The Alexander Family: Eloic Montagnier, General Manager, Langshott Manor
Eloic Montagnier, our General Manager at Langshott Manor joined the Alexander Hotels Family in November 2019. Originally from France, Eloic gives us some insight into his career, his thoughts on the Coronavirus pandemic and how hospitality will evolve.
Tell us why you started working in hospitality and what you journey has been to your current position as General Manager with Alexander Hotels?
After 3 years at a hotel & catering school in France I graduated as a waiter over 30 years ago, I then decided to travel and worked in the south of France in the summer and Alps in the winter for a few years followed by 4 years in Switzerland. I came in the UK in 1996 to learn the language, securing a role as a waiter in the Lake District where I stayed for 10 years. I then joined different properties around the UK working my way up to my first General Manager role at Mere Court Hotel in Cheshire where I currently live. My last role before I joined Langshott Manor last November was at the Belmont Hotel in Leicester which was a 4 star & 2 rosette city centre hotel.
What are your top tips for people thinking of joining the industry?
It is an industry where you can progress and hard work does pay off, also it is the perfect industry for visiting the world with seasonal jobs. It is also very likely that you will meet your partner where you work! It happens a lot! It happened to me and many of my friends.
Of course the trade is going to change seismically in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the industry is known for being rapidly moving and adaptable. How has the industry changed over the years that you have seen?
The growth in revenue coming from online travel agents, first, they have altered distribution channels and consequently taken value away from hoteliers, second, the notoriety of brands owned by Booking Holdings and Expedia are such that these companies have almost replaced hotel brands and third, they have built solid relations with travellers. Now, hoteliers have to pay to get access to these customers, thereby leading to a thinner profit margin for the former.
What do you see being the main changes in the industry in light of the pandemic?
I think the UK market will recover rapidly due to the lack of travelling, people will look at UK breaks for this year and possibly next. Cleanliness is going to be crucial going forward with sanitizing stations at every outlet. I suspect we will see the end of “buffet style” food and more dishes will be plated and sent to customers with a cloche on top, I can see the demand in room service will be greater than ever. I also think people will go back to hotels where they had an excellent experience in the past and they know they will be looked after.
What has been your favourite industry trend that you have seen in your career so far?
The way the food offering has changed over the last 20 years, back in 1996 when I came in the country the food was very traditional and ordinary, now we have more and more Michelin Starred restaurants, all the master chef style tv programs have changed the way we look at food and the industry with our chefs working hard to better them, come with fresh ideas try new dishes. Wine consumption has also overtaken beer sales, a big change from 20 years ago.
If you could take a step back to heading a department again, which would it be and why?
A busy bar & restaurant, brasserie style – I love the fast paced environment and the buzz you get when working a busy shift, there is great satisfaction in running a brasserie and seeing everyone leaving with a smile on their faces. I also love good food & wines and like experimenting new dishes with the team.
Tell us about how you motivate and inspire your teams?
By working alongside them, getting my hands dirty with them, supporting the team at difficult times, saying thank you and well done for good feedback received and jobs well done! But also using negative feedback to make them understand why some things have happened – we can’t change the past but we can ensure mistakes don’t happen again; sharing reviews, internal ranking and by having an open door policy, managers need to be approachable. Knowing your team on a more personal level is important too, so you can be closer to them.
How does being a General Manager influence your home-life?
Well I have worked away from home for over 10 years now, so I do not see my family every day but the time we spend together is quality time. We appreciate each other’s company a lot more than if I was at home every day.
What do you do to relax?
I am a very active person that cycle and run a lot, this helps me relax and keep sane in difficult times like the present. I love being outdoors and to exercise! I like to set myself yearly challenges, this year it was to compete in the Manchester and London marathons, both in the same month! It will have to wait 2021 now. I am also desperate to compete in my first triathlon.
Where do you find inspiration?
Love sports and wanting to better myself every day as I am getting older. I think it is important to exercise for your mental health and “feel good factor”. I love the sense of achievement once you have achieved your goals.
What is your favourite meal?
Steak Tartare and salad! The greatest meal – I like to think I make the best tartare ever, though my wife does not agree!
What have you and your family been doing to stay positive during the lockdown?
We both appreciate what we have and will not take anything for granted again, we have both kept our routine to get up early, do some sports, cook lovely evening meals and made the most of the weather by spending time in our garden talking to each other. We also both lucky to still have a job and not to have been furloughed. We cannot wait to get going again!
What do you like the most about your property and about the AHC?
Their individuality, full of character and the modern “twist” design approach to an old building. Beautiful landscaped gardens in great location. Also being a privately owned company is a must for me, we do not have a cookie cutter approach of doing things that some branded companies have.
What’s your favourite destination and hotel in the world?
Alila Seminyak – Bali. – Just amazing!
Langshott Manor is our 22-bedroom Tudor boutique hotel, located 5 minutes from Gatwick airport (but not on the flight path!).