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Quin Holtzhuizen, general manager at The Belfry Hotel & Resort, is full of positivity for the future – and that starts with a fantastic team
Q Tell us about your ‘people work for people’ approach. I believe in treating people the way that you would like to be treated. If you treat people fairly and with respect, you earn their respect.
It’s incredibly important to be supportive and understanding of your team professionally and personally, because if you aren’t, you will lose great people. My ethos is all about creating a happy and motivated team and giving them the support they deserve. This also affects the customer journey. A team member who’s happy in their role will go out of their way to make sure every guest leaves us having had an experience that they won’t forget; something which certainly holds true at The Belfry.
Q It’s very interesting that much of your previous experience was gained climbing the management steps in business and airport travel favourites like Premier Inn, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels and Crowne Plaza. The Belfry is a very different operation. What attracted you to this role?
I feel privileged to be working for such a fantastic venue and with such a wonderful team. It is very different to my past roles but I’m excited to be working for a resort style hotel and iconic golf venue. Everyone here is so willing to help – the team really do work brilliantly together. We are like one big family. Some staff members have been here for up to 37 years – which tells you how special The Belfry is! This really attracted me to the resort.
Q Tell us about your experience and how the teams you then oversaw coped during the pandemic.
The pandemic has had a significant impact on the hospitality industry, it’s been a difficult time for everyone. Even though we’ve been back to normality and fully open for a while, it is still important to keep in regular touch with the team to keep everyone motivated and to boost morale. The pandemic showed us how important it is that we communicate, stay engaged and support each other. I am always mindful of ensuring I do everything I can to retain and motivate my team members, and this was more important than ever during the pandemic. For example, when we reopened some of the team hadn’t set foot in a hotel for a long time because of lockdown, so I made sure everyone received the training and support they needed to feel comfortable and confident coming back into their role.
Q What was it like when you seized the chance to start at The Belfry in October last year as interim general manager?
The warm welcome I received as soon as I stepped in the resort made me feel part of the team straight away. I work with many likeminded people, which is fantastic, and I’m very excited to learn more about golf and the resort style of hotel, an area which I haven’t had the chance to work in yet.
Q What are your personal professional hopes for the coming 18 months or so?
Our focus is continuing to sustain the amazing bounce back we’ve had since opening up after lockdown and to continue to deliver the high standard experience that our guests have come to love and know. We have just hosted the Betfred British Masters which was an amazing experience and a huge success. Golf tee times and room bookings are continuing to get booked up as quickly as they become available, and long may this continue. I’m incredibly proud of where we are. In 2021, The Belfry was acquired by Goldman Sachs Asset Management and Cedar Capital Partners from KSL Capital Partners, which is very exciting. Along with the new owners, we are continuing to build on our iconic resort’s strong reputation and implementing our ambitious plans to further enhance the leisure offering and our fantastic guest experience.
Q You’ve worked with numerous housekeeping teams during your career. Did they teach YOU anything? How do you ensure that both housekeeping management and the staff they oversee know how much they are valued?
I married an executive housekeeper, so early on in my career I was taught the importance of the housekeeping teams! Day in day out they continue to deliver a high standard for our guests – the housekeeping department is the backbone of any hotel or resort, and they play a crucial role in keeping guests satisfied. In my role, I enjoy taking the time to speak to all teams and departments. I want to learn how I can make their lives easier and their job better, it is so important to take the time out to talk to team members and learn more about their role. Not only does it show that you truly care, but it also makes teams feel valued.
Q That must have been some night in April when The Belfry Hotel & Resort was named Large Hotel of the Year at the West Midlands Tourism Awards 2022.
What do you think tipped the balance in your favour? Our high-quality service and exceptionally high standard of facilities definitely had an impact on our win. This includes our 300+ luxurious bedrooms and suites, several restaurants and bars including The Ryder Grill and Brabazon Bar, first-class events and meetings spaces, leisure club and The Belfry Spa as well as our three golf courses, including The Brabazon which has just played host to the Betfred British Masters, all surrounded by 550 acres of stunning North Warwickshire countryside.
Q When we spoke The Belfry was gearing up to host The Betfred British Masters. What’s most important for someone in your position to focus on when a big event is taking place at the venue?
Months of advance planning goes into arranging an event like the Betfred British Masters. This year we also had to consider the logistics of spectators, which we haven’t had for such a large tournament at The Belfry in a few years because of the pandemic. It is vital to ensure we have the right teams in the right place and that communication is clear for everyone. We have a phenomenal greenkeeping team led by Angus Macleod, Director of Golf Courses and Estates, and they put a lot of love and pride into making the courses look perfect on a daily basis and to ensure every tournament is successful.
Q If you could wave a magic wand, what would be your one wish for hospitality, and hotels in particular?
My wish would be that people would be more understanding and kinder. I hate to see team members being treated unfairly by guests. Someone once said to me ‘the whole world is short-staffed, be kind to those who show up’ and it really resonated with me. I also want more people to fall in love with working in hospitality, like me and the team at The Belfry. Many of my colleagues have been at The Belfry or worked in hospitality for years – some have over 37 years’ experience in the industry, showing that you can have a progressive and enjoyable career in hospitality.
Q Some people find this the trickiest question, but we’d like to know a little about your family life and interests away from the hotel. Tell us about them, what you do during precious ‘down time’ including hobbies and interests. And, we have to ask, do you play golf – and if so off what handicap?
I live in West Sussex and live away during the week at The Belfry so I spend my downtime with my beautiful wife, daughter, and our puppy. We make the most of our time together going on countryside and beach walks. Being South African, I also love to have a braai with my friends! Once a year we go to South Africa to see my family and we love to travel around the UK and internationally together. I do play golf but I’m not very good so I’m hoping my time at The Belfry will help to improve this and I’ll eventually get a handicap!
I married an executive housekeeper, so early on in my career I was taught the importance of the housekeeping teams