It's easy, in the excitement, to forget how the mechanics of the hospitality industry work over the Christmas period. Gone are the days when Christmas began at tea time on Christmas Eve and wound down after dinner on Christmas Day - for a port-induced snooze in front of It's a Wonderful Life. Now it's a month long bonanza which we love - but we certainly need to be prepared and have to dig deep for that extra dose of team energy and cohesiveness.
From 1st December, across THE PIGs we see a change of tone and tempo in our guests. They're gathering now for time with family and friends and some of these guests may not have seen each other since last Christmas. There's joy in the air and a slightly different dynamic in both the restaurant and throughout the hotel. People aren't in a hurry - work can wait - so we see some very relaxed guests who are happy to while away the hours.
And then we have the guests who have booked from Christmas Eve through to Boxing Day and they're full of festive spirit not least because they don't have to fret over a turkey or do any washing up. Everyone's in a good mood and we have to make sure the team is there to make sure each guest has a Christmas to remember.
In order to deliver Christmas properly we need to make sure that everything behind the scenes is beautifully organised. 150 covers over most lunchtimes and dinners throughout December require military precision and a strong dose of the inimitable Piggy charm. A lot of work goes into ensuring that the rotas are done properly and they require much more planning than any other month of the year. Each shift is full on and we need to make sure our team has been well-paced and that they get enough time out to recharge and be ready for the next full on shift.
Something that might come as a surprise to you is that quite a few members of staff actually want to work over Christmas. They may have family abroad, no family or find the Christmas period a difficult one for personal reasons. So, the hotel becomes your family during this time. We do secret Santa, ensure that the managers have presents sorted and wrapped for their teams and we do a lovely Christmas lunch in the staff canteen which is great fun for those to enjoy before or after their busy shift.
What we find is that people become more thoughtful about their work mates. Those who do have family might invite other staff members over to their house over the Christmas period so that no-one is left alone. We also have countless different nationalities working for us, with many different religions between them, so we need to understand and recognise their own ways of celebrating Christmas.
We are all like an extended family, complete with all the challenges and joys that a family brings. So, this December, if it all gets a bit much and you are looking to escape your family, or if you are all about ‘the more the merrier’ then get down to THE PIGs and join ours. The doors are always open, the fires are always lit and the fizz is always chilled.
- Robin Huston