In the final part, HM wraps up its special feature series showcasing excerpts and entertaining tales from ‘The Grand Life: Confessions of an Old School Hotelier’ – a new memoir trilogy by legendary international hotelier, Patrick L Griffin OAM.
Patrick Langley Griffin OAM grew up in the post-war years of a gloomy Britain in the 1940s and 50s. His career spanned fifty years as a hotelier in hotels across the UK, Europe and Australia. His story is populated by famous and infamous people, as well as tales of all the staff he worked with, full of laughs, tears and crazy behaviour. His memoirs are full of humour, candour and genuine empathy for the common humanity that binds us all.
As for ‘my’ hotel, The Observatory, it is wonderful to see that the spirit and the culture we developed was not lost. In 2017 a Facebook page appeared: The Observatory Hotel and Orient-Express Australia. It rapidly attracted nearly 250 members of the hotels’ teams from both The Observatory and our sister hotel Lilianfels in The Blue Mountains. Members post updates, social events and news and we stay connected.
Along with The Observatory, other hotels in which I had spent many years of my career have also passed into mere memories. Back in Britain, The Manor House Hotel in Leamington Spa is now self-catering apartments. The Castle Hotel in Norwich was demolished and replaced by The Castle Mall shopping centre. The Cavendish Hotel in Eastbourne was “sold to a group dubbed ‘the worst hotel chain in the UK’”. The De Montfort Hotel in Kenilworth is now a Holiday Inn and sports a Starbucks whilst the De Vere in Coventry is now The Britannia Hotel.
The one constant remains The Grand Hotel in Eastbourne where my career first started. Now owned by Elite Hotels, they have tastefully renovated the hotel so that it is still a much-respected luxury hotel under the management of my old friend and colleague, Jonathan Webley.
I subtitled my story ‘Confessions of an Old School Hotelier in the Digital Age’. I thought I’d be talking about hotels, but I see I have also painted a picture of evolving social values, standards, culture and technology throughout my journey. I grew up in a world when homes weren’t locked, where children played outside in woods and parks without fear. There were no televisions and many homes did not have a telephone. Mobile phones were only seen in science fiction movies.
Now I have trouble keeping up with views on gender equality, sexuality, race and political correctness. Was this the same for my parents? Will it be like this for my children?
As my mother would counsel me: “This is no rehearsal, life is a gift to you. The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after.” And so I say dear readers, make your life a Grand one, live it well and enjoy its every minute.The Grand Life: Confessions of an Old School Hotelier
Each of the three volumes of ‘The Grand Life: Confessions of an Old School Hotelier’ are available as an e-book, by print on request and will soon be available as an audiobook. For more information, CLICK HERE.