A view from the top: We get five minutes with the Managing Director, Peter Candler
It’s been almost 15 years since you opened the doors to Jesmond Dene House. What have been the biggest highlights (and challenges) along the way?
In 2008, just 3 years after opening, Jesmond Dene House was awarded AA Hotel of the Year. We took it in our stride at the time but, with hindsight, that was a monumental achievement for such a young business. Not long after that, the recession presented some serious challenges to us – as it did to all businesses. During austere times, people find it difficult to justify trips to places like Jesmond Dene House! Managing our way through those times was an achievement in itself. Perhaps the biggest achievement has been building the genuine affection that people feel for Jesmond Dene House: there are families who have marked the watershed moments in their lives at the Hotel and that’s very special indeed.
You’ve almost finished refurbishing all 40 guest bedrooms and the private function spaces and you’re about to embark on a full refurbishment of the Restaurant. Can you tell us a little bit about why you’re making the investment and the concept behind what you’re doing?
Over the 15 years, there have been many thousands of guests through our doors and we felt that the time was right to show the property some love and affection. We’re hopeful that by investing in the property, we’ll be demonstrating to our guests that we care. Karen Walker, our interior designer, was involved in the original design prior to opening – so, she’s well-placed to balance all we’ve achieved so far with where we hoping to head towards. We want it to feel of quality at the same time as being for everyone.
Alongside the physical changes, one year in, your Head Chef Danny Parker has just changed the food offer, too. Are you able to tell us a little more about where he’s taking things and how it fits into your overall ambitions for the business for the future?
Including Danny, we’ve all been listening to our guests’ feedback. Working from there, he’s trying to simplify the food without diminishing quality. The food will be about generosity, quality and consistency when it comes to preparation. Again, the idea is to make something of the highest quality that is accessible at the same time. I’ve tried his new menu and I’m very excited.