Please allow us to give you a brief account of how Amanda and I happened to end up in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, 3500 miles away from our home in St. Albans England.
Amanda and I met in 2001. She was to work for me, briefly while I was employed in the city of London. Prior to this, I had spent my career in the hotel and catering industry. I graduated from catering college in 1995, spending three years studying Hotel Management. During that time, I worked in a kitchen and restaurant in a large hotel in Plymouth (Devon England).
I spent a good proportion of my studying in France, where I attended college, where all lectures were in French, ( I still retain a good level of fluency), and where I spent seven months working in a Michelin-starred restaurant in the small French town of Arbois in the Jura region of eastern France.
When I returned to England with my diploma, I began work as a Commis chef in a large kitchen in Kensington, London, just down the road where the late Diana Princess of Wales resided at Kensington Palace. I held two jobs while living in London, I was young and had a thirst for success and money, my part time post was serving breakfast at Claridges in Mayfair.
Whilst there I got to serve the late Princess while she was meeting her mother, after a particularly tense time in their lives. I also served then-young politician who was to become Prime Minister in the following years, Tony Blair.
Having spent enough time in the kitchen to know that it was not going to be the ultimate career for me, I was given the opportunity to move departments to Reception duties in the same hotel in which I was then Chef De Partie. I worked hard, listened and learned and in a short time had gone from Reception shift leader to Hotel Duty Manager, where I gained lots of valuable experience dealing with the high points of the hotel industry . . . but also the lows.
While working together in London (we worked for a large management consultants) in a customer service role (Amanda and I would be looking after what you would call “internal customers” as well as paying customers, who were far more easy to please then our “internal customers” by the way) we yearned for a more simple existence where we were rather less anonymous than was possible within a large corporation.
Going back to my hotel roots, we set about looking for a small B&B to run. We traveled the length and breadth of the UK, stopping in York, The Lake District, The Highlands of Scotland, but could not find a viable business, so we put the idea on the back burner.
America had been somewhere I wished to work since my childhood, but had never had the chance. We had been to Wisconsin several times to visit Amanda’s mother and stepfather. Each time our visit ended, I found wanted to stay here every time it came to go back to England.
So, as it happens, the easiest way for us to achieve our dream was to purchase a business in the US. That way, we could stay in the country to run the business, whatever it may be. Therefore, two ideas became one, and we set our parents to work looking for a suitable venture!
SevenOaks (formerly The Alpine Motel) was purchased on behalf of Amanda and meI in October 2005. Of course, neither of us had the pleasure of seeing our prospective business venture, but had to rely in the judgment and and wisdom of Amanda’s mother Glenys and stepfather Gerry.
We visited The Alpine for the first time in early November 2005. I immediately saw the potential, Amanda took until February 2006 to finally commit to making Wisconsin home for the foreseeable future, that is provided she could have a dog!
We arrived in the US in June 2006, took over the running of the Alpine in August and then began work on SevenOaks in the October.