For the latest Nicolas Alexander Q&A, I sit down with the charismatic, Michael Bonsor who is a determined and humble man with hospitality in his DNA.
As Managing Director of the Rosewood London, Michael is in charge of one of the capital's most iconic and successful hotels. It is fair to say that this was always Bonsor's destiny. His first job was helping his parents at their hotel in Inverness, before eventually flying off to the US, where he worked at famous hotels such as The Pierre and the Four Seasons in New York.
After 10 years in the US, Michael returned to London, beginning his British career at Clardiges, where he spent 4 years, ending as the Hotel Manager. In 2013, the ever-ambitious, Michael took on his greatest challenge of opening the Rosewood London, where he took a leading role in realising the ambitious plans for the property.
As someone who never knew what he wanted to do when he was growing up, I found speaking with Michael really refreshing and quite eye-opening. To meet someone who always knew what he was meant to be and embarked on a brave, yet exciting journey to make it come true, was truly inspiring and I hope you enjoy getting to know Michael as much as I did!
Where did you grow up?
Inverness in the highlands of Scotland
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
A hotelier, predictable but true!
Do you have a special talent that not many people know about?
I am a pretty good chef, so I have been told.
Drink of choice?
Negroni - we have over 600 gins at Rosewood London to sample!
Best self-help/life-changing book you have ever read?
Radical Candor by Kim Scott
A favourite podcast you listen to on a regular basis?
Monocle podcasts on various topics. I love their content.
What are your top 2 biggest/proudest achievements to date?
Getting married and becoming Managing Director of Rosewood London
What do you love the most about your job?
Meeting people from diverse backgrounds and creating lasting memories for our clients & guests
What inspires/motivates you?
Great leaders around me. I am blessed to have 2 leaders at Rosewood that truly motivate me to push my limits and make the business highly successful. Our CEO, Sonia Cheng and our President, Radha Arora.
Do you have a mantra or daily reminder that you try to live by?
Treat others how you would wish to be treated.
When did you discover your passion for the hospitality industry? Why do you love it so much?
My parents had a hotel in Scotland and so I grew up in the world of hospitality from the age of zero. Love how every day is so different, you start with a plan in the morning and the day unfolds in a very different way normally!
In your line of work, what is non-negotiable for you?
Service. Bad service is inexcusable.
When you are not working. What do you do to unwind?
Travel, escape to the county and hit the gym.
In your words, what makes Rosewood London so special?
Architecturally and aesthetically the hotel is exquisite. Like a Grand Manor House dropped into the heart of the city. It also is still the only true luxury hotel in London that delivers a fresh, modern and truly British approach to hospitality which is engaged and youthful.
At the Rosewood, you manage over 400 staff. How do you keep that many people happy and motivated?
It’s now over 500! It is so important to listen to the associates. I sit with department representatives every month to hear about their last 30 days. It is always very enlightening, and we always come away with great ideas. So important to be connected to the front line, listen and act.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given and by whom?
My husband, who tells me constantly to look at situations from a very different angle and to re-evaluate, hospitality moves at a fast pace and sometimes we need to stop, step back and be more strategic.
You joined Rosewood prior to the opening and oversaw the huge redevelopment. I am sure that was an incredibly exciting period, but also a very challenging and at times difficult period. How do you push through tough times?
Eradicate all social and personal life! You truly are on the property for almost 24 hours a day, for many weeks all management stayed in the hotel snagging and critiquing all of the suites and bedrooms.
Do you have a morning routine or a set of daily habits that help create an environment of success? If yes, what are they?
Allowing time in the morning to catch up with the team to set out the day and make sure nothing is missed. Our guests have to take precedence over any meeting or other activities in the hotel. No meeting should be over 45 mins. We need to be with our guests and the team.
If you could host a dinner party at the Rosewood with 4 people dead or alive who would you choose?
A trio of Baileys: Glenda, David & Christopher & Lewis Hamilton.
You operate within a luxurious world, where appearance is very important. What are your top grooming & styling tips?
Faceplace facials! Monthly! An incredible facial born out of Hollywood 40 years ago for men. A very good hairdresser, Charles Worthington cuts mine. Hackett and Gieves are my to go to tailors.
Outside of the brilliant Rosewood Hotels, in your opinion, what are some of the best hotels from around the world?
One destination you have not been to yet, but are desperate to visit soon and why?
Vietnam, I hear great things and the country looks beautiful.
What are the first 4 items you put in your suitcase when travelling?
Gym kit, one really good suit (you never what you might be invited too), a cashmere sweater & Nicolas Alexander swim shorts of course
Favourite holiday destination and why?
California, I have many friends in LA. Love the combo of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood action with the laid-back chill of Santa Barbara so close by.