Food & beverage

and he mentioned the Carlton Tower and funny stories about the place. Whenever you imagine the ’60s or the ’70s it always has this kind of shiny, elegant feel to it.”

Instead, Simon did things the old-fashioned way. He was impressed by what had seen and heard about the hotel – specifically from Aaron Kaupp, regional vice-president of London properties and general manager of the Carlton Tower. “I was impressed by the focus on service and

detail, and the food and beverage offering in general,” Simon explains. “And the project itself, which is a destination hotel that has a strong history, but we’re also trying to create a new hotel and that is a challenge in today’s circumstances in one of the most competitive cities in the world. So, the combination of these things really made it an amazing opportunity.” It is quite the makeover – the most extensive in

its history, in fact. It comes by way of UAE-based Jumeirah group, a luxury hotel chain with properties primarily located in the Middle East, along with destinations as diverse as Frankfurt, the Maldives and Shanghai. The group lavished £100m on revamping the flagship property, which now has fewer rooms – 186 in total – but more space. Architecture design studio 1508 London was enlisted to reinvigorate the property and deliver signature and junior suites with spectacular views over the city. The brief seems to have been to find a new spin on an old classic. The hotel’s food and beverage offering is not dissimilar. Culinary excellence, as Simon passionately explains, is a significant factor behind the reprisal of this iconic establishment. The focus is on doing simple dishes well with odd flourishes of luxury here and there. Carlton’s signature restaurant boasts a theatre kitchen for immersive dining, a private dining room and alfresco seating on Cadogan Place. The food is centred around elevated Italian classics with homemade pasta and pizza made from locally sourced ingredients. “It will be sophisticated, but comprehensible,” Simon says. There is a similar theme in the lobby, which also specialises in classic dishes, and the hotel lounge, which allegedly boasts the largest tea selection in London. “We are trying to create memorable experiences,”

Simon explains. “This is something that you hear quite often, but we want to have a kind of combination of culinary excellence, tastes, visuals and rituals, and this is what we’re trying to do at our destination restaurant.”

Global journey For Simon, the Carlton is another step in a 16-year career that has seen him work in Park

Hotel Management International /

Hyatt properties across the globe, including hotels in Paris, Marrakech, Sharm El Sheikh and, most recently, Cannes’ iconic Hotel Martinez. He also spent a year at The Four Seasons Bora Bora. Openings are something of a specialism it seems. Simon has helped to launch four of the past six properties he has worked at. His passion for food, he says, came early. “The first memory I have is being with my grandmothers in the holiday season, spending time with them in the kitchen. And it was simple food, family food, ‘cuisine bourgeoise’ as we say... such a pleasure, such shared moments with loved ones that I think we all have. And it started from there. Soon, I realised that with hospitality you can travel, and I was hooked.” After years of living aboard and working with

chefs and hoteliers, what has Simon’s extensive experience taught him about delivering successful food and beverage concepts? “It’s all teamwork,” Simon says. “About 90% of

your success comes from the people you work with. So that is why we are extremely specific about our recruitment. It’s [all about] teamwork and delegation, because without that you basically achieve nothing.”

“About 90% of your success comes from the people you work with. So that is why we are extremely specific about our recruitment. It’s [all about] teamwork and delegation.”

As far as individual qualities go, it also helps to be flexible and open minded, Simon explains: “I think it’s essential to be adaptable. Working in different cultures, in different countries and environments, is one of the joys of working in hospitality. Few careers offer that. “Working in an uncertain world requires a lot of humility and determination at the same time,” he continues. “I would say that creativity is one of the most important aspects of our trade today because with creativity comes innovation and that is how you can really elevate a guest experience to make it different from the rest.”

A cut above While a decade ago a more standardised food and beverage offering would have sufficed, that isn’t going to cut it with today’s guests. After all, innovation is vital in a world where consumers crave authenticity and new experiences. For evidence of this insatiable shift, Simon points towards the move for hotel groups to partner with iconic standalone restaurant brands and celebrity chefs to enhance their notoriety.

Opposite: The Carlton Tower’s signature restaurant, which serves Italian classics with a luxury twist.


Total cost of the Carlton Tower’s recent renovation.

The Carlton Tower 71

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