Q&A with Lisa Lernoux-Dock, a self confessed 'mad Californian' and MICE Sales Director for Iconic Luxury Hotels
Q&A with Lisa Lernoux-Dock - MICE Sales Director at Iconic Luxury Hotels, a collection of luxury hotels across London and the South.
What’s the best thing about working in your hotels?
I get to sell four of the most authentically English, fabulously aspirational and best-loved hotels in the UK. What’s not to like? I travel regularly between the properties (I like to think of myself as ‘free-range’).
How did you get into the industry?
After studying Theatre Arts in California I thought it would be only a matter of time until I was ‘discovered’. In the meantime I needed some viable employment and decided that working at a hotel might be a bit glam (oh the follies of youth). Expecting to be immediately hired for a top management position I dropped off my resume at all the best hotels in Palm Springs. Luckily, one of the HR departments (when they’d stopped laughing) passed on my CV to a local DMC. I was hired as dogsbody and quickly found there was as much potential for glamour, theatricality and occasional drama as anything I had anticipated from Hollywood.The Lygon Arms in Broadway
What’s the history of Iconic Luxury Hotels?
Legendary hotelier Martin Skan opened Chewton Glen in 1966 and sold the property to private owners 12 years ago. In 2012 our owners purchased the lease of Cliveden House and 5 years later the lovely Lygon Arms. Around the same time they took on the management of 11 Cadogan Gardens and, like the formation of the Travelling Wilburys and the Highwaymen (if you’re under 45 ask a colleague), the ‘Iconic Luxury Hotels’ group was formed.
Tell us something we wouldn't know about your hotels
Chewton Glen: In addition to growing much of our own fruit, vegetables and herbs in our 1 acre walled garden and adjacent orchard, CG also supplies local company Naked Jams who make all of our chutneys, jellies and jams. The beehives on our 130 acre estate are home to five million busy occupants who produce honey for the hotel whilst pollinating the beautiful wildflowers surrounding the house (and you thought we only provided five-star accommodation for discerning humans).
Lygon Arms: In 1649 the hotel (then a coaching inn called ‘The White Hart) served both sides in the English Civil War. Charles I met his Cavaliers at the inn during the conflict, and Oliver Cromwell planned the Battle of Worcester here in 1651. Still an ideal venue for strategic meetings, the Lygon is now an oasis for peaceful and happy gatherings.
11 Cadogan Gardens: there is an unsubstantiated yet persistent rumour that an evening at 11 Cadogan Gardens was Mick Jagger’s inspiration for ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’.
What’s the most interesting event you’ve worked on, and how did the hotel cope with it?
That’s a tough one - there have been so many over the years. One that springs to mind was a combined B2B/B2C event to promote the home video launch of ‘The Hobbit’. The guests were booked into Treehouse Suites at CG and the plan was to transport them for a dinner screening to a nearby New Forest location which had been magically transformed into an all singing Gandalf-inhabited Middle-earth. The challenge came when it was time for the guests to depart for the dinner: no one wanted to leave their Treehouses. After much persuasion we got there in the end and a happy Hobbit’s holiday was had by all. The boardroom at 11 Cadogan Gardens
What events work best at the hotels?
The hotels are ideal for high-level meetings, wow-incentives and must-attend corporate hospitality - for groups from 6 -86 rooms.
Why do clients choose to host events at your hotels?
Do you mean aside from the exceptional value, outstanding service and guaranteed rave reviews? Hmmm, couldn’t say….
What are your venues’ top 3 USPs that separate your group from others?
Location, location, location…
- Less than two hours from London, Chewton Glen is set in 130 acres of woodland and parkland on the edge of the New Forest, just minutes from the sea and is ideal for land and water based activities.
- 11 Cadogan Gardens is discreetly tucked away in a quiet residential neighbourhood a scone’s throw from Sloane Square. The hotel’s gorgeous high-spec meeting/private dining room can take up to 18 guests and can be accessed both from within the hotel or from the street by a separate private entrance.
- Smack in the middle of Broadway, one of the most picturesque villages in the Cotwolds, the Lygon Arms is within easy reach for groups from Birmingham, Oxford and the West Midlands, as well as from central London by rail.
What changes or exciting plans are coming up in 2018 for the group?
Chewton Glen will be launching its newest Treehouse at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May. It will then be moved to our grounds as a fabulous new home for our ever-popular Kids’ Club. It will have lots of bespoke touches like a comfy reading nook and intricate rope work all inspired by the hotel’s quintessential English country garden. This spacious Treehouse be will also be a fun and quirky corporate location for guests to meet in and reconnect with nature and the unfettered creativity of their inner child.