| Rocco Forte |
(Chief executive officer)
Forte Group plc was a British hotel and restaurant company. It was listed on the London Stock Exchange and was a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index until it was acquired by Granada in 2001. Its head office was in the London Borough of Camden.
Charles Forte (26 November 1908 – 28 February 2007) was a British/Italian caterer and hotelier who founded the leisure and hotels conglomerate that ultimately became Forte Group. Charles Forte, funded by his two business partners, Eric Hartwell and Sidney Hartwell, set up his first "milk bar" on Regent Street in London in 1935 as Strand Milk Bar Ltd when he was 26.
Soon he began expanding into catering and hotel businesses. After the Second World War, his company became Forte Holdings Ltd, and bought The Café Royal in 1954.Forte was a major caterer at the Festival of Britain sites in 1951 and also operated the restaurants and bars at London Airport, later known as London Heathrow airport. Forte opened the first full motorway service station for cars at Newport Pagnell in 1960. Trust Houses Group Ltd and Forte Holdings merged in 1970 to become Trust Houses Forte or THF. The name was simplified to Trusthouse Forte in 1979.
Through mergers and expansion, the Forte Group expanded into a multibillion-pound business. As well as The Café Royal, it also owned the Grosvenor House Hotel, Quaglino's and Talk of the Town in London.It also included the Little Chef roadside restaurants, Forte Grand, Travelodge, Posthouse and Crest hotels, Harvester restaurants, contract catering firm Gardner Merchant, the Summerland leisure complex on the Isle of Man, the wine merchant Grierson-Blumenthal, sporting goods retailer Lillywhites (which adjoined the group's Criterion Restaurant) and a majority (although non-controlling) stake in the Savoy Hotel. Internationally, it owned the Hotel George V and Plaza Athénée in Paris and the Bermudiana in Bermuda. Happy Eater and the five Welcome Break service areas were bought from Hanson Trust on 1 August 1986. The group for a time started to resemble a conglomerate with interests spanning the Sidgwick & Jackson publishing house, the Terry's chocolate company, Puritan Maid and a stake in Thomas Cook travel agents.
Charles Forte was the CEO from 1971 and chairman upon the retirement of Eric Hartwell from 1983 (when his son Rocco Forte took over as CEO).
In the early 1990s, the company was rebranded as Forte and the crown logo was adopted at the same time. This rebranding also heralded the introduction of sub brand groups for almost all the hotels (Posthouse, Crest, Heritage, Grand etc.). Lord Forte passed full control to Rocco in 1993. In 1994, the company purchased the Le Méridien hotel chain. billion tender offer in January 1996, which left the family with around £350 million in cash.Soon after Rocco took over, the Forte Group was faced with a hostile takeover bid from Granada. Ultimately, Granada succeeded with a £3.9
In 2001, following the de-merger of Compass plc from Granada's media interests, the use of the Forte trademark was returned to Sir Rocco Forte in a gesture intended to dispel the bitter legacy of the takeover. Rocco now owns the Rocco Forte Hotels group.
Most of the hotels used the following brands:
Travelodge: The Forte group acquired this US budget hotel brand and rolled it out in the UK. The hotels were originally sited alongside the group's Little Chef roadside cafes. Travelodge used navy blue branding. The office building which was the former Forte Group corporate headquarters at 166 High Holborn, London, has many years after the Forte Group was taken over and broken up, been turned into a Travelodge (the chain having expanded to comprise a much larger number of urban hotels).
Forte Posthouse: Hotels were mostly three-star hotels for business travellers. They were usually located in city centres or near major trunk roads. Some of these were sold to Holiday Inn. These hotels used red branding.
Forte Heritage: Hotels ranged from smaller country house style hotels, e.g., The Old England Hotel in Windermere, the Berystede in Ascot and Leeming House in Ullswater, to former coaching inns such as the Burford Bridge Hotel at Box Hill, the Swan at Lavenham and the Bull at Long Melford. In addition, the brand included some larger resort type hotels such as the Grand Atlantic at Weston Super Mare, the Marine Hotel at North Berwick and the Imperial Hotel, Exmouth; and some smaller resort hotels such as the Dart Marina Hotel in Dartmouth and the Brudenell Hotel in Aldeburgh. Some of these were sold to Macdonald Hotels, others are now operated by Mercure Hotels, others are owned by small groups or independently. These hotels used dark green branding.
Forte Crest: Hotels were more upmarket business hotels than Forte Posthouse. They were mostly located in cities and were mostly four-star. The naming convention was Forte Crest + the name of the city or locality, e.g. Forte Crest Sheffield or Forte Crest Gatwick Airport. Perhaps the most high-profile hotel was the huge Forte Crest Heathrow, now a Holiday Inn. The signage and general get up colour of Crest hotels was light blue/aquamarine.
Forte Grand: Hotels were a collection of high-end international hotels including the Waldorf Hotel, Westbury Hotel and Hotel Russell in London, the Balmoral Hotel (formerly "The North British Hotel") in Edinburgh, the Bath Spa Hotel in Bath, Leeming House in Ullswater, the Randolph Hotel in Oxford, The Majestic Hotel in Harrogate, the Compleat Angler in Marlow, the Rusacks Hotel in St Andrews and the Imperial Hotel at Torquay. There were also a number of hotels which used Forte Grand as their sole name, for example the Forte Grand, Abu Dhabi hotel. Following the acquisition of Le Méridien, the Forte Grand brand was dramatically cut back, with the urban hotels being transferred to the Le Méridien brand, and all the regional UK Forte Grand hotels being demoted to the Forte Heritage brand. The Balmoral Hotel was the first hotel reacquired by Rocco Forte following the takeover and after an extensive refurbishment it forms part of The Rocco Forte Collection. Forte Grand hotels used bronze signage, with general branding in dark red/burgundy.
Le Méridien : This international hotel chain was acquired from Air France in 1994 and would from then on form the cornerstone of the Group's international mid/upper market offering. These hotels used grey branding.
The top tier of hotels were discreetly branded Exclusive Hotels by Forte, and included some of the world's most venerable 5 star hotels, for example, the Hôtel George-V and Plaza Athénée in Paris; Brown's, Grosvenor House and the Hyde Park Hotel in London; the Ritz in Madrid; the Westbury and Plaza Athénée in New York; Hotel des Bergues in Geneva; Hotel Eden in Rome; Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados etc. The Savoy Group would have added to this collection and augmented its prestige, had overall control been secured, as the Forte Exclusive hotels suffered somewhat in terms of prestige by association with the rest of the group's hotels. At the time of the Granada takeover the Exclusive Hotels brand contained 21 hotels. Granada failed to find buyers for the hotels as a group and it took a significant time for them to divest itself of these hotels to numerous different owners/operators. Some examples of the current owners/operators include Mandarin Oriental which has the Hyde Park Hotel, London; Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts which has the Hotel des Bergues, Geneva; Marriott International which has the Grosvenor House Hotel; Orient-Express Hotels which has the Hotel Ritz, Madrid; and, notably, The Rocco Forte Collection which has Brown's Hotel in London.
London hotels: From the first move from catering into hotels (the purchase of The Waldorf), the group had a foothold in the London hotel market, which it significantly expanded over the years. On adoption of sub brands, some of the London hotels were moved to sub brands, others were not. For example, the Hotel Russell, Westbury Hotel and the Waldorf Hotel became Forte Grand. The top tier of London hotels were already part of the Exclusive group which had existed long before the early 90s reorganisation/rebranding. London also had Posthouse and Crest hotels. However, there remained a number of London hotels which were not part of sub brands and these were banded together under the umbrella London Hotels. These included the Cumberland Hotel, the Regent Palace and the Strand Palace (all acquired from the J. Lyons and Co hotels subsidiary in the late 60s/early 70s) and they were joined by most of the London Forte Grand hotels when the Forte Grand brand was axed, although The Cavendish was an exception as it joined the Crest brand. These hotels all used their own logos and standard Forte corporate branding (Forte plus crown device in white and navy blue).
A hotel is an establishment that provides paid lodging on a short-term basis. Facilities provided inside a hotel room may range from a modest-quality mattress in a small room to large suites with bigger, higher-quality beds, a dresser, a refrigerator and other kitchen facilities, upholstered chairs, a flat screen television, and en-suite bathrooms. Small, lower-priced hotels may offer only the most basic guest services and facilities. Larger, higher-priced hotels may provide additional guest facilities such as a swimming pool, business centre, childcare, conference and event facilities, tennis or basketball courts, gymnasium, restaurants, day spa, and social function services. Hotel rooms are usually numbered to allow guests to identify their room. Some boutique, high-end hotels have custom decorated rooms. Some hotels offer meals as part of a room and board arrangement. In the United Kingdom, a hotel is required by law to serve food and drinks to all guests within certain stated hours. In Japan, capsule hotels provide a tiny room suitable only for sleeping and shared bathroom facilities.
Granada plc was a British conglomerate best known as the parent from 1954 to 2004 of the Manchester-based Granada Television.
Charles Carmine Forte, Baron Forte was an Italian-born Scottish hotelier who founded the leisure and hotels conglomerate that ultimately became the Forte Group.
The Waldorf Hilton, London, formerly known as the Waldorf Hotel, is a historic hotel in the Aldwych, London. It is part of the Hilton Hotels & Resorts chain and has a history dating back to 1908. The hotel was originally established by William Waldorf Astor, 1st Viscount Astor, a member of the prominent Astor family. The hotel features 298 guest rooms, including 19 suites.
Welcome Break is a British Motorway Service Station Operator that operates 35 motorway service stations in the UK. It is the second-largest motorway service area operator behind Moto. It also operates hotels and motels. It is a subsidiary of Applegreen.
Moto Hospitality is a British service station operator which operates 58 motorway service stations across the United Kingdom. It is currently the UK's largest service area operator.
Mitchells & Butlers plc runs circa 1,784 managed pubs, bars and restaurants throughout the United Kingdom. The company's headquarters are in Birmingham, England. The company is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.
Gary Rhodes was an English restaurateur and television chef, known for his love of English cuisine and ingredients and for his distinctive spiked hair style. He fronted shows such as MasterChef, MasterChef USA, Hell's Kitchen, and his own series, Rhodes Around Britain. As well as owning several restaurants, Rhodes also had his own line of cookware and bread mixes. Rhodes went on to feature in the ITV1 programme Saturday Cooks, as well as the UKTV Food show Local Food Hero before his sudden death at age 59.
Travelodge refers to several hotel chains around the world. Current operations include: the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia and Asia. However, many of these are operated by independent companies who have no connection with the brand in other countries. As of December 31, 2018, it has 435 properties with 31,005 rooms.
Crest Hotels Limited was a Bass-Charrington subsidiary operating the hotel interests of the brewery company in the United Kingdom. Crest's headquarters were in the former Hunt Edmunds brewery premises in Banbury, Oxfordshire.
Le Méridien is an upper-upscale, design-focused international hotel brand with a European perspective. Originally founded by Air France in 1972 and later based in the United Kingdom, Marriott now owns the chain. As of September 30, 2020, it has a portfolio of 111 open hotels with 29,561 rooms and a pipeline of 29 hotels with 7,050 upcoming rooms.
Premier Inn is a British hotel chain and the UK's largest hotel brand, with more than 72,000 rooms and 800 hotels. It operates hotels in a variety of locations including city centres, suburbs and airports competing with the likes of Travelodge and Ibis hotels.
Sir Rocco Giovanni Forte, FCA, FIoD is an English hotelier and the chairman of Rocco Forte Hotels.
The Cateys are a UK award ceremony for the hospitality industry, first held in 1984. They have been described as the hospitality industry's equivalent of the Oscars. Recipients are nominated, selected and awarded by the industry through The Caterer magazine.
The Hotel Plaza Athénée is a Brunei-owned historic luxury hotel in Paris, France. It is located at 25 Avenue Montaigne in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, near the Champs-Élysées and the Palais de Tokyo. The hotel is part of the Dorchester Collection group of international luxury hotels. The hotel has five restaurants and a bar, and it has room rates ranging from US$1,254 to US$20,000 per night for the hotel's premier suite. Ducasse's fundamental menu the starter, principle course, treat, and drink for two people is only for $210.
Travelodge Hotels Limited is a private company operating in the hotels and hospitality industry throughout the United Kingdom, Ireland and Spain. Known simply as Travelodge, it is the UK's largest independent hotel brand with over 570 hotels across the UK.
Rocco Forte Hotels is a British hotel group that was established in 1996 by hotelier Sir Rocco Forte and his sister, Olga Polizzi. Their 14 hotels are located in European cities, as well as beach resorts in Sicily and Apulia, and recent openings in Saudi Arabia and China. Sir Rocco Forte is Chairman and Chief Executive, while Olga Polizzi is Deputy Chairman and Director of Design.
Little Chef was a chain of restaurants in the United Kingdom, founded in 1958 by entrepreneur Sam Alper, who was inspired by American diners. The chain were famous for their "Olympic Breakfast" – its version of a full English – and "Jubilee Pancakes". The restaurants were mostly located on the roadside near A roads, often paired with a Travelodge motel and a petrol station, as well as on motorways in Moto Services.
Les Saveurs de Jean-Christophe Novelli, also known as Les Saveurs, was a restaurant in Curzon Street, Mayfair, London. Owned by Marco Pierre White in the mid 1990s, it was purchased by Jean-Christophe Novelli in April 1997. The restaurant was Novelli's sixth to be opened in the Novelli Group, in agreement with Rocco Forte's RF Hotels. In the contract, Novelli agreed to pay 10% of turnover or a minimum of £100,000 a year to Rocco Forte.
The Restaurant Marco Pierre White, also known as The Restaurant, Restaurant Marco Pierre White and later Oak Room Marco Pierre White, was a restaurant run by chef proprietor Marco Pierre White. The restaurant was opened at the Hyde Park Hotel, London, on 14 September 1993. Following the move, the kitchen staff was more than doubled in number, and White used Pierre Koffman's La Tante Claire as a template to pursue his third star. This was awarded in the 1995 Michelin guide. White then moved the restaurant to the Le Méridien Piccadilly Hotel, London, in 1997, taking on the listed Oak Room as the main dining room. He sought a further rating of five red forks and spoons in the guide, to gain the highest possible rating for the restaurant. It gained this award in the following guide.