An award for Innovation and Excellence

14th Nov 2012
The Hotel industry is full of awards. Many organisations like to give hoteliers awards because it can maintain loyalty to their brand. But guests seem to like them too. Remarkably though when we won our first big award, the English Tourist Board's 'England for Excellence Hotel of the Year' back in 1994, no-one seemed to notice despite the fact it was sponsored by Yellow Pages at the time. I had my photo taken with that chap who pretended he's written a book about fly-fishing, and we were presented with the prize by Lucinda Lambton1, a Victorian water closet expert among other things. It was the greatest achievement for Linthwaite. I was so convinced we hadn't won, my shoes were off and I was a bit too relaxed when the shock announcement came that we had won and I had to wend my way through the tables to the stage. It didn't help that they had created an indoor Summer Fete theme and turned the temperature up too!

Over the years since 1994 we have been lucky and honoured enough to receive many awards for various things. Training, marketing, green, food, service, design, and now 'Innovation and Excellence'.

My wife and I were just finishing off a shocking, frustrating, uplifting and yet beautiful holiday in India; picking up tips on how to run hotels even better from the likes of Oberoi, when I got a call “can you go to London as soon as you're back, only you've won something”. It was for the impressive Condé Nast Johansens Awards. We'd already won their Country House Hotel of the Year before, also their Wine List of the Year and another one I can't remember.

As I sat waiting through the long dinner and ceremony, our name came up as a contender for the Service Award, but we didn't win. Oh well, that's it I thought. Then the last award was being presented by Knight Frank. As the speech progressed, someone nudged me hard in the back. The man from Knight Frank was apparently talking about me and Linthwaite. To what seemed like overly rapturous applause the name was announced and I staggered up to the stage somewhat red faced. One, because of the wine I'd drunk and two because, well, what had we done to deserve this?

The Award was for Innovation and Excellence2. Robin Hutson won it last year (Limewood and the Pig) so that's good company to follow. The speech talked about how we'd taken a run down “B&B” in 1990 and dragged it kicking and screaming to being a 4 AA Red Star 30 bedroomed hotel in 2012. Now I think I should have done more in 22 years, but it's flattering to think people say we have done OK after all!

1Lady Lucinda Lambton, Lady Worsthorne is a British writer, photographer and broadcaster on architectural subjects.
2Innovation and Excellence: It's about outstanding achievement and individuality, daring to be a little bit different. It's about trying something new and not doing the norm.