It’s a long way from Yorkshire to London’s luxury Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Hotel, but self styled ‘Guiseley Girl’ Charlotte Weatherall has made the journey down South and is loving every minute of it.
Weatherall is in charge of sales for the hotel where she is gearing up to market the £45,000 a night penthouse suites.
The penthouses include three bedrooms, a dining area, two sitting areas, two bathrooms, two kitchen areas, a personal butler for the duration of your stay and a chauffeur driven Bentley,
“The penthouses have superb terraces that wrap around. You’re in Knightsbridge and you can see all of London, out to Hyde Park, the London Eye and the Gherkin. They have superb views,” says Weatherall.
She says that no iconic, luxury hotel in the world is complete without a penthouse or super suite that showcases the best of the interior design, setting and service.
If £45,000 is a bit steep, a normal hotel room starts at £650 per night and a suite will set you back £2,500 a night.
Weatherall joined Mandarin Oriental in April, attracted by the chance to help the hotel relaunch itself after a major restoration.
Most of the hotel’s guests are British and the rest are predominantly Middle Eastern, Russian and American. Business and leisure customers are split 50/50.
“It was an opportunity to get involved with a global, luxury hotel brand. It was very appealing,” explains Weatherall.
The lass from Guiseley has made a name for herself working in the top tier, luxury end of the market.
Before her move in April, she spent a year marketing ultra-high end perfumes to the international jet set. She worked for Elegantes which sells pure perfume at £750 a flacon – that’s a fancy bottle to you and me.
Founded by husband and wife team, Thomas and Dagmar Smit, Elegantes says it is “committed to returning fragrance to a place of distinction, creativity and expertise”.
For the project, they enlisted the help of young, creative ‘nose’, Julien Rasquinet, to interpret their vision. No budget was imposed upon him and he was free to create as he saw fit.
The result was a collection of seven fragrances, each one based around ingredients such as the most exclusive Turkish rose oil, oud and vetiver. The perfumes are only sold in luxury retailers such as Harrods and Fortnum & Mason.
So, how on earth did a Yorkshire lass get involved with such a posh project?
“My background is in hospitality,” explains Weatherall.
“Thomas and Dagmar owned a hotel that was managed by Rocco Forte Hotels. The deputy chair was Olga Polizzi and she introduced us. They are two incredibly passionate people – they have so much enthusiasm.”
Part of her remit was to manage Elegantes’ ‘brand ambassadors’ in Fortnum & Mason and Harrods. These perfumes don’t come cheap so Elegantes is happy to invest in making sure its top end customers buy the perfume that is ideally suited to them.
The 50ml flacon sells for £750 or you can buy a 200ml flacon for £2,350.
“We called it a flacon – a bottle doesn’t do it justice,” says Weatherall.
“Elegantes is about taking perfume back to its roots. In this industry, a lot of money is invested in advertising and celebrity endorsements which mean less is spent on the perfume.”
Of course, working in the luxury market doesn’t mean that costs are not a factor.
While working for Elegantes, Weatherall introduced a 30 per cent cost saving on packaging and an 80 per cent cost saving on manufacturing and fulfilment.
“An important part of the strategy was to bring more of the production into the UK,” she explains.
The perfumes are now blended and bottled in Lincolnshire after Elegantes moved production from France partially due to the impact of Brexit, but mainly because the quality of production was extremely high and easier to monitor.
“There was a cost saving as communication is quicker and so is the speed of production. Another cost saving was moving the packaging from France to Malvern,” she says.
Weatherall has chalked up more than 17 years’ experience working within the luxury hotels, resorts and retail industries, working across all business segments, both in the UK and internationally.
Before Elegantes, she worked at Rocco Forte Hotels as director of sales and marketing for Rocco Forte Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair – a 5 AA Red Star hotel that has become a renowned haunt for the rich and famous.
Prior to that, she worked at the Westin & Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Resort Complex in Dubai and at The Westin Turnberry Resort in Scotland, which is now owned by US President Donald Trump.
Despite 17 years in the luxury market, Weatherall is Yorkshire through and through.
She was born in Keighley, grew up in Guiseley and went to school in Bradford.
She loves working in the luxury, high end market and believes it has changed a lot over the past few years.
“It used to be seen as very materialistic. Now it’s much more experiential – it’s not just the glitz and the glamour,” she says.
She adds that the best Yorkshire trait she brings to the job is a sense of humour.
“A dry wit is quite a Yorkshire characteristic. Apparently, people find a Yorkshire accent trustworthy, sincere and genuine,” she says.
“The other Yorkshire traits I bring are resilience and persistence.”
One of her colleagues tells me: “Charlotte doesn’t let you get away with anything. She’ll wait for the right moment and then let you know she thinks you’re wrong.”
For now, Weatherall is happy to stay South, but she misses her roots.
“I love going home. It’s so beautiful and it’s where my family is. They are all close to Ilkley.
“The luxury hospitality market hasn’t evolved in Yorkshire just yet,” she says, somewhat wistfully.
You get the impression that when it does, this Yorkshire lass would be very happy to come home.
CV - Charlotte Weatherall
Where were you born - Keighley
Date of birth - 16.6.79
School - Bradford Girls Grammar School
Uni/Further education - University of Durham
First job - Management Trainee at the Sheraton Grand Hotel, Edinburgh
Car driven - BMW 3 Series
Favourite film - The Notebook
Favourite holiday destination - Garden Route, South Africa
Last book read - “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” by Michael Wolff
Favourite type of music/ band/ singer - “Anything not too extreme. Maybe Coldplay.”
What are you most proud of - Completing an Iron Man in Bolton, Lancashire