TD Conversations: Peter J. Bates in conversation with Anthony Torkington, General Manager, Relais & Châteaux

As General Manager, Member Services of Relais & Châteaux, he offers a sweeping perspective of the group’s global operations and ambitions.

The Relais & Châteaux group is made up of 580 member properties across 67 different countries, 80 of which are standalone restaurants. They also have a 600-strong private villa programme and a couple of small, top-end boats in the Galapagos and the Amazon. With such a global presence, having the right people in place is supremely important.

Anthony Torkington, General Manager, Member Services, is one of the four pillars of this prestigious organisation. The British doctor’s son, who went to study hospitality in Switzerland at Glion and then joined the Accor group straight after that, has certainly come a long way in the business. Long associated with Relais & Châteaux (in 2001, at the age of 28, he was already GM of one of their properties), he admits, “Twenty years of running Relais & Châteaux properties, I suppose I am a Relais & Châteaux man!”

Which is why, when the opportunity to join the head office presented itself in 2018, he was pleased to take it on. “Familiarity with the day-to-day operations of small properties across the globe helps to take the theory and put it in to practice,” he smiles.

Torkington speaks about the growth of Relais & Châteaux that started with just eight properties in France in 1954, between Paris and Nice, to today, with a global presence that is constantly in a state of expansion but with great detailing, as quality is vital. He describes the planned prospections, referrals, and inspections that cover 500 points across technical and emotional aspects of the hotels and restaurants they consider.

He also explains how they stayed connected with their 42,000 staff members worldwide through the pandemic, using the intranet, a MyRelais mobile app, etc. The big digital shift the company has seen in the last decade, has resulted in a commercial website as well as online tools used for induction that explain the history of Relais & Châteaux so that each staff member is trained an ambassador of the brand.

Partnerships being important to a boutique brand with such a big presence, Torkington speaks about their associations with Champagne houses and cruise companies, and how it’s important that they are aligned in how they do things and share similar values.  

Relais & châteaux, sujan, luxury hotels
The Royal Tented Suite at SUJÁN The Serai, Jaisalmer, which is associated with Relais & Châteaux.

In India, Relais & Châteaux has three SUJÁN properties, each of which celebrates everything local in terms of cuisine, design, team, and experience, while having all the bells and whistles of a luxury stay that the global traveller seeks. India is also a part of their routes du bon heure, or ‘roads to happiness’ crafted by Relais & Châteaux, which are 148 unique itineraries to discover the world.

Read more.

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