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Luxury hotel welcomes Belgian ‘foodie’ in new role (11th July 2012)

Luxury hotel welcomes Belgian ‘foodie’ in new role

AS a teenager, peeling potatoes in a Belgian seaside hotel was Jan Vandewalle’s first taste of hospitality work. Fifteen years later Jan has moved from the kitchen to the restaurant and has just been appointed Restaurant and Bar Manager at Macdonald Hill Valley Spa, Hotel and Golf in Whitchurch.

“I started working in hotels as a summer job during school holidays, peeling potatoes and cleaning mussels,” said Jan.

“Once I started working in that kitchen my career decision was made. I progressed from there to ordering the food for the restaurant and then went on to the University of Bruges to study Hotel Management.”

For Jan, 29, of Tilston, hospitality was more than just an academic interest – it was a passion and during the weekends he was running his own bar in a village near Gent.

Along with a couple of friends he also organised a one-day music festival that attracted 200 people. That festival continues to this day and is now a two-day event attracting 5,000 people.

“I just really enjoy being in and among people, which is why I love working in the hotel industry so much,” said Jan.

After leaving university Jan came to England on a four month placement. After three months he was offered a job and he has now been in the country for eight years working in a variety of hotel roles.

He is now in charge of all food and drink at Macdonald Hill Valley Spa, Hotel and Golf including the Borders Restaurant, Lounge Bar and the Sports Bar which has been closed during a £500,000 refurbishment to the spa but is due to re-open soon.

“Interacting with guests and receiving their feedback is very important to me,” said Jan.

“I love customer service and am always open to listening to guests about the service they received.

“We’re looking at introducing a few new things to Macdonald Hill Valley such as Sunday lunches and themed nights which will be really interesting to be involved with.

“I love cooking and am a bit of a ‘foodie’ so working here is fantastic as there is such a focus on providing high quality food with the best ingredients. We have a fantastic team of staff here and I am really enjoying helping the hotel maintain its high levels of service.”