Ribby Hall Village will be celebrating its 30th year in business in 2024. From derelict holiday site to a five-star resort, its success has been impressive. Part of its triumph includes the award-winning luxury Spa Hotel. Alma Stewart meets the hotel manager, Andrew Scott, to discover his accomplishments as the longest serving employee on the site
When it comes to the loving of what you do, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who embodies this better than The Spa Hotel manager, Andrew Scott.
Andrew will celebrate his thirtieth anniversary at Ribby Hall Village in January and in his own words: “They will have to carry me out of here in a box.” With his warm, friendly and upbeat disposition, it’s easy to see that Andrew has all the personal skills required for this special position.
It is an exciting time for the hotel. With £400,000 being invested in upgrades to the rooms, £290,000 spent in sustainability measures and a new cold room sensory experience planned, plus a new restaurant, Andrew’s vast experience is helping guide the hotel into the next step in its journey. But the beginning of career was very different.
As a youngster, Andrew worked at the Marton Mere caravan site, a former refuse tip bought by businessman Bill Harrison. When Bill sold the site to Haven in 1996, he had his sights set on creating a five-star holiday village, the potential for which he found at the 100-acre site at Wrea Green. This partly developed and derelict caravan site offered the opportunity for Bill’s vision and 29 years later, is now a multi-million business attracting more than one million visitors a year.
Bill asked Andrew if he would be interested in working at the new site. Andrew said: “I was studying a degree in Business and Law and needed a part time job, so Mr Harrison asked if I would like to do some casual bar work which led to a door supervisor role at the on-site Celebrations nightclub which then led to me becoming the entertainment manager until 2010.”
As the entertainments manager, Andrew introduced a number of ‘new’ events at the time including weddings – the first being the daughter of a well-known local estate agent – banqueting, cabaret, fundraisers and talent shows.” I was an Elvis impersonator for many years and so I loved being able to fill the entertainment schedule with a number of acts working with a number of top agents at the time. I loved being able to serve our customers with a fun experience and providing the service for brides and grooms on the best day of their lives,” Andrew added.
Sadly, Bill Harrison died in 1999, passing the CEO mantle on to his son Paul who retained the family values, ethos and principles instilled by Bill which still continue today. This marked the beginning of an extremely successful business partnership between Andrew and Paul that has spanned nearly three decades.
In 2010, the Harrison family turned its attention to the 29 bedroom, Manor House Hotel and decided to invest heavily into transforming into an adult-only spa hotel. They obviously needed a hotel manager to run the new venture and Andrew instantly jumped at the chance. He said: “I had absolutely no idea how to run a hotel, but I knew I wanted a chance to run it. One of my many passions is delivering first class customer service and so I spoke to the HR manager, and asked if I could be considered. Six interviews later, I got the job!”
Andrew worked incredibly hard for the first two years, learning the ropes of hotel management and getting the new spa concept off the ground: “We had to build credibility, deliver an outstanding food service, establish a new spa, recruit and train the right employees plus I was a new father at the time, so it was quite full on. The hotel opened on 19th August 2011 with 42 rooms (now 38) and since then, we have established a settled and focused team of 150, who feel valued, trained and developed.”
As for many businesses, the coronavirus pandemic effected the hotel, but the team worked together and eventually saw the rise in the ‘staycation’ which benefitted the whole Village as the trend for holidays in the UK became increasingly popular. Andrew explained: “The whole team worked their socks off during the pandemic. The hospitality industry was hit hard, but the team really worked so supportively together through thick and thin and I am really proud of them all.”
So, with nearly 30 years under his belt at Ribby Hall Village, what is the secret of his success?
“I have a genuine love for customer service and delivering the best possible experience,” he said. “Every day is different and sometimes challenging which keeps me driven. As a former entertainer, the hotel becomes my stage and with a genuine interest in people, I always put myself in a guest’s shoes and treat them as I would like to be treated.
“I think that if I create a positive and enthusiastic energy, it becomes contagious. We’ve all had horrific times in our lives, and that drives me to focus on the positives in life and when guests stay with us, they deserve a fantastic experience, which we all make sure they receive.
“Each morning, I drive into work listening to upbeat music to inspire me for the day ahead. My daily entrance into the Hotel is to positively impact as many people as I can in one day. By the time I drive out of the gate again, I hope that I have added value in my service to both guests and colleagues and have helped make someone else’s day a brighter one.”