Welcome to our new look Meet the Boss where this week we talk to Nicholas Malcolm, MD of Sands Resort Hotel & Spa. When Nicholas was five, his architect father decided to become a hotelier and moved the family from a lovely house in the country to a rundown hotel (now the Bedruthan Steps) where they slept on an old sofa in the hotel kitchen with mice running around at night.
Aged 25, Nicholas built what is now Sands Resort on Cornwall’s north coast. The resort was one of the first to offer children’s clubs in the 1980s and the emphasis is still firmly on providing an unpretentious, good value and friendly experience in a happy place for staff as well as guests.
Q. Please tell us about a great holiday memory from your childhood.
“It was going to Blackpool at the age of 5 and seeing the lights, eating candyfloss and chips in newspaper. Then, after discovering that all the hotels were full, sleeping overnight with the family in a Hillman Minx – a proper adventure.”
Q. What three items are always found in your hand luggage?
“A world travel adaptor and a 4-way 13 amp extension lead to charge all the family’s devices off one socket, a well-worn pair of Timberland deck shoes and three novels with at least one located in my destination.”
Q. If you could spend next weekend anywhere in the world, where would you go, and why?
Q. Please tell us about a particularly challenging booking your company has handled.
“For three years running in the early ’90s, we ran training weeks for Neilson Ski. We had 200 ski reps and a week to turn them into chefs, chalet managers and kids club hosts. The only skill they arrived with was an ability to consume alcohol and ignore an alarm clock! It was hard work but great fun – it took weeks for the adrenaline to go after they left.”
Q. What has been your most enjoyable holiday in recent years?
“Driving round Kwazulu Natal with my family and mother – early morning game drives, history, wildlife, jaw-dropping ‘big’ scenery, nights around the bonfire under star-filled skies, and friendly people running superb quality lodges. In the midst of it all, we found the Ubombo Children’s Care Village and adopted it as our business charity. It is a place of great hope – and tragedy – for abandoned children and young AIDS victims. It is always in our thoughts to remind us how lucky we are.”
Q. And what has been your all-time worst holiday experience?
“The first ski trip I organised for friends to Sauze D’Oulx. We arrived full of excited anticipation to find no snow and a hotel with the same guest care ethics as Colditz. Needless to say I wasn’t asked to organise a second one.”
Q. What luxury would you take to your desert island?
“A foam pillow and 100 new Egyptian cotton pillowcases.”
Q. What one thing would most improve people’s overall holiday experience?
“Be realistic about your expectations, treat hotel staff the same way as you would want your children to be treated and don’t ever start a complaint with ‘I’ve stayed in some of the best hotels in the world’.”
Q. Tell us your favourite hotel – one for business, one for pleasure.
“When visiting London on business, I like St Martins Lane – it’s quirky, exciting and in a great location off Trafalgar Square and it always gives me an insight into trends. For pleasure, it’s Lands End Guesthouse in Victoria Bay, South Africa. Cosy and bohemian, it’s the only place where I can sit on the veranda eating breakfast whilst watching surfers, dolphins and whales share the same waves.”
Q. What is the most exciting project your company is working on right now?
“After surviving 30 years without a marketing team we have now taken on an excellent marketing manager who is introducing me to a whole new world of opportunities. Having a good product isn’t enough in today’s competitive marketplace so it’s an exciting challenge to see where we can take the hotel in the internet age.”
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