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December 10, 2021
Discover more about Ayo Akinsete, Area Managing Director for SH Hotels & Resorts.
Tell us about a typical day in the life of the Area Managing Director for SH Hotels & Resorts
I’m an early riser so I will typically check emails first thing to see if there is anything sent through from the US teams. Due to time difference, I cross over in two working days with a UK and LA day. I will get my kids up and ready and try to take them to school, listen to an audio book on the train, walk around the hotel, check emails, and host a morning meeting with the department heads. I am always working on multiple projects through the day, getting to emails in the afternoon before checking the property with an afternoon walk through. On the way home, I’ll listen to The Daily podcast to keep abreast of US news and I like to be home to see the children in the evening at least 2-3 times a week, often with a call with the US team from home, as they can take place late in to the night. No day is the same!
How did you get into the hospitality industry?
I played for West Ham Football Club in my teens and when I was released, I moved to study a hospitality and sports management degree course at university in the US. I chose a course with ‘sports’ in the title meant because it appealed at the time. A professor said I would be good working in hotels, so I moved to Las Vegas and do a masters in hotel management. After the 2008 Olympics, I travelled with my friend, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, to The Gansevoort Turks and Caicos and met the Michael Achenbaum, Co-Owner and President, of Gansevoort Hotel Group who told me about his new hotel opening on Park Avenue, New York, and so I drove across country and opened the hotel.
What have your experiences taught you?
Moving through the ranks within the hospitality has taught me a lot. It can be fast paced and to be successful, it’s paramount to surround yourself with smart people who know more than you in their specific field. My job is to have a general understanding and I have learnt that if I didn’t have the great people around me, I wouldn’t have got so far in such a quick period. It’s important to stay calm, everyone has an opinion – getting everyone to go in the same direction takes patience and calm, something that has evolved in my career. The power of the team is essential – I am just one link in the chain – this is a collaboration.
What’s your favourite work of art in London?
Regent Street is a work of art built by John Nash. The detail of architecture is unbelievable and to think how this was created without the support of technology readily available today. The view of Regent Street is best from Treehouse!
Favourite London Park or Garden Square and why
The National Trust’s Petts Wood and Hawkwood Estate in Chislehurst, just outside of London is where I go and relax with a long walk on the weekend with the family.
Did you have a Treehouse growing up, or what’s your favourite childhood memory?
Growing up in a south-east London council estate meant I didn’t have one, but I would like to get one made for my kids. A fond childhood memory is with my brother and sisters when despite all having our own beds, we would sleep in the same single bed and first to wake up would start to sing “time for school”!
What’s makes the perfect London Christmas?
I spend a lot of time with my family at Christmas time which means trips to the Hamley's toy store and Winter Wonderland, both in walking distance of the hotel and during the holidays are a must!
Ayo Akinsete is photographed with Karen Gibson MBE and the Kingdom Choir along with some of the Treehouse team in December 2020. The Kingdom Choir sang at a private performance at The Nest in Treehouse for NHS key workers.
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