The Red Carnation Hotels portfolio has been built with a vision for service excellence and a passion for generous hospitality. Here, RLI sits down with Managing Director Jonathan Raggett to discuss the history of the company, where they stand in the market today and what the future holds.

The guest experience is always at the heart of Red Carnation and its talented teams exceed expectations on a daily basis with a warm and caring service, delicious cuisine and thoughtful touches. The brand connects guests with the local area through authentic and meaningful experiences, beautiful and restorative design and curated art collections. The collection currently numbers 17 operating hotels that are situated in London, Evershot in Dorset, Guernsey, Ireland, Florida in the US, Geneva in Switzerland and South Africa. “Over the last year all of the hotels within the collection have achieved great occupancy rates, while also garnering amazing reviews from guests on multiple social media channels and retaining a high position within the TripAdvisor rankings,” explains Jonathan Raggett, Managing Director of Red Carnation Hotels.

Looking ahead, June next year will see the launch of the business’s pioneering lodge in the Okavango Delta in Botswana, whilst closer to home they have recently completed on properties in Edinburgh and Dublin, both of which will be converted into new five-star hotels for the cities. With these three properties already in the pipeline, new markets are not on the agenda; instead it is a time for the company to consolidate its existing portfolio before starting work on further new properties. Raggett feels that when assessing new properties, the location is key before then looking at what opportunities there are to add value in terms of infrastructure as well as to the levels of service and hospitality.

When talking about how Red Carnation destinations remain attractive and exciting, Raggett observes that in recent times they have seen a growth in guests looking for an immersive travel experience which allows them to connect to a destination through its history, people and culture, a side of the business they are working hard to develop. Raggett believes that guests enjoy coming back to hotels where the staff is familiar to them and many guests refer to their hotels as a ‘home from home’ simply because of the relationships they have built with team members. High-level executives within the company are homegrown, having risen through the ranks, taking on-board the ethos and philosophy of Red Carnation.

This in-turn inspires the younger members of the management team who can see what can be achieved through hard work, dedication and passion. “We empower our staff and this leads to some extraordinary acts that demonstrate a kindness and empathy that I think would be difficult to find at other hotels and it helps our guests feel a connection with the hotel that might otherwise have been missing,” explains Raggett. Understanding the importance of user-generated content, e-commerce and social media have been areas of the business that have been worked on and developed over time. In addition to a number of staff in the marketing department that focus on this, each individual hotel has at least two or three social media champions who take responsibility for posting messages and responding to guests.

“The Red Carnation Hotels brand is an enduring symbol, and statement, of all that Beatrice Tollman, Founder and President stands for as a person and as a professional. It is also a reflection of her lifetime of dedication to offering the finest standards to its guests and its people. At the core of the company is her commitment to exceptional service,” says Raggett. This means that at every location in the portfolio the service is consistently genuine, warm, highly personal and always focused on making the guest feel important. “We are in the business of ‘knowing’ – understanding and anticipating guest needs, and fulfilling them to demonstrate that each and every guest is special to us. Our mantra for staff and promise to our guests is ‘no request too large, no detail too small’,” Raggett explains.

Looking forward and analysing the challenges that lie ahead, the recruitment of staff is high on the list as a challenge, and one that is tackled by continuing to offer a development programme that gives staff the skill set required to consistently offer the high levels of personal, attentive service guests have come to expect from the brand. Sustainability is another challenge, as a company they are committed to helping protect the natural and cultural heritage found in each of their locations; and they are dedicated to building a sustainable future for the surrounding communities and wildlife. “Finally, and possibly most important of all is a need for us to remain relevant, we cannot rest on our laurels and we need to ensure that we continue to offer a product that exceeds the expectations of our guests,” concludes Raggett.