Our Single-Minded Focus: Blanch House



Having a single-minded focus is an essential part of every Owner Managed Business’ strategy. And as part of our ‘Single-Minded Focus’ content series, we’re bringing advice and insights on mastering a single-minded approach to business from leading members of the OMB community across the UK.


This week, we spoke to Blanch House’s Jeremy Ornellas, who shared his insights and expertise from his role in running the acclaimed hotel. Opened for business by Jeremy Ornellas and Kerry Turner in 2011, Blanch House is a boutique hotel in Brighton. With established backgrounds in psychotherapy and counselling and the hospitality industry between them, the duo have put their shared experience to work, to create a unique offering for customers in the South-East.


Based in a Georgian terrace in Brighton, Blanch House is a Grade II listed property and specialises in creating bespoke packages and experiences for guests. Since 2011, the hotel has gone onto hold the first place position on TripAdvisor for hotels in Brighton, and was included in the recent Sunday Times countdown of the Ultimate 100 British Hotels for its romantic packages.


Read on for Jeremy’s learnings on crafting a strategy that works in the hospitality industry – and how the team at Blanch House work to ensure that guests will return for another stay.


The Customer Comes First:

“Our ethos is nothing is too much trouble for our guests. That starts from when people first book into Blanch House. If they book online, we always write to them beforehand to tell them a little bit about the hotel. The day before they travel, we call and welcome them to see if there is anything else they need, from flowers or a restaurant booking. The overall experience we want our guests to enjoy is that it’s a welcoming and elegant place. We want our guests to come here to celebrate a special occasion, for a business meeting or even for a wedding. Our customers have to feel special, to feel really special. We want them to come back.”


Cultivate a Collaborative Team Culture:

“We’re really lucky we have such a brilliant team and they have been with us for a number of years. In hospitality people move around a lot, but 2 of our assistant managers have been with us for over 3 and a half years. We are like a little family. Everyone is really special, we have 7 full-time staff and 7 part-time staff and everyone is very dedicated to their roles.”


Encourage feedback:

“We constantly review the hotel itself and look at how we serve our guests. Our values are about paying attention to detail, professionalism, flexibility and a friendly service. Word of mouth has always been important for hotels. So in that way TripAdvisor can now help customers to decide whether or not they want to stay with you. We’re number one for hotels in Brighton at the moment and we’ve held onto that since last September. You have to be proactive and know when and how to react, to ensure your customer comes first. We have a lot of repeat guests coming back. We always write to our guests after their stay to thank them and to invite them to comment afterwards. We also offer a returning discount, if they book directly with us again.”


Stand out from the competition:

 “As we are Brighton’s original boutique hotel, the whole idea is to provide something unique that you can’t get somewhere else. We look after everything for our guests during their stay, from champagne in the room to arranging an appointment with our in-house massage therapist. We also have a lot of functions here; everything from private dining, weddings and meetings throughout the year, in particular during the busy conference season. This year, one of our guests had exclusive use of the hotel for the weekend and transformed the function room into Studio 54 for her 40th birthday party. We had a dance floor shipped in with lots of different lights and effects, and it was an absolutely brilliant weekend.”


Plan for the Future:

“Every day you learn something new. You’re really only as good as your next guests or your next function. We’re already exploring opening up an additional hotel and we’ll use the model that we’ve been working on for the past 5 years. We really enjoy what we do. As a team we recognise our own individual strengths and that’s what helps to create a very positive experience for us.”


Work with your bank:

“It’s so important to have a good relationship with your bank. It really is critical that the bank understands your business - when it’s going well, and what happens when it’s quieter. We’ve been very fortunate to have a good relationship with our team at Allied Irish Bank (GB). 


Find out more about Blanch House here. See how Allied Irish Bank (GB) can help you with any of your Owner Managed Business needs.