Would you work at the hotel where you got married?
Carol-Anne Key, front of house of the Red House Hotel, does.
Thirty years ago, Carol-Anne had her wedding reception in at the family-run hotel and, clearly, fell in love with the place.
Now, she is a valued long-term member of the team, having worked there for 30 years.
So what is it that keeps her coming back?
After having a stint in a hotel in York as a teenager, Carol-Anne developed a passion for working in hospitality.
“I loved the staff down there and speaking to customers,” she says.
And, after having her own wedding reception at the Red House Hotel in October 1993, she was inspired to join the team in the November.
‘Work mums’ are half the fun
“It doesn’t feel like 30 years, to be honest,” Carol-Anne laughs.
“But I guess that’s because it’s been such a good family environment to work in.”
Befriending regulars, who love to see Carol-Anne’s face behind the desk, has been a big part of her enjoyment of the job.
“You get to know some of the customers over the years,” she says.
“There’s a lot of regulars who come back and they’ve got to know me.
“We get golfing parties who return year after year and they’re always pleased to see me.
“It’s a familiar face, and all that.”
Not only has Carol-Anne enjoyed getting to know returning guests during the last 30 years, she has also loved making lifelong friends with other staff.
Moyra Bannerman, a member of the family who run the hotel, has played the role of Carol-Anne’s “work mum” over the last three decades.
Now, it’s Carol-Anne’s turn to help out the younger staff and take up the mum mantle.
“There’s been quite a lot of young ones who have treated me like their work mum,” she says.
“We had a girl from Ukraine who was here for a year.
“I certainly took her under my wing and she called me her work mum.”
Working as front of house helped Carol-Anne conquer shyness
As a teenager, Carol-Anne says she was quite shy.
Anyone who knows her now will know that is not the case today.
“I was quite shy at that age,” she recalls.
“But speaking to customers helped me conquer my shyness.
“I really came out of my shell.”
Now, her own learnings from battling her nerves help her encourage younger staff who are struggling with the same thing.
“The job does mean that you have to speak to people,” she says, “you have to make the customers hear you.
“It does help with shyness. It makes you more of a confident person by forcing you to talk to people.”
Don’t ‘turn your nose up’ at hospitality staff
Looking back at 30 years in the hospitality industry, Carol-Anne is proud of her role at the Red House Hotel.
Making sure guests have the best experience possible, and helping “the young ones” hone their craft, she has undoubtedly made a difference to the local community.
“Not everybody thinks waitressing or hospitality is a career,” says Carol-Anne, “many think of it as a pastime,” says Carol-Anne.
“They think: ‘oh, you’re just a waitress, you’re just front of house’.
“Some people turn their noses up at you. They think it’s not a good job to be in.
“You get a little bit annoyed about it.
“Because that’s the career path I’ve chosen.”
Hotel owner, Alan Bannerman, has thanked Carol-Anne’s loyalty to their family-run hotel.
“My family and I are very grateful for Carol-Anne’s long service,” he says.
“We send her the warmest congratulations on this significant milestone.
“She’s an extremely valued member of staff, who along with our entire team, really went the extra mile for us during Covid-19.
“We couldn’t have got through it without people like her.”