#036 – Hospitality Meets Jose Ruiz – The Luxury Lifestyle HR Heavy Hitter

Humans are such a massive part of the Hospitality Industry and looking after all those humans is no mean feat. Today we talk to a real heavy hitter in that space, Jose Ruiz, Director of Human Resources for The London Edition & W Leicester Square.

Jose is an effortless story teller with some awesome comedy moments from an illustrious career so far, he also doesn’t take himself too seriously which you’ll learn within 2 minutes of this chat.

We talk accents, HR in luxury, Opening a hotel in a skyscraper, tables with a view, networking, brand difference, luxury, coaching, leadership v management, generational evolution, do not disturb, fights between guests, luggage and of course Jose’s exceptional journey.

A huge thank you to Jose for sharing such superb insight.


Conversation Transcription


people, hospitality, hotel, luggage, brands, guest, marques de, hotels, industry, london, stories, opened, apple, jose, moment, coaching, thought, restaurant, life, marriott


Jose Ruiz, Phil Street

Phil Street 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 Jose he was director of HR for the London edition and the W Leicester Square. Coming up on today’s show, Jose and Phil deal in some mild peril Oh, danger danger…

Jose Ruiz 00:23

Indeed, danger danger…

Phil Street 00:25

Phil recalls a shocking event from early in his career. I opened the door to one of them kicking the other one up the backside. And Jose argues with himself over an inanimate object

Jose Ruiz 00:37

Well, I left my house… with the luggage? Yeah, of course with the luggage. What do you think I’m stupid,

Phil Street 00:42

All that and so much more as Jose talks us through His story and journey to date, as well as some amazing content on coaching and leadership. In addition, Jose was a natural storyteller and shares some fantastic comedy moments from his career so far, a massive thank you to him for that. Don’t forget, we launch a brand new episode each week telling the amazing and always amusing stories from hospitality. So make sure you hit that subscribe button and give us a like and share it across your networks. Let’s share these stories as far as we can. Enjoy. Hello, and welcome to the next edition of hospitality meats with me Phil Street. Today we move into the world of humans, specifically HR and I’m joined by someone who’s worked in some of London’s most iconic hotels, as well as a brief foray out of the industry in another marquee brand which has now culminated in him taking on a multi property role as director of HR at the London edition and the W in Leicester Square. So welcome to the show Jose Ruiz

Jose Ruiz 01:41

hi Phil How you doing?

Phil Street 01:43

I’m very well how are you doing? I am very well too, very well. Just wondering whether anyone is going to understand us today. You with your Scottish accent? Me with my Spanish one. (Laughs) That’s a good point. Yeah, well, let’s see what happens. Yeah, absolutely. Great. Well, let’s just kick it straight off. Could you take us all the way back to the beginning of your career and how did you get into this industry?

Jose Ruiz 02:09

Yep, well this This goes back a fair while so I would wake up in the morning jump on my horse and you know just just ride to the nearest No just kidding. I I just knew that I wanted to work in hospitality pretty much all my career, I studied back home in Spain Hotel Management. And then at some point I had to do my military service which at the time it was compulsory but I had seven months in between University and and the world of military service. Okay, so I just decided to come to the UK. I have a family member living here so we’ll see see, I thought you know what, I’m going to London for seven months. get myself a job as a waiter learn English. And that’s what I did come here for seven months work at the London Metropole hotel now it’s called the Hilton London Metropole hotel.

Phil Street 03:06

Yeah, Beast.

Jose Ruiz 03:08

Yes, they just keep adding an extra word on it. Yeah. So yeah, I did that for for seven months then went back to Spain spent one year in the military. And then after that if Italy but I decided to come back to London because I had an amazing time. And and yeah, went back to the Metropole kept working there as a as a waiter then became a restaurant supervisor. Then I decided to move to front office within the metro, I became a receptionist. Then from then I went to work for a private member’s club, this loan club, what I was the front office manager was not so nice manager than the front office manager. Then I left and I did a very very short stint, that was a bit weird, at Pret a Manger and then from then, I went to I wanted to pop my first role in HR which was proved not a serious thing. Then I got a lot of notes along the way until ultimately I managed to get a role at the montcalm Hotel.

Phil Street 04:10

Okay with Jonathan Ewin who gave me the opportunity to to join us a duty manager on the understanding that he will train me as an HR manager because their existing HR manager was leaving three to six months later. And he said, Listen, come as a data manager and I will get Arlene to train you. If by the time she leaves, you are ready, I’ll give you the job. So I did that for four months or five months and then she left. She thought that I was ready. And I became the HR manager at the Montcalm hotel. And then from then on, just went to two different brands. I went to park Plaza Plaza Victoria, I was the HR manager. Then I went to riverbank Park Plaza as HR manager. Then I became the Learning and Development Manager for Park Plaza UK. And then I went back into single property at the river bank again. And then from then I moved to Maybourne where I was the HR manager and subsequent HR director for the Berkeley hotel. Yeah. Then after the Berkeley, I went to… where did I go after the Berkeley? I went to Shangri La. I was gonna fill that in for you then but eh…

Jose Ruiz 05:22

Yeah. And that was an interesting experience. And then, after opening the hotel in the Shard, I, I spoke to well, Apple called me, I think that they found my profile on LinkedIn. And they asked me if I will be interested in joining them, which I did stay with him for a year and a half, and then got a got a, again, missing hospitality. And to be honest, I was not particularly enjoying my time at Apple. So I decided to go back to hotels to work with a GM that I’ve worked with twice before, Jurgen Ammerstorfer, and then he introduced me to the world of Edition, and by extension to the world of Marriott, which is where I’ve been ever since a couple of years ago, I got the opportunity to to look after W London, as well as the London edition. So that’s my role at the moment, looking after HR in both properties.

Phil Street 06:17

Yeah. So well, sounds like it’s fair to say then that the hospitality is definitely in the blood, because you you had a stint out, but it didn’t connect with you, for whatever reason. And you find yourself back.

Jose Ruiz 06:32

Yes, that that is right. That is right, I guess. They say that you can take a guy out of hospitality, but you cannot take hospitality out of a guy.

Phil Street 06:40

Yeah. And that’s you, all over

Jose Ruiz 06:41

Mmmm hmmm

Phil Street 06:42

So what do you think? I mean, I’m quite interested to understand how I suppose other than helping you realise that you wanted to be in hospitality, having seen a different sector in action. Is there anything you took from that, that know helps you be even better than you were before?

Jose Ruiz 07:01

Well, I do, but I’m not so sure that it is necessarily because of other industry, I think that is just because he was apple. They said, well, there were there are when I was there that that Apple is retail, But retail is not like apple, but Apple is different. And they’re really added. A lot of the things that Apple do is based around the standards of service that they copied from Ritz Carlton, and then they tweak to make them apple. And they they’re super obsessed with with the customer journey and with customer service and the world which they treat customers. And I think that, but they do it in a very specific way. And, and that for me was a you know, you spoke to me, and have I taken anything from it back into hospitality. The other piece that I have tried to implement in the hotels that I mean, particularly around the world, we develop people and the way we look at our identifying talent, but to be honest, that a lot of the stuff that they do, they’ve basically taken them from hotels in the first place. Yeah, is knowledge that perhaps have been lost a little bit in certain brands.

Phil Street 08:10

Right? going. Okay, so Well, I mean, your your first step in, I suppose super luxury was was at the Berkeley Yes?. What do you think it kind of takes to be an exceptional HR person in that kind of environment? Because it’s, it’s pretty high intensity and pretty. You’re you’ve got to be on your game 100% of the time, I would imagine.

Jose Ruiz 08:33

Yeah, Yeah, you do. I mean, I think that that everyone that works in HR, certainly most hotels goes with intention of giving 100% I think that to a large extent, working in ultra Deluxe hospitality, or luxury hospitality. Number one is that you have more often than not more resources to do a staff, whether they’re human or or financial or otherwise. So when you are an HR manager, and HR director sees my case, do you work with a larger team, therefore, you can go deeper into certain aspects of HR. Therefore, you can spend more time doing engagement and looking after the detail of developing your people developing leaders, identifying future talent, because you effectively have to have resources to be able to spend more of your time doing that kind of stuff time that otherwise in other companies that perhaps have a smaller teams do need to spend, just basically do an HR admin, which is a this is something that just comes with the job, but when you have the resources that other people within your team can deal with that then you can look at the strategic partner and they and developing the business forward.

Phil Street 09:45

Going and then and then from there, you went to the Shard now, that was at its time, certainly what I mean it’s still a very high profile property, but was one of the highest profile openings at London’s experienced in a in a fair few years? How? Well just talk us through the experience. I mean that you set that up from scratch, I think.

Jose Ruiz 10:07

Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. He was, obviously the Shard was in the process of being built. As I joined the company, we’re working in a preopening office just around the corner. And it was an amazing experience, you know, and leaving the Berkeley was tough. But it’s something that opportunity to join a company in such an iconic building, he was a brand that didn’t exist in in Europe, so certainly not in the UK. So the opportunity of joining a brand that nobody knew about that you will be able to, to bring to London in an iconic building, introducing the culture that is very different, because it’s very much an Asian culture that runs through Shangri La. And, of course, an opening in itself is a great challenge. I thought that that was just incredible. And so yes, it was tick, tick, tick, every box of something from a learning perspective was great from building a culture was great from a hiring and developing was great. So it was just an amazing experience came with massive challenges, mostly driven by the fact that, that nobody in the UK had a hotel and a skyscraper. Yeah. So that came with with great challenges. And that led to delays in the opening up the hotel. So managing the HR function through delay after delay when you fit, they have hired people, and then you need to tell them, Hey, guys, we are delayed by three months, or we simply do not know when you are going to be able to join us. And that was an interesting time. But I had an amazing team in HR. We’re still very much in contact with each other. And we put together a phenomenally good team for the opening of that hotel. And we will throw it on we opened successfully and the hotel has been doing phenomenally well ever since.

Phil Street 12:00

Yeah, well. I mean, I think it’s one of those those buildings that if you’re if you you’re not living in and around London, even if you are, it’s one of the the experience, it’s an experience to go up there and you know, eat in the restaurants or, or have afternoon tea or whatever. Because where else do you get a view like that?

Jose Ruiz 12:18

yeah, very much so. What was interesting, because I remember one of my first shifts as a deputy manager in the hotel, the hotel just opened and, and these things that you just didn’t foresee that they were going to happen. Of course, in hindsight, you think oh my god, how can we? How did we not expect this but you know, you arrive in the morning, people have started going down for breakfast at 6.30 in the morning on a Saturday, which in any other hotel is unheard of. Yeah. But he of course, people wanted to see sunrise from from the restaurant because he has the best views while having breakfast. So come seven o’clock. Do you have every single table in the restaurant full breakfast in full swing, and more people come in when there was no place to sit. And of course, everyone went there for the special occasion and to treat their partners to, to the amazing experience of of a stay in the shard. And they were coming down at seven o’clock being greeted with so is there is no place in the restaurant to sit down. Yeah, some people did not take very well. So I think that at one point I was even threatened by by our guests. So right. That was challenging for sure. And of course, breakfast Normally, you know, it’s in and out and you take a 20 minute for breakfast. But that was like people would sit there for two hours.

Phil Street 13:42

Right? Yeah.

Jose Ruiz 13:44

Early Lessons

Phil Street 13:44

gonna cling on to this view for as long as we can.

Jose Ruiz 13:47

Absolutely. And you can imagine that nobody wanted a table without a view.

Phil Street 13:52

Yeah. Well, to be honest, I have experience of that myself. I remember treating my good wife to afternoon tea. The Asian afternoon tea. Yeah, in there for her birthday.

Jose Ruiz 14:04

Uh huh.

Phil Street 14:04

And she’s an afternoon tea goddess. Yeah, it’s one of our favourite things. And we arrived in the restaurant and it wasn’t that busy at the time. And they wouldn’t give us a table by the window.

Jose Ruiz 14:18


Phil Street 14:18

So sat in land, In land? And, my wife was quite demanding, actually said, No, it’s my birthday. I want to sit by the window. Yeah. And to be fair, they did accommodate as you know, and it does change the experience incredibly just to have you know to be sat there and looking down at your, at your death. And looking to the horizon. Yeah, it’s, it’s it’s an incredible building.

Jose Ruiz 14:47

Yeah, incredible. And you know, in the Shard, of course, you have views in on every side of the building. On level 34, which this was level 35, which is where the restaurant is. You could sit anywhere around. And you will get a view. But of course, everybody wants the view of of London Bridge, and everyone wants the view of the city, which you could only get them on that side of the building. So when you say to somebody, I’m gonna send you that Nope, nope, I’m gonna sit in that. But okay, well, let’s see how we can wear this one out. Yeah. So that was interesting times. And of course, at the beginning, it was the novelty of it, and it died down eventually. But the first few months were tough.

Phil Street 15:26

Yeah, I’d imagine it’s also a challenge when you’ve got reception desk on the ground floor and your hotel? Not immediately connected to that.

Jose Ruiz 15:36

Yes, correct. Correct. So I’m learning a lot, we learned a lot from from how to the flow of guests around the hotel, we did they get welcome on the ground floor, when reception is on level 35. And, and the fact that guests needed to use a lift to go up to the reception, but then they need to go into another lift to go into the bedrooms. So it can be challenging, but it comes with with incredible opportunities to learn to flex your leadership style. And it certainly showed us how to be patient. Because, yeah, it’s not your average hotel. It really isn’t.

Phil Street 16:12

Yeah, but you know, there is nothing like that that exists within the London market. Right?. So nobody had the playbook.

Jose Ruiz 16:21

No, correct.

Phil Street 16:22

On the best way to do things correct. You had to learn as you went?

Jose Ruiz 16:25

Yeah. Yeah. Very much. So. It was fun. It was fun.

Phil Street 16:29

Yeah. I don’t doubt it. Yeah. So it was from there. Then you went to Apple? Had your stint out? I actually remember not long after you’d come back into the the industry that you and I met at a networking event. And I have to say,

Jose Ruiz 16:44

never networking event? (Laughs)

Phil Street 16:46

No, no, we’d never we never did that Right?. And I hadn’t seen you I think for maybe two or three years.

Jose Ruiz 16:53

Yeah, Yeah.

Phil Street 16:53

At that point. And you I remember this very, very vividly. You greeted me like an old friend, as I would expect. But I also felt that you There was also this sense of relief. That you that you were back.

Jose Ruiz 17:07


Phil Street 17:07

Where you should be?

Jose Ruiz 17:08

Yeah. Well, I don’t know if it’s where I should be certainly. I certainly was in a place that I shouldn’t have been. Even though I don’t regret it.

Phil Street 17:17

Yeah, no, absolutely. So let’s talk about networking. You founded something called hot cat?

Jose Ruiz 17:24

Oh, yes.

Phil Street 17:25

Talk is talk us through that. Well, that was very similar to what you’re doing with, with this podcast, I was sitting at home one weekend, with nothing to watch on television. This was pre Netflix. Oh there’s so much now isn’t there?

Jose Ruiz 17:40

I know, right. And and I was there pondering about all the amazing people that I have met throughout my years in hospitality and thinking, what I repeated was that, you know, you meet great people, and then you lose that because we will move abroad to different cities to different hotels. And that got me thinking, you know, it is a pity that there isn’t a platform, so to speak, that will bring all this knowledge and all these great people together. And as my mind has started wandering in that direction, of course, I Facebook came into mind. And the way I put it in my own head was a pity that there is in the Facebook of hospitality. And then me being the dreamer that I am sometimes I thought, you know what, okay, maybe, maybe I should just start that. And since I had a weekend ahead of me with not a lot to do, I started researching online, whether it was even possible to do it, I found this platform that allow you it was like a white label that I could create something. So I just started it over the weekend, put it together, came up with the name that that it started many great conversations because we both thought hotcat Hmm, sounds like a porn site. No it is hotel and catering. And they go ahhhh, Okay, okay.

Phil Street 19:02

Probably really got more members actually

Jose Ruiz 19:04

yeah, probably. I started just putting out it to my contacts in industry. And then, and as you know, we, we just became, at the time, it was the only web site of its kind. At its at its peak, we had about 4500 members on the site. We then launched the the events, the networking events that will happen very earlier on with the world. We’re meeting online, let’s just meet offline and then we can just go for a couple of beers. And so we started the events that happen once a month, and people will just get together to meet each other and converse and chat and network. And yeah, and and then that’s what it became. We had the Facebook group, the LinkedIn group and on the website. And then of course, it so happened that at the time I was offered a job at Apple. It was a new opportunity, and it’s To give my 110% of the new role, so I stepped back a bit, Marcus, who was running with me and Ben, also got new jobs themselves. So it just, it just kind of fizzled out, I suppose.

Phil Street 20:14

Right? Any aspirations to rekindle?

Jose Ruiz 20:18

You know what I’ve thought about it many times. In fact, recently, I kind of started a little bit of a rebrand. The only thing with with a hot car and something of that kind is that I don’t I got the impression through hot cut, and a lot of people in industry that has have very busy lives. And matters, it’s meant to be like a two way conversation. It is not a social network, and I was not interested in doing a social network for that you have Facebook? Yeah, I think that it needs to be a professional network. And I realised, suddenly, my impression was that a lot of people are very passive consumers. You need to feed information to them constantly, for them not to forget that you exist, right. And people are very afraid for some reason of sharing their opinions online. Interesting. So they will tell you everything and spilled the beans privately or in a networking event face to face. But putting things in writing people are very afraid of, for all kinds of different reasons.


Phil Street 21:23

You know what that tells me?


Jose Ruiz 21:25

Tell me what


Phil Street 21:26

that tells me that the calibre of individual that works within hospitality is they’ve got their ethics in exactly the right place. Because let’s face it, there’s many other forums where people do not have a problem airing their opinions online.


Jose Ruiz 21:42

Yeah, that’s one way of looking at it for sure. Yeah. And then, you know, I think that people are afraid of, of making themselves or making a comment that their company may disagree with and getting themselves in trouble. Yeah, sure. Another some people are just not confident to own writing. So they don’t want to make themselves look silly in front of a community. And so everyone has their own story. But it meant that it was very time consuming for for Ben, Marcus and myself just to, you know, to constantly have to come up with new content on we’re also hanging on to full time jobs. So I think that the only way to to reignite hotcat will be having a full group of people that we’ll be happy to, to partner with so that we can share the load more effectively, just to do it full time on this become the full time job, which I’ve considered a couple of times, but I’ve never taken the step.


Phil Street 22:38

Right. Well, give me a shout. If you ever feel like rekindling an extra team member. I’m all for it. Yeah. I actually remember the very first hotcat event that you did offline. Yeah. Which was in a pub in Soho, as I recall.


Jose Ruiz 22:54

Oh, gosh. Yes. I think that he was at the time. It was cool. Oh, my God, what was the name of the pub? Edge I think it was


Phil Street 23:00

I can’t remember


Jose Ruiz 23:01

in Soho square.


Phil Street 23:02

Yeah, it was multi level.


Jose Ruiz 23:03

Yes. correct correct. multiple stories.


Phil Street 23:06

Yeah. And I just remember thinking, you know, maybe even as little as a year later. Uh, huh. how big the events had become there.


Jose Ruiz 23:15



Phil Street 23:16

In terms of the the quantity of people that were there, because I think that first event there was maybe 20 of us.


Jose Ruiz 23:22



Phil Street 23:23

Something like that.


Jose Ruiz 23:24

Yes. probably Yeah.


Phil Street 23:25

And then I remember you know the calibre of the venues would get better. No disrespect. to the pub But you know, you were really kind of you were showcasing hospitalitys venues.


Jose Ruiz 23:36



Phil Street 23:37

As well as the networking opportunity. Yeah, very much. And that is something that we did on purpose. And for us, the easy thing to do would have been to partner with a pub or a restaurant or a hotel. Because ultimately, we’re bringing people to consume. Right? And and to host it in the same place every month would have made our life so much easier. Sure, yeah. But part of it was just the fun of showcasing different venues. And every time I was in a different venue in a different part of London, we did restaurants, hotels, event venues, we even did the London Zoo, and, and caterer.com became partners with us and they organise a massive one themselves on our behalf once a year, the summer one. So we just had some cracking events. And I think that the largest one, we had about 150 to 200 people. Yeah, so well, it was great fun. Great. I certainly went along to some very busy events. Yeah. But yeah, well, I mean, I salute you for that. That was that was a really golden thing that you produced at a time when I think that it really industry needed something like that. It was like it was almost like a release. Yeah. from day to day, workloads, etc, etc. Yeah, and I still don’t think that there is anything like it still even now, but it’s probably 10 years later. Yeah, nobody has tried to do anything like it. There we go we are sowing the seeds again,


Jose Ruiz 25:01

there well, to just know what that maybe there is no no need for it. I have no idea. What do you think?


Phil Street 25:06

Yeah. Well, I don’t know you. I think there’s certainly at the moment, maybe not. It’s probably not the best time to do social networking?


Jose Ruiz 25:14

(Laughs) No. Probably not.


Phil Street 25:16

But But I think maybe on the back of this, there’s going to be, obviously, we were talking before we turn the microphone on about the situation that we’re in, and the fact that there’ll be some rebalancing to happen. Yes. Before we reach a point where we can consider growth. Yeah, again. And I think on the back of that, there’s going to be a I think, personally, there’s going to be a kind of a way a new wave of enthusiasm towards the industry. And and so I think maybe, maybe it is the right time to rekindle it. Anyway, we’re not writing business plans live on a podcast, But anyway, food for thought.


Jose Ruiz 25:58

Yes, indeed, indeed.


Phil Street 26:00

I’m sorry, I took you into that in far more depth than I intended. But there we are. You well, so let’s take us to present day, you’ve got this is your first multi property role, I guess.


Jose Ruiz 26:14

Well, if you exclude Apple because when I was at Apple, I was looking after the Apple Store on Regent Street and the one in Covent Garden.


Phil Street 26:21

Right. Okay. But that doesn’t count


Jose Ruiz 26:23

very much. Yeah.


Phil Street 26:26

What’s, what differences do you have to have in your armoury? to look after? I mean, two pretty iconic buildings in their own right.


Jose Ruiz 26:36



Phil Street 26:36

What differentiates a role like that to being a kind of standalone? Director of HR?


Jose Ruiz 26:42

Do you know, it’s, it is my role is very interesting, because I, as you said, I work I work for two in two iconic locations. But I work for two very iconic brands. Yeah. And even though they’re both Pyro Marriott, they are probably the the outliers when it comes to marvel 30 brands, because W and an edition are both lifestyle brands. Yeah, they’re both certainly in the in the Marriott ecosystem, they are luxury lifestyle brands. So one would One could think, Well, you know, that must be very, very similar to hotels, they’re both hotels, they’re both, they’re both lifestyle, they’re both in central London, they have the same number of rooms, approximately. But honestly, the two brands could not be more different. If they try, the brand position is totally different. The atmosphere and the appeal is totally different. The clientele that all the guests segment that they go for is totally different. And the way the two hurdles operate, are very, very different. And that for me was the first thing I learned is that, you know, of course, by the time I went to W I’ve been working with addition for for a couple of years. And you know, you always say, Well, you know, how different can they be right, and you can bring one thing to the other, but then I met the executive team at W and I got introduced to the brand, you know, in depth and and I realised, okay, this is this is not the same at all, both brands are very unique. And their approach to everything is very much on brand. And what works for one brand simply doesn’t work at the other. Yeah. And that for me was to be able to flex at the moment I spend, you know, half my weekend while hotel or half my week on the other. And, and if you like is like having two families to them go to one and speak to them, I will will go doing with the other because they simply don’t want to hear it. They just that they are very passionate about additionally very passionate about addition, W’s very passionate about W and this. So he is just been able to go into each property showing demonstrating a leading passion for that brand. Because we don’t want to be we’re not one married. Marriage is 30 brands. And these two are probably the most distinctive of them all. So we want to make sure that they keep they stay distinctive. Yeah. So yeah, for me, that was that was fascinating to see. And to be part of it. So yeah, that that is that, for me has been a massive learning curve on how do you lead the HR function on to hotels that are so different and that there is very little in terms of crossover between one or the other?


Phil Street 29:30

Yeah. Do you still then have like an underlining Marriott way that runs through all the brands? Or do they give, give each brand effectively the licence to to pursue its own set of values and that sort of thing?


Jose Ruiz 29:47

Well, I’m not going to speak on behalf of Marriott because there are 30 brands and I only know two of them. Sure, but certainly from where I sit both are addition and W berries, little to none no interference from Marriott, the brands are so distinctive that they really let us do what we think is best there is a brand team for W there is a brand team for for addition, So, so far they very much lower for we do what we deliver, and what we stand for. And the brands, you know, there were pretty separately from from the rest of of married. Having said that, Mary provides you phenomenal infrastructure and resources that we can use, and we use what is suitable. We don’t use what is not suitable, and we tweak what is suitable, but needs to be w FIDE or edition FIDE. Yeah.


Phil Street 30:43

Yeah. Yeah. Very interesting.


Jose Ruiz 30:45

So we have the best of both worlds, if you like.


Phil Street 30:48

Yeah. And then I throw in the fact that you’ve kind of worked for for classic luxury, and no lifestyle. Luxury, what are, as you see it, what are the main differences?


Jose Ruiz 31:01

Well, I think the traditional luxury has has a big element about consistency of service, but from the point of view that there is perhaps one white, two things, and right, and there is less room for deviating in certain standards, I’m not talking across the board, from the way we do things here. Whether in a lifestyle brand, there is perhaps more but of course we have standards. But the standard can be delivered in many different ways, depending on who is delivering Who is he been delivered to. And there is a little more, bring your own personality to work. And provided that you achieve these touch points with the customer achieve them in any way you think is best so that it becomes perhaps more natural to you as the person delivering the service. And therefore we may come across as more authentic. And the reason even what I’m hearing myself saying that that does not mean at all that that our luxury traditional luxury hotel is not authentic, what the opposite. But it’s just a very different way of doing things in our approach to guests in the way we communicate with guests in, you know, lifestyle hotel, among other things, because the spectators of the guests in the life of star hotel have been my experience very different from the space stations in a luxury traditional luxury property. Yeah, they are more open to to people, you know, engage with me, but talk to me as if I am your friend as opposed to other one too. So that that barrier perhaps or that line that differentiates the guests from the employee? I think that is it, perhaps it’s a lot thinner when you’re working in a lifestyle brand. And the guests like it that way, incidentally, makes it more difficult sometimes for some employees to know that the line does still exist.


Phil Street 32:48

Okay. Very good. Yes. Well, we don’t need to go into that right now


Jose Ruiz 32:52

No we don’t


Phil Street 32:54

we’ll leave that in the building.


Jose Ruiz 32:55



Phil Street 32:56

Am I right in saying that you’re also now a professional coach, you’ve got qualifications behind you?


Jose Ruiz 33:01

Yes, that’s right. I have something that I wanted to do for my own development last year, not because I want to become a coach full time and given my work and become a coaching guru. But just because it is a skill that I think that is is super important is an area for my own development that I wanted to explore further. So yeah, I did a great coaching qualification through through barefoot coaching that’s a little plug in there. There were incredible yeah and I got my qualification last year?


Phil Street 33:30

I can I can see how that would really aid you in your your role as a as a director of HR.


Jose Ruiz 33:37



Phil Street 33:38

as well though Because I imagine a massive part of your role is about coaching, you must, you know, your door must be getting knocked on constantly with people, you know, wanting to talk about x, y, Z whether that’s problems or ideas or whatever. And to have I suppose a coaching approach to that I could see would be a real benefit.


Jose Ruiz 33:57

Yeah, very much so and, you know, generationally i think that i think that and again, I may be making a sweeping generalisation. But But I have noticed a difference. Over the time that I have been working in hospitality, that different approach to to leadership of people, I think that the world has moved, because we have because the younger generations have different needs. And where when, when I was started in industry, certainly becoming a Spain, but even in the UK, there was less in terms of leadership and more in terms of management of people. And this presentation, it was that there was going to be very much of a top down approach to running a company. Whether now if you look at organisations like Google, Facebook, apple, a lot of these just inspire your people to deliver the best work that they can deliver. Yeah, but it is all about providing direction and inspiration and less about telling people what to do. Yeah. And I think that, that for that Unit code unit, coaches, children lead manages. Yeah. And ultimately you think about it, if you’ve got, when do you want to recruit you’re trying to recruit great people? If you recruit great people, then what’s the point of putting them in a straight jacket? You might as well just let them do the things that you hire them for in the first place. Yeah. And I think that that is where coaching comes in. That is it is about guiding more than advising, it is about understanding more than telling people what to do. And then letting people do what they do, but just help them with the thinking that they need to, to come up to, to the decisions that need to be made, if that makes sense.


Phil Street 35:43

Absolutely. And I think it probably works at every single level of the business.


Jose Ruiz 35:48



Phil Street 35:48

as well. So it’s not just about, you’re a young team member who’s maybe just joined and doesn’t feel like they’re fully connected with the business yet. And maybe they just need a bit of help and guidance to 100%. It’s also about, you know, the the senior executive team member, who maybe had a management style that worked in an old environment, but doesn’t work in this environment. And it’s about helping them and guiding them and coaching them to become, you know, I suppose, better at the coaching and guiding themselves.


Jose Ruiz 36:18

Yes, very true. Very true. And, you know, what, we work in an industry that, that the age group of people work in, in, in, in our industry, by, by by the nature of the industry, that you will work in a very, very young. Yeah. which incidentally, means that a lot of them are very inexperienced. For many, this is the first job. And people are used to some coming straight out of school, or university or college, asking the more senior people, what do I do? I have this problem, what what do you want me to do? What do I do, because they’re expecting me to tell them what to do. And it will be very easy for me to tell people, this is what you need to do. And that is it. But that doesn’t really help people develop their own critical thinking, and their own ability to problem solve. I think that is a lot more useful to encourage people to think for themselves. And you know, one thing of our industry, we’re not brain surgeons, nobody’s going to die because we make a decision under the shoppers to be wrong. So you know, let people make their own mistakes and guide them. When people come to us. I have this problem, what do I do? talk them through and help him come up with the decision as opposed to just doing what you tell them to? Yeah, and that is a skill, which, you know, some people don’t realise how much of how much of a skill that is, unlike any skill, you need to practice and develop, you know, to get good at it. And I think that is a lifelong journey right on in that I’m certainly nowhere near perfection when it comes to my coaching skills, but it has opened my eyes to how important it is to we talk about developing people, but developing people is about asking them to come up with solutions and not giving them the solution.


Phil Street 38:01

Yeah, absolutely. And I think is the point you made there about journey is is so relevant, because it’s a proper evolution. You know, what’s the, I suppose the next generation workforce want right now, in 10 years time? That’s going to be different again. Yeah, you know, you’ve got to adapt your style. You can’t ask a generation to change. Yeah, fit. You know, we’ve we’ve both got to come to the party. And yeah, you know, and that’s the same of them as well. It’s about meeting in the middle and you’re taking the the best from generations that have passed, and bringing the best of the generations to come.


Jose Ruiz 38:38

Yeah, yeah, very true.


Phil Street 38:40

Gosh, very deep, isn’t it?


Jose Ruiz 38:42

Indeed (Laughs), I was thinking that


Phil Street 38:45

I can’t honestly, I cannot get through.


Jose Ruiz 38:47

I thought this was gonna be I thought it was gonna be light hearted.


Phil Street 38:52

Yeah. Well, it’s supposed to be light. You know, these are, these are relevant points to our industry. So I’m happy to discuss But yeah, I genuinely cannot get through a podcast without going into some kind of cliched deep moment. But anyway, it’s all relevant.


Jose Ruiz 39:09

Yeah, quite.


Phil Street 39:10

So if you’ve had an illustrious career so far, I’m sure there’s more to come yet. I hope so. What? Give me some examples of some funny stories from your career.


Jose Ruiz 39:21

Oh, funniest stories? Let me think. Okay. I’ll tell you one are of course that the hotel would this happens. I’ll remain nameless.


Phil Street 39:30

That’s fine I’ll start my research.


Jose Ruiz 39:34

But I remember and I remember as if it was yesterday, I was at reception and the phone rang. And there was these these guests calling down and so I answer the phone as a reception. Good evening, how can I help? And this person said to me, I cannot get out of my room.


Phil Street 39:53



Jose Ruiz 39:55

Exactly that’s exactly how I thought about it. How I said it. Okay. Totally. More. So Oh, what is it? Is it that the door in your room is locked? The person just said to me, No, I can’t. I cannot find the door. At that point, I’m just looking up thinking there must be a hidden camera somewhere and I must be on candid camera or something. Yeah. So do you try not to laugh and you are very professional until the guest Okay. What do you mean that you cannot find the door? And they start getting very annoyed with me. What I just said you’re not gonna find the door. And I know Okay, madam that two doors in your bedroom, right? Yes, I know that. So well. One is to to the bathroom. Yes, yes. And the business getting very annoyed with me. Yes, I know that one is to go to the bathroom as well. The other door is the door that you came in through, right? Yes. Well, that door is a double lock. So well, that is the double lock. No, but I cannot use that door. Okay. What do you mean that you can use the door? And then the person answered? I cannot use that door because there is a Do Not Disturb sign on it.


Phil Street 41:13

Ah, no way.


Jose Ruiz 41:15

Yeah, way as Oh my god, the person generally thought that becasue there was a Do Not Disturb sign that could not use that door again to get out.


Phil Street 41:26

Oh, that’s brilliant. Yeah, there’s so many of these things that happened from less than we need. We need every one of them. the guests. But yeah, I mean, I have all manner of stories of a kind of similar ilk, whereby you find I had a first part of my career I spent on cruise ship. And last one time, I was Night Manager. And I was alerted to the fact that there was a fight going on our cabin, right. And it was P&O cruises that I worked for. And they used to do this thing whereby they had a kind of a, it was the entry level cabin that you could get was what they called a friendly for and are used friendly. in inverted commas. Basically, it was for single births. And individual people were allocated one of these single best. So basically, you would go on as a single person and be allocated to, to live with three other people that you’ve never met before in your life. Right? You can see how that’s I licenced to be to absolute perfection. Yeah. And went along to this friendly for cabin. And there was literally, there was three seconds, it was actually only three people in this cabin that they were all over the age of 70. And I opened the door to one of them kicking the other one up the backside. Oh, yeah. And, and I remember, just think I was 22 years old at the time, right? And I literally just stood there. And I said, right, gentlemen, you’re about to get a lecture from a 22 year old. How does that make you feel? And literally disarmed the situation at the moment. And I think they just got caught up in their own little space. But it’s, it’s, there’s so many examples of these from everybody’s career, I think, by this is just life happens


Jose Ruiz 41:33

Yeah very much


Phil Street 43:22

And you can’t really, we can all laugh and giggle about it. No, but you can’t really you’ll kind of hold too much of a grudge against these people for just kind of


Jose Ruiz 43:33

no that that is one thing that I have learned after working in this industry is that you know, what I take for granted comes from my life experience and not everyone has had my life experience. Some people come to a hotel and it’s the first time in their lives that they’ve been able to afford or or or just to have never been to a hotel. So yeah, I know that there is a Do Not Disturb sign that constants at the door but if you’ve never seen it, do you never had that in your life experience? What would you know?


Phil Street 44:01



Jose Ruiz 44:03

That’s a bit extreme but but let’s not go there. But you know, I’ll give you another example. And this was again on the same hotel and it is one of those that make you think okay, yeah, when God gave brain cells didn’t distribute them evenly. This this we had this massive group coming through a an American travel agent, we had them regularly come into the hotel. Anyway, this massive group arrives and of course, the whole Potter team goes to pick up the luggage from the buses and take them up to the rooms and get them all settled in. We check them all in perfect. hour an hour later, I received a call from one of them saying that the luggage has not been delivered yet. So now Okay, okay, well, no problem. Let me just check with the with the luggage team. So I spoke to the porters on this or not, no, no, we’ve delivered all the luggage. So maybe by the time I come to see you has been delivered. So let me call the guests so I call the guests So I’ve just been told up there that all the lattice has been deleted that you have it now. The guest has no I don’t. Okay, that is when the alarm bells start ringing in your head. So you call the luggage master and the luggage master turn off. I say all of it has been delivered. I have all the receipts, there is nothing left to deliver. Okay, okay. Call the guest. Again, the guest is not I still don’t have my luggage. So at that point, you call security, security start looking for the luggage and all the luggage storage areas, nothing is found on this. Okay, let me go and speak to the guest. So they go the guest, the guest comes down to reception and security’s desk in the guest, with the luggage look like how many bags and so on. So give a full description. Everyone in the hotel at this point is looking for the luggage. And it’s no cost to the security manager to ask the guest. When was the last time you saw your luggage? The guest says… when I left my house in Texas, there’s a ehhhhh, no no Let me repeat the question. When was the last time you saw your luggage in the UK? No, I have not seen my luggage in the UK. Well, okay, well, well. Okay, hang on a second you already have to Heathrow this morning. The luggage was taken out on this conveyor belt. So when you pick up the luggage and didn’t pick up my luggage so you have been going again, but during combat camera, I think what’s happening here. So now let’s say you’re talking really slowly to see this person is obviously understand this. So talk me through you left your house in Texas yesterday. What happened? Well, I left my house… with the luggage?. Yeah, of course with the luggage. What do you think I’m stupid? Okay, so what did you know, I left the house. Did you go to the airport in Texas? Did you get a taxi to the airport or not? Oh, no, no, we got picked up. Okay, so you got your luggage you put it in the car to pick you up now. Okay, so basically, the guest left the house, put the backs of the front door, got in the car without the luggage went to the airport got on a plane arrived in London. So when we get that clear, we asked the guest. So if you didn’t bring your luggage to the airport in America, how do you expect the luggage to be in London. And then he deadpan faced he says, Well, our true operator told us when we paid for this trip, but portraiture was included in the price. And this gentleman genuinely thought that a porter from a hotel in London was gonna fly to the states to pick up the luggage from his at his doorstep and bring it to London. And he genuinely thought, but that’s the way it worked.


Phil Street 47:47

My word. You nearly left me speechless. was a long period of silence through that story. Literally, my mouth was open.


Jose Ruiz 47:58

That’s one of those that you think I think I’ve seen everything now.


Phil Street 48:01

Yeah. But well, but you won’t have


Jose Ruiz 48:04

no I didn’t


Phil Street 48:05

Ther’ll be more


Jose Ruiz 48:06

indeed, indeed


Phil Street 48:09

Brilliant, No, that’s great. Have you ever had any experiences of your own, but your own experience where? Where you felt completely out of your depth and terrified about what might happen?


Jose Ruiz 48:20

Oh, yes. Yes. I have a just the once, Once I told this story too so many times. This is I was a restaurant supervisor. And we had this party come into the restaurant for dinner one night. And there was the head of the table was a Spanish guy. So of course, maybe in Spanish, there’s a he said, Do you mind instead of supervising the restaurant tonight to supervise that section so that he can deal with you? Sure. So I sit down and he goes 11 guests then plus the host, and I’m just chatting away with the host and dinner starts. And then I said, What would you like to drink? And the guest is looking at the the wine list. And so can we have a bottle of this Marques de Riscal wine? Just bring a few bottles for the table. Okay, okay. So I bring bottles of Marques de Riscal, I’ll serve them. They love it. And I say as the dinner continues, they keep ordering more and more bottles of this wine. So eventually we run out. And then he asked for the next bottle. And I like oh shit would we do because he only wanted to drink that for some reason. So I called the restaurant at the top of the hotel, which was at the time was called aspects. And they had the reputation of having every wine and the sommelier answers the phone, and I explained the situation. And guess what, we don’t have any of that wine ourselves. But Tell you what, and the sommelier tells me give them these other wine that you have in your cellar. It is also a very similar wine from a finger that is next to the one where that one came from. pour the wine on the other bottle, the ones that you’ve already used and they will not know the difference.


Phil Street 50:00

Danger, danger,


Jose Ruiz 50:01

indeed, Danger, danger. But at the time me being naive for me been very innocent. I thought, Well, you know what, I’m gonna do that. So I approached the table with the bottle opened in put in front of the guest. He looks at the label, so yeah, that’s fine. So I put a bead on his glass so that he can taste it. He just taste the wine and immediately looks at me and said, Yeah, very nice wine. But this is not Marques de Riscal. At that point, you think exactly, but when I think oh, shit. So what did you do the next best thing you just point your finger at that label. And so well, it’s my Marquid de Riscal here on the label. And he gets very assertive.


Phil Street 50:39

Keep digging, keep digging


Jose Ruiz 50:40

Yeah, exactly. He says very assertively. Listen, I know, I know that a supporter of Marques de Riscal. And I know that it says that on the label. But that one is no Marques de Riscal. At that point, I’m thinking, Okay, well, this was not my idea. So I’m gonna call this Somalia that gave me this suggestion or he can get out of this one. So I call this Somalia. He comes down speaks to the guest and the guests. And he’s trying to convince the guest that that one is Marques de Riscal and instead of coming clean. And after spending 10 minutes trying to convince the head of the party, that the one goes Marques De Riscal he looks at him and says, Listen, my friend, I didn’t want to embarrass you, because you’re the sommelier. I didn’t want to embarrass you in front of all my guests. But I tell you that that one is no Marques de Riscal. And I know that because I am the Marques de Riscal.


Phil Street 51:31

Oh, I didn’t see that coming.


Jose Ruiz 51:34

And if there is one thing in this life that I’m sure about is my wine.


Phil Street 51:39

Well, that’s fair enough isn’t it.


Jose Ruiz 51:41

Yeah. At that point, I’m hiding behind the service stations. OK, I have nothing to do with this.


Phil Street 51:48



Jose Ruiz 51:48

Fortunately, he didn’t. He came clean. Fortunately, he saw the funny side because otherwise it would have been a disaster. But yeah, that was I felt really stupid. And never again, that was a life lesson. Never tried to call it one of those with any guest because you simply do not know.


Phil Street 52:06

Yeah, yeah. Well, I suppose that you’re right and saying it’s a lesson, right? I mean, you can’t help but have these moments, especially in young naivety. But you know, you you definitely will never do that again, right?


Jose Ruiz 52:21

Never, never do just simply to not know who gets in front of us. And just be honest, always do your best. And this is bad news that needs to be delivered to the guests. I don’t have that one we’ve run out but I can offer you something else. That’s the way you go.


Phil Street 52:37

Yeah, absolutely. No, brilliant that those are some cracking stories there. I’m sure we could probably just chew the fat over that for seven hours over a glass of Marques de Riscal.


Jose Ruiz 52:48

Yes, indeed.


Phil Street 52:49

Which I’ve just mispronounced completely probably


Jose Ruiz 52:51

No you’ve done pretty well.


Phil Street 52:54

Great stuff. Okay. Well, what’s, um, it’s been a funny old year. But what what does the next year have in store for you? All going well?


Jose Ruiz 53:03

Well, well, all going well, I don’t know. I’m fortunate that I work for for two great brands. And I’m fortunate that the two brands that I work for, I’m very passionate about both. Both of them are the fastest growing brands in the whole of Marriott. W has 40 hotels on pipeline. Edition at the moment has 10 that are being built in the process of opening we’re opening in the next in the next few months. So the growth within those two brands alone is huge. Yeah. So let’s hope that I can progress within additional W and grow my role, even though to be honest. I’m not that fast about growing and becoming a Master of the Universe, for me is more important to do something that I’m having fun doing it at the moment. I’m having the time of my life working with these two brands on with two phenomenally good teams on each one of the hotels. So yeah, whatever comes comes.


Phil Street 54:02

Great philosophy that Que sera sera


Jose Ruiz 54:06

yes, exactly.Exactly.


Phil Street 54:08

Probably a song in there somewhere.


Jose Ruiz 54:09

Yes. Quite.


Phil Street 54:10

Yeah. Great. Okay. So what would you say to somebody who was considering a career in hospitality?


Jose Ruiz 54:18

Well, I’d say this to a lot of people that are considering a career in hospitality students and staff and you know, what I would say to them is, hospitality is all about the craft. Don’t be too obsessed about the money Don’t be to have to obsess about becoming a manager next year of fidelity is a great career you can go as far as you want to, just through through working well and working hard. And but it is also an industry that by its very nature is an industry that you can have phenomenal amount of fun doing it. Yeah. So my suggestion and what has driven my career is have fun with it. Don’t be too upset. So what what comes next year, the year after in 10 years time, just enjoy the moment. Because you’re going to meet amazing people, you’re going to have opportunities to explore things that other industry just simply don’t have the opportunity. Focusing on having fun on what you do today. And what happens tomorrow will come.


Phil Street 55:16

Yeah, I think that’s awesome. And and from one dreamer to another. I completely agree.


Jose Ruiz 55:24

Yeah, I think that is too many people, particularly too many people that I speak to the university and understand the reason why financially, they spend thousands of pounds getting them through university, and they want to see a return on investment financially very quickly. And sometimes too many people forget to enjoy the moment. Yeah, because they’re too concerned about the future.


Phil Street 55:45

Yeah. And there’s a lot of amazing learning that takes place in the moment.


Jose Ruiz 55:51



Phil Street 55:51

without, you know concerning yourself about where you’re going to be in the next year. Just concern yourself with, with getting the learning under your skin.


Jose Ruiz 56:00



Phil Street 56:00

it will make you a much better leader, and much better human being


Jose Ruiz 56:05



Phil Street 56:06

As you as you kind of go down…..


Jose Ruiz 56:08

Yeah. And incidentally, if you’re enjoying it, you’re gonna do a great job, and it’s doing a great job that’s gonna get you to move up.


Phil Street 56:16

Yeah. Who’d have thought that?


Jose Ruiz 56:18

Yeah. Yeah.


Phil Street 56:20

Brilliant. Okay. Well, if people want to get a hold of you to learn more about you, or the brands that you work for, what’s the best method for them to do that?


Jose Ruiz 56:30

They can call my agent. No they can go probably the best way just to kind of connect with me via LinkedIn, my LinkedIn profile, and then they can message me they’re


Phil Street 56:41

Brilliant Yeah. And I have to say, my experience of of dealing with you is that you’re always open to having discussions with anyone.


Jose Ruiz 56:48

Yeah. Totally


Phil Street 56:50

In the right way. I mean, yeah, not anyone.


Jose Ruiz 56:52

Yeah (laughs)


Phil Street 56:55

We’ll keep it relevant to the the industry.


Jose Ruiz 56:57

True, true.


Phil Street 56:58

Good stuff. Well, look, Jose, it’s been a real pleasure to chat with you today. I really appreciate you making time to do this.


Jose Ruiz 57:03

No problem. Thank you for inviting me and great to reconnect has been a while.


Phil Street 57:07

Yeah, absolutely. When when the dust settles, we’ll, we’ll have to have a coffee in one of your two amazing hotels.


Jose Ruiz 57:14

Excellent, lets do it in the evening then we can have a beer instead.


Phil Street 57:17



Jose Ruiz 57:18

Or Marques de Riscal, huh?


Phil Street 57:20

Perfect. Let’s, let’s complete the story. Good man. All right. Take care Jose.


Jose Ruiz 57:26

You take care Phil, Bye. Bye.


Phil Street 57:27

Bye, bye speak soon. And there we have it. What a brilliant career Jose has built for himself so far. And he’s a true hospitality champion. The big takeaway being that it’s massively important to enjoy what you do, something we’re hugely passionate about. 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.