In conversation with Luke Phillips about his promotion to Reception Manager of three boutique hotels in Pembrokeshire. Luke shares his career insights working with the Retreats Group citing passion, leadership training and job satisfaction for his success.
Before your first job at Twr y Felin Hotel, did you imagine a career in hospitality?
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would ever have a career in hospitality and I often ask myself, why? The answer is very simple: it was never offered or even perceived to be a career choice whilst I was in school. If it had been offered, then I am sure I would have chosen this career path even sooner. Unlike most careers these days, entering the hospitality industry really can make you travel the world. Already with the Retreats Group, I have been able to visit a variety of countries, the best being Slovenia that was incredible. I recommend everyone to go and visit this beautiful country!
Tell us about your progression from Receptionist to Reception Manager for the Retreats Group’s three luxury boutique hotels in Wales. How have your skills developed?
My progression within the Retreats Group has been a very fast-paced one because I have made it my mission and goal to succeed in everything I do. If you have that drive, the sky is the limit! In 2015 at the age of 19, I joined the Retreats Group who were in the process of opening their final hotel, Twr y Felin in St Davids after years of meticulous restoration. I soon realised that working for three of Wales’ leading boutique hotels would be such an experience and a role that I was going to grasp very quickly! I would always throw myself into everything I did, trying to find out as much information as I could about events taking place. I would ask my fellow colleagues who have been in the industry for years about their experiences and try to learn from them. Within 6 months I was promoted to Supervisor. This was a big step for me and was a chance to get even more responsibility. Over the course of 14 months I knuckled down, gained lots of useful contacts, and before I knew it, I was now Reception Manager of three of the best hotels in Wales. What a privilege!
How does the Retreats Group value you as a staff member and how has this enhanced your personal development?
If you put the graft in, any employer will value you. The company will want to develop you because they know by investing in their staff; the employee will invest even more into the employer. Since joining the Retreats Group I have been given some great opportunities to visit places I never thought I would. Furthermore, I have completed an ‘Institute of Leadership and Management’ Diploma Level 2 in Team Management and I am now working towards my Level 3. This is a qualification that I do not have to pay for and I will have this diploma for the rest of my life. There is one key thing which helps my personal development and that is ‘self-belief’. I believe that if I knuckle down, work hard, then the world is my oyster and anything is possible – this just makes coming into work so much easier!
What would be your advice to any young person wanting to pursue a career within hospitality?
Do it, you will not regret it. If as an individual, you have a passion for helping people, ensuring that they have a great time, hospitality is for you. The great thing is that your career doesn’t have to be in hotels, it can be anywhere and anything. I have just chosen hotels because I love to work in beautiful buildings and surroundings and I have quickly become accustomed to very expensive things(!), which is no bad thing, except when you want to go on holiday! You get such a huge amount of satisfaction when special relationships are created with guests and when guests return to us because they love the hotel and the experience we offer. There is nothing like it!
You were a Choral Scholar. Please tell us your favourite song to sing and place to perform.
I was indeed a Choral Scholar and after a year of study in 2014, I am now what is a called a ‘Lay Clerk’, which is essentially a professional singer. With regards to my favourite piece of music, that would have to be ‘The Lamentations of Jeramiah’ by Thomas Tallis. This particular piece of music is only performed once a year on Good Friday in Holy Week, which makes it most humbling to sing. Where to sing? That is a hard question! I would have to say in the Quire at St David’s Cathedral on Good Friday, singing ‘The Lamentations of Jeramiah’.