High levels of investment and the impact of a hot summer combined with changes to consumer spending in the wake of Brexit have led to members of the Devon Hotels and Restaurants Association reporting an almost unprecedented demand for new staff. Hotel and restaurant managers are attempting to recruit for a variety of openings with roles for front of house, reception, housekeeping and chefs available.
Craig Findleton, Chair of the Association said: “Members of the Association have been investing heavily in their hotels and restaurants over the past two years resulting in some truly exceptional accommodation, fine dining and spas for our guests to enjoy. This investment has led to an uplift in sales with hoteliers and restauranteurs across the county reporting a rise in profits. This is great news for the local economy and we are doing what we can to promote the region to talented hospitality individuals. There are some very exciting opportunities available here and the message is overwhelmingly: Devon business is booming!”
The arrival of luxury hotel groups to the area including Hotel du Vin in Exeter, The PIG at Combe near Honiton as well as entrepreneur Peter de Savary’s multi-million pound investment in the Cary Arms in Babbacombe Bay have put Devon firmly on the hospitality map. This is further cemented by the imminent opening of Lympstone Manor by Michelin starred Devon chef Michael Caines MBE. Of the opportunities for chefs in the county, Michael is extremely positive, saying: “Devon is being seen increasingly now by leading hoteliers and chefs as the place to set up their businesses as highlighted recently by the high profile openings. We have an impressive heritage when it comes to exceptional food and drink; resident and visitors alike want the best and expect exciting, unpretentious fine dining – Devon is delivering but demand is high and we need more talented chefs, waiters and front of house to join us.”
Recently voted Bed & Breakfast of the Year at the Food & Drink Magazine Reader Awards 2016, The Salutation Inn in Topsham near Exeter are typical Devon hoteliers. Having restored their beautiful Grade II* listed building that lies in the heart of this picturesque estuary town, they have brought award winning gastronomic delights to Topsham alongside the sort of relaxed, friendly and entirely welcoming atmosphere that people in Devon expect as standard. Of working in Devon, owner and head chef Tom Williams-Hawkes said: “I feel exceptionally lucky to work in Devon. As a chef there are many benefits when it comes to sourcing high quality ingredients and passionate suppliers. Over the past few years, the bar has definitely been raised – creative, technically challenging food is expected: there are some serious foodies here! But, the opportunities aren’t just in the kitchen, holiday makers want beautiful rooms and personable service – hotels must offer the whole package.”
Devon Hotels Association is working with Exeter College to promote opportunities for young people in the local hospitality sector. An apprenticeship is one of the routes into a career with a Devon hotel or restaurant; the Michael Caines Academy at Exeter College is also providing high quality training, equipping its graduates with a range of skills and experience.