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so that when you come into a family business, you can be very respectful and learn from the people that have all of this experience before you. “But also be confident about the small area that you


know and to be able to put your stamp in that space without treading on anyone’s toes, without causing conflict.”


Room with a view Her role as group director of food and beverage (F&B) at RF Hotels means she is responsible for the concepts, management, and performance of the group’s restaurants and bars. This includes developing new restaurant concepts and maintaining quality of food and service. It also involves responsibility for profits, including cost control, and driving of sales. F&B across the group accounts for as much as 35% of


revenue in each hotel, making it a key part of the business. Under her leadership, RF Hotels has seen 15% year-on-year revenue growth. Her efforts have also received industry recognition


with Rocco Forte Nourish, a healthy eating project, nominated for a Catey Award, in addition to the coveted CampdenFB award. “The first thing that I did when I came into the business


was try and change the approach of our restaurants and bars, from hotel guest-focused to local market-focused. The reality is that today’s customer and guest is actually much more curious,” she says. “They have much more means at their disposal to find


what they want to do; where they want to eat; where they want to go. And they will not stay in a hotel unless your hotel offering is competitive in the local market and something that stands out. Coming from an independent restaurant background, it was very much the perspective that I tried to bring in.” She has ambitions to tap the luxury market and build the


Rocco Forte Hotels brand in Asia, starting with the opening of the family’s towering new luxury property in Shanghai next year. The Westbund Hotel is designed by her aunt, Olga, and Inge Moore and boasts 219 rooms up 52-stories. It is expected to open in summer 2019. “Asia is a market that we have been dying to get into. Our


first hotel in Asia in Shanghai is a newly developed area where the old airport used to be. “That was a new build from scratch. We are really


excited, not only because Shanghai is a great city, but also because it is great fun to go out there and to learn about that region, the tastes and everything else.” While many family business leaders tend to shy away


from the public eye, the next generation often embrace the media and social media as part of their personal and professional brand. Lydia is no exception. She was the toughest investor for budding restaurateurs to impress in the BBC TV programme Million Pound Menu in


ISSUE 74 | 2018


2018. She was the only investor in the episode who voiced concerns about the authenticity of the Cuban pop-up eatery that was pitched to the panel and she ultimately opted out of investing. More than 21,000 followers on Instagram admire


pictures of Lydia’s stylish lifestyle in exotic locations. She posted celebratory images from Princess Eugenie’s wedding to Jack Brooksbank in October that she and Irene attended. Lydia also announced her pregnancy on Instagram—the next generation’s next generation. “Well I am lucky that I am not very famous, not an


actress, but I think it’s important, and my father has done it very well, to focus the press and the narrative on the story that you want to tell,” she says. “So as long as you have enough that you are talking


about, enough that you are doing, then mostly those stories get told, rather than the ones that you do not want. And hopefully you do not do things that you do not want to be told anyway.” One advantage of multigenerational family businesses is


one can explore different avenues to find their passion. Is there anywhere Lydia Forte wants to be in 10 years’ time? “At the moment I am just trying to make our F&B


offering world renowned for hotels and I am really enjoying what I do,” she responds. “There is just so much to do and so much growth to be


done, and so much to change. So far we are working very well together so I think we will just see how it goes. [Let us] see how we feel in 10 years’ time.”


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