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A Cumbrian who is one of the world’s top hoteliers is mapping out a bold vision for one of Britain’s most iconic places to stay.
Ken Watson, a well-respected figure in the international hospitality sector with more than 35 years’ experience managing and developing world-class luxury resorts, has taken over the reins at the famous Land’s End Hotel in Cornwall.
Ken was literally born into the hospitality trade – he was brought up in his parent’s inn near Buttermere.
His first job was at the legendary Sharrow Bay Hotel. Ken, who was a keen amateur rugby league player in the county, said: “I started in the kitchen washing pots and then trained as a chef.”
Ken’s reputation in the hotel sector was gained helping create and develop new resorts, particularly in the Caribbean. He is also an expert in developing eco-tourism.
His appointment at Land’s End marks a return to his native country after decades in the Caribbean – and he is excited about what the future holds for him and the hotel.
The Land’s End Hotel recently underwent a £250,000 renovation of its restaurant, lounge bar and reception area. Following the success of this, a second phase of the investment programme is now planned, as Ken sets his sights on creating one of the most distinctive hotels in the UK, attracting visitors from across the globe.
Ken said: “I have had a great career, opening and developing new hotels, and I am delighted to be back in the UK working at such a fabulous hotel with such great potential for the future.
“I’ve known the Land’s End Hotel for over a decade and I love the area and the people. I want to help put it on the map even more. It’s in a fantastic location.”
After moving from his native Cumbria he trained at the Savoy and the Dorchester hotels, learning food and beverage management. He said: “It was a fantastic grounding in hotels that were very special.”
His CV following that early training period is equally impressive and includes major developments and industry honours.
Ken is a graduate of Cornell University, with a degree in International Resort and Tourism Development. He is also a winner of the Caribbean Hotelier of The Year Award for services to tourism in the region, where he has spent most of his career.
Before returning to the UK, his latest development project was the eco-friendly Rosalie Bay Resort in Dominica, recently chosen by Conde Nast Traveller Magazine as one of the top five Caribbean Resorts.
Five years in the making, the 22-acre getaway was built on principles of conservation and preservation, surrounded by an undisturbed natural setting of mountains, lush forests and gardens.
Ken is a past recipient of the Caribbean Hotel Association Award for Excellence in Hospitality Development, as well as operational awards from international brands.
He has served as Chairman of the Caribbean Branch of the Hotel Catering and International Management Association (now the Institute of Hospitality) and been on the board of The Nassau/Paradise Island Promotion Board and The Grand Bahama Island Promotion Board.
He was also general manager of The Lucayan Beach Resort and Casino, owned by The Government of the Bahamas and managed by Miami-based Carnicon Group, a subsidiary of Carnival Cruise Lines.
Ken's career includes teaching college level courses as an adjunct professor at three different colleges and universities over a 20-year period.
He has also managed Wyndham and independent hotels, including developing the 3,500-room Atlantis Resort Hotel in The Bahamas. Working as a consultant, he has helped open a number of other new resorts since 2000.