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Interview with David Kanarens, General Manager of The Queens, Leeds

David Kanarens took over the helm at QHotels The Queens in Leeds last year, having previously been General Manager at the Crowne Plaza Nottingham and QHotels Nottingham Belfry.  The four star hotel has 217  bedrooms, 16 conference and banqueting rooms and an award-winning restaurant, which not so long ago underwent a £10m refurbishment to return it to its former 1930s Art Deco glory. What is it that you do exactly?
As a hotel manager I enjoy an extremely varied life, but first and foremost I must ensure my team lives and breathes great service. It’s all about the people – our team and our guests – and it is my job to keep my team motivated and focused on ensuring that all our leisure and business guests have a great time. I also have a regional role in which I oversee three other hotels, looking strategically at their businesses and offering a different perspective.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
The variety, pace and constant change. I know it’s a cliché but every day really is different. It makes for a very interesting job. You never quite know what you’re coming into each morning because so much has happened since you left the previous evening. Everything moves at speed with lots of different events happening simultaneously. The Queens is a very big conference hotel so you often need eyes in the back of your head to see everything – but that’s where a great team comes in. Hotels are constantly evolving and we need to move fast just to keep up with ever-changing demands. The ability to anticipate guests’ needs before they realise it and have a solution waiting for them is a very valuable skill.
What would you say are the 3 best places you’ve ever stayed?
As a hotelier, I rarely visit hotels in my own downtime and I’m just as happy in a tent as I am in five star luxury. However, if I had to choose three experiences they would be Bali, Skiathos and Oxford. After a wonderful Far Eastern tour, I once visited my sister who was living in Bali and part of my time was spent in a small beach hut in the remote north of the island. Early in the morning we would meet the fishermen after their first catch and they would take us in their hollowed out ‘tree boats’ to swim with the turtles. It was truly idyllic. I’ve also been visiting a very small private place in Skiathos for some years, run by a talented English artist who’s developed a handful of exquisite villas in beautifully landscaped grounds. The attention to detail is excellent. Finally, I was once ‘banged up’ in a genuine prison cell at the Malmaison in Oxford, which is a converted prison. The landing area is like a scene from Porridge, but with Champagne. It was a great and unique experience.
What’s been your most memorable dining experience to date?
I’ve been lucky enough to dine in some spectacular restaurants and hotels during my career, but a recent experience really stands out. The Queens has a long standing relationship with HMS Ark Royal, the Royal Navy’s flagship air craft carrier on which my wife and I were invited to join the captain and his senior officers for dinner. It was only a short time before that I remembered it was my wife’s 40th birthday on the same day so I arranged for us to stay at Sat Bains in Nottingham the night before, where we enjoyed a fabulous seven course taster menu with accompanying wines, before travelling to Portsmouth. Either night would have been wonderful in isolation, but together they made a truly memorable 48 hours.
Have you rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous, either through your work or your travels?
All the time. My job has brought me into contact with royalty, at least three Prime Ministers, sports stars and a variety of people from the entertainment world.
What currently ranks highest on your travel wish list?
Without a doubt the Galapagos Islands.
Thank you for taking part in our interview, David. If you would like to be interviewed on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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One Comment

  1. The Queens looks like a great hotel, hoping to get to Leeds for a shopping weekend sometime it’s a fab City. The Malmaison in Oxford sounds like quite an experience… still think I’d opt for Bali though!

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