#034 – Hospitality Meets Anne Golden – The World Class General Manager

Hospitality never stands still, there’s always something new on the horizon. This week, we’ve got an amazing chat with the Opening General Manager Anne Golden who has the not insignificant task of leading one of the most exciting projects on the horizon in Europe, the Pan Pacific London (https://www.panpacific.com/en/hotels-and-resorts/pp-london.html)

In addition to Anne’s amazing journey, we chat about Lockdown fatigue, learning from mistakes, emotional intelligence, training & development, check in and check out, overbooking, The Pan Pacific London (Naturally), making your own Olympics, gnomes, Jurgen Klopp and so much more.

Anne speaks with such humour and humility, it’s not to be missed.


Recorded on 29th July 2020

Show transcription


hotel, people, pan pacific, hospitality, london, singapore, world, realise, moment, lots, industry, floor, sales, guests, experience, incredible, team


Anne, Phil

Phil 00:01

Welcome to hospitality meets with me Phil street where we take a light hearted look into the stories and individuals that make up the wonderful world of hospitality. Today’s guest is Anne Golden, General Manager for the spectacular upcoming Pan Pacific London. Coming up on today’s show. Anne pitches a new movie franchise idea…

Anne 00:21

The rise of the online travel agents and things

Phil 00:24

Phil lets out a Freudian slip live on the show… And of course you’re getting rid of 1000 passengers, Getting rid, that’s a bit harsh And we learn that both and Phil might be Jurgen Klopp fans. Yeah, I think Jurgen Klopp needs to write a book on leadership.

Anne 00:37

No, I think he needs to run the country Phil.

Phil 00:40

All that and so much more as Anne walks us through her story and journey to date. As well as giving us some wonderful insight into the magic we can expect at the upcoming Pan Pacific London. Don’t forget to give us a like and a share across your favourite social channels. Enjoy. Hello and welcome to the next edition of hospitality meets with me Phil Street. Today, we’re Back in London, and well, we welcome someone who has been tasked with leading one of the city’s highest profile openings for 2021. delighted to welcome to the show, the general manager of the Pan Pacific London, Anne Golden. Anne welcome to the show.

Anne 01:15

Thanks, Phil. Good morning, really, really happy and honoured to be here. So looking forward to the chat,

Phil 01:22

Oh you’re very, very welcome. How are you doing?


Doing really well, actually. Yes, we’ve had a good week had some wins this week. So it’s exciting.


Great. I think we’ll, we’ll take wins in any form at the moment

Anne 01:35

(Laughs) at the moment, Yes.

Phil 01:38

Yeah, I had a really great Friday, last week where I ended the week on a on a major high and then on Monday, I had to have a conversation with HMRC which was a real law. And I think that’s just the way the world at the moment. Some highs, some lows.

Anne 01:54

Absolutely, absolutely. Definitely. I agree. As long as we’re fit and healthy then I think everything else just is a bonus, isn’t it?

Phil 02:01

Absolutely. So where in the world are you at the moment?

Anne 02:05

I’m at home in Finchley. And as you can probably tell from my accent I’m originally from the northeast of England, Middlesbrough. Yeah. So, yep. And for my sins follow the football team.

Phil 02:20

How have they done this year?

Anne 02:22

Not that great

Phil 02:23

Okay, we can move on.

Anne 02:25

We can move on. We can move on. But my second team did considerably better because they’re Liverpool.

Phil 02:31

And that’s my team, as well as you can probably tell from my accent.

Anne 02:35

There we go. 45 minutes of football coming up now. So yeah, so back at home, we decided about 10 days before the official government’s announcement to work from home if you can move to everybody to a remote environment. I think it’s fair to say that you can’t really class it as working from home because you have as have young children know me? Mine mines grown but dogs, Amazon parcels you name it. So I think you deal with a lot in this current situation.

Phil 03:13


Anne 03:13

Oh, I think everyone’s done incredibly well. I have a team of 21 who are little superstars for what we’ve achieved during this period.

Phil 03:23

Yeah, well, there’s no playbook is there?

Anne 03:26

There really isn’t.

Phil 03:27

It’s a purely reactive solution driven environment that we’re in at the moment. And I think you’ll well, you’ll probably you’ll be one of a handful of GMs in the world who can add preopening and COVID at the same time experience on your CV?

Anne 03:45

Well, hopefully we all get together and have a party on it. And yeah, yeah, that would be quite something. I think some of the sad things for me are that you know that the 21 of us have never been in the same room. Really. We had a number of people that actually came on board. We didn’t interview anyone during this period we had interviewed previously but the timing of their you know, working notice etc. Yeah, timing of their appointments met that they’ve they’ve come on board during this time. So I think that’s quite alienating, isn’t it? You know, some people live on their own in. So you’re staring at a screen of what is largely strangers on your first day. No one’s made you a cup of tea and all the awkward introductions and you’re just there. I think these these guys are rock stars, aren’t they? You know, they’ve really got their heads down and we’ve we’ve done the archetypal drinks sessions on zoom. We’ve even played games on zoom with you know, mixed success. We’ve done wine tasting, chocolate tasting, but it gets old after a while really you do you just want to in the same room, I just got together to start building that that team, that team spirit really

Phil 05:05

I don’t think I mean, I don’t care what anybody says. I think that the actual face to face goes beyond the screen. I think the human contact. I think we were all realising, though, I hope that, you know, it just can’t replace it. It’s it’s functional, but it’s nothing more than that.

Anne 05:25

Agreed. I think, again, I’m sure lots of people will agree that you know, everyone has really knuckle down and I’ve just started reading on LinkedIn actually articles saying that fatigue setting in which I actually think promoting fatigue started setting in about three or four weeks ago, right. Where it was almost like this great adventure wasn’t shared adventure in the beginning, and we were all doing it for the greater good. Yeah, and high level of motivation. And I think we’re all still motivated, but you can see the A bit of fatigue. Now, you know, we just want to get back on site. So we are starting to, we’ve got a couple of the team are on site this afternoon got some of the guys are on there now just looking around. And this is that can you imagine you’ve accepted a role to open a hotel that you’ve never even set foot in? So, you know, I’m just really happy that they’ve gotten to do that today. Yeah. So we’re going to start moving a couple of people into the office on a rotation basis. We’ve made it safe now. But we’re, it’s been really, really cautious about that. Yeah. But underneath, if you need to, if you need to meet someone, or whatever we’re saying, you know, Yep, sure work out of the office. But

Phil 06:46

yeah, but yeah, you have to respect everybody is on a very different path in terms of safety perception, that there’s something I mean, some people are very relaxed and probably by day become more relaxed, and I probably class myself and in that category, but at the same time, I respect anybody’s wishes, who is still facing a little bit of paranoia with the, your the virus situation. I think you’ve got to respect everybody’s wishes on that front.

Anne 07:17

Yeah, absolutely. And I think people calculate risk in different ways that I mean, it does run broadly along gender lines, but also outside of that, you know, there’s people who have a sheltering people at home that perhaps, you know, so nobody really understands everybody’s circumstances completely. So. No, I agree on that.

Phil 07:38

Yep, indeed. Well, I’m going to move on because I don’t want to make this about that. That nasty little virus. So yeah, well, we’ll come on to the Pan Pacific, London and a lot more detail as we get through the chat. But before we do that, I’d love you to kind of go all the way back to the beginning of your career and kind of just just walk us through your your life and journey.

Anne 08:00

Okay, thank you. It’s a little unconventional and in an attempt to make it sound more interesting, I’m going to say it all started when my flatmate gretta broke her arm. We were working in Guernsey probably been there for about two seasons, had decided that we wanted to shoot over to London in the close season. She was from Ireland, so had relations in Kilburn. We were going to lay there, get jobs if we could, but on our leaving party things got, let’s say, a little raucous. And she ended up wrecking around. So she didn’t she didn’t make the trip. I came on my own and therefore decided that I would look to see if I could get a hotel hotel job because at that time, this shows my age. Accommodation came with a lot of positions. So walked into connections with was then based in the region’s palace. It was the Forte recruitment centre. And I ended up with a receptionist role at strand Palace Hotel. And I think the rest is history. I think one of the biggest I learned such a great lesson there, which is, you know, Never be afraid to make mistakes. And I made so many mistakes, just didn’t seem to be able to do corrections and adjustments on our PMS system, which at the time was Kara host. I’m sure there’ll be some audible groans out there if there’s anyone that was around and oh my god, Kara host it was a bit tricky, and I made so many mistakes that I ended up staying behind when we got new people, because I had done everything that was possible to do realise how to fix it and so was able to show them how to get themselves out of these situations. And that led to my promotion, which I became a supervisor. And I think that was, honestly, down to the fact that they saw that, you know, having done everything silly there was to do, I was sort of the best person to teach the newbies so that that was a big bonus.

Phil 10:18

You clearly you learned, which is the critical factor, right? And making mistakes because we all make them any level top to bottom. But if you’re, if you’re not learning, you’re not moving forward yet. And yeah, and clearly you had the attitude to do that. And some people just accept that they can’t do it and then say, well, that’s not for me and move on. But clearly that was different with you.

Anne 10:42

Yeah. Well, by that time, I had completely fallen in love with hotels, you know, so it’s gone from being a means to an end, you know,

Phil 10:48

That’s a busy hotel as well.

Anne 10:50

Ah, it’s crazy. I mean, you know, I’m not going to bore you with all the anecdotes but for anyone that knows that hotel, which is when forever have a piece of my heart. It has Think about 300 single rooms, our did back in the early 90s. So you’d be faced with all these people coming down for a romantic weekend with their partner coming to reception to check in. And we would actually split their room into two singles. Because we’d be over booked on doubles. So that was always a great shift to get forward to Friday mornings. And sometimes they’re on different floors, which became a bit difficult to sell. But I think it you know, I built up your resilience, you had to have a really good sense of emotional intelligence, actually, because you had to be able to read people and see what it was if you were delivering bad news, you know what it was that would make it slightly more palatable for them? Yeah. And so I learnt so much there in you know, in that sort of environments with really great teams. Around me some some people that have gone on to do some really great, great things in the industry. So I’ve, you know, forever be grateful for that experience and you know what we just laugh You know, so much fun, really great team spirit.

Phil 12:12

Yeah, well, that accounts for a lot, doesn’t it? You can achieve a lot more with a great team spirit.

Anne 12:20

I just want to give a big shout out to forte as well because the strand palace is part of the Forte group. And at that time, forte comprised around about 1000 hotels worldwide, I think, including all of their brands, meridian and heritage, etc. The training was so good. And I think, you know, if you if you talk to old timers like me, they’ll they will cite that as being something that really helped them in their career because, you know, having left school at 15 not going to college, not going to university, not not going to hotel school, you are pretty reliance on the training that you receive. Yeah, you know, one shoot you’ve joined an organisation. So, you know, I mean, it was it was very, very good. I mean, at the time, you know, you’ve been rolling your eyes Karna another training, and you do anything, you know, fake death to get out some of them but you know, looking back, I mean, you know, how spoilt were we you know that those were the days when people were willing, you know, they had these big training teams and personnel as it was called, then, you know, you you’ve had that, that advantage, I think back then. Yeah. And I, you know, I’d like to see that comeback more. You know, I’d like to see more money you put into training, training our teams and not just expecting them to, to know how to deal with people.

Phil 13:44

Yeah, do you know, this is something I actually saw happening in front of my eyes before this all kicked off in March was I was seeing a trend for a lot more companies bringing more internal focus on that rather than relying on x Donald Trump was to come in and just do ad hoc, your training, I was seeing a real trend of more and more in house training and development teams being put together. I think, from a real practical perspective, it just made sense because backpack in March, which is all so long ago, the biggest problem in the industry was finding people. So how do you fix that? Well, one of the ways is, look after them and hopefully they don’t leave and then you’ve got a much better workforce, are more engaged with what they’re doing, etc, etc. So I totally got the reason why but I think maybe this will step us back a little bit as budgets are cut on the other side of this, but it was happening.

Anne 14:43

Yeah, I also learned as well, if I jumped forward a number of years to working at Morgan’s which was just incredible, is actually telling people why you do things. So Morgan’s was is no more sadly was the original boutique lifestyle hotel company founded by Ian Schrager of Studio 54 fame, and it very much really colour the whole way I think about the hotel industry now, but one of the things that was most impressive was that, you know, they, they would tell you why you had to put the furniture back in a certain way. It wasn’t just, you know, make sure the furniture looks like this. It was like, This is why we do it. Yeah. And each of the hotels had an ethos. And you would you wouldn’t do show rounds or site visits, you would do ethos tours, which were pointing out pieces of architecture within the hotel, unless you’re actually explaining why they were there. And, you know, and how they added to the overall concept. Yeah. And I think that’s that led to a highly engaged workforce in all of the hotels, you know, huge family. have like minded sort of people, it attracted a lot of creatives, we had a lot of actors, artists, you name it, people who were working either part time with us or, you know, getting time off for auditions and things like that. So it was just a very rich environment. And I think a lot of that was driven by us all having this shared vision and mission. Yeah. Which, which came from founder in the first instance, he and his passion for all things, entertainment, lobbyists, socialising. This was a this had been a new concept. So it was just it was very exciting and exhilarating. Yeah. And I think, to imbue people in this, you know, with this common sense of purpose, we used to say, you know, each of us have got different roles, but our mission is the same. It doesn’t matter whether you’re, you know, you’re working in the kitchen and stewarding or you know, whether you’re Director of Sales and Marketing Your mission is exactly the same.

Phil 17:01

Yeah, well, everybody needs everyone else.

Anne 17:05


Phil 17:06

you can deliver a wonderful plate of food. But if the the team are not delivering it in the right way out front, or it’s not being marketed correctly, or it’s not being costed correctly, there’s so many parts of the jigsaw isn’t Oh, that that have to come together

Anne 17:23

No, completely. And, as I say, you know, very, very blessed to get that opportunity to go and work at Morgan’s overseeing the region, follow them here in London, you know, still have huge network of contacts from that time. All of which were pretty much gone on and done great things. So, yeah, it’s, it was definitely a lesson in how to create a culture. Yeah. Really, really great experience.

Phil 17:53

You did jump forward quite far there, give us a kind of a snapshot of what happened between Strand Palace

Anne 18:04

So we zoom back to the 90s. Yeah. God, yes. So I transferred to the Cumberland, which was a bed factory as we used to call it. Yeah. And oh my god, that anecdotes. So, you know, we used to get again, we would over book, that was a strategy back in the day, I’m sure you remember those days?

Phil 18:28


Anne 18:28

And you’d have guests who desperately wanted to stay at the hotel, who you would you would book out and, you know, no intents and purposes, you were sending them to a much nicer hotel, if you like. You’d put them in the taxi, wave them off, come back to the front desk. And then literally, maybe an hour or two later, you’d see them trying to check in again with their vouchers. And you’re just flat out Oh, my God. Like, you know, we’re never gonna get through today. Yeah, so I mean, it was my dreams. Yeah, thousand bedrooms. Yeah,

Phil 19:03

I can’t imagine what check in and Well, actually, you know what I can because I used to work on cruise ships. And so we’d have turnaround days is what we called them. And you’d have, we would have about 1000 passengers Come on. And of course, you’re getting rid of 1000 passengers, getting rid, that’s a bit harsh. Embarking 1000 passengers on the same day as well. So you’ve got to get all of the all of the luggage out. And then the next batch for one of a better word on and it’s relentless for eight, nine hours straight.

Anne 19:39

Yeah, it is. And I and I think that thankfully the hotel industry has moved on from from the sort of mass of a booking strategy that some hotels employees. Yeah. And I think we’re a much more sophisticated industry now. But I think, you know, we followed airlines haven’t an airline’s used to do the same thing to remember yeah apart, and they’d come down the line and say who you know, who wants 200 pounds not to get on this flight. So I think that that was a moment where you know, that that strategy was being employed across the airline and hotel industries. Now, as I say, we are way more sophisticated, I did venture away from front desk and into reservations. And these this again, show my age, for those of you out there that remember the world before revenue managers when we as reservations managers actually used to do all of the forecasting, and make all of those revenue decisions. So that was an incredible experience because doing that, for that, that much inventory, yeah, led to all sorts of mini catastrophes, but also successes so that you know, I learned such a lot doing that I actually decided I wanted to move into sales I’ve got very involved because of the generosity of a lot of the sort of directors of sales at the Cumberland lodge taking me along on the fam trips, and, you know, just explaining that whole world to me. So I did, I did go into sales chaps, he loved such hard work very much maligns I think, you know, people think it’s all coughing champagne and, you know, glamorous, glamorous sales trips. And, you know, I mean, let’s, you know, let’s tell the truth. I mean, there are some glamorous sales tricks but I mean, a lot of it’s, you know, trudging around various countries just in meetings, you could be anywhere. Yeah. I mean, I remember once going to ATM, Dubai and I can honestly say, apart from just walking down the street to get to one appointment, I was not in the sun the entire time I was in Dubai, you’re either in the convention centre or you You know, in appointments and then got back on the plane and came to London. So yeah, you know, spending a week in Dubai sounds really glamorous. But

Phil 22:08

yeah, I can I can relate to that and really hard work.

Anne 22:11

That can be really hard work as well.


Phil 22:13

At ATM A few years ago, I think it was the year that I got my Fitbit, which was a good time to have a Fitbit when you’re going to ATM because all you seem to do is walk. And there was one time that I made it outdoors apart from kind of leaving to get into a taxi. I decided to walk from the Armani hotel to the mall, in principle looks like it’s around the corner. It was the sweatiest 10 minutes of life. And it wasn’t even your it’s not the hottest that Dubai gets it was about 30 odd, you know, as opposed to 40 odd. But yeah, it’s but yeah, on any kind of sales trip you are while you’re there for work, right? First and foremost.


Anne 22:57

I mean, we’ve had some great fun, you know, I mean, there’s been Some, like incredible anecdotes, but you know, as I say, I think it I think it’s fair to say it’s not all that, you know, you’ve got, I can remember sitting on the plane back from India to haven’t spent in the whole flight back writing up my report. And just you just realise how much you’ve achieved and in in a week, how many people you’ve actually seen that took the entire flight back. But yeah, a very, very grateful for those opportunities. I then decided to get back into operations and wanted to become a what was then called a resident manager, which is sort of the deputy GM position, which is now a hotel manager. So I left forte and went to work for this’ll another really great experience. Again, great training, great people, great teams sort of worked as hotel manager and a couple of hotels there and then moved into leisure sales. I headed up what was then sort of the e commerce section that was just sort of coming into play with the rise of the online travel agents and things and just running that section there, which was fantastic. And then moved to got the opportunity to go and work for Morgan’s. So at the time, that was Sanderson St. Martin’s lane, so that was a huge culture shift. Yeah. And one which took a little while to get used to right. But was an incredible, incredible journey. Yeah. Loved it.


Phil 24:42

How long were you there for?


Anne 24:45

Over 11 years?


Phil 24:47

Was it really, My Goodness


Anne 24:49



Phil 24:49

Yeah. Well, and these sorts of stints end up, I suppose defining you a little bit in terms of the marketplaces that you’re known for. And all of these sorts of things I’m sure they don’t define you as a human being. But I suppose How do you having had these kind of dips, out of operations and into reservations and sales? Do you think that that that? I mean, I can, I can’t see that this wouldn’t be a yes to the answer to this question. So it’s probably a really crap question. But do you think they make you a better general manager?


Anne 25:21

Oh, well, yes. I think that any opportunity, you know, any experience that you gain on your journey to becoming a general manager is vital. Yeah. You do see things from other other people’s point of view. I think you understand how hard these other roles are. And it gives you a good commercial grounding, for sure. You can have you know, semi intelligent conversations with your team, knowing that, you know, you at least understands their perspective on certain things, and I do I do think it makes you a much more well rounded Just in the way I think if you come up through food and beverage as well, and you, you know, you’ve been on the floor, you’ve been a, you know, maybe a supervisor and an assistant manager, etc. It gives you a really good grounding. Which is not to say that, you know, if you come straight from hotel school and you know, you’re lucky enough to make it up through that way. I’m not saying that, that that’s a disadvantage, but for me, I think it definitely has helped helped me understand more about how to, you know, better myself when it comes to leading teams. Yeah.


Phil 26:40

Yeah. So well, that brings us up to, to where we are now. So just talk us through the the Pan Pacific, if you will, and just a little bit more about what that’s going to be.


Anne 26:52

Oh, thank you. So, yeah, I’ve never really, really heard of Pacific hotels group. So that was a good place to start. I think you know, I think that’s part of the attraction because the team we’re not just launching a new hotel in the city, and they’re quite rare, but we’re also showcasing the brands into Europe for the first time. Right? So you know, big responsibility and very, very exciting. Pacific London is a mixed use developments. We have 160 residences that sit on top of the within the tower, the tower is 42 levels, and we go up and include floor 19 and then above that is the apartments which are not service they’re owned their own departments. So that makes it really interesting. We have also a heritage building within the hotel which is Devon show house and Devin Sharon, that was built in 18 By 1876 a beautiful Victorian building. I’m sure you’ve passed it many times. Yeah, on your route home. So that’s great. We’ve got this, you know, the architects have done an incredible job of marrying the two designs together the beautiful sort of Doric columns of the Victorian building DaVinci house with this stunning metallic and glass structure, which which houses the main part of the hotel but we also have a ballroom which is accessed by the pavilion, the glass pavilion on the plaza, can you believe we have a plaza was so so blessed? A huge sort of sense of arrival as you walk across the plaza towards the hotel. And then the arrival experience down to our ballroom is via the glass pavilion on the plaza. You then have the choice there’s a glass elevator or you can go down the escalator to reach the 400 seater ball. Room below. So yes, we’ve got we’ll have two restaurants we’ve got two bars. We have a well being floor chin encompasses a 18.5 metre infinity pool along with treatment rooms, obviously a gym we have sleep pods, relaxation pods, if you arrive early in your your particular room isn’t ready. Then there’s shower facilities, you know, you can go half asleep if you want to look after you up there. Yeah, it’s got a mindfulness studio because it’s a well being floor. So that encompasses your mind as well as your body is all important. Steam Room sauna. Yeah, it’s a really beautiful facility up there. We’ve got more meeting rooms on the third and the fifth


Phil 29:48



Anne 29:50

Yeah, daylight. Yeah. Great views as well. bedrooms starts on the sixth floor. So even if you’re on the lowest floor, there is you you look It rooftops. And across the plaza, beautiful church and the gorgeous building that houses our neighbouring home hotel, which is the and as you know, so it’s a really lovely part of London actually. Yeah.


Phil 30:14

Yeah. Exciting. No, absolutely. And how do you because it’s Pan Pacific first foray into Europe, let alone London. How do you go about putting something like that on the map?


Anne 30:27

Yeah, well, we very much want to amplify our Singaporean heritage we are first and foremost as Singaporean brand. So we want to bring a slice of Singapore to London. And modern Singapore has so many facets and we want to try and introduce some of them through our culinary choices. You know, we’re going to have a great restaurant on the second floor, which is going to be heavily influenced by the type of food that you would eat in Singapore. So watch out for some great Right dishes. They’re inspired by the Straits of Malacca, we have a fabulous cocktail bar housed in DaVinci house which will have great Asian concepts and some fabulous drinks there that will, you know, really highlights and showcase the different ways in which cocktails are approached in Singapore has a fantastic heritage there. I mean, if you look at the world’s top 50 bars, there’s I think there’s about four from Singapore, you know, Manhattan, native, Jagran, Pawnee, etc. And, you know, the whole way that cocktails are approached is slightly different. So we’ll be bringing some of that to London, which I think is going to be great for those drinks fanatics. You know, I think most importantly, what we are attempting to do is, we first have to really seek to understand what true Asian hospitality means, you know, breaking that down. And then ensuring that we we hire correctly. And we’re looking at lots of different attributes. So, you know, let’s take it for granted that if you’re applying for the job, then you know you’re going to be a good match for that role. You know, you’ve got the requisite skills, but we’re looking for people who are very people focus, have passion, dedication, positivity and humility. Because I think, for any of you that have been out to Asia and been lucky enough to experience the hospitality out there, you’ll see that there’s a good dose of humility, a very humble approach to hospitality and service. So we, we, you know, we first had to understand that in a sense, myself and to my colleagues out to Singapore for four weeks to to really experience that firsthand, and we were so blessed, and, again, be forever grateful those centres during the Singapore Grand Prix has to be one of the funnest weekend’s of our lives. We just had a blast. And I think it just showcases the way that Singapore do things differently. And that’s a nice Grand Prix. It’s, you know, pretty much the whole of Singapore gets involved the whole city, in a big music, concerts and parties and things like that. So even down to the kind of plants that we’ll have in the hotel, where we can, we’ll be growing the plants that will that we can possibly grow here. ingredients that you know, Asian ingredients, we’ve got our two fantastic chefs that are on board at the moment, we’ve got Lorraine Sinclair, our executive chef, who has worked for more than 25 years in Asia, and has an incredible bragging rights having been the first executive chef in I think more than five different countries in her career. And then we have cherish Findon, who’s one of the world’s best pastry chefs she’s joining us as executive executive pastry chef. She. So they’re going, really looking, going to farmers and trying to have them grow. The ingredients that we need for the dishes that we’ll be preparing because sustainability is another big piece of what Pacific hotels are about. Yeah, we have the in park Royal Collection, Pickering, we have the world’s greenest city hotel. So we have that distinction. And we’re currently building a hotel in a forest in Singapore. So why? Yeah, so it’s a really interesting company. Can’t wait to open the doors and people come and discover more about the brand as well as this particular hotel. Yeah, lots of great stories.


Phil 34:46

Yeah. Well, I’m one of the people I can’t wait either Liverpool Street being my Main Line station that’s, I’m super excited about, about coming to try out your wares.


Anne 35:00

Perfect. Look forward to greeting you there. So we’re hopefully opening Well, we’ll be opening early next year. And so, you know, along with everyone else that’s opening at the moment that’s been pushed back. Yeah, for obvious reasons. But yeah, I think next year is going to be a really exciting year for openings. We’ve got quite a few going on in the capital. So because,


Phil 35:23

yeah, well, that’s the thing, right? You’re coming into a competitive marketplace. So you’ve, I suppose you’ve got to find your points of difference, but it sounds like you already have some very interesting points of difference.


Anne 35:37

Yeah, I think I think you know, there’ll be a lot of people who haven’t been to Singapore, and you know, I don’t think unless you’ve been you realise what a crossroads is and how people that emigrated to Singapore brought their own cultures and the heritage is there. So you just have the most rich, diverse culinary experiences it is actually, I think, one of the only places in the world or maybe the only place where street food has won a Michelin star. Yeah, there’s all, you know, the hawker centres. And this is where people just make create just for dishes, but they do it day in day out and perfect them to such a degree that some of them win these accolades. So it’s a really interesting place. And we’re bringing the best of that and then marrying that with everything that our corner of East London has to offer, which is a lot, a lot of really rich heritage in the City of London, but also in East London. Really great, exciting areas to be landing in. So yeah.


Phil 36:48

Well, I mean that the last time I was in London, was probably March. Actually, I can imagine that the building looks a little bit different than it did at that point.


Anne 36:59

It does, I mean we we’ve we’ve lost the tower crane and the you know the hoists So now the building is unencumbered the tower so you see it in all its glory. It’s actually one for Design Awards already. It’s won off plan. It’s not even open. So the architects CLP have done a great job. They’re very sympathetic and sort of, to the existing Victorian building and, you know, double height floor to ceiling, Windows and all the public areas, triple height for the ballroom and then floor to ceiling windows for the guest rooms with just really beautiful views of the city before. Yeah, so


Phil 37:44

yeah, were you fortunate enough to get involved early enough to have some influence in not this specific design, but in terms of the conversation, as to talk us through that because I’m sure that must be really interesting and help you, I suppose feel like you’re you really are part of this?


Anne 38:08

Yes. I’ve been to so lucky. Probably, in some ways, that’s what attracted me to the role in the first place was that, you know, they were very honest at the interview and said, Look, you know, we are on the other side of the world. So we’re looking for someone that is happy to work on their own, in some ways, obviously, supported by the team in Singapore, but so that has given me a lot of autonomy. I was able to come in and change their thought process a little bit on the food and beverage outlets. So you know, we’ve gone kind of almost full age, Asian style. I feel that that was important to get the sort of the authentic voice of the brand across. And so that’s been just such a privilege to to really format that, yeah, lots of being able to work with the team at Yabu pushelberg who are Are our designers, as you know, we sort of put the final touches to the designs as has been incredible as well. So yeah, I came on boards in July 2019. So,


Phil 39:13



Anne 39:14

Came in at a great time when there was some decisions being made. So right was good for me personally, but yeah, I hope that I hope that you know, the decisions that we made were right, but I feel I feel that they are and I feel that people will engage with you know, what we’ve what we’re going to be offering. It’s just so excited to open the doors come sooner.


Phil 39:39

Yeah. No, absolutely. Well, I wish you well with with that for sure. And as I say, I can’t wait for it to open so I can come and have a nosy


Anne 39:49



Phil 39:49

yeah. Okay, so Well, you’ve been in the industry know for for a couple of years. I think that’s fair to say. From your from your time, give us a An example of a funny story that’s happened to you in your career.


Anne 40:04

Wow. Well, well, you know, in hospitality there’s almost like an unwritten rule that you can’t kiss and tell. Yeah, but yes, unfortunately, all the best stories really probably can’t be shared. I did, as I say, spends you know, more than a decade in lifestyle, so you can just imagine some of the shenanigans that went on there. Yeah, but no, we used to we used to get lots of famous people from all different sort of industries staying with us we regularly had we had little gnomes I don’t know how well you know, set Martin Sloan but we had little gnomes that were little stools in the lobby. And they were Yeah, that regularly be stolen by our guests. And you know, sort of a drunken caper, and then they’d be returned to us that come back in a taxi a taxi return up the cab cabinet get out go I’ve got delivery fine. Be the nerves come back. The little note Attach that happened lots of times, right? Yeah, we you know, we just had a lot of fun. I remember during the Olympics, we had to sell out of both hotels, Sanderson as well. And given that the nature of the business meant that, you know, buses would arrive and take almost the entire content of your guests off to the Olympics, and then, you know, reroll their left. Now what do we do so after after you’ve done all the, you know, the housekeeping, etc, etc. We decided to have our own Olympic and we split everyone up into departments even with like medal ceremonies and but to try and cut down on craziness, you know, we would have things like farm javelins, and we would do it in the car park, right of all activities. But you know, we had we started getting injuries because people are so super competitive. You know, we have people like breaking their wrist during the egg and spoon race and things like that. But yeah, Lots of exuberance you know, so we’d be hard at it doing our own little Olympics while all of our guests for the real Olympics like it, like I say, even medal ceremonies, we had so much fun. And then they’ll come back, we probably on some occasions, depending on what what events they were going to see probably have more fun than them. But yeah, I mean, look, they just hospitalities is fantastic. I think one thing it does is imbues everything with a sense of creativity and fun. You know, we’ve made sort of films for, you know, sister hotels, opening all of the worlds which included the whole team and parties and hospitality and legendary, aren’t they? You know, so we’d have like crazy themes and Halloween parties. And I think that’s what, you know, it’s interesting. I will go back to your point earlier on when you’re saying that people who are outside of the industry don’t see the appeal. I think if they knew the half of it Yeah, I think It’s a best kept secret really is just


Phil 43:03

That’s a great way of summing it up actually. Yep.


Anne 43:06

I mean, we know how much fun we have. And I think, you know, I think the the naysayers I think they look at it and think oh, well, it’s not, you know, it’s not it’s not a career choice that’s gonna get you anywhere. But I mean, look there within hotels, I think one of your previous guests said it so succinctly every possible profession exists in hotels. Yeah. You know, and I think there is such such professionalism. You know, yeah, sure. We party hard, but we we work hard as well. Yeah. But I think the difference here is that it’s, it feels like we’re more of a family. Yeah. And I think that’s, that’s what keeps people going when the hours are long, and you’re faced with tricky guests, etc.


Phil 43:55

Yeah, I think this is I think I’ve spoken about this before. with someone else as well as that, you know, the hard work does not define the industry. You You work hard in any industry if you want to move forward succeed. Yeah, yeah. And so you’re the perception that this is a hard working industry? Yes, it is. But they all are. So, you know, kind of get on with the hard work or you just spend your life waiting to catch up.


Anne 44:24

Yep. Agreed. Yeah, I think that the thing with hospitality is as well that it likes to give back. So I think some of the charity and CSR initiatives that you see our industry get involved in, is second to none.


Phil 44:39

Yeah, I think that’s the probably part of the, the DNA of the industry that wasn’t it is that we, it’s a giving industry. You’re you’re giving service over to people and not just, if you’re really passionate about that, then that comes across in everything that you do.


Anne 44:57

Yeah, I mean, I’ve got an ex colleague at the moment who’s just Walk from Zurich to Geneva, to raise funds for Hospitality in India has been really badly hit right. COVID-19 Yeah. So, you know, just selfless acts, but I think wrap the whole thing up, I think yet so many funny things have happened. Unfortunately, as I say lots of them can’t be repeated. But the level of fun I mean, when we worked at Morgan’s fun was one of our seven core values. So I used to say to the girls, my kids, you know, go work for a company, where fun is a core value. Yeah, it’s, it’s important because people work harder when they feel totally, you know, valued.


Phil 45:42

And it’s not. This is the thing for me that it’ll you can have all of the academia in the world to get you wherever you want to go. But actually, these are just fundamentals for life, where we’re a long time dead. It’s an old cliche, I can’t get through a podcast without throwing a cliche. And that’s today’s. But you know, it’s true, you know, we spend an awful lot of time at work, if you’re not enjoying it, then you’ve got a question. Is this the right career path for me, but equally, you know, it’s, it’s for the businesses, and the people who run these businesses to make it fun. And we’re all gonna have days where, you know, you just want to crawl under a carpet and just, you’ll be lost forever. that’s inevitable in any job as well. But you know, they, as long as they are not the norm, they are the exception, but also when they do happen, you take massive learning from the moments that you’re out of debt.


Anne 46:40

Definitely. And there’s so much support. Yeah. And hospitality. You know, people, great mentors, fantastic support networks. Yeah. So I think it’s an industry that just gets gets under your skin and that’s it.


Phil 46:55

Yeah, absolutely. And you can make real progress with just by having a Good work ethic and a good attitude.


Anne 47:01

attitude is everything we hire for attitude at Pan Pacific. We, you know, you’ll appreciate this because we’re Liverpool fans but you know Jurgen Klopp came up with an incredible quote, which I’m probably going to murder so I’m not going to try but it was just when Jordan Henderson received PFA Player of the Year he said, you know, it’s Yeah, sure this guy is talented, but it’s attitude, you know, without attitude. You’ve just got talent forever. Yeah, you know?


Phil 47:30

Yeah. Yeah. I think Jurgen Klopp needs to write a book on leadership.


Anne 47:34

No, I think he needs to run the country, Phil


Phil 47:36

Yeah that’s fair. Yeah. I’ll go with that. But the underlying thing and I’m not going to talk about Jurgen Klopp forever, although I probably could have really good The one thing I always love about him is that when people ask him about what’s your secret, What, what what are you doing that nobody else is doing? He always says, I’m just being myself. No, I can’t do anything else. And I do. Really love that. That’s somebody who’s found his place. Yeah, I think and hopefully we’ll be the Liverpool manager until the end of time.


Anne 48:08

Absolutely. Absolutely couldn’t agree more


Phil 48:11

But football fans are a fickle bunch. I remember when Liverpool had a wobbly moment in the season and you go on to five live, call ins and there’s people calling in for Klopp to be sacked, and you just think I’ve come on, get a grip.


Anne 48:25

Yeah. Yeah, I know. But that’s passion. Isn’t it? It over spells but yeah, yeah, yeah. No, definitely. I always used to say that. Hospitality was quite like football. And, you know, if hotels are not doing well, then they sack the GM. They do football with the bandages You know, there was a lot of parallels. Yeah, but now.


Phil 48:49

Yeah. Once again, I’ve gone off point. Another overriding thing that happens on each podcast but have you ever had a moment You’ve just felt so far out of your depth at the time, but you know, look back and think, Wow, that was that was a hell of an experience.


Anne 49:08

Yes, lots. I think I’ll go back to what I said before, I think in the beginning, you know, coming, you know, if you don’t go to college university hotelschool fine. You know, most of the time I think that that’s, there’s that’s no impediment. I think there are certain times when, when training or the theory of commerce or business or just the situations that you could find yourself in would really help as a backup. And I think there’s been lots of times I mean, probably one of the scariest moments that I had in my career was the night before the Olympics. It seems to be about Olympic themed, isn’t it? But we actually had a bomb alert at the hotel and the police arrived and they identified a motorbike that was in the car park could have a device and I said okay, should I have Back in the hotel and they said, Well, that’s entirely up to you. Yeah. I’ve never felt so cut adrift. Yeah. They said, We cannot make that decision for you. You need to make that decision yourself. I know. Yeah. And I, that was, that was a scary moment. And I kept asking them in different ways as you do. And they’ll give me the answer that I will. Yeah, no, just lots of times where I mean, when I first started at Morgan’s, I actually really stupidly ignored a great piece of advice from a great friend or mentor of mine, which was like, just be yourself and they’ll love you, you know, and I, I was probably too intimidated to be myself, right. And so really, I think, that led to a really bumpy first year which I could have avoided it right. If I had just taken it I think sometimes, you know, I think sometimes you just so far out out of your comfort zone that you just can’t do what you know is the right thing to do. Yeah. But so yeah, there’s been lots of those times. I think, the old much cliched, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger is true in part. And I think that’s you do, you can then look back and say, Well, that wasn’t the end of the world was it? I did get myself out of that. Or, you know, you and that gives you comfort. Yeah. So I think this is where experience comes in.


Phil 51:36

Yeah, totally. Well, we’ll come back to our current situation where nobody has any any experience of this. But we all will know, you know, if we have another pandemic, or a second spike or whatever, then you’re we’re all just a little bit more prepared. Yeah. And it’s knowing our psyche a little bit more than it was perhaps before.


Anne 51:59

I agree. I mean, going back to Pan Pacific Hotels group they are an Asian brand a Singaporean, Brand they actually have experienced not on a global scale obviously. But SARS for one. Yeah. And they were very quick, you know, before the Prime Minister told us to work from home, they were like you need to work from home. They sent us all care packages, with masks and, you know, sanitizer, etc. thermometers, you know, I’ve got to say to anybody who will be coming to the hotel when we open please rest assure that it’s been you know, the the processes that go into the kind of hygiene regimes and things I’ve been blessed by our Singapore team, so they have a lot of experience of that which which you could see how different differently they approached it. And their tolerance of risk was was much less than What we saw here in March when people were like, Oh, you know, be fine. They they didn’t think that at all. You know, they were very much don’t take any chances. So I definitely think it is. There’s no substitute for experience.


Phil 53:16

Yeah, absolutely. But you can only get the experience by stretching your comfort zone. Yeah. And and then consolidating the learning. I think that’s probably the the key thing that not necessarily everybody does.


Anne 53:29

Mm hmm. No, definitely. Definitely.


Phil 53:32

Great stuff. Okay. What What would you say to someone who was considering a career move into hospitality?


Anne 53:38

Yeah, I just say, you know, that, you know, it’s the greatest show on earth. Really? It’s the best.


Phil 53:44

Fantastic. That might be the best line we’ve ever had for that question.


Anne 53:48

Well, it is, isn’t it?. I mean, it’s definitely the best family of passionate creatives. I mean, also lots of trips to the pub are thrown in along the way. Yeah. I’ll read to rate it is the best kept secret. I think people outside of hospitality just don’t realise how amazing is its its professional environment. I think that is a reassuring fact. And one that people are not potentially aware of. Yeah, hugely rewarding. Yeah, I’d say, you know, I would encourage everyone to do it. Because especially if you have a good level of emotional intelligence, I think you’ll succeed.


Phil 54:27

Yeah. I think that’s that’s the key point. And actually, you’re a real Case in point, as you highlighted, all the way back at the beginning is that you know, you you didn’t do especially well in school, you haven’t had an academic career. And yet, look at what you’re doing. You know, you’ve you’ve led strong brands and businesses for a huge number of years now. Sorry, am I allowed to say a huge number of years I just realised offensive. You don’t there is no clear and one single path To succeed, but the one or well the two or three things that that you need are attitudes, emotional intelligence or common sense, I suppose equally as, as a sort of byproduct of that. And, and work ethic.


Anne 55:15

Yep. ethic,


Phil 55:17

the world is literally your oyster.


Anne 55:19

Yeah. Just be prepared to laugh at yourself. Because if you don’t everyone’s going to do behind your back. So yeah, it’s it’s a good dollop of, of humour really does help. And it also breaks down a lot of barriers. Yeah, you can learn and teach a lot of important lessons by using humour. Yeah, because it’s a great leveller. People don’t feel threatened by it. Yeah,


Phil 55:44

yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. No, that’s great. Okay, so if people want to learn more about you and Pan Pacific, what’s the best way for them to get in touch?


Anne 55:56

Ah, probably, I would say LinkedIn or the website. We’ve just another big plug. We’ve just done a website update today. So there’s some more images on there. Some moreinformation. You could find me as contact pages on there. GM Pan Pacific London


Phil 56:15

actually. And I thought, good on you, because there’s giving direct access to, to the GM as well. There’s quite a lot of companies that are a bit precious about that.


Anne 56:28

It’s been brilliant. I’ve had some, oh my god, that some great stuff come through that. Really? Yeah. It’s been. We’ve had lots of great TVs for really interesting people come through, not not as much solicitation as you think you think that you know, you might get bombarded with companies but it’s been very thoughtful. But we’ve we’ve had some really great stuff come through there. So I would encourage everyone to do that. And also when you answer back, they and they see that it has gone to the gym and the gyms answering that. I think then it starts a really good dialogue.


Phil 57:03

Yeah, yeah. Well, and if it’s not for No, it’s maybe for some time in the future, right? Yeah, for sure. Has anybody sent you a tech talk video yet? Not yet. No. Okay. I’ll get on that. No. Still haven’t been on tech talk once. So I’m not giving them.


Anne 57:25

No, me neither. No, I think. Yeah, yeah. I think I think just reaching out to people, I think that what’s been proven over the past couple of months is that the human touch is more important than me, you know, now more than ever, so the more technologically advanced we become, the more we’re going to crave that engagement, the little human stories and touches that you can give. So we’ve definitely learned that.


Phil 57:56

Yep. Brilliant. Well, thank you very much for for spending some time with us today, it’s been a pleasure to chat.


Anne 58:03

Oh, my pleasure.


Phil 58:05

Well, I’ll be popping in for a coffee. When, when we can. I’m very excited to see your property.


Anne 58:12

Thank you, Phil, honestly, and sorry, I’ll probably keep interrupting you know, it’s been been a real pleasure, a real pleasure to chat to you. And thank you so much for the opportunity, and really looking forward to showing you around.

Phil 58:25

Fantastic. Take care. We’ll see you soon. And there we have it. An excellent career story from an with some amazing snippets of advice. What an amazing project Pan Pacific looks to be, I for one cannot wait for it to open. Don’t forget, we launch a brand new episode each week. So hit that subscribe button and give us a like and share where you can. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.