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Marina Huggett FIH

Chairperson- Achnagairn Estate , Tourism professional, Consultancy, Top 100 Women in Tourism

  • What was your favourite subject at school?

I loved English but it was when I took up Home Economics as a subject (as it was so called then) that I really started to think about what I wanted to do with my life. The encouragement I had from my teacher led me to applying to study Hospitality Management which I loved right from day one.

  • What was your first job?

I was a breakfast waitress/ housekeeper in the local Marine Hotel in Rosemarkie while still at school. My poor dad had the task of waking me up in the mornings to make sure that I was never late for my start. To this day I have total respect for “early morning people”!

  • Which is your favourite restaurant /hotel?

To be honest I love having different hotel and restaurant experiences as I think we are fortunate to work in an industry which is very creative and diverse. It keeps you on your toes and provides you with lots of inspiration and new ideas to develop in your own business. I have to say though that the most creative and innovative meal I have ever experienced is at Pollen St Social in London. Not only was the food delicious but the way it was presented was so quirky and fun.

  • How do you inspire your team

By encouraging the team to play to their strengths and giving them self-belief through what they do well. I am a strong supporter of continuous learning and development and encouraging self-improvement. I truly believe that you have to give them all the tools and skills to do the job and then the autonomy and trust to do the job well. A no blame culture. allows them to make mistakes and learn from them. It is also important to celebrate successes both large and small.

  • Which person in hospitality have you most admired / inspired you?

There are so many it’s very hard to pick out just one. Peter Taylor of the Town House Collection and then Blythswood Square is such an inspiring and innovative leader and yet was always so humble too.

 I have complete respect for Freda Newton MD of Loch Ness by Jacobite. She is one of the most genuine and sincere leaders and constantly strives for quality and excellence in everything she does.

 I also truly admire our owner of Achnagairn Estate Gillian Lacey-Solymar . She is an amazingly clever businesswoman who demonstrates creativity and great courage in every aspect of her life.

In many respects they all share similar character traits.

  • How do you manage your stress levels?

I have learned that being positive and knowing that there is always an answer to any problem helps keep stress under control. I once read the book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff “and it really helps put things into perspective.

  • Instagram, Twitter or Facebook – and why?

I meander between them all. My nephew’s advice on my big birthday was “Keep up with technology and you’ll keep up with the grandkids” -so I’m doing my very best! It’s also vitally important for business too.

  • If you had not gone into hospitality, where do you
    think you would be now?

 That’s a good question.  It would have most definitely been in the people industry – probably HR

  • What did you do on your last days off?

Just returned from a villa family holiday in Portugal which was a special break for us all.

  • What do you do to relax, to support your wellbeing?

I love swimming in the sea with the “Fortrose Mermaids”, I enjoy yoga and tennis too. The best stress release ever is walking our two dogs Ozzy and Archie along the beach and just soaking in that fresh sea breeze in the beautiful Black Isle where I live.