The Hotelier Edit: Alex McEwen, General Manager of Lympstone Manor
Nestled amidst the picturesque countryside of Devon, Lympstone Manor stands as a beacon of hospitality, renowned for its exceptional service, culinary brilliance, and commitment to sustainability. In this exclusive interview, we delve into the heart of Lympstone Manor's ethos, exploring the experiences that have made it a destination of choice for discerning travellers worldwide. Joining us is the General Manager, Alex McEwen, a hotelier with an extensive background in the hospitality industry, who shares his insights into creating an unforgettable guest experience.
Tell us about your experience in the hospitality industry and how it’s led you to Lympstone Manor
Having been brought up in hotels, my father still owns an old coaching inn, in Oxfordshire, there was never any other career path for me and on leaving school I enrolled as a Management Trainee within the Savoy Group. After seven years I took on management roles in London properties including Blakes Hotel and Hazlitt’s Hotels. Prior to joining the Lympstone Manor, I worked for a number of years at Waddesdon Manor, managed by the Rothschild Foundation on behalf of the National Trust. More recently my wife who hails from Devon persuaded me to move to this beautiful county. I decided that I wanted to work in the best hotel in Devon and Lympstone Manor certainly fitted the bill.
What does a great customer experience look like at your hotel, and what makes it unique?
Our motto ‘Experience the Exceptional’ will give you an insight into the service we want to offer, however we are not ‘stuffy’ and we treat everyone as if they were guests in Michaels own home. What is unique about Lympstone Manor is that we have our own vineyard so you can enjoy a glass of our Classic Cuvee whilst looking at the vines the wine was made from.
Can you share some insights into the culinary philosophy that drives the exceptional dining experiences offered at the hotel?
Michael is an incredibly inspiring chef with a passion for championing the regions local produce, often quoting ‘the Southwest is the best larder in Europe’.
We have a strong connection to the sea and land at Lympstone Manor and because of this, have forged dedicated relationships with our suppliers through the years, learning about the provenance of each of the ingredients used on the menu.
It is Michael’s brilliant creativity allied with his global taste and vision that allows him to transform the seasonal and regional ingredients into dishes of rare precision, focus and flavour.
How are you approaching the issue of sustainability?
The relationships we have with local suppliers is imperative to the way we operate, not only with ingredients but within the décor we choose for the hotel also.
For example, our bedding is made by an independent company based in Plymouth, the candles we light are created by a family run company based in Dartmoor and we use a company based just minutes from the hotel to create our in-room toiletries, which are provided in refillable bottles to prevent single use plastic.
The hotel offers various types of accommodation, each with its unique charm. Can you highlight some of the distinctive features of the rooms or suites that guests can look forward to?
All our bedrooms our individually designed and named after birds of the Exe Estuary and surrounding areas. Our garden rooms have outdoor bathtubs and the views are incredible. We also have 6 shepherd huts at the foot of our vineyard, which have a wonderful charm.
Can you share some insights into how the vineyard influences the selection of wines at the hotel and contributes to the overall ambience of the property?
Wine has always been a passion of Michael’s even prior to the planting of the vineyard, he is very proud of the two basement cellars we have here, which is currently comprising of 600 bins.
Our wines complement the existing wine list but there really is no better feeling than sitting on the terrace with a glass of Lympstone Manor Estate Isabeau Rose or celebrating with a bottle of our Classic Cuvee. Of course, the Lympstone Manor Estate Triassic Pinot Noir has had a lot of attention since release and it’s understandable why. It’s a great wine to sip by the fire or served alongside Michael’s cuisines.
If your hotel had a theme song, what would it be and why?
Simply the Best....
What is the greatest piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t be a busy fool
What's the quirkiest or most unexpected guest request your team has ever received, and how did you handle it?
One guest had a phobia of black loo seats, so we had to change it for a white one! No drama!