Rudding Park’s Peter Banks on thriving in today’s tough times

By Hannah Thompson

- Last updated on GMT

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Peter Banks is managing director at independent hotel Rudding Park, in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. He talks Brexit, the independent regional market, F&B, Airbnb, Millennials, and changing times

In this interview, recorded at this year’s Annual Hotels Conference in Manchester, Banks explains his practical philosophy on how to thrive in today’s market, and his advice for creating the right niche to attract your perfect guests.

Rudding Park - new challenges

Set in North Yorkshire, the 88-bedroom boutique property is soon to open its entirely new £9.5m spa – complete with landscaped roof garden and infinity hyrdopools, sauna, pilates pit and hot tubs.

It has also just opened a new restaurant, Horto (from the Latin for ‘kitchen garden’), designed to provide a new food and beverage offer focusing on fresh and foraged produce, at a time when the challenge from the high street has never been greater.

The hotel – conscious of its regional, northern location compared to the big players in the south ‒ is also looking to position itself as a strong player in the national market, hoping to appeal to a wider audience.

Its offers include golf, events, spa, and bedroom packages – alongside top quality F&B and service.  

Peter Banks on...

1. Time: 00:05 - WHAT'S NEW

What’s new at Rudding Park?

Key quote: ​“We are recapturing Harrogate spa heritage…we are building that spa, and that will fundamentally change our model, and move us from fighting in a regional market, to fighting in a national market.



2. Time:  00:39 - BREXIT

Everyone’s talking about the Brexit effect on hotels. What’s your view?

Key quote: ​“Certainly Brexit has had a big impact on Rudding…all that’s happened for us, literally I’ve just been hit with a 10 per cent increase from 1 November. My machinery, golf course, kitchen, my food and veg...government meddling and Brexit. And the whole 'will you employ foreign people?' That's just daft. We've got to.”

3. Time: 01:58 - REGIONAL HOTELS

What’s your view on the state of the regional hotel market compared to London?

Key quote: ​“London and the South East are a different country…you can't even compare what happens. Which is a bit unfair...I have to work three times as hard to provide the same level of service.” 



4. Time: 02:27 - FOOD AND BEVERAGE

Innovative food and beverage (F&B) is a hot topic right now. How important is it?

Key quote: ​“F&B is fundamental to a hotel, and will differentiate us from AirBnb. If all as a hotelier you’re offering is a bed, you’re competing with AirBnb, and they can always do it at a cheaper price. So clearly distinguished F&B is vital.”


What challenges or considerations do you have for the business’s future right now?

Key quote: ​“Our struggle will be that we have too many ancillary spaces and not enough bedrooms. We need to drive demand in those ancillary spaces.”  




'What Millennials want’ is a buzzword right now. Do you take that into account?

Key quote:​ “Free Wi-Fi is just like free electricity. And flexible lobby space; Yes, we still have a reception desk but we want to get rid of it. It just sits in the front hall looking ugly. But at the moment, my current guests want a reception desk. They want the comfort of knowing where to come. People my son’s age – close to 20 – they don’t care.


How are you meeting the challenges in today’s changing market?

Key quote: ​“We need to be doing something different all the time. We constantly need to be different…we offer things at Rudding that other independent hotels in the North of England don’t offer.”


The word ‘experiential’ (giving guests memorable experiences) is also big now. Your thoughts?

Key quote: ​“Let’s just look after our guests. Provide what they want. Just a bit of empathy. Look after your guests as if they were your guests at home, and you won’t go far wrong.” 

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