Words by Bethany Allen
The Headland Hotel has received an impressive array of awards thanks to its stunning location, luxurious facade and impeccable customer service.
Situated atop the cliffs overlooking the crashing surf of Cornwall’s north coast, The Headland Hotel provides guests with the chance to escape from the pressures and stress of modern life and take a step back in time, where luxury and grandeur abound and impeccable customer service is at the fore.
Built in the late 19th century, with the aim to create a Victorian masterpiece, the hotel exudes coastal grandeur, with intricate details and stunning architecture that will take your breath away. As you approach the hotel, it feels as if you’re walking towards a castle plucked from the pages of a history book. Its impressive facade and stunning interiors invite utter relaxation and an escape from modern life, which is further emphasised by the incredible customer service, which allows you to take a break from all responsibility and simply enjoy living in the moment.
The Headland received its first guests in June 1900, and immediately visitors were in awe of the sheer opulence of this new hotel perched on the clifftops in Newquay. It was the height of luxury for its time, boasting lavishly decorated rooms, hot and cold running water, electric lights and service bells throughout. Over the next 70 years it saw its fair share of luxurious parties and esteemed visitors, but fell into disrepair following the Second World War.
In 1979 John and Carolyn Armstrong bought the hotel and remain owners today. When they arrived, they took on the unbelievable task of resurrecting the hotel from the brink. With serious issues to address following the Second World War and the hotel’s subsequent neglect – as well as a lack of working capital – it was a labour of love that would take many years, but they stopped at nothing to reinvent The Headland as a modern luxury hotel.
The ‘Five-Bubble’ rated spa
Today, the hotel is yet again the height of luxury, complete with 95 four-star bedrooms, a state-of-the-art gym, luxury spa, a gorgeous five-star holiday cottage village and Rosette-worthy dining. The seafront retreat boasts a series of awards, including its coveted ‘Five-Bubble’ spa award presented by The Good Spa Guide, which recognises the spa as being amongst the most luxurious in the UK as well as being the first ‘Five-Bubble’ rated spa in Cornwall.
Customer service is also a central pillar of the hotel’s repertoire, an expectation that Concierge Sarah Gaskin does her utmost to maintain. Sarah has worked for The Headland for the last eight years. Starting as a hotel porter, her passion to help guests and enhance their stay shone through, and she naturally leant towards the position of Concierge. In her current role, Sarah performs a variety of tasks for guests, from booking taxis, restaurants and private jets, to supporting marriage proposals on the beach.
Sarah’s dedication to her role has led to her acceptance into Les Clefs d’Or, better known as the Society of the Golden Keys, a professional association of hotel concierges with approximately 4,000 members across 80 countries. Sarah is the only member in Cornwall and Devon and one of only 15 female members in the United Kingdom.
“I am so pleased to have been accepted into Les Clefs d’Or,” Sarah tells us, thanking the senior management who provided glowing references. “The owner of the hotel also accompanied me to the interview, adding a personal touch that was genuinely appreciated by the panel. I’ve had some wonderful experiences during my time here, from assisting with the organisation of a marriage proposal on the beach, to getting a young guest’s Halloween pumpkin back with him on a plane to Manchester. There’s nothing more satisfying than getting a thank you from a guest, knowing that you’ve captured that memorable moment which makes their stay at The Headland stand out.” It’s this attention to detail that the Headland is renowned for, with a dedicated team of staff who genuinely care. For Sarah to be accepted into the Society of Golden Keys is an incredible achievement that reflects the exceptional customer service that The Headland strives to uphold.
Attention to detail in every aspect of your stay
Sarah has also been awarded with the title of ‘Concierge of the Year’ at the Boutique Hotelier Personal Service Star Awards. Held on 15th October at Hilton Olympia, the Awards celebrate individuals from independent hotels across the United Kingdom who consistently strive to provide their guests with the best possible experience. “I am thrilled to have received these awards from such well-respected industry organisations, particularly in such quick succession,” says Sarah. “I love the role of concierge. I’m one of the first people to meet guests when they enter The Headland, and so I set the tone of their stay. Every day is a pleasure.”
Additionally, Hotel Operations Manager, Joshua Bates been recognised for his exceptional level of customer service and has won a place on the Master Innholders Aspiring Leaders programme – a highly competitive diploma for ambitious Senior Managers. He tells us: “During my two years at The Headland, I’ve had the opportunity to develop my own role significantly by taking on more responsibility, taking part in internal and external training programmes, and receiving mentoring from my peers. The hotel is constantly evolving as we strive to improve our offering and work hard to exceed guest expectations.”
It’s not just the staff who have received commendable industry awards. The Headland has also been recognised as Cornwall’s first AA Five Star Hotel as well as being credited with five-star status from Quality in Cornwall, a national organisation dedicated to improving quality within the tourism sector. Director of Quality in Tourism, Deborah Heather elaborates: “By understanding guest requirements, responding to their needs and delivering them to the highest possible standard, we are delighted to award The Headland a five-star quality rating. Our star rating is based upon robust and rigorous assessment. It’s about the overall guest experience and The Headland is at the top of its game.”
In response to this achievement, owner Carolyn says: “Our thanks go to all the staff and loyal supporters of The Headland, they have always stood by us, recognising that improvement happens over the long-term. We are very grateful to everyone who has shared our vision and helped us to get to where we are today.”
In terms of what the future holds for The Headland, Carolyn and John continuingly aspire to progress and develop the hotel, and by 2020 a new multi-million pound leisure complex is set to be completed, creating a first class destination for visitors to the luxury five star hotel and self-catering cottage village.
The Aqua Club, due for completion in mid-spring 2020, will contain five pools, a sun terrace with impressive ocean views and a stunning new restaurant. The development will cost approximately £6 million, is due to open in spring 2020 and is the largest single investment made by the hotel in recent years – an extension of the £30 million that has already been spent evolving The Headland as a first-class luxury lifestyle destination.
The Aqua Club will house five pools, including a 25-metre training pool, a hydrotherapy pool, a children’s pool for families, an outdoor vitality pool and a heated infinity pool with views of the Atlantic. There will also be a sun terrace with impressive ocean vistas, and a stunning new restaurant named The Deck. “From the early days, it was clear that the potential for The Headland was as a world-class destination,” Says Managing Director, Darryl Reburn, “and it’s due to the vision and determination of the owners and staff that the Headland has achieved its commendable five-star status across the board.”
Multi-award winning Concierge, Sarah Gaskin