F&B Manager at Buxted Park Hotel, Marc Desseaux is a Hand Picked veteran. Here we find out more about the man behind the smile, and what makes his job so extraordinary.

How long have you worked for Hand Picked Hotels? It has been over 20 years now. I started my journey at Chilston Park and then moved to Buxted Park, so I have been with Hand Picked since the beginning. 

What are your main responsibilities? I manage everything to do with food and beverage. This covers the restaurant, bars, room service operation, banqueting for weddings conference, private dining, stocks of wine cellars – I even get involved with toast mastering. 

When it comes to my team, you could also say I am a social worker, a banker, a taxi driver – the list goes on! This is the world of my job. Our relationship with our people is one of the most important things at Hand Picked, and there is a strong family feel within the team. Whatever they need, I am there to help.

What are the best bits about your role? Definitely keeping guests and staff happy. You won’t believe me, but every year I send over 600 hand-written cards at Christmas! My diary is so full with guests that I keep in contact with, and the ultimate satisfaction is when guests come back. That kind of loyalty is a wonderful thing. It’s all about relationship and rapport in this role, and I can honestly say that I don’t just like my job - I love it.

Do you have a favourite drink and meal at Buxted Park? My wine cellar is my baby and I studied wine intensively for 5 years, so that should tell you everything you need to know. Oh, I also love Port! Personally I am not a huge lover of beer or spirits, but we are very lucky to have three professionally trained mixologists on the bar, and they are a joy to watch. 

I love all traditional French cuisine (of course). At Buxted, there is so much variety! I am a crazy fanatic of fish, it can be sea bass, sole, monkfish – I adore it all. We’re not too far away from Brighton so we often get fresh scallops brought in and that is a real treat.

Do you have a favourite place in the hotel or grounds? We have three lakes and there is a little bridge on the largest lake which is simply stunning. I also have a place that means very much to me, where I planted a tree in memory of a very special person. I go there from time to time, just to reflect and remember her.

What do you think makes a good guest experience? The welcome is so important. We must be able to read a guest and pre-empt what they might need, before they even know it themselves. We strive to provide a seamless service and create a charming atmosphere from beginning to end, and immerse ourselves in the guest journey. Their total happiness and content is paramount, and it is the Hand Picked people and the service we provide that can make that happen. 

Are you feeling confident about re-opening the hotels after Covid? As a company we are extremely well-prepared and have all the equipment and in-depth training we need to be able to re-open with complete confidence. We have made a point of communicating with our guests very clearly about what we’re doing and why, and keeping them informed along the way. We already have a great number of guests booked to stay, which is really positive.

If travel restrictions were completely relaxed, where would be the first place you would visit? France! Of course!! I’d go to The Alps where my mother lives, not too far from the Italian border. Or I’d go to Compiègne where I come from and where I started my career 43 years ago. It was a family-run business and I was pot washing for my Uncle Auberge, in a little village in the heart of the Forest of Compiègne. It’s a lovely area full of history - you should visit if you can!