The Cateys, which took place last night (5 July 2016) at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel, are the official awards of industry leading publication The Caterer and are widely recognised as ‘The Oscars’ of the UK hospitality industry.
The Lifetime Achievement Award represents the biggest award of the night and Bea Tollman joins an esteemed list of previous recipients including Raymond Blanc, Egon Ronay, Anton Mosimann, Albert and Michel Roux, Elena Salvoni and Lord Forte of Ripley.
Over a career spanning six decades, Bea Tollman has built an award-winning collection of 17 five and four star boutique hotels in London, Dorset, Guernsey, Ireland, Geneva, Florida and South Africa. World-renowned properties within the collection include The Milestone Hotel in London; The Oyster Box Hotel and Spa in Umhlanga Rocks, Durban; the Hotel d’Angleterre in Geneva and the iconic Ashford Castle in County Mayo, Ireland, which is currently Hotel of the Year, as voted by members of luxury travel company Virtuoso.
Bea is a self-taught chef and her career in hospitality started in the kitchens of The Nugget Hotel in Johannesburg, a property she leased with her husband Stanley. She remains a passionate cook and many of her signature dishes are featured both on the hotel menus and in her cookbook “A Life in Food”, the proceeds of which go to her favourite children’s charities, the Starlight Foundation and Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Bea Tollman has been frequently recognised for her exacting standards and her continuingly unparalleled levels of service, excellence and luxury across every hotel in the collection. Her approach to guest service - “No request too large, no detail too small” - has seen the Red Carnation Hotel Collection win numerous awards and accolades, and top the TripAdvisor rankings in the areas in which it operates. She is actively involved in every aspect of the business from monitoring guest satisfaction, determining rates, cuisine, marketing, PR and, above all, ensuring that every guest’s stay exceeds their expectations. Her attention to detail is what sets the hotels apart, and Bea responds to every guest letter with a personal hand-written note.
Bea also oversees every element of the design process in the hotels and she is heavily involved in selecting the furniture, colour palettes and the finishing touches; from the bespoke fabrics and in-room decorations, to antiques and unique light fittings. She was responsible for what was one of the first truly boutique hotels in the world – The Hyde Park Hotel in Johannesburg – where famous guests of the day included Marlene Dietrich, George Peppard, Michael Caine and Trini Lopez. She has always put her staff at the forefront of everything she does, believing that happy staff make for happy guests. She operates an award-winning training programme, attends all staff tea parties and personally selects year-end holiday gifts for the more than 2,000 employees across the business. Every year she holds a gala Staff Appreciation Party in London, at which the top achievers from her hotels around the world are recognised for their outstanding efforts.
Referring to her as a “truly remarkable lady”, Clive Jacobs, Chairman and Owner of the Jacobs Media Group of which The Caterer is part, stated: “Her personal approach and obsessive attention to detail has always been central to her ethos in creating hotels where guests know they will consistently receive the very finest service.”
Reflecting on the award, Bea said: “I am so humbled and honoured to have been recognised for doing something that I love so much. When we first started out in this business with The Nugget Hotel in Johannesburg, I never imagined that 60 years later I would be standing here in recognition of the 17 hotels we now have in the Red Carnation Hotel Collection, every one of which I am immensely proud. My thanks go to The Cateys judges, the fantastic teams at all of our hotels and of course my wonderful family, many of whom are involved in the business too. Above all, I must thank my husband, who has been at my side every step of the way on this incredible journey.
“My driving passion is to make each stay memorable for every single guest, to make them feel truly welcomed and special, and I believe having this at the heart of everything we do is what keeps them coming back time and time again.”
Jonathan Raggett, Managing Director of Red Carnation Hotels, added: “Mrs Tollman has an incredible drive and passion for this business – she really is an inspiration. She never stops working and has an innate sense of what it takes to make every guest’s stay truly exceptional. Above all, she cares deeply about every member of staff, which is vital as they are at the front line of delivering the guest experience every day. She invests heavily in us, in terms of training, rewarding and sharing her experience with us. We are very lucky to have her at the helm, challenging and encouraging us to be the best that we can.”
Mrs Tollman’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the Cateys 2016 is the latest in a string of accolades for the Red Carnation Hotel Collection, including the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For 2016 (listed third, and featured in the top 10 for the third consecutive year), Best International Hotel Group 2016 (Travel Media Europe), Virtuoso Hotel of the Year 2015 (Ashford Castle), Best Grounds (Ashford Castle, Jetsetter Best of the Best 2016 Awards), Best Luxury Wellness Spa in South Africa (Bushmans Kloof, World Luxury Spa Awards) and it is current holder of 29 awards in the 2016 TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice™ awards across the categories of Top Hotels, Small Hotels, Luxury and Best Service. Beatrice Tollman was also awarded Hotelier of the Year at the European Hospitality Awards 2012.