A BIT ABOUT Rockliffe Hall Hotel
The north’s only AA Five Red Star Resort Hotel, Rockliffe Hall has it all, set in 350 acres of beautiful countryside. North-east friendliness and genuine warmth hit you as soon as you enter the front door and the superb un-stuffy service levels ensure your top guests, Board Members or need to impress clients won’t be disappointed. Be prepared for surprises if you head down to the wood as “Mischmasch” offers truly unique meeting and event space in six “Curious Cabins” – not just for children! Sixty-one luxury bedrooms, plus onsite apartments & houses for long and short stay guests alike. One of the largest Spa complexes in the UK sits right next door to the longest golf course in England – perfect for incentive packages. And three great estate to plate dining options mean you won’t go hungry.
Simon Roberts is the Resort General Manager of the AA 5 Red Star, and award winning Rockliffe Hall Hotel in County Durham. A budding chef from an early age, Simon’s kitchen career was cut short when he developed a severe allergic reaction to fish right at the end of his college course. Front of house beckoned as Plan B and a return “home” to the north east. Spells at Redworth Hall and the Majestic in Harrogate followed, before Simon became Hotel and then Resort General Manager at Rockliffe. meetingsclub chatted to the big motorbike fan in the beautiful surroundings of the Drawing Room to find out what makes him tick and discovered a love of Mickey Mouse!
Why did you choose to get into the Hotel industry?
My Nan was one of the first people back in the 1950s to bring pub food in to Bath. Because of that and as she was always in the kitchen, I naturally gravitated to the kitchen as a small boy and it all really stemmed from there. I went to catering college as I wanted to be a chef, got to the end of the course and literally picked up an allergy to fish and seafood over-night! I therefore had to have a bit of a career change and decided to go down the “front of house route.” One of my first roles was at the five-star Bath Spa Hotel followed by Bishopstrow House near Warminster.
Who has inspired you most in your career?
My Nan most certainly in the early days. When I worked at the Bath Spa, Raymond Blanc was a Consultant – he was a real human dynamo and bundle of energy. The team here at the Rockliffe have been inspirational over the years. Nick Holmes the former Managing Director had great industry experience and knowledge. Chairman Warwick Brindle has a very different view and take on the business coming from the world of media. And Steve Gibson, the owner is a great entrepreneur and very level headed – a pleasure to work for.
If you could work anywhere in the world where would it be?
Florida! I love Mickey Mouse. We have been seven times now which I know sounds excessive, but it feels very much like going home every time. I’d go tomorrow, if it was down to me…
What has been your proudest moment?
Meeting Princess Diana at the Bath Spa. She was in the early 1990s Patron of The British Lung Foundation and came to open one of the bedroom floors which had been designated non-smoking – quite a big thing back in the day. She was phenomenal.
What piece of advice would you give to your teenage self?
Concentrate more at school and work harder.
What three items would you bring to a desert island?
1.My Oakley sunglasses
2.A solar powered iPod
3.An endless supply of water
What did you do last weekend?
I work typically three out of four weekends. But when I have time off, we mostly go shopping to York and Harrogate. I like watches, particularly second-hand antique pieces!
What is your favourite place to travel to?
California. We were there a couple of years ago and combined it with a trip to Las Vegas – Blackpool on steroids – and loved visiting Santa Monica and Venice Beach.
Is there anything on your bucket list that you haven’t yet done?
I want to get round to doing a track day on my Ducati Multistrada.
What is your favourite APP?
Very sad I know but I’d probably say my Nationwide Banking App. It’s got everything on there.
What is your favourite food?
I don’t have a favourite food as such, but I would probably have to say organic fillet steak from Sainsbury’s – it never disappoints.
Do you binge watch and if so, what do you watch?
Netflix – I watched with my youngest daughter Resident Evil for 8/9 hours!