Celebrating International Women’s Day at The Grove
1 March 2020 / Lifestyle /
Behind the scenes at The Grove is a passionate team who are dedicated to creating beautiful experiences for our guests. We are proud to champion equality in every way, and today, on International Women’s Day, we thought we’d share the journeys of a few of our most inspiring women at The Grove.
Kirsty MacCormick | Sequoia Spa Director
At school, I wanted to go to art college but my dad suggested I pursue something where I could start my own business. So I trained in beauty therapy and started my first business at the age of 22 with a £5k grant from The Princes’ Trust, which my dad matched, and support from their accountants and marketing experts. I opened my 2nd business when I was 28, then decided to go into spa management with Hilton in Edinburgh. Champneys Spa invited me to look after operations and training, which is when I was headhunted for the new Mandarin Oriental Spa in Tokyo. The first year was absolutely fantastic, winning six awards including Spa of the World. I was promoted to oversee all the Chinese-speaking hotels, moved with my boss to Bangkok and together we opened 20 hotels, in Asia and internationally. I then decided to come home to the UK and manage the £8m refit for St Andrews Old Course, opened my own eco nail salon brand in Edinburgh, The Nail Yard, and then moved to The Grove. What’s fantastic about the team here is that the owners invest a lot in training and really look after the staff, so many employees stay long term which is very unusual. Starting May, we’re going to refresh the whole Sequoia brand. I also do a lot with BABTAC, act as a judge for Professional Beauty, and am one of the Top 100 influencers in spas in the UK, attracting trainees into the industry. I don’t have much free time but I’m lucky to have a dog who keeps me entertained!
Anna Darnell | Director of Golf and Leisure
I started my journey as a keen young golfer at the age of 5 and by the time I started senior school I knew that I wanted a career in golf. I took the positives from being in a very male dominated sport and was fortunate enough to stand out from the crowd, which secured my first role as a trainee professional at an exclusive private members club. From there, I took on a challenge in the Middle East and continued to teach students such as the King of Bahrain, other diplomatic dignitaries and the national golf team. After I met my husband, now of 13 years, I moved back to the UK to pursue a role in golf operations. I joined The Grove in March 2005 and since then I have moved from corporate sales to retail and instruction to golf operations and finally stepped into my dream role as Director of Golf in March 2011. I felt this was a huge achievement as a female at the age of 29. One of my proudest moments was the final day of the British Masters in 2016, when we were able to look back and see how well we performed as a team. Since then, my role has become much broader and I am now looking at how we can improve the experience of our leisure guests through the resort reservations and activities teams, and more recently how we can bring our golf guest journey together with our food and beverage team in The Stables. With the varied teams I deal with on a daily basis, there is never one day the same and always new challenges that present themselves, which has been the biggest learning curve for me, but also what I enjoy most about my role.
Natasha Geldenhuys | Head Gardener
My journey at The Grove started back in 2003 at the grand opening, when I was working as part of the contractor team for McQueen’s florist, London. My love grew for the estate and after four years I became a part time gardener. After a short break and relocation from The Grove, I returned in April 2010 as a full time gardener, dropping my first child at Anouska’s Nursery every morning. In December 2010 I became Formal Gardens Supervisor and I think I can safely say that with help I re-planted every inch of the Formal Gardens. I then took another break in 2013 to have my second child; I couldn’t wait to return so as soon as he was 3 months, I was back to my paradise gardens at The Grove. Whilst away I had so many ideas of how to create wow factors within the gardens and couldn’t wait to get started. In 2015 I created what is now ‘The Vista’, a border with an airy feel, alive with bees, butterflies and birds. Later that year I was promoted to Deputy Head Gardener, I must say was very nervous about this and without the support from The Head Gardener and the gardens team this could have been a tough call. During the last four years our department has flourished, creating gardens for all to enjoy, complete with woodland benches and shelters crafted from recycled materials. We joined the Wildlife Trust in 2017, which has given the gardens department new direction; we are all eager to plough forward in developing our estate management skills. I try to create individual objectives for each member of the team by embracing their interests, talents and strengths, which has proven to be both enjoyable and successful. Most importantly, I love getting my hands dirty, getting stuck into the task at hand, I strive to improve our environment for our team and guests alike. I am proud after nine years to be part of The Grove gardens and estate department and can’t wait to get into work every day.
Amelia Lawrence | Executive Housekeeper
Liaising with a whole host of suppliers, from florists to maintenance engineers, I oversee the activity to maintain the cleanliness and appearance of the hotel. I have been at The Grove for almost seven years and have a strong team, who enjoy working in housekeeping as much as I do. Every day is different, every day has its challenges, but every day we ensure that guests have the best possible experience. Throughout my career, I have managed housekeeping departments with 150 bedrooms right through to 1000, winning UK Housekeeper of The Year in 1995 and 2017, as well as being runner up in the AA Housekeeper of The Year in 2009 and 2013. It is an amazing job, which I have been proudly doing for 30 years.
Andrea Laszlo | Junior Sous Chef at The Stables
I knew from a very young age that I wanted to become a Chef, following in my Grandfather’s footsteps. As soon as I moved to the UK, I started my Chef’s Academy training, and after a number of roles in restaurants and hotels I secured my position at The Grove, working as part of a small team at The Stables. It is a male dominated environment but as a confident and driven woman, I don’t let that stand in my way. I don’t treat my job as work, I genuinely love what I do so spend my spare time dreaming up new dishes with innovative flavor combinations, that often become our specials. I am constantly striving to improve, and started my HIT training last year with the help of The Grove. I entered the Hotelympia Masterchefs of Great Britain Challenge and won bronze, and I have made it my mission to win gold!