A hotelier who has managed top-rated premises all over the world has come full circle – to buy a seafront hotel in his St Annes birthplace.
Andrew Whitaker had his first taste of the hospitality industry as a teenager working a hotel kitchen just yards from the Mode Hotel, which he has purchased from previous owners Promenade Hotels.
My first taste of hotel work was in the kitchens of the Dalmeny just along the road and I am really proud to have this opportunity
In the three decades and more since, the 48-year-old former student of Lytham St Annes Technology and Performing Arts College has worked his way up the hotel trade ladder in impressive to take a wide range of key management roles in the Far East.
Last year, he joined the Peninsula Hotels group, which has luxury five-star premises in locations such as Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo, New York, Chicago, Beverly Hills and Bangkok as general manager of the luxurious Repulse Bay Hong Kong and has also taken the role of general manager of Peninsula Clubs and Consultancy Services.
Andrew previously worked for the Rosewood Hotel Group, where he has held general manager roles at New World hotels in Dalian and Beijing, and Shangri-La Hotels, having first travelled to work in Asia in the early 1990s.
In 1996, while working in Beijing, he met his wife Qidi Aixinjuelou, a TV entertainer who is a distant relative of the last emperor of China.
The couple have two children – Jasmine, 14 and Joseph, 11.
But amid his idyllic lifestyle thousands of miles away, he has always remained immensely proud of his Fylde roots and particularly the fact that his grandparents Jack and Edith rang two hotels in the town – the Tudor House and The Angus – in the 1950s after moving to St Annes from West Yorkshire.
Andrew regularly travels home to see dad Mike and other family members who still live locally and it was during one trip home that he heard that the 17-bedroom Mode was available for sale.
“I am so pleased to be able to acquire the Mode Hotel – in terms of family roots, I feel I am going full circle after my grandparents ran hotels in town,” said Andrew.
“My first taste of hotel work was in the kitchens of the Dalmeny just along the road and I am really proud to have this opportunity.”
Andrew already has his eyes on adding two extra rooms to the Mode - styled as a contemporary B&B – but otherwise envisages few changes, as he continues with his work in the Far East, although more frequent visits back to the UK are likely as Jasmine takes up a place at a English performance school.
“The Mode is in a prime position on St Annes’ excellent seafront and is already very successful due to the hard work of the management team,” he added.
Andrew Haworth, director of Promenade Hotels, which comprises the Best Western Glendower on St Annes’ North Promenade and Bartle Hall, Preston, said: “I’d like to wish Andrew all the best for the future.”