As Hotel Indigo Chester prepares to open later this year, we asked the new General Manager, Bethan Johnston, some hard-hitting questions.
Give us a brief background about yourself
I have worked in the hospitality industry since the age of 15 and having grown up in Cheshire there is no better place for me to open a new hotel. I have been lucky enough to work for Starwood, Marriott, Malmaison, Macdonald Hotels, Accor and most recently Hilton before being welcomed by IHG to open this amazing property. When I’m not running a hotel, I like to travel and experience food and drink from all regions and cultures whilst constantly experiencing interesting properties that I can learn from.
What kind of GM are you?
I’ve been a General Manager for five years and I have been lucky to have some incredible mentors in that time.
I really enjoy working alongside my teams and helping them develop their skills and be the best they can be. I’m not afraid to be creative and to think outside of the box in ways for us to improve as a business and I always encourage people around me to do the same.
I’m also very passionate about delivering an amazing experience for our guests, which is why we’re all here and I am a firm believer that to do this you need a happy, engaged workforce. That’s really the essence of my job, to ensure the team are engaged, informed and empowered (and to balance the books!
Why Hotel Indigo?
I’ve just left the Hilton brand, which I really enjoyed, but there’s something unique and special about Hotel Indigo.
I really love the connection it has with the local neighbourhood and challenging the norm of traditional hotels. For example, if a guest asks for a suggestion of where to eat, most hotels would recommend the on-site hotel restaurant. Even though we have a fantastic restaurant within the hotel – in the form of Wood Chester – if we can inform the guest of something more suitable for them locally, then that’s exactly what we’re going to do.
There’s no doubt that the guest experience comes first with Hotel Indigo and that’s exactly how I want to be treated when visiting a hotel. The guest experience comes first.
And the fact that it’s in such an incredibly historic city like Chester, it’s perfect for that neighbourhood experience.
You know Chester well, but what do you like about it?
Chester is just an amazing place. It’s historic. It’s beautiful. It’s unique.
The fact that it’s all encompassed within ancient walls makes it feel extra special from the moment you step foot into the city. The range of architecture – from the medieval and Jacobean buildings to the Victorian Eastgate Clock – is just breath-taking. But then there’s the quirkiness to the city and those little boutiques that sets it aside from the modern cities.
There are also some amazing bars and restaurants in Chester. There’s nothing quite like sitting out, enjoying some great food in good company, surrounded by the stunning views everywhere you look.
Why should people stay at Hotel Indigo Chester?
Well… if someone wants to come to Chester and experience Chester from the second they arrive to the moment they leave then Hotel Indigo Chester is definitely the hotel for them.
Our public areas have been designed with the heart of Chester in mind. The guest rooms follow three key styles – Material layers, The Eastgate Clock and the famous Racecourse – all devised from the neighbourhood story of Chester.
On top of a beautifully designed hotel, our guests can expect an engaging service from start to finish. At a time when technology is moving us away from communicating with other human beings, we’re going against the grain slightly. Guests will be greeted by our team of like-minded and passionate people. People who love their jobs, love Chester and want to express that and share their knowledge. Whatever the guest is visiting Chester for, we hope that their experience is not only the best it can be, but a truly Chester experience.
What are your aspirations in this role?
I have been concentrating on building the best team possible for the hotel and we already have an amazing management team in place. Once all of the team is in place and fully trained, we’ll be ready to welcome our guests with a unique engaging, boutique service.
Not only do we want to provide the best service possible, we must provide that Chester experience as well. Long-term, we clearly want to make this the best hotel in the city. The measurement for that is obviously going to be difficult – TripAdvisor and Google reviews are clearly some sort of indicator, but we will have our targets and do everything we can to hit them.
Finally, tell us something interesting about yourself?
I am also a huge animal lover having 2 dogs, a chameleon and a horse!