Hand Picked Hotels, the collection of architecturally splendid country house hotels, has won the prestigious AA Large Hotel Group of the Year 2012-2013 , it was announced today 24th September at a glittering awards ceremony in London.
The collection of 17 hotels won the most coveted category in the AA Hospitality Awards. Hand Picked Hotels’ Chairman and Chief Executive Julia Hands was presented with the award at the dinner.
|Julia Hands, Chairman & CEO & Founder of Hand Picked Hotels collects the prestigious award.
The consistently high quality of service, hospitality and guest experience at Hand Picked Hotels were highlighted in the judges’ citation: “Hand Picked Hotels have continued to invest and develop into the quality offering seen today. All hotels hold a high AA Merit Score putting genuine guest service and hospitality at the forefront. With 17 delightful hotels from Edinburgh to Jersey, many of which are in the countryside, their guests are provided with a high quality experience. Just under half the collection hold prestigious AA Red Stars. Food is a key part of the Hand Picked experience with every hotel holding a minimum of two coveted AA Rosettes for culinary excellence. This is the second time Hand Picked have won this award, a true credit to the teams! Congratulations on achieving the AA Large Hotel Group of the Year for 2012/13.”
Former City lawyer Julia Hands, who created Hand Picked Hotels in 2001 from a group of hotels purchased with her husband, financier Guy Hands. Julia “hand picked” 14 hotels that reflected the vision she created for the company, which remains unchanged today. In 2008, three new properties were acquired, bringing the collection to 17 hotels. Earlier this year, Bailbrook House Hotel in Bath was acquired and will join the collection in autumn 2013 after an extensive refurbishment programme.
Julia Hands said: “This award is a wonderful accolade following our 10th anniversary celebrations last year. Our General Managers and staff who work in the hotels and our head office team have been instrumental in winning this award for the second time. We like to think of our teams as Hand Picked people. They are part of the Hand Picked family who are dedicated to giving our guests the very best experience and creating a truly memorable stay.
“We have created our Being Hand Picked staff training programme and an apprentice chefs’ academy to identify young talent. We have invested more than £100 million in restoring and developing the hotels and have created new spa/health club facilities and state of the art conference facilities with the latest technology, within a heritage setting.
“Every one of our hotels is highly individual yet they all offer the Hand Picked experience. Our guests are at the heart of all we do and we have built up a hugely loyal and ever-expanding following.”
Julia Hands has encouraged the chefs to source local produce and grow herbs within the grounds of the hotels.. Several hotels are producing their own honey for guests to enjoy. Local meat, fish and cheeses are sourced to reflect the specialities of the area of each of the hotels.
The hotels’ wine list also reflects Julia’s philosophy and interest in wine, with a Hand Picked wine – Raccolto a Mano – “harvested by hand”, from the Hands’ estate they have created in Tuscany. A further feature of the wine list is the extensive collection of Bordeaux wines from the classic 2000 vintage bought by Julia en primeur.
Julia Hands said: “Our acquisition of Bailbrook House Hotel in Bath has given us a strategic presence in the South-west and we are looking to buy another two hotels to enhance our geographical spread and strengthen our position as the UK’s leading collection of country house hotels.”
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About Hand Picked Hotels
Hand Picked Hotels, created by former City lawyer Julia Hands, is the leading collection of architecturally splendid country house hotels - built for pleasure and continuing a centuries-old tradition of offering guests an indulgent yet attainable country house visit, with a contemporary twist. The award-winning hotels are renowned for exquisite food, fine wines and bespoke service by Hand Picked people in stylish, relaxing surroundings. There are 17 classically British hotels in rural settings across the UK, with locations ranging from the New Forest and Jersey to the Cotswolds and Edinburgh. Hand Picked Hotels has won an unrivalled number of awards, with 16 hotels awarded two AA rosette status and Norton House Hotel in Edinburgh recognised with three AA rosettes. Eight hotels have achieved red star status which means they are ranked within the AA's Top 200 hotels in the UK & Ireland. Seven of the hotels have spas offering the latest therapies and treatments to promote wellbeing and relaxation.