Hugh Wilson celebrates 30-years at Ragdale!
Please join us in a huge round of applause for Hugh, who recently celebrated his 30th work anniversary at Ragdale Hall Spa!
On a blustery autumnal day in early October 1989 our Managing Director, Hugh Wilson, would make his first of many trips down Ragdale’s iconic tree-lined drive.
Hugh’s interest in the hospitality industry began at a young age – you could even say he was born into it. A Bedfordshire boy born and bred, Hugh grew up in the family-owned hotel in the historic town of Woburn. Some years later pubs and restaurants would be added to the family’s repertoire and this is where Hugh would first cut his teeth in the glamorous world of hospitality – with a weekend washing up job working for his father!!!
After several years of working full time in the family business Hugh decided to make the leap into corporate hotel management and joined major UK hotel operator, Queens Moat Houses, as an Assistant Manager. Following several posts around the country he eventually settled in nearby Oadby to take on a position of Deputy General Manager.
Looking for a new challenge Hugh came across Ragdale Hall Health Hydro, who were recruiting a Food and Beverage Manager and in October 1989, he was officially welcomed into the Ragdale family.
In the late 1980’s the food offering at Ragdale took a much more holistic approach, with calorie-counted meals and a team of dieticians who would weigh guests on arrival and oversee menus. Guests would dine in groups of six to eight on large on refectory style tables, with Ragdale’s only bar positioned in a corner of the main Lounge. Oh, how times have changed!
As well as overhauling the food and beverage side of the business, Hugh became more involved in other operational elements throughout the Hall, advancing through a number of key management positions before taking on the role of Managing Director in October 2018.
Reflecting on his time with Ragdale Hall, Hugh said: “The past thirty-years have been a whirlwind of exciting challenges. My role has always been full of surprises, but I never thought I’d get involved in the production of three recipe books!” In fact, it was 1992 when Ragdale’s famous Atholl Brose first made its appearance in a recipe book, and it’s been a guest favourite ever since – I think it would create uproar if we took it off our breakfast menu. (Don’t worry – we won’t let this happen!)
“It’s a pleasure to have been part of the team, steering the business to what it is today, and to see the growth of Ragdale not just as a physical property but also operationally as a leader in the spa industry. The ongoing investment has created more bedrooms, more spa facilities, more treatment rooms, more fitness activities, more retail outlets, more bars and dining areas and of course more staff and guests. It’s a tremendous balancing act, and the team do a remarkable job of keeping everything running smoothly and I truly believe the success of Ragdale is massively due to the staff who are our greatest asset.”
“Traditional family values sit well with me, and it’s lovely to see how so many staff have developed over the years and that we’re now seeing the next generation of staff members join the 530 strong Ragdale family. And of course, the same can be said for our guests, many of whom now bring younger family members to share in their wonderful Ragdale experience.”
“I have seen the business develop so much over the years, and what I’ve learnt is that progress doesn’t stand still.”
“The vision of Ragdale for the future? Our vision for Ragdale is to continue to enhance our business for the benefit of our guests whether this be minor operational adjustments or completely new additional facilities and features. We have some exciting developments coming in 2020, and even more planned for the future to ensure we remain the UK’s leading spa resort.”
When not at work, Hugh enjoys seeking out new eateries, fulfilling his hobby of enjoying good quality food and wine. He can also be found trying to (sorry, Hugh!) perfect his serve on the tennis courts (he also wilfully admits he’s getting progressively worse!) He also enjoys watching live rugby and following his home football team Luton Town.