Behind the opening: Hilton Stockton on Tees
December 4, 2019 | Community, News, Openings, Our Team, Signings
Our Hampton by Hilton Stockton on Tees hotel was opened in February of this year, offering 128 bedrooms in a fantastic location. With easy access to transport links and the local business community, as well as the stunning North Yorkshire Moors, the hotel caters for both corporate and leisure visitors and has gone from strength-to-strength over the last few months.
Here, in our first ‘Behind the Opening’ feature, general manager John Lambourne- Richardson, shares an insight into the role Interstate plays in bringing a property to life.
How did Interstate add value to this project?
The owners of this property – Stockton Borough Council – saw value in Interstate’s position within third-party management operations. We have a solid track record of delivering what our owners want and adapting to their needs, not just here in the UK but around the globe, too.
From the outset of the project, as soon as Interstate was appointed to manage the property, we worked closely with the owners to ensure everything went smoothly across all of the key specialist functions – such as finance, commercial, IT and revenue.
Having operated and opened many Hampton by Hilton properties before, the Interstate team can advise owners on everything from food and beverage selection to décor and design and build, enabling the council to benefit from Interstate’s global scale and experience and keep the project on track throughout.
We held weekly project meetings with both the owners and the brand, bringing the teams together to discuss progress and to offer our expertise to both parties.
How long did it take from the beginning of the project through to opening?
The council first discussed a hotel for the town some five or six years ago. With the growing number of businesses in the area, especially in the borough, they established that there was a real need. This then formed part of an overall regeneration project called Northshore which encompasses housing, office space, land reclamation along the River Tees, the hotel and high street enhancements.
Interstate was selected as the management company for the property in 2016, prior to its construction. Then, I was brought in as general manager – approximately six months before opening.
What were the key milestones in this hotel’s creation?
The process of creating a hotel has many milestones – from the appointment of a management company and selection of the right brand for the property, through to breaking ground in November 2016 and appointing the hotel team in early 2019.
Once I was in post, my first task was to recruit the hotel’s management team around me – again, drawing on Interstate’s HR expertise to select the right people for the job across areas including sales, maintenance, reception and reservations.
With the team on board, it was then onto getting everyone trained up and putting the finishing touches in place. Again, Interstate has a huge amount of experience in opening hotels on behalf of many brands, so we were able to offer the owners and Hilton themselves the reassurance that everything would be done to brand standard, across the board.
We officially opened our doors on the 12th February 2019.
How many people does the hotel employ?
We currently employ 22 people in total with our housekeeping outsourced to an external company. We have a fantastic team at our hotel and we have only got to where we have because of their hard work and dedication.
What makes this hotel stand out from the crowd?
The iconic design features and its location set back from the River Tees gives our hotel something special.
It has a striking gold façade on the approach from the east while on the western façade, which faces the town, the brickwork is sympathetic to the buildings around us. We have a beautiful glass light fitting in the entrance lobby and the ‘welcome wall’ is a glass picture of the local Infinity Bridge.
We wanted to fit in with the local community that we serve but also bring something fresh and different to the town.
What were the key learnings from this project which can benefit future openings?
The most important detail of this project running so smoothly and enabling us to open on time and under budget was Interstate’s close working relationship with the owners and brand.
Weekly meetings and expert advice on every element of the project meant the owners could air any concerns and we could address them, either directly or through our contact with Hilton, quickly and efficiently.