Eva Mount on the Opening of The BoTree Hotel in London
The BoTree, one of London’s most highly anticipated hotel openings, is spearheaded by one of the city’s most inspiring hoteliers, Eva Mount. Welcoming guests on September 15th, the 199-room luxury hotel, a stunning and environmentally-minded new build on a former parking garage in the heart of London’s West End, literally at the point where Marylebone, Mayfair and Soho meet, is in an enviable spot. The BoTree is Eva's third London hotel opening as General Manager, after assisting on countless others throughout her career, and she's pulling out all the stops. From legendary partnerships with Tao Group Hospitality, who will oversee all of the dining and bars in the hotel, including the first London outpost of celeb-favorite LAVO, to Jo Loves amenities from the beloved perfume entrepreneur, Jo Malone, no doubt, you will be hearing lots about The BoTree in the coming months.
hertelier brings you a sneak peek into the hotel and Eva's process––she shares with us why she loves hotel openings, how to establish property quickly, and why The BoTree––the first property from Place III hotels––is reinventing the idea of high-end travel by introducing "Conscious Luxury" a new ethos with the purpose of inspiring a connection between people, place, and planet.
Eva, you’ve done many London hotel openings. What do you love most about this part of the business?
The BoTree is my third London hotel opening as General Manager. The BoTree is particularly special as it is the first-Place III hotel and the launch of Conscious Luxury; a new ethos with the purpose of inspiring a connection between people, place, and planet. Throughout the hotel mindful choices have been made, including partnerships with likeminded brands that are a catalyst for positive change, and help to balance the interests of guests, colleagues, the local community, and the planet so they all can flourish together.
The BoTree has been interesting as I have seen the design of the building, the guest bedroom layouts and had an input in how this work operationally. Choosing our partners across the business from branding and design to our IT partnerships has been key to The BoTree. Ensuring our values are entwined across the hotel with our selection of partners including Jo Loves. Planning our guests experience is as seamless as possible and allows our team to interact with our guests as authentically as possible has been our mission; one I hope we will become known for. The milestones that you meet with an opening adds a new level of excitement, and the best part of all is bringing a team along for the journey one which they will remember with pride for life.
With the BoTree you began working on the project while it was being built––before the elevators went in––seems like openings are mentally and physically challenging. How do you stay top of your game for both?
Hotel openings are mentally and physically challenging, I naturally want to be there for every step of the journey which sometimes includes many flights of stairs!! And, I found safety shoes don’t always come in the right sizes. I’ve had to remember to do my daily stretches at The BoTree until the lifts (elevators to our US readers) were commissioned as my calves were not thanking me. As a yogi I should know better, and I always carve out time for this. It is important to have some time for myself each day, I don’t take my phone with me when I walk my dogs in the mornings for this reason.
Are there always last-minute design shifts and other changes? How do you stay calm?
Yes, loads of them, the design can often look amazing on paper and even in our mock up rooms but the more you spend time in the finished space sometimes you realise that from a guest perspective they are not always operationally the most practical. A comfortable bed and a great shower are always necessities but it’s just as important to make sure the functionality of the room works so that it is natural and intuitive. It’s just a part of the process to make sure we are reviewing often and making the design tweaks we need to ensure we can offer the best designed guest experience possible. Each opening, like each hotel, brings new experiences to draw upon, we have a fantastic team who are experts in their fields so I am confident we will achieve what we set out to which does help me stay calm. Meditation helps along with yoga to create balance.
How do you build a new, engaged team?
One of the most enjoyable aspects of a hotel opening for me, is having the opportunity to build the team culture right from the start. We have woven our core values of trust, love and compassion into everything we do and respect that each individual has a wealth of new ideas to bring to the mix. It is so much easier to open a hotel when the culture is one that everyone believes in, and so the senior team especially, are spending a lot of time together pre-opening to fully establish this, so it can filter down to the wider team and then eventually our guests.
The BoTree has great curb appeal and what looks to be a beautiful lobby, but no front desk. Tell us about the opps and design decision behind that. And do you think front desks have gone the way of the Dodo?
When guests enter The BoTree they will be greeted by a member of the team, invited to take a seat and details confirmed whilst enjoying a relaxing drink. Our team will then accompany our guests to the floor where their room is located and introduced to their host who will take care of our guests needs during their stay. At The BoTree we have been lucky enough to design the welcome space to manage this effectively and bring together all of the necessary IT platforms to make this possible. This wouldn’t necessarily be possible without all the correct infrastructure in place and some hotels have tried this and it hasn’t been successful as a result. Reception desks do have their place in hotels and will likely remain for some time. We at The BoTree are planning to succeed without one as it does add a barrier to a guest’s experience and as a new hotel we have designed the infrastructure to match our unique guest welcome experience.
What elements of the new guest rooms are you most excited about?
The design elements, natural wood, vibrant artwork. I love the spacious feel, coupled with the floor to ceiling windows allowing plenty of natural light to fill the rooms. The open feel is something I know our guests will really enjoy and feel very comfortable with.
You’re also doing amazing partnerships in F&B and with Jo Loves. How do those connections help establish The BoTree brand?
Our partnership with Tao Group Hospitality, the world leaders in entertainment experiences, has generated a lot of public interest and a whole new energy to the opening. Especially as our partnership sees the launch of the first ever Lavo in Europe.
The Jo Loves partnership is also special to us and has helped establish The BoTree brand as everyone knows Jo Malone and her instantly recognisable fragrances. The Jo Loves products are natural sulphate, paraben, and cruelty free as well as vegan and packaged using Ocean Bound Plastic so they are the perfect partner for our conscious luxury ethos. It’s particularly exciting to be one of the first hotels supporting the brands venture into the hospitality sector.
As an independent hotel, how do you quickly get people to know what you stand for?
Branding and marketing of course play a big part in this, but also exceptional service. Partnering with the brands that we feel are right and resonate with us makes a big difference and helps to tell our story more widely. As a new hotel opening people are often keen to see what we are all about but it’s the fantastic team that ensure guests have a great time with us and then go on to tell their friends.
What are your top five tips for successful hotel openings?
Be flexible and adaptable throughout the process.
Always have a fall-back plan as you will inevitably need one.
Having a sense of humour is important as humour is a great way to diffuse tension.
Find something in your daily routine that is just for you.
Surround yourself with a likeminded team who enjoy hospitality and ensure the company culture is the right one for you; having a supportive boss is key.
Quickfire with Eva
What is your morning routine?
Every morning I go to the park with my two miniature Schnauzer’s, Alfie and Murphy, they chase each other around and have a great time which is a lovely way to start the day.
What do you do for self-care / exercise?
I have been doing yoga for 20 years and am a qualified yoga teacher. While I don’t teach anymore, yoga is the most consistent self-care routine I have ever had along with meditation which helps me to constantly put things into perspective.
What is the first thing you do when you check-in to any hotel room (not your own)?
The first thing I tend to do is have a mooch around the mini bar. When in major cities, I will make sure to go and visit all the best hotels to look for new ideas, from the bathroom amenities to the different services they offer.
What is your top travel hack?
Going to the airport looking smart always helps if you want to be in for a chance of getting upgraded. Also being kind to the travel staff. Working in hospitality can be challenging especially when the public are frustrated with things that are often beyond their control, and so it is so important to remember they are only human too!
What books/tv/movie/podcasts are you into right now?
I read a lot of books, mostly on audible when I’m walking the dogs and my all-time favourite book would have to be Time Travellers Wife. I also love Marian Keyes, we are both from Dublin and so her dark sense of humour reminds me of home, especially the audible versions with the Irish accents.