Colin Parkes, Head of Concierge celebrates his 30th year at Careys Manor hotel.
having spent his childhood in the New Forest, fishing and rounding up the ponies, it is only fitting that he is now able to share his passion for the beautiful New Forest with visitors to the area.
His loyalty lies with the village of Brockenhurst, where he says he would never want to leave, loving that the forest and seaside are so close and with family still living in and around the area there could be no reason to.
Colin’s working life began at the age of 10 with a local paper round and gardening at the weekends at the village’s larger houses, charging a meagre 50 pence an hour, which he declares was a lot back then. Then, Colin spent several years trying his hand at selling fruit and veg’ on a friend’s market stall in the nearby town of Lymington. But Colin’s love of the forest appeared to have a greater influence as he began working at a nursery, deciding on a career in Horticulture.
Two weeks before Christmas at the age of 18 Colin was made redundant; the event that was to map out his future, though he did not know this at the time. Finding a job in horticulture in the middle of winter was an impossible task, therefore Colin decided to apply for a job he had seen at Careys Manor Hotel for a ‘Still Room Assistant’ , working in the kitchen, washing up and preparing the tea and toast for breakfast.
Over the years Colin worked in many positions at the hotel, from larder and vegetable chef in the kitchen to working behind the bar at the ‘Jugged Hare’, now known as Le Blaireau. Then the day came for Colin to move out of the kitchen when he applied for a concierge position, to which he never regretted.
Completely different to his previous role at the nursery, working with only a handful of people, Colin admits that he thoroughly enjoys the interaction with guests, as different day to day as are their requests. Colin credits his role at Careys Manor for bringing him out of his shell and giving him his confidence; as a concierge your job is to talk to people, and looking back, he would have it no other way.
As the years went by Colin’s experience and loyalty was rewarded with the promotion to Head Concierge; a role he modestly relishes. Over the past thirty years he has become an expert in his field, understanding that every guest is unique in their expectations and that every day is going to be completely different to the next. With a job that is most certainly going to drop you in the deep end in certain situations; Colin, the self-confessed ‘Jack of all trades’ has had to deal with some frantic situations, from unplanned celebrity press conferences and medical emergencies to ‘saving the day’ moments after wedding cakes have been ruined or a power cut on Christmas morning threatened to disrupt the hotel’s festive day. Despite all of this Colin maintains that the greatest satisfaction quite simply, comes from a happy guest.
His love of horticulture does continue to this day and his escape is in the depth of the garden; weeding and planting and simply enjoying the peace and quiet that comes with it. His own way of de-stressing as to be fully prepared for the next day’s challenges.
Colin has enjoyed being a part of the Careys Manor family and looks forward to many more years sharing his passion and knowledge with everyone and he asserts that the hotel is not a job, but a way of life and that if you cut his arm off it would read “Careys Manor” in the middle, like a stick of rock.