Art and culture

Celebrating International Women’s Month

March 02, 2020

March marks International Women’s Month, so we’re celebrating by showcasing some of the remarkable women at Dorchester Collection whose achievements, talent and dedication to excellence make our hotels so legendary.

Dorchester Collection

Helen Smith

Each Dorchester Collection property has a unique personality, yet at the heart of each is the distinctive culture of our brand. As chief customer experience officer for Dorchester Collection, Helen Smith’s role is to ensure this culture shapes every guest experience. Helen joined Dorchester Collection as director of sales and marketing at The Dorchester in 2004, before being promoted in 2007 to vice president sales and marketing for the entire collection, playing a central role in creating and developing the brand. In 2017, Helen was promoted to her current role to implement the overall strategy of customer experience. This specialist role showcases Dorchester Collection’s commitment to customer loyalty and nurturing talent from within.

Let Dorchester Collection take care of you.

Le Meurice, Paris

Franka Holtmann

German by birth, French at heart, Franka Holtmann is a leading visionary in the luxury hotel industry, and general manager of Le Meurice. When she arrived at Le Meurice, the oldest palace hotel in Paris, Franka developed an ambitious action plan for this legendary address including creating the Meurice Prize for contemporary art and enlisting world-famous designer Philippe Starck to restore the hotel’s flair. In 2008, Franka was named ‘Best Hotelier of the Year’ at the Virtuoso Awards; in 2010 she was awarded the ‘Légion of Honor’, France’s highest order; and in 2015 she was named ‘Best General Manager in France’ at the World Luxury Travel Awards.

See Franka’s passion in action at Le Meurice.

Hôtel Plaza Athénée, Paris

Jessica Préalpato

As head pastry chef at Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée, and winner of the World’s Best Pastry Chef 2019 by The World’s 50 Best, Jessica Préalpato is a name that’s getting noticed. After studying psychology she realised her true love was designing and baking cakes. Jessica studied hospitality before taking a specialist restaurant pastry chef course. She’s worked at various restaurants and travelled extensively, learning about new products and tastes along the way. Since joining Alain Ducasse in November 2015, Jessica has dazzled diners with her desserts and is an integral part of the three Michelin-starred dining experience.

Discover more about Jessica’s creative flair and delicious desserts.

The Beverly Hills Hotel, Los Angeles

Brooke Martin

As executive pastry chef at the ‘Pink Palace’ since 2017, Brooke Martin brings innovative and delicious edible works of art to the table. Brooke oversees pastry and dessert offerings throughout the legendary property, including for signature restaurant the Polo Lounge, alongside the Fountain Coffee Room and The Cabana Cafe. Le Cordon Bleu educated, Brooke brought more than a decade of experience to The Beverly Hills Hotel’s pastry kitchen. She really knows how to treat an LA crowd and international guests alike, creating playful desserts that pay homage to the long-running glamour of Hollywood.

Dine with us for taste of Brook’s culinary delights.

45 Park Lane, London

Niamh Larkin

A proud member of 45 Park Lane since the hotel began welcoming guests to Mayfair in 2011, executive pastry chef Niamh Larkin leads a team responsible for freshly-made goodness and sweet finishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner at CUT at 45 Park Lane. Last July, she collaborated with executive chef David McIntyre to create CUTcakes & Tea, an American twist on traditional English afternoon tea featuring her own spin on David’s favourite treats from across the pond.

Niamh shares one of her favourite recipes with you.

Hôtel Bel-Air, Los Angeles

Denise Flanders

As general manager of Hotel Bel-Air, Denise Flanders brings a keen eye for luxury to Los Angeles. After studying social science and psychology, she headed into hospitality, rising to management roles at The Pierre and The Helmsley Palace in New York and then joining Four Seasons in various cities including Chicago, where she led the city property through a remarkable transformation. Since joining Dorchester Collection in 2012, Denise has excelled at bringing Hotel Bel-Air to a new era of excellence. She’s passionate about curating magical moments for guests, which has been recognised throughout the industry including Condé Nast Traveler’s ‘Gold List’ and Travel + Leisure’s ‘World’s Best Awards’.

Discover some of Denise’s favourite places in LA.

Hotel Eden, Rome

Stefania Ruggeri

Stefania Ruggeri is maître sommelier and ‘professional wine lover’ at La Terrazza, the fine dining restaurant on the rooftop of Hotel Eden in the heart of the Eternal City. Stefania brings professionalism, passion and impressive knowledge to her role, overseeing the hotel’s wine collection and guiding guests to the perfect bottle to enhance their meal. In 2017 she earned a Masters from the Italian Sommelier Association.

Meet Stefania when you visit La Terrazza.

The Dorchester, London

Lucia Montanielli

Lucia Montanielli really knows how to shake and stir things up behind the bar for The Grill at The Dorchester. A key player in the team and a talented experimental alchemist, Lucia has received several industry accolades, not least winning first place in the ‘Tio Pepe Challenge González Byass’ competition for her signature sherry cocktail, as well as her take on a classic Sherry Cobbler. In 2015, she became the first-ever female winner of the UK Bartender’s Guild ‘National Cocktail Challenge’, and represented the UK at the International Bartender’s Association ‘World Cocktail Championship’.

Taste Lucia’s latest cocktails at The Grill.

Coworth Park, Ascot

Zoe Jenkins

General manager of Coworth Park, Zoe Jenkins’ many achievements show her passion for hospitality. After various management positions in banqueting at luxury hotels in London, she joined The Dorchester in 1994 and worked her way up to food and beverage director. She was honoured with a prestigious Catey Award as ‘Manager of the Year’ in 1999, and was heavily involved with the 2007 introduction of Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, the only UK hotel restaurant to hold three Michelin stars. In 2010, Zoe become general manager and opened Coworth Park in Ascot, our first-ever country house hotel. In 2012, she was one of 30 industry role models recognised at ‘The Shine Awards’ and ‘Women 1st Top 100 Club’.

Zoe’s dedication at Coworth Park is obvious at every turn.

Hotel Principe di Savoia, Milan

Mara Vicelli

Maria Vicelli’s work is her passion at Milan’s luxury landmark, Hotel Principe di Savoia. Originally from Northern Italy, Maria joined the hotel in 2006 as assistant sommelier and worked her way up to maître sommelier at Acanto Restaurant. Maria manages the hotel’s wine cellar and supervises the wine lists for all its food and beverage departments. Her unwavering drive and dedication led her to receive the esteemed international ‘Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne’ award in 2015. A master of her craft, Maria is a lifelong learner who, in her spare time, participates in weekly tastings in Milan and other Italian cities, and visits at least six different wineries per year.

Let Maria select an exquisite wine for you at Acanto Restaurant.

Le Meurice, Paris

Estelle Niveau

It was in secondary school that Estelle Niveau decided she wanted to work in the hospitality sector. She excelled in languages and wanted a career where she could meet interesting people. She graduated from CMH Paris, a luxury hospitality management school, and after several internships at five-star hotels, landed a role as receptionist at Le Meurice. In January 2019, 22-year-old Estelle won the coveted title of ‘International Receptionist of the Year’, which opened up a world of exciting new opportunities and added both self-confidence and credibility to her career.

Estelle’s warm welcome awaits you at Le Meurice.

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Collect issue 26

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View the latest issue of Collect, our bi-annual magazine featuring a curated mix of culture, art and lifestyle, together with the latest news from Dorchester Collection hotels.

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