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Following Splendid Hospitality Group’s acquisition of the New Ellington Hotel in the heart of Leeds’ financial district, the property relaunched on the 17th of September as the Mercure Leeds Centre.  A long-standing partner of our Hospitality & Catering division in Yorkshire, Splendid Hospitality Group is one of the UK’s fastest growing privately-owned hotel groups, keeping its people at the heart of the business to provide genuine care and excellent service.

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In this article, we talk industry trends, hotel and chef jobs, career advice and hotel horror stories with Splendid Hospitality Group’s General Manager at Mercure Leeds Centre, Ruslana Yarmolyuk.

What inspired you to become a Hotel General Manager, and what brought you to Yorkshire?

After pursuing a teaching career back home in the Ukraine, I moved to England to pursue an accountancy degree in London. During this time I worked as a room attendant at a local hotel to support myself and my studies. By the time I graduated, I had undertaken a number of hotel and chef jobs, working my way through the ranks to become General Manager. It was then that I realised how happy I was in this industry and therefore had no desire to leave. Fortunately my degree in accountancy has been advantageous for this role. After my appointment to Splendid Hospitality Group as General Manager to manage a wide array of hotel and chef jobs, I moved to Yorkshire to lead the relaunch of the Mercure Leeds Centre – an offer I simply could not refuse.

What has been the most significant achievement in your career so far?

The biggest highlight in my career has been my role in relaunching the New Ellington Hotel as the Mercure Leeds Centre. From recruiting my team to work across a wide range of hotel and chef jobs all the way to the décor, layout, renovations and food items on the menu, I have been completely hands on in this endeavour, and delighted to see how everything has come together. 

What is one of the most unusual hotel marketing tactics you've used in your career?

Leading up to the relaunch of the Mercure Leeds Centre, I asked my kitchen team to cook and assemble the menu items to be photographed. Imagine my surprise when I entered the kitchen to discover that my team had cooked a whopping 50 litres of soup!

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Unwilling to put the labour of love to waste, we decided to turn 50 litres of soup into an opportunity to network with surrounding businesses. From here, the ‘Big Soup’ campaign was launched, and we visited surrounding office parks with a cup of soup for employees across various businesses, with an invitation to visit our hotel. This is what I love about my job, the ability to transform something as random as too much soup into an opportunity to raise awareness about our venue and thus grow our client base. 

Everyone loves a hotel horror story - what's yours?

Oh I have many, but the first one that springs to mind occurred just hours after I had left my position as a General Manager at hotel in London. I was on my commute home, relishing the sweet freedom I had acquired, when I received a phone call from one of my former colleague who informed me that a guest had passed away in one of the suites. The staff were at a loss of what to do, and since no one had been appointed to take my place, they had contacted me in a panic, after which I advised them to take the matter to the police.

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At another hotel where I previously worked, we had a high profile overdose situation on our hands, which resulted in the guest’s arrest for crimes he had committed in the past. 

What do you think will be the next big trend across the UK's hotel scene next year?

Recent years have seen a shift from aesthetic to experience. It’s no longer enough to provide an immaculately decorated, fine dining hotel, because customers want experiences. For this reason, it’s important to be clued up on the local culture and tourist attractions, collaborating with service providers whilst diversifying your own offering through the inclusion of tours, cultural events and other local activities which guests will be able to fondly look back on for years to come. 

What would be your advice to anyone working in hotel and chef jobs who is aspiring to become General Managers?

In order to succeed as a General Manager, you truly have to love the good, the bad and the ugly of this industry. You need to really have a passion for your role, and enjoy connecting with people from all walks of life in a variety of circumstances, whether it be solving problems or simply catching up over a cup of coffee.

In this business, it’s essential to be a serial networker, connecting with the local community to get up close and personal with your primary customer base and work closely with them to determine how to provide the best experiences and keep them coming back for more.

There’s no way to sugar-coat this role, and you’ll undoubtedly encounter challenges, ranging from staff management to dealing with customer complaints and queries – dare I mention the nightmare that is TripAdvisor reviews! That being said however, the ability to laugh in the face of adversity will get you through the worst of days, and there is certainly something to be said of the joy that comes with watching the fruit of your hard work, influence and creativity materialise across all areas of the hotel you manage.

Most importantly, the positive feedback received from guests will make your dedication and commitment all the more rewarding. 

Looking for Hotel and Chef jobs? We can help!

The Mercure Leeds Centre is hiring, and we are looking for people to work across a number of hotel and chef jobs. Whether you’re a qualified kitchen manager, have experience with Sous Chef jobs and Breakfast Chef jobs, or looking for your next Housekeeper role, then we want to hear from you. Get in touch with Jo Carter on jo.carter@search.co.uk to find out more about the opportunities available across the Mercure leeds Centre.

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