Oaks Hotels, Resorts and Suites COO, Craig Hooley.

HM recently sat down for a spot of breeze-shooting with Oaks Hotels, Resorts and Suites Chief Operating Officer, Craig Hooley, during which he had us in stitches about one of those red wine and white clothing stories that undoubtedly has happened to us all at some point.

What was your first job in the accommodation industry and how long were you in it?

My first job was just after I left school and was working in the scullery of a large kitchen of a hotel in Sydney. I spent my whole shift over a large sink washing saucepans and dodging flying utensils from angry chefs. A highlight was sneaking into the freezer at the end of my shift and eating ice cream. A very fond memory which lasted just six months before greener pastures came my way.

Can you tell us a funny, embarrassing or memorable story involving you from the early part of your career?

I was tasked to serve on a table of VIPs which included a Navy Captain and his wife who were both dressed in white. As I approached the wife of the captain to offer a glass of wine, I thought I had a finger on the napkin which was going to catch any potential drips, but as I poured, it slipped forward and the wine ran back up the napkin along the bottle and into the lap of the white dress.

I just froze looking at the dress, now covered in red wine. I could not speak and luckily my Supervisor came over and helped with an apology. I have never wrapped a bottle of wine since.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to young people assessing whether hospitality or tourism is right for them as a profession?

Success in the hospitality industry starts with the right personality, you must have a passion for being around people and a natural mindset to want to enrich the lives of others. But by doing so, the industry has great rewards that start with it being the fastest industry to reach management and can involve amazing opportunities to travel and experience the best the world has to offer. If you feel it is for you, dive in deep, wash dishes, make beds and before you know you could be running your own hotel or operation.