to our business that are now permanent, as a team we have learnt a lot, it’s been the ultimate team building exercise and the Farncombe Family have dealt with everything thrown at them brilliantly.     

What do you have planned for the future at Farncombe Estate? 

Our focus for the next few years is our new brand Hillside Hangouts, these are stunning party houses on the estate in which you can fend for yourselves. You can still enjoy our many restaurants and bars but if you want time and space, as many do in a post Covid world, these are perfect. We have an exciting five-year plan which over the term will see us develop another 12 letting units which will be a mix of sizes and styles. Parallel to that we are developing Farncombe Adventures which will be an activity business that supports the hotels and the Hillside Hangouts. This will all be glued together by a pro-active Concierge Service so if our guests want a full itinerary we can deal with it or alternatively we can leave them alone to enjoy the estate on their own terms, there’s lots to explore unscripted!

Why do you think the hospitality industry needs a charity like Hospitality Action?

Our teams in hospitality are often young and inexperienced in life, many of our team that live in have just left home and it’s our job to guide them in these formative years. They work hard and play hard, inevitably they are not always going to get everything right and bad luck and life’s knocks can befall anyone at any time. They need a safety net and HA provides that, not every employee wants to tell their employer about all their issues for fear of it affecting this delicate and precious relationship. Early in the pandemic I wrote to my team and I told them “we’ve got you” and the fact that now defines HA is a great thing, it’s simple, powerful and comforting. 

Why did you decide to take part in National Hospitality Day? How are you taking part?

We are donating all F&B sales from September 18th across our three hotels which we estimate is a total of circa £20k, we are informing all of our guests about it in advance of their stay to ensure they spend well that evening. I personally think that every hotel in the UK should do this annually and with the mental health tsunami that is coming every operating hospitality business is likely to have someone on their team that will need HA in some capacity and adequate funding will be key to ensure the HA team can react to each case.  I find that most people in trouble know what they need to do and just seek reinforcement and HA can do that with an independent voice at the end of a phone. For me HA is priceless, an integral part of our industry, our emergency service, our NHS.   


If your place of work can join in the celebrations head over to the National Hospitality Day website to learn more.