Master of the Month – Robin Hutson

As champions of men, SCRUBD is passionate about helping men to be masters in every area of their life. Every month we interview a true master, who is making a difference in the world around him.

This month we are interviewing Robin Hutson, one of Britain’s most innovative hoteliers and CEO of the renowned Pig Hotel.

What did you learn from your first job as a commis waiter at Claridge’s?

You don’t get anywhere without hard work

After 8 years working as MD at Chewton Glen you decided to go it alone and set up the Hotel Du Vin group. What made you take this step?

I could feel the wind of change coming from London, it was a less formal approach to hospitality but in 1994 the provinces were stuck in a time warp, the hotels and restaurants were still trying to peddle the style of food and service that was becoming less relevant. I wanted to be at the vanguard of that change.

Prior to setting up the Pig Hotel, you became executive chairman of Soho House Group. During your three-year spell as chairman, the group doubled in size to a turnover of £50m. What’s the secret to your success?

Nick Jones the Founder of Soho House was the real creative engine, but he and I had a unique relationship, maybe I provided the support when he most needed it – Nick is still a very close friend.

You have said that you have no interest in running big businesses and expect to sell The Pig one day. Do you find it difficult to remove yourself emotionally from your business’?

You can’t have it always, my wife Judy and I are very emotionally involved with the business. There is no real difference between our business life and our personal one…but if we decide to sell then we will do so wishing the new owners good luck and move on….just as we did at Hotel du Vin.

The Pig Hotels now have an occupancy rate of 90% + throughout the year, what is so special about the Pig hotel experience?

It’s caught the spirit of the moment; the food, the kitchen gardens, the friendly staff, we are obsessed with the million details that make up the Pig experience, but above all people feel very comfortable and at home at the Pig hotels. It’s not too precious.

Food and drink is at the forefront of what you do at the Pig hotels with each hotel having its own kitchen garden. Why is this so important to you?

People are more and more interested in what they put into their bodies, this is our USP. Guests can literally watch the gardeners and chefs harvesting mid-morning and be eating that produce at midday. This has really struck a chord with our customers.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced during your career?

I think it’s about to come if the Government don’t make the right decisions over Brexit and immigration. They seem very slow to understand that many industries including ours need and value members of our team from outside the UK. Its time they stopped being a bit dim, gave direction and showed some metal……

What advice would you give to aspiring hoteliers?

Be obsessed with the product, nurture the people and the profit will look after itself.

What do you wish you knew when you were first starting that you now know?

Having fun and working are not mutually exclusive.

What’s your motivation?

I never wake up in the morning not wanting to go to work, but the element I love more than anything is seeing young starters in this industry develop and progress into senior positions. We have lots of examples of that.

Quick Fire

How do you master your day?

My PA Jacqui and I spend a long time making the diary as efficient as possible

If you could have dinner with three male masters, who would they be and why?

Eric Clapton, I wish I could play a guitar like he does. My two sons – Ollie is a master kitchen gardener and runs all of our kitchen gardens, he seems to be able to grow things effortlessly. Will is a brilliant Tattoo artist, I just don’t know how he does such intricate work.

The best piece of advice you have ever received?

Take what you do seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously!