Andrew Foulkes is a graduate in hospitality management from Bournemouth University, and he also studied at Cranfield University on a Master Innholders Scholarship.
Having started his career as a commis chef for Heston Blumenthal at the Fat Duck, he joined Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons as a junior sous chef in 2005 before moving front of house four years later.
Andrew left Le Manoir in 2011 as Assistant Manager – Operations and he then went on to secure a Hotel Manager job at Gidleigh Park in Chagford, Devon, an Andrew Brownsword property.
He moved with the company to the Bath Priory in June 2013 before joining the Abbey hotel in September 2014.
Since Andrew has been in the position, the Abbey’s rating has increased from three to four AA stars and he has also played an integral part in influencing the food and beverage profitability. He forecasts a minimum profit and loss on any major business decisions and has the ability to think creatively about how best to market and sell his ideas.
Ultimately, he is described as “incredibly supportive, loyal and great guy to have as a GM” by his colleagues.
Huge congratulations on your Catey award, what does the award mean to you?
It means a huge amount, it shows what I’ve done in my career in hospitality, it’s difficult to describe in words… it has been an aspiration of mine since I have been in the industry. At the start it was all about the food and the cooking, but I remember saying to a colleague back in 2010, when I transferred out of the kitchen, that I wanted to win a Catey by 2018 so to have it by 2017 is more than I ever expected.
From a professional point of view, when you look at the people that have won the Manager of the Year award in the past, the list is sensational. To be categorised anywhere near those people, who I personally revere and for whom I have so much respect, is like winning the World Cup or Tennis Grand Slam, these Cateys are like an Oscar! It still blows my mind!
I’m so lucky and grateful to the people that have made contact with me and offered such kind words of praise, but it still reminds me that I have a lot more to learn, I’m very grounded in that respect, there is so much more to achieve, this is just the start really.
Aside from the award, what are you most proud of to date?
On a professional level, I’m really proud of how my career has journeyed. I started out as a chef and wanted to be one of the best chefs in the country, and although I worked at a high level as Kitchen Manager for Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir, I always knew that I had more to give and just had to find the right place and the right mechanism.
To immediately go into front of house and feel comfortable in that environment was great but it did take pain, hard work, sweat and tears at the start. I was very determined and knew I had a skill set that I could translate into front of house and I’m so happy to have made the transition.
Moving to Bath was a critical point in my career in hospitality, opening my eyes to running a business and be an integral part of that. I am lucky to work for someone like Ian Taylor who is so commercially in tune, a true entrepreneur and a visionary. Being given the ability to turn his vision into operations and deliver a meaningful profitable business, have made this the most life changing 2 years.
Ian has guided and developed me and I am very fortunate through my background within Michelin and Relais and Chateaux properties to have some amazing mentors who continue to shape what I do every day.
Tell me about The Abbey, what sets you aside from other hotels in Bath?
I think we are the most creative and we unashamedly want to be busy across the hotel; F&B, Events and Bedrooms and we will keep changing and adapting in order to achieve this. Even if that doesn’t always translate to profit, we keep pushing. This year has been about our Igloo bar, we have introduced free live music, we’ve offered some great drinks packages, promotions and tasting sessions, and we have been really busy, even in the rain!
Of course, ideas don’t always come off but I empower my managers to understand the profit and loss and produce that information after each event so that we can understand if the event has been profitable, what worked, what didn’t work and how we can keep on improving.
In order to deliver a new concept or a new idea, it’s a real team effort, it’s down to the marketing and operations team who are so passionate and work excessively hard behind the scenes to make the business successful. We won’t just sit back and wait for the business to come in, we will set our stall out rain or shine and keep pushing the boundaries. At the Abbey Hotel we are quirky and different and we set ourselves out to be that.
What do you enjoy most about your profession?
The people, it’s really as simple as that. Our team here at the hotel from admin to operations, through to our customers and clients; local regulars, transitional guests and those from different countries. Our suppliers and all those who support our business in various ways.
Bath is a real community; Bath Rugby, the College, even the local shoe shops, the relationships are really important. We do a huge amount of networking, supporting our community. We are fortunate that we can support local charities and this is a key part of our culture and values.
What would be your advice for anyone wanting to get a hospitality job and start their career?
Its exciting times in hospitality, we are the largest growing sector of any industry and we need people to join us! Is it hard work, absolutely, is it going to get better, it has to! I would plead with business owners and senior managers to accept the responsibility to make sure that staff get better benefits, to make sure that the wage structure is correct and make sure that training and development takes place.
We need all this in order for us to continue to deliver great service so that guests can experience that wow factor. People will always want to eat out, they will want bed nights, they want an experience and to be a part of that is so satisfying. I work every Saturday – it gives me such a personal buzz. We did an 80th birthday yesterday and the lady and her family were blown away and so thankful, it’s that feedback that makes it all worthwhile. Those moments are so special – as special as winning a Catey!
To start your career in hospitality or to make your next move, please get in touch with the team at Platinum Recruitment or browse a selection of jobs including Hotel Manager jobs, chef jobs, restaurant or waitress jobs. If you are looking to recruit new hospitality staff, visit our restaurant and hotel recruitment page to learn how Platinum Recruitment can help you. Call 01202 203 150 or email firstname.lastname@example.org