Sam Turner, Assistant Manager, Pale Hall Hotel

The Staff Canteen

Sam Turner has been working at Palé Hall for over 16 months which has an AA 3 rosette rating and has been included in Harden’s Restaurant Guide for 2018. 

The Staff Canteen caught up with Sam to find out why he chose a career in hospitality, working under pressure and how he always strives to go 'that extra mile' when it comes to his guests.

 Palé Hall
 Palé Hall

Can you give us an overview of your role at Palé Hall?

I am just about to start a new role at Palé Hall as Assistant Manager. This is an exciting time for me as I will be responsible for the front of house teams as well as the housekeeping staff and night team. I will also be looking after rates and revenue along with sales and marketing.

What attracted you to the hospitality industry and how did you get into it?

Like most teenagers when you reach 16, your parents encourage you to go out and get a part-time weekend job. At this age, the obvious is washing up in a local pub or getting a paper round. I decided to do both. I still remember the feeling when I got my first wage packet.

Over the years I had gradually worked my way up from kitchen porter to a waiter, bar staff, bar manager and duty manager. Most of which was whilst I was studying for a degree in Aviation Management and Operations.

Have you always wanted to work in the hospitality industry?

When I was doing my GCSE’S my aim was to become a chef. I loved the idea of turning fresh ingredients into something special and making people happy with the food. I think after my first kitchen porters job, where the head chef used to shout and throw pots and pans across the kitchen that put me off a little.

After my A levels, I had always said that University wasn’t for me, however, when I heard about a degree at the Aviation Academy at Leeds/Bradford airport I thought this is something I had always wanted to do. Like most boys growing up aeroplanes and airports really fascinated me. I remember on the first day, my lecturer had told us all that during this 3-year course we were advised to quit our jobs as the next three years was going to be intense. I knew that this wasn’t a possibility for me as paying for a private pilot’s licence was not cheap.

Pale Hall
Pale Hall

After a couple of years of trying to juggle both, I had to make the decision to concentrate on one or the other. Although my dream was to become a commercial pilot, I loved what the hospitality industry had to offer, plus I didn’t have to find over £100,000 to fund it.

Who inspires you?

The biggest inspiration for me to succeed is to make my family proud. I don’t see my family that often, probably once every three months, if I can get back up to Yorkshire, so been able to give them news like my most recent promotion really, inspires me to do well.

What's been the most difficult customer situation you've ever dealt with?

In the previous hotel I worked at, we had a lady that was threatening to jump off a 3rd-storey balcony. I was the duty manager that particular day and a member of the public came inside in hysterics saying someone was standing on the balcony acting strangely.

As a manager in the hospitality industry, acting calm when under pressure is a must. I went up to the bedroom, where she was and asked her if she was ok. She clearly displayed mental health problems and I managed to get a message to reception to call 999. Whilst I was sat with her trying to keep her calm, I remember thinking this wasn’t in any of the training I had done.

This was when I realised working in the hospitality industry isn’t just about offering a service to paying customers. It is about the genuine care you give whilst carrying out your job role.

Pale Hall front of house
Pale Hall front of house 

Is the customer, always right?

The first thing I learnt when I started working in a 5-star hotel was that we don’t have customers, we have guests. When we do get guest feedback and comments we always take it on board and learn from anything we can improve on, so yes, the guest is always right.

Can you tell us more about Palé Hall?

Palé Hall is a beautifully appointed, destination country house hotel with a fine dining restaurant. It was created in association with Michelin-star chef Michael Caines, with signature dishes realised by our own head chef Gareth Stevenson.

It is a destination for a quiet retreat, comfort and culinary indulgence, situated in the tranquil Dee valley this grand, historic, high Victorian mansion has an idyllic woodland garden rolling down to the banks of the river. The spectacular Snowdonia National Park is on our doorstep. The hotel features eighteen luxurious, individually styled bedrooms with sumptuous décor, each with a beautifully appointed bathroom. Expect to enjoy exceptional standards of service in a friendly, informal and relaxing atmosphere.

The Pale Hall has an AA 3 rosette rating and has been included in Harden’s Restaurant Guide for 2018 – how important are these accolades to the hotel?

When Palé Hall first opened its doors in September 2016 after an extensive 11-month refurbishment, owners Alan and Angela Harper set out to become the best luxury hotel in Wales aiming to be included amongst the best in the UK. Our general manager Pim Wolfs has been the driving force behind many of the awards and accolades, motivating the team to succeed. It means a lot to the team that our hard work is paying off. We are looking forward to the future.

Who is the most famous person that has stayed at PaléHall?

robertson dining room
Robertson dining room

Guest confidentiality is important at Palé Hall so I cannot answer that, however, I can say Palé has welcomed the likes of Winston Churchill and Queen Victoria over the years. Queen Victoria stayed here for 10 nights and now the Victoria room is used as one of our popular guest bedrooms with the original half-tester bed and bathroom suite.

What are your favourite things about working in the hotel industry?

Working in the hotel industry offers so much as a career. For me the what I love most about my job is how it is developing me as a person. It wasn’t that long ago that I was so shy I would avoid any form of public speaking and at school, I would hide to avoid doing the class presentation. Now I am confident to lead staff meetings and conduct house tours to large groups of people wanting to learn about the history of Palé. I have to thank Pim, Alan and Angela for pushing me to become confident in my abilities at work.

Lastly, I have to say working in the hotel industry is great because you get to meet so many lovely people from the guests to the suppliers and of course the friends you make within the team. Palé Hall is like a family and for all those who live away from home, it means so much that there is one large family there when you need them.

What do you look for when hiring?

Palé Hall is situated in rural North Wales, so recruitment is often challenging. What I think separates Palé Hall from other hotels is the warmth and personality of the staff. We often receive lovely comments and guest reviews saying how warm and welcoming the staff are. That said, when hiring I look for individuals that are passionate about providing excellent service whilst showing warmth and personality.

How important is training for you and your staff?

Staff training is very important at Palé Hall. We are now working on our next goal to achieve 5 red stars. With staff turnover in the hotel industry generally very high, it is important that training continues on a regular basis. For myself, I am always looking at ways I can develop my skills by learning from my peers.

What’s the best advice you can give to someone looking to begin a career in hospitality?

For those looking to begin a career in hospitality, I would encourage them to go for it. Working in hospitality is not just a job, it can be a career. I would recommend finding an employer like Palé Hall who is keen to encourage development. Try and experience different areas within the hospitality sector. I have worked in kitchens, restaurant, housekeeping and reception and have found a role that I love. Within hospitality there are so many avenues you can take, it is important you find the best one for you and if you give 100% your hard work will be noticed

By Emma Harrison


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Editor 8th February 2018

Sam Turner, Assistant Manager, Pale Hall Hotel