Thursday, June 13, 2024
Thursday, June 13, 2024
HomeNewsBusiness NewsGM's on The Spot

GM’s on The Spot

Cat Thomson speaks to Alan McGuiggan, Prestonfield House, Fiona McLean, The Pierhouse, Daniel Baernreuther, Gleneagles Hotel


Alan McGuiggan, GM, Prestonfield House, Edinburgh

How did you begin your career?

I have always loved being around people so hospitality was the perfect industry for me. I started my career at Belfast Castle in Northern Ireland before I moved to read Business Studies at Edinburgh Napier University. I then worked in a number of the city’s hotels before I joined James Thomson at The Witchery as Duty Manager and then Senior Manager before I moved to Prestonfield House.“

Who has been the biggest influence in your career?

I’ve learnt – and continue to learn – so much for James Thomson. He is passionate about providing a truly unique and memorable experience to our guests whether they are staying with us or visiting Rhubarb (the hotel’s in-house restaurant.) He is also a philanthropist who supports a number of charities including Springboard and The Prince’s Trust.

What are your hobbies?

I love to eat out in restaurants in Edinburgh. I am also an avid rugby fan, and support Edinburgh and Scotland now – as I’ve lived here for 35 years. So when it’s Ireland versus Scotland, it is a lose-lose game for me!

What has been your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge was leaving my widowed mother and my sister in Northern Ireland to move to Edinburgh for my studies. It was very tricky not knowing anyone when I first arrived in Scotland.

What has been your proudest moment?

My wife and I would both say that our identical twin daughters, who have just turned eighteen, have given us most of our proudest moments.

What does the future hold?

We are looking forward to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, as we are working on a special partnership – so watch this space! Sustainability is incredibly important to us and this year we will be working on enhancing our programmes and offerings. We will be planting more in our kitchen garden, and working towards being a more conscious establishment. We have recently joined PoB Hotels, and are very much looking forward to working with the group.

Fiona McLean, General Manager, The Pierhouse, Port Appin

What has been your career path to date?

I didn’t choose this as a career option but started by working part-time to support myself through university. It wasn’t until I started working for a large resort that I was inspired to follow it as a career path. It is an addictive industry with such a strong sense of teamwork and camaraderie. I have worked in the hospitality industry for the past 20 years in bars, restaurants, luxury hotels. I joined The Pierhouse in October 2018 prior to that I spent a year managing The Barras Art and Design Centre (BAaD), a multi-event space and restaurant space in Glasgow. Previously, I spent 5 years at Cameron House Hotel on Loch Lomond.

Who has been the biggest influence in your career?

Early in my career Paul Mooney, who I worked with at Cameron House, he now heads up the Glasgow and Dundee Apex Hotels. He was the first manager that I came across who was truly a people person. He invested time in getting to know his team, gave them the tools to be successful, and instilled a ‘want’ to work for him ethic. He had a great management style, which while professional was also really great fun!

Gordon Campbell Gray, Founder of The Wee Hotel Company, has guided and supported me in our mission to challenge the perception of hospitality as an industry and a career.

What do you do in your spare time?

I love spending a day off cooking something epic, whilst listening to music. I collect cookbooks, my current obsession is Ixta Belfrage ‘s book Mezcla; the spicy prawn lasagne is sensational; I could eat it on repeat. Taking our miniature poodle pup Scapa, to the beach for a run-around with my partner David is also a great way to reset my mind after work. I started cold water swimming during lockdown, and I’m able to swim directly in front of the hotel on Loch Linnhe. I also go travelling, adventuring and exploring – it is my go-to way to relax. Recent highlights have included trips to Foyers Lodge, Ballintaggart, Kilmartin Castle, and The Taybank – all beautifully stylish places run by genuinely lovely people. I also enjoy eating out in Glasgow at the likes of Crabshakk, The Ubiquitous Chip and Ka Pao on rotation.

What is the biggest obstacle you have faced?

Watching my mum deteriorate after being diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease was heartbreaking. I was fully responsible for her ongoing care and despite the harsh reality of it all, we were able to reconnect and have the loveliest relationship before she died.

Your proudest moment?

Having grown up in a deprived council estate in the south side of Glasgow, in a broken family and part of a strict religious sect, there was no clear career path. So breaking that cycle of poverty, and being the first in my family to attend university followed by a diverse and rewarding career have contributed hugely to who I am.

What are your plans for the hotel?

We are in the first phase of a complete kitchen redevelopment and extension which marks a significant investment in the business by our owners.

Daniel Baernreuther, General Manager, Gleneagles Hotel, Auchterarder

What has been your career path to date?

I have always wanted to work in hotels for as long as I can remember. I started with an apprenticeship at The Intercontinental, in my hometown, Berlin. I have been at Gleneagles for almost five years now, initially as Executive Assistant Manager in charge of F&B, then as Hotel Manager and now as GM. Prior to that, I spent 15 years in London at Claridge’s, The Savoy and at The Berkeley as Director of F&B. Recruitment is one of the biggest challenges at the moment.

What measures have you introduced?

We have worked hard to create a compelling employer brand and we’ve seen some of these initiatives really starting to move the dial. Under the leadership of Emma Simpson, our Director of People & Culture, we have been able to weather the storm and actively introduce initiatives to reflect the importance we place on our people.”

What do you do in your spare time?

There is not much time for my hobbies with two kids under 10, but the majority of my free time is spent exploring the beautiful Scottish countryside on long walks with our cocker spaniel. I also love woodworking and have a workshop at home where I build wooden furniture. We recently ‘bagged’ our first munro – Ben Lawers as a family. My wife’s family has a small cottage on the Isle of Skye, where we got married, so that is our favourite place to spend time away from home.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Having left Germany over twenty years ago, being away from ageing parents in times of need, particularly during Covid times was tough, so I am glad that we are able to visit regularly again.

What does the future hold?

We are always looking at being, ’best in class’ in whatever we create for our guests and colleagues here at the Glen, and hope that can continue for years to come.




- Advertisment -

Most Popular