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Tributes paid to George Goring, a ‘true hotelier who exuded joie de vivre'

19 April 2020 by
Tributes paid to George Goring, a ‘true hotelier who exuded joie de vivre'

Tributes have been paid to George Goring, the third generation of the family to run the five-red-AA-star hotel in London's Belgravia, who has died at the age of 81.

He joined his father Otto Gustave Goring, more commonly known as OG Goring, at the helm of the hotel in 1961, retiring in 2005, when he handed the reins of the 69-bedroom property to son Jeremy.

Paying tribute to his father, Jeremy told The Caterer: "George was a great hotelier in the old school style: a true host who exuded joie de vivre. Anybody who worked for him, was his guest or friend, would know about his extraordinary generosity.

"He shot neighbours' dogs and burglar alarms, injured many crew mates on his boat Bugsy Malone, told his horse trainer he'd send the horse to the sausage factory, and often led cross country teammates into grievous harm. But all these people loved him nevertheless because the gain (in laughter) always outweighed the pain… just!

"He gave up cross country racing aged 70, winning his last event then bowing out. Over the previous 40 years he had broken most of the bones in his body and given this lifestyle nobody ever thought he would be around long enough to have Parkinson's. Despite this cruel disease he radiated wit, charm and laughter till the end.

"The lessons he left us were to love thy neighbour, and to live for today. RIP Admiral, and as George would say: Toujours L'attaque!"

George was named Hotelier of the Year by The Caterer in 1990, and later the same year received an OBE for "services to the hotel industry". He also received the Lifetime Achievement accolade at the AA Hospitality Awards 2010, recognising his "pursuit of perfection".

The Caterer's Janet Harmer interviewed George and Jeremy in 2010, describing them as a "delightful double act" whose ability to "never take themselves too seriously ensures the guest is relaxed and happy at all times".

At the time Jeremy had said of his father: "When dad is in the room, you know everyone is going to have a good time and that has pretty much set the tone for how we run the hotel - we simply want everyone to have fun."

Later in the interview George showed how his sense of fun could manifest itself. He said: "A painting of a nude that I placed in the men's loos brought a letter of complaint, saying that the picture was an affront to women everywhere.

"I thought it was hilarious, framed the letter and hung it on the wall next to the painting."

George's grandfather, Otto Richard Goring, founded the hotel two months before the death of Edward VII in 1910. It was the first in the world to offer central heating and a bathroom for every bedroom and central heating.

George Goring was also a keen horse rider and met his wife Penny at an equestrian stable in Cornwall in the early 1960s when he worked at Tregenna Castle in St Ives.

Paying tribute, the Goring's managing director David Morgan-Hewitt, said: "A true hotelier and a true gentleman. He has been part of my life for 30 years and I will miss him."

Craig Bancroft, managing director of Northcote hotel in Langho, Lancashire, added: "George Goring was a true gentlemen in every sense of the word generous and inspirational a real hotelier where the guest was the life blood of the business."

Harry Murray, chairman of Lucknam Park hotel in Colerne, Wiltshire, and 1986 Hotelier of the Year, said he was "deeply saddened" by Goring's passing, describing him as a "gentleman and consummate hotelier... [he] was a maverick who cared about his staff and his guests. He was generous, kind and with a great sense of humour.

"He took over the chair of the Master Innholders from me in 1986 and we worked closely together in the early days. Although we were from completely different backgrounds, he was born at the Goring me in a council house we became good friends, I used to say to him you have a tougher job than me as a third generation Goring because you're under the microscope from the whole industry.

"In 2004 when the Hotelier of the Year was 21, George held a party at the Goring for all past winners and we all ended up doing the conga at midnight through the hotel and across the garden, it was hilarious."

Michael Voigt, who was recently announced as the next general manager of the Goring hotel, said: "I knew George through the horse world, he was a great horseman. He would fall off frequently but be back in the saddle, with a smile, in no time - a tribute to his splendid personality!

He added that George Goring was "a mentor and inspiration to so many of us hoteliers in the UK" and it was a "sad loss to our hospitality world".

Hospitality consultant Philip Newman-Hall, said: "George, or to those of us who worked for him ‘Mr George', and the Goring family employed me at the age of 23 in the role of deputy manager of the Spa hotel in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, at that time sister hotel to the Goring in London. I stayed at the Spa for eight years rising to my first general manager position after four years.

"He was a consummate hotelier with an eye for detail but with the personal touch and an ability to look after his teams who then stayed with him for years.

"His ethos has remained with me all through my career. ‘As a manager, always be in the lobby/reception/front hall when your guests are arriving and leaving. You are the host you should be the face of the hotel.' There's many a front of house manager and duty manger who has had to suffer me standing in reception for hours all due to the sound of George's voice in my ear.

"When I left the Spa in 1987 George told me that his office door would always be open if I wanted advice and he kept a keen interest in my career from then on, as he did with Anne Marie, my wife, who worked for him at the Goring before we were married. Whenever we met he would always ask me ‘How is Miss Kielty?' (her maiden name). When 12 years later I joined Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons as general manager he was one of the first to telephone to me to wish me well and upon winning my Manager of the Year Catey his letter of congratulation was again one of the first to arrive. That's just the sort of decent human being George was.

"Which other boss pays for your wedding reception or starts a 35-year love of North Cornwall by lending you his house there? Mr George was a true gentleman, unique, one of a kind and I suspect the mould was broken when he was born. He will be sadly missed but his name will live on at the Goring for years to come. My thoughts are with Penny, Jeremy, Theresa and the family at this sad time."

Photo credit: Grant Burton Photography

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