Brian van Oosten first got a taste of the hospitality industry at the age of 14, working in a local bakery in his home town of Ommen, in Holland. The experience working in the restaurant encouraged him to enrol at Hotelschool, a business school specialising in hotel management, where he went on to achieve a BA in Hotel Management.
After completing his final year placement at St Ermin’s Hotel in London, Brian remained in the UK and now has more than 25 years in the industry, working as general manager for a number of well-known destinations, most recently Wynyard Hall where he has been working alongside the Hall and Antonopoulos families since 2014.
Speaking about the hotel industry, Brian says: “It is more than just a job, it’s a lifestyle. Every day is different; I get to work in an exquisite building and estate with lots of interesting individuals, delivering excellent-quality food and service, which is what I am passionate about”.
The mind-set of striving for perfection was instilled in Brian at a young age. “My father always told me ‘if you do something, you do it right’. This translated into every aspect of my upbringing, whether it be sport, school, food… it has always stuck with me.
“One of my greatest strengths is my attention to detail. It is something I look for in my staff and I aim to entrench it into the culture at Wynyard Hall. Equally, it can sometimes be a weakness in my role as you have to remember to focus on the bigger picture and not get too caught up in the intricacies.
“Having the right team enables you to do this.”
Asked if he sees a big difference between the hospitality industry in Holland and in the UK, Brian feels the difference is quite vast.
“In the UK, the role of waiter or waitress is seen as a temporary role or a ‘stepping stone’. One of my greatest challenges is recruiting and retaining staff in these important positions. In Holland – and in Europe, in general – people make careers as waiters and waitresses and are proud of their work.
“These days people get promoted too quickly and miss a lot of the basic skills required to perform well in their roles. The best members of our team can turn their hand to anything, I myself have worked in every department of a hotel and you will still find me all over the Estate, assisting where required.
“The hotel industry has changed so much in the last 25 years. Guest expectations are so much higher and technology has changed everything – you have to work even harder to stay at the top.
“Wynyard Hall is still a fairly new venture in many respects and we have undergone a period of huge growth, so we are still learning, but I feel very proud to be part of a strong team who are 100 per cent committed to improving and delivering the best-quality service.”