Inspirational Woman: Avril Owton MBE | Author and Owner of The Cloud Hotel

Tell us a little about yourself, background and what you do currently

avril owtonAvril Owton MBE I am the owner of the Cloud Hotel in Brockenhurst and became the sole owner in 1991 when my husband died very suddenly leaving me with 4 children a failing hotel and no financial support.  My book ‘Delighting Your Customers’ was published in 2007

What are the main challenges for women in this industry?

Hospitality is very male dominated especially in management. Juggling a family and a career in hospitality is very difficult for women because of the long unsociable hours often having to work late at night and weekends. This can make it very difficult for working Mothers so unfortunately men still dominate the industry.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Learning how to run a business. As a former professional dancer I had no idea about the financial or managerial side of running a business when my husband died as I had always looked after the domestic side of the hotel and looked after the children. I didn’t know a bottom line from a chorus line! The hotel was very run down and failing as a business so I had to borrow a lot of money to bring the hotel into the 20th century.

21 years ago trying to borrow a large amount of money as a woman and a woman with no business experience took a lot of determination and perseverance.

How do you feel women are represented in the luxury hospitality industry?

I feel that women are still doing the menial jobs in spite of the fact that their customer care skills are far superior to that of men’s! From my experience women work harder than men and are more conscientious. It’s still a very male dominated industry and women are still not given the opportunities to succeed. Every year there is an award for hotelier of the year and in the 36 years I have been in the hotel business a man has won it every year!

What’s been your greatest achievement personally?

Bringing up 4 well balanced and hardworking children as well as running what is now a very successful hotel.

I have 3 daughters and a son.  Non of them work in hospitality but they have all succeeded in their chosen careers and I’m very proud of them. It’s been a long journey and a lot of hard work but I believe the rewards of success far out way the pain you go through to get there. Also being appointed an MBE for services to hospitality and my charity work.

If you weren’t doing what you do, what would you be doing?

Probably looking after Grandchildren!

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

I love the attitude of Joan Collins, Richard Branson and Alan Sugar

What does the future hold for you?

At the present time I have no plans to retire but continue to keep moving forward with my hotel and doing my talks, especially to women.

I am passionate about encouraging women to reach their full potential in whatever they do in life.

I would also like to do training for my industry using my years of experience and write another book.



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