Meet the Hospitality Experts: Maurice Whelan and Steve Reid

Hospitality Experts

To be greeted by Maurice Whelan and Steve Reid is to experience a blend of enthusiasm, attentiveness and good old-fashioned hospitality. It’s perhaps no surprise their guesthouse – Carradales in Argyll – is winning so many industry plaudits, including being made finalists in the Prestige Hotel Awards and The Scottish Rural Awards.

Could it be the skills they’ve transferred from previous positions have played a part in their rapid success?

Maurice has had more starring roles than Johnny Depp, including a police officer, holiday representative, flight attendant, MoD operative, sales rep, recruitment consultant and care home manager.

“I’ve always been a people person,” he cheerily admits, “and I know what it is to deliver a quality experience that demonstrates care and ensures everyone is enjoying themselves.

“I do a bit of everything now in running Carradales, including welcoming and greeting guests, front of house, cleaning, ironing and marketing.”

His partner Steve was a freelance chef and has worked as an executive chef in some of the largest corporate kitchens in London. He’s also run his outside catering business for three years and this has involved working with celebrity clients (sadly, consummate professional that he is, he’s not revealing the big names!).

However, he does confess: “I love cooking and take great pleasure in knowing our guests are enjoying eating one of many creations. My primary role in Carradales is as a chef and I spend most of my time in the kitchen preparing different meals. When I’m not in the kitchen, you’ll find me chatting with guests or maintaining the accounts.”

The motivation to move into hospitality together full-time seemed entirely natural.

“I think we’d run our courses in our previous roles and there is only so much time you can give to the daily commute,” says Maurice. “We’d always wanted to start a guesthouse in Scotland and the time was right for us. We looked around and found this lovely building of character, which we believed had great potential to convert to a high-end guesthouse.”

From embarking on a huge renovation project and setting up Carradales entirely from scratch, the couple has very quickly established Kintyre’s only 5-Star guesthouse. What’s the secret of their success?

“We were really focused on the quality, service, facilities and experience we would offer to make us stand out,” says Maurice. “We made ourselves aware of the criteria needed to achieve five stars – when we were told I was very emotional. It was the icing on the cake and a reward for all the hard work!”

Typically for the hospitality industry, the icing on the cake is also the daily opportunity to meet so many kinds of interesting people.

“We feel privileged our guests are paying us to stay. It’s wonderful when they tell us they’ve had the best holiday ever. You can’t beat that!”

Of course, providing that ‘best holiday’ experience is built on hard work.

“I don’t think there’s a typical day in hospitality really,” says Maurice, “but it’s all about keeping on top of things, getting ahead of yourself and being prepared. For Steve that’s all about shopping and sourcing good quality, locally produced ingredients, compiling menus, preparing food, brainstorming ideas and keeping on top of the accounts.

“For me, the most important thing is ensuring our guests are enjoying themselves. This could mean just chatting or offering ideas as to what to do in the area.

“Additionally, I must keep on top of the marketing, answer the phone (there are so many callers these days!), shopping with Steve, cleaning, preparing the fires then dealing with anything else that might come up.”

Despite so many tasks involving so many skill sets, both Maurice and Steve believe there’s a number one secret to success in hospitality: genuinely liking people.

“Definitely! You need to like people, enjoy talking to people, be genuinely interested in them,” says Maurice, who also has sound advice for anyone who aims to take up a job in hospitality from those on offer with s1jobs.

“There are so many types of positions in hospitality,” he points out. “Make sure you work in an establishment or with a company that will train you correctly, so you don’t pick up any bad habits. Be prepared to work unsociable hours and move around departments when you first start out – this way you’ll get a wide range of experience and, most of all, enjoy yourself while doing the very best you can for your guests.”

Despite their success, there will be no resting on laurels for the Carradales couple.

“We’ve just returned from a trip to Frankfurt organised by VisitScotland, where we promoted Carradales and the Kintyre area to several European tour operators. We’re hoping we’ll reap the benefits and gain more bookings. We want to maintain our high standards and the 5-Star rating.”

If meeting Maurice and Steve has inspired you to enjoy your own career in hospitality, why not look at the roles in hospitality, catering and tourism on offer right now with

Posted on February 25, 2020