A city centre hotel in Bristol – described as a “beacon of hospitality and hope” by its general manager – has celebrated serving the city – and many of its visitors – for 50 years.
The DoubleTree by Hilton Bristol City Centre has not just survived the global pandemic, but has also seen seven global recessions, two monarchs and more Prime Ministers than it might have expected since it first opened its doors as the Dragonara Hotel in April 1973.
The hotel marked its golden milestone with a celebration reception at which a cake was cut by Peaches Golding OBE, Lord-Lieutenant of the County and City of Bristol, using her ceremonial sword.
Managed by Focus Hotels, DoubleTree by Hilton Bristol City Centre has welcomed many famous faces over the years, including Princess Diana, Muhammad Ali, Margaret Thatcher and Terry Wogan.
When it first opened, it was Bristol’s largest hotel and soon established itself as a key venue in the city’s social scene, hosting many international events.
In the 1970s and 80s, it hosted casino nights and Cathay Pacific beauty contests, as well as providing meeting rooms for business decisions which changed the face of commerce in the city as well as social meals in its Kiln Restaurant, a remnant of Bristol’s historic glass industry.
In 1982, the hotel was the place where Bristol City Football Club’s ‘Ashton Gate Eight’ agreed to tear up the contracts in order to save the club.
But as General Manager Imran Ali told guests at the anniversary reception: “Ultimately, the hotel is just bricks and mortar. It’s the team members who are the soul of this business.”
Some of the longer-serving staff members attended the anniversary event – the current longest-serving staff member having been there for 36 years – and counting!
The hotel’s current team have more than 350 years’ experience between them, and Mr Ali said the passion and commitment of staff throughout the hotel’s history has played a major part in its success.
Mr Ali said: “I would like to thank everyone who joined us to mark our 50th anniversary, particularly the Lord-Lieutenant, at an especially busy time for her, with the coronation of King Charles III just weeks away.
“We are proud to have reached this milestone and very much look forward to being a major part of Bristol’s hospitality sector for many, many, years to come.”
Peter Cashman, Chairman of Focus Hotels Management, said: “We’re proud to have the DoubleTree by Hilton Bristol City Centre as part of the Focus family.
“The past few years alone have been particularly challenging for the hospitality industry and it’s no mean feat for the businesses that have survived through these recent times, let alone keep going for 50 years.
“The fact that there are so many long-serving staff members at the hotel is testament to its success and, as Imran says, reinforces the Focus philosophy, that people are at the heart of our business and our success.
“Congratulations to everyone who has played a part in this hotel’s history; I’m confident that there will be many more memorable milestones to come.”