Meet The Gm

Issue 100

Jeff Hodgson - General Manager at Lumley Castle Hotel.

Describe your career path so far.

My first job in the hotel sector was a porter and I have worked my way through the ranks to general manager. Throughout my career, I initially took up an apprenticeship in joinery. My brother worked in the hotel industry though, and he opened my eyes to all the possibilities. I found the industry really interesting and exciting, and I moved down south to join Queens Moat House Hotels, a long time ago!!

What do you hope to bring to your new role?

I like to think that I’ve improved every hotel I’ve worked at in some way and hopefully Lumley Castle Hotel will be no different. For me, it’s all about the team and the customers. Having a motivated team makes such a difference to the guest experience. The team already have a strong bond and my plan is to ensure that everyone is well-trained, confident and happy within their roles.

Tell us about your team?

I’m really proud of my team. We have 150 team members, 70 of them full-time, but this increases during the summer months to accommodate the increase in bookings. We’re a very tight-knit group and everyone works really hard to make sure Lumley Castle Hotel remains one of the best hotels in the North East. There is a lot to keep on top of, but the team do it with a smile on their face.

What is the history and unique features of Lumley Castle?

Lumley Castle was constructed in the late 14th century by Sir Ralph Lumley, featuring a typical medieval architectural style with a stone keep and defensive walls. The castle remained under the Lumley family, a prominent and influential family in Northern England, for several generations. Ownership changed hands multiple times over the centuries, even momentarily owned by the Bishop of Durham. The castle underwent significant renovations in the 19th century, preserving its historic character while refurbishing interiors in the Victorian style. In the 20th century, it was converted into a hotel and event venue. The castle is known for its ghost stories, including one that it’s haunted by the ghost of Lily Lumley. Today, Lumley Castle is a popular destination that combines history and modern hospitality, attracting visitors worldwide.

What are you currently working on?

At Lumley Castle Hotel, our primary concern is our guests and the experience they have when they choose to stay with us, whether for overnight stays, dining in our restaurant, or attending special events like our Elizabethan Banquets and Murder Mystery Dinners. In January, we have initiated significant maintenance and minor refurbishments in specific areas to enhance our overall ambiance and improve guest experiences. These improvements include electrical work, transforming rooms into suites, installing new carpets within the main castle and state rooms, among other enhancements still ongoing.

How does the hotel engage with the local community and support local businesses?

The castle is a hub for community events such as local celebrations and special events, providing a venue for residents to socialize. It also supports the local economy by sourcing goods and services from local businesses for its events and catering. The castle promotes environmental sustainability through initiatives like energy efficiency and waste reduction. We also support local charities and community organizations through donations and providing space for fundraising events. The castle is not just a tourist attraction, but a vital part of the local community contributing to its social, cultural, and economic life.

What recommendations would you give for making the most from a stay at the Hotel?

The Hotel offers guests a unique experience, combining the history and elegance of a medieval castle with top class accommodation and dining. The hotel features exquisite castle state rooms and suites, some with four poster beds, roll top baths, Narnia style wardrobes and sophisticated lounge areas, offering views of parkland or woodland. Guests can dine in the award-winning restaurant or attend the Elizabethan Banquets, an immersive experience featuring entertainment from individuals in traditional costume, fine dining, and an atmosphere reminiscent of the medieval period.

What is your biggest challenge currently?

Keeping the charm and rich history of Lumley Castle intact, while also keeping up with the latest hospitality standards and meeting guest expectations can be quite a juggling act. But finding that perfect harmony between preserving the past and embracing the future is key to the castle’s lasting success. The hospitality world is a bustling marketplace, with countless hotels, inns, and guesthouses all hoping to be the top choice for visitors. But Lumley Castle has a unique advantage – its distinct character and continuous commitment to innovation helps it stand out from the crowd, attract guests, and hold its position in the market.

How do you like to unwind?

My job is pretty full on, so I like to unwind by spending time with my family. I think having a work-life balance is really important, so I try to spend as much quality time with them as possible.


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