Timothy Buckton, Stamford Hotels & Resorts’ area manager for Sydney, tells Niki Waldegrave how the exclusive art, food and drink offerings at his five...
Traditional Argentinian meats cooked on an open flame? Check. Expensive and extensive fine art, a chocolate room, pastry chef and Steinway baby grand piano in the Presidential suites?
Don’t mind if I do!
Stamford Hotels and Resorts is renowned for its stunning five-star hotels and the company turns over an annual $300 million in revenue, with at least $30 million of that being profit.
Two of its major jewels in the Aussie crown are the English manor-themed, 105-room Sir Stamford hotel nestled in Sydney’s Circular Quay, which overlooks the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Another is the achingly hip and slick Stamford Plaza at Sydney airport, which has 315 rooms.
The latter recently scooped Best Hotel in an Airport Area for the Australia Pacific Region for the seventh year running, and the former won Best Bar of the Year with the Tourism Association Awards.
Area general manager for Sydney, Timothy Buckton, claims it’s the unique food and beverage choices that the hotels have been offering for the last 18 months, teamed with the gracious surroundings, that has made the company so successful.
In Sir Stamford’s case, not only does the award-winning hotel boast 18th Century Louis XV and Georgian antique furniture, hundreds of hand-cut chandeliers and one of Australia's largest private collections of fine art outside of an art gallery, it was recently acknowledged by the High Tea Appreciation Society for its perfect brews.
“We hang our hat off our high teas, that's our bread and butter,” reveals Buckton. “High tea has become very fashionable in Sydney and we're currently up to 100 high teas every day in the city, often double that on a Sunday.
“The Circular Quay hotel is our signature property, in a beautiful location with that olde worlde charm. Hotels like that don't exist anymore; it's got a different look and feel about it that none of our competition has.
“We've got a pastry chef and a chocolate room – everything is made on site, all fresh. So when you have the scones, they've just come out of the oven.
“The environment is very classic, with British antiques and artwork surroundings, so that charm really fits well with what we're trying to achieve with high tea.
“I'm really proud of that property and the direction it's going.”
The Stamford Plaza at Sydney airport is also a foodie’s delight, and its new Argentinian restaurant, La Boca Bar and Grill, has been a big hit both with locals and tourists, mainly due to its traditional cooking methods.
“Everything is cooked on an open flame,” he adds, “and we're offering a really unique dining experience that a lot of airport hotels don’t do. That's one of our key successes so far, and the food is unbelievable.”
Over the next 18 months both hotels will be undergoing a $2 million facelift, with bedroom renovations and new café concepts, including an al fresco area at Sir Stamford, more restaurants and onsite bakeries.
“It’s going to create a better experience for the guests, giving them more choices with where, how and what they do when it comes to dining,” adds Buckton, “and that’s going to be fantastic to really maintain that five-star image.”
He says his main goals are for both hotels to be listed on TripAdvisor’s Top 10 Hotels – they currently sit at No13 – and to continue moving up within the company.
“I always wanted to get involved with Stamford because they've got some of the most beautiful hotels,” he said, “and I’ve worked very hard to get here. We’re looking at adding more properties into our portfolio over the next 10 years and I’d love to be involved in as many of them as possible.”
After working his way up the food and beverages industry in hotels, Buckton was a resort manager in Fiji from 2011-13 and opened a boutique hotel in Fremantle in 2013.
He joined Stamford Hotels and Resorts in February 2016 as general manager and was promoted to Sydney area manager in March 2017.
“It’s a great opportunity and I’m hugely excited,” he says. “The main differences here, compared with my other roles, is the shift of scale of what we're doing. Altogether, we've got three bars, two restaurants, about 20 function spaces to sell and 420 hotel rooms. It’s a reasonable sized operation.”
Describing his management style as “hands on”, Buckton says he’s proud of the 300-strong team he’s developed over the past year, and says there are lots of rewards for grafters.
“We've got a good solid team and the service is highly consistent,” he adds. “If young people want to come through the ranks and really work hard, there are great opportunities for them – sometimes they just need that first break.
“Stamford does a really good job at identifying that talent. We’ve recently had eight staff members that were lower down in the ranks and have all moved up into senior roles. It's so important we give them the opportunities to step up, see new roles and to guide them.”