A family approach

A family approach

Olivia and James Byrne are the young pair of siblings responsible for running the Eccleston Square Hotel, a luxury boutique design hotel in central London that opened in August 2011. EP met up with Olivia to discuss the journey the duo has had after opening the hotel and establishing themselves as young hoteliers.

Olivia Byrne was certain that she wanted to run a hotel after finishing her studies at Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne. Unlike most students who would apply to their company of choice, Olivia had the rare chance to start managing her own hotel at the tender age of 23 and only months after graduating.

“My father owned and ran two hotels in Paris and from an early age I remember being fascinated by the world of hospitality. When I was 11 I helped out in the hotels and I remember deciding early on that this was the career I wanted. Upon finishing school, I was accepted to L’Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne where I went to study hotel management. While studying there I undertook industry placements in different cities around the world and after each job I became more and more certain that attempting my own project would be the right move for me.”

Olivia and her brother, James, began considering projects around the world before settling on a property in London. Only minutes away from Victoria Station, the Byrnes bought an existing budget hotel and transformed it to the high-end luxury boutique hotel it is today. Olivia was deeply involved from the outset and took charge of the interior design. Refurbishing the building was a challenge because of its Grade-II listed status. The vision was to be as modern as possible while still keeping a balance with the classical Georgian façade and interior period features. The result: a classically designed adult-only hotel with the latest technology seamlessly integrated into every feature of the design. Already it has won awards for in-room technology innovation and this year was recognized in the newcomer category at the World Boutique Hotel Awards.

“With my father as my mentor, this hotel has been a platform for me to put into practice the knowledge I have gained from him and my previous hospitality placements. After opening, our main concern and challenge was getting our name and brand out to the public.

Thankfully, London is a cosmopolitan city and technology today enables me to market to clientele looking for the high-end guest service that we provide. Our affiliation with the Design Hotels brand, a collection of independent boutique hotels, helped promote our name.

I enjoy the flexibility of working in a small company because we are able to adapt quickly to any trends that we may want to follow. We are also able to focus a lot on our guest’s comfort and wellbeing. ”

James, her brother, joined the hotel after graduating from Babson College in the US. With Olivia focused on the management and marketing of the hotel, James is responsible for the maintenance and operations side of the business. Invariably, the conversation turns to how their age has affected the management of the hotel.

“I had no direct management experience before running this hotel and learning how to manage people, especially in a small hotel, has been one of the areas where our age has been a factor to others. My two greatest lessons during this process have been to learn to be direct and slightly distance myself from staff interactions. We’re happy with the team that we currently have in place. In the future, our ideal plan is to open a sister property in the same area but for now our focus will remain on this hotel. Both of us are still learning and we are proud of what we have achieved so far.”

For more information please contact Nicole Thompson on 020 7025 1862 or nicole.thompson@epmagazine.co.uk

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