The Alexander Family: Nicolas Roulier, General Manager at Barnett Hill
Nicolas Roulier, General Manager at our Surrey Hills destination, Barnett Hill, joined the Alexander Hotels Family in February 2020. With the Covid-19 pandemic, he’s certainly having to be adaptable in his approach, and we caught with him to delve to a little deeper into his inspirations, background and vision for the future.
Tell us why you started working in hospitality and what you journey has been to your current position as General Manager with Alexander Hotels?
I was unable to sit still and decided on studying hospitality as I knew the fast-paced aspect of the job would suit me best. I attended a hospitality boarding school which taught me discipline and gave me the knowledge to start my career in a Michelin star restaurant not far from my home town in France. My drive to learn more brought me to England with very little English. I started as Commis Sommelier and moved up the ladder gaining experience in different properties including a stint in the USA. After working my way up to management, I reached my goal of becoming a General Manager.
What are your top tips for people thinking of joining the industry?
Be passionate and travel, there is so much to learn from other cultures and experiences.
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 type of dining experience has changed. The demand for a more relaxed dining experience that doesn’t compromise the standard of food or service given is now perhaps more popular than the traditional restaurants and hotels.
Nicolas winning a coveted Hotel Catey award in 2007
What do you see being the main changes in the industry in light of the pandemic?
We are going to have to be innovative in finding ways to follow the guidelines, social distancing will no doubt be the hardest obstacle to tackle but this industry is well known for moving with the times and I’m confident we can adapt and still give the best guest experience possible.
What’s been your favourite industry trend that you have seen in your career so far?
By far sustainability and supporting local producers, businesses and communities.
If you could take a step back to heading a department again, which would it be and why?
Wine. I confess, I miss this, learning new wines, tastings, discussing and recommending wines to guests. I enjoyed putting together wine pairings. Vineyard tours with tastings were a highlight of this particular role.
Tell us about how you motivate and inspire your teams?
Leading by example, I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty! I believe in delegating responsibilities to give future managers the tools be a success. I’m not one to micro manage, I like to trust my team and support them as and when they need it.
How does being a General Manager influence your home-life?
I’m lucky my wife also works in the industry, so when I’m caught up at work she understands the importance of me being there for the guests and supporting the team. As I am often away from the family it makes me appreciate my time at home that much more.
What do you do to relax?
I enjoy gardening, cycling, fishing and the odd glass of wine….or two.
Where do you find inspiration?
I’m inspired by the importance of sustainability and using local produce, we are all learning more and more about the importance of supporting our communities. I often like to think outside the box and trying out new ways to keep our guests excited and wanting to come back for more.
What’s your favourite meal?
I love a scallop dish and then a good steak followed by cheese ( I’m quite partial to Roquefort & Comte with a side of rocket salad and baguette)
What have you and your family been doing to stay positive during the lockdown?
Enjoy our time together, with 3 children most days are usually a rush to be somewhere. The down time has given the opportunity play games, laugh and eat lots of cake that the kids are constantly baking!
What do you like the most about your property and about the AHC?
Barnett Hill’s beautiful gardens and hotel. The passion and vision that the board has for the company.
What’s your favourite destination and hotel in the world?
Our trip to San Francisco and Napa Valley many years ago bring fond memories back to me, we stayed in a lovely hotel in Napa called Auberge du Soleil.
The beautiful gardens at Barnett Hill
Barnett Hill is our contemporary getaway in the Surrey Hills.