Kew & A with Christine Swanwick

We catch up with Holiday Inn Birmingham M6J7's Reception Supervisor

What is it you do at Kew Green Hotels?   

At present I am a reception supervisor… well, that’s my official title, but what I do is more about what I can do for our guests. That sounds so cheesy but working at the hotel, looking after our guests has become part of who I am; it’s a passion; it’s in my blood.

I have been extremely lucky to have had a very varied career – I don’t think there is any department that I haven’t spent time in. I have managed the bar, restaurant, lounge reception, nights, guest relations.  I even did 12 months in accounts (that really blew my mind… me sitting at the financial controller’s desk?!). Just writing this now is making me smile because memories are flooding back.

Now that’s what I officially do at Kew Green Hotels,  but what I would say that my unofficial role is to drive everyone mad with my (terrible) singing!


Tell us about you outside of work

So, outside of work if have a family I that adore: 3 grown-up children and 2 grandchildren. All of my children actually started their working lives at the hotel which means they really get my work ethic. I spend all of my precious spare time with them. My daughter lives in Florida and I try to get to visit her once a year – at Kew Green Hotels we’re able to earn IHG points which have really helped with hotel stays for both me and for me and my family when we’re visiting her.


Talk us through your experience of lockdown and what it’s meant for you as an employee

The country going into lockdown was surreal and I didn’t hesitate when I was asked if I wanted to be a volunteer (some of our hotels stayed open to support key workers).

It was like starting a new job. With just 2 on a shift, we had to work in every department and multi-task like never before! Silence descended everywhere but it wasn’t like working shifts – you couldn’t just sit happily chatting when it was quiet because nobody was there!  We weren’t asked to, but all of the volunteers started painting or cleaning or just tidying here and there, anything, really, just to make the environment better for the key workers staying with us.

It started very structured with no one allowed to sit in the open lobby or at the bar. Then July came around and slowly leisure guests started to return. With them, came the arrival of the TableTop ordering system – how amazing is that?! Life is slowly getting back to a bit of ‘normality’.


What have the biggest changes been for your hotel?

The biggest changes for the hotel, I would say, is the way we interact with other members of staff – going through something like this together meant that we really got to know people we wouldn’t have otherwise. There have also been loads of physical changes and it was been brilliant to see how we have all adapted to new measures and guidelines brought in by the government. It has also really challenged the way we do things; gave us time to step back and think whether what we were doing was necessary or just habit.


What support have you had from Kew Green Hotels through this time?

We have all been supported every step of the way 100%. We have always had hand sanitisers, masks, gloves aprons. We have had screens for the desk markings for the floors, posters, signage, bulletins, emails, training… in fact, we have been kept informed every single step of the way. Our safety, I think, has been well thought out. There are social media platforms we can go to and not forgetting our personal bonuses for being volunteers!


What’s the biggest thing 2020 has taught you?

Finally, the biggest thing that 2020 has taught me is that you need to live for today. Don’t put off doing anything, for tomorrow really may not come.


We’re not recruiting at the moment here at Kew Green Hotels, but if you’d like to join our talent community for the future, please contact Charley on talent.resourcing@kewgreen.co.uk.