Tell us about your background…
I’m originally from Cheshire and arrived in Sunderland in January to take up the general manager position. I worked at the Hampton by Hilton in Derby previous to this, and before I moved into hotels, I worked for ten years at the Youth Hostel Association.
What are your impressions of Sunderland and the surrounding area?
I’m really loving it here. Everyone seems so friendly and there’s so much to visit and see. Having been based in Derby, I’m especially enjoying being so close to the coast and I visit the local beach regularly.
What can we expect from the new Hilton Garden Inn in Sunderland?
Garden Inn is the energising hotel brand of the larger Hilton group. The Sunderland hotel has 141 bedrooms, including queen-sized rooms, king-sized rooms and a few suites. We also offer a full restaurant service, a bar, a fitness centre and a business centre.
Tell us about the food offering at the hotel …
Our restaurant is completely unique to the Hilton Garden Inn in Sunderland. It’s called the Karbon Grill – our homage to the region’s coal mining heritage – and serves a range of pan-American cuisine with a hint of Latin flair. The menu has been designed by head chef Luca Tomassetti and includes the likes of baked Canadian lobster and 32oz Tomahawk rib-eye steak, Cajun blackened stone bass and the signature Karbon burger, which is seasoned with a unique rub.
What does the hotel offer corporate guests?
We have a 24-hour business centre with computers, printers and free Wi-Fi available. We also have three dedicated rooms to hold business meetings or conferences. Our largest holds up to 60 people and the other two rooms have capacity of around 20 people each. Corporate guests can also benefit from the full catering facilities on site, and we can offer private dining. We’re already talking to a number of local businesses about the corporate facilities at the hotel and, as we get more established, we are hoping to attract corporates from outside the area, too.
The hotel is located next to Sunderland AFC’s Stadium of Light. Is there a link with the club?
Yes, we will be holding hospitality packages with the club so that people can enjoy a meal in the Karbon Grill and then receive a ticket for the match. We’re also hoping to attract a lot of supporters and visiting supporters on match days.
Who else are you hoping to attract to the Hilton Garden Inn?
We’re expecting a lot of corporate guests during the week and then, at the weekend, more leisure guests who are coming to Sunderland to explore the city and the surrounding area. We really feel that Hilton Garden Inn offers something new to the city and it will be popular with visitors and locals alike.