Robin Sheppard

Robin Sheppard head shot
Bespoke Hotels

Graduating from Oxford Brookes’ School of Hospitality in 1977,Robin has been an hotelier 40+years. He trained with British Transport Hotels, including The Old Course in St Andrews and was a General Manager for the first historic house hotel, Bodys gallen Hall, then the Lygon Arms before the Royal Berkshire in Ascot for the Hilton Group. He became a Regional Operations Director with Forte Hotels, turning the Bath Spa Hotel into a shining star. The Bespoke StoryIn2000, he co-founded Bespoke Hotels which has subsequently grown into the UK’s largest independent hotel group and now boastsover200properties spanning the length and breadth of the country and overseas. Since founding Bespoke, Robin and the team have over seen yet more awards, winning the ‘Newcomer of the Year’ award for Bermondsey Square in 2009 and he was the driving force behind the multi-award-winning five star Hotel Gotham in Manchester. Non Hotel Work Although an hotelier at heart, Robin enjoyed amajor de tour into the world of design and manufacture in 1988 when he created theTynant Water Company(wining the ‘Bottle of the Year’ award presented by Terence Conran one week before the launch), which continues to ship large quantities of its handsome blue bottles around the world. Robin created 4 ice-cream vending bicycles in the Cotswolds which continue to trade in the Broadway area to this day and inspired him to pen a series of 5children’s books, which were entitled “The Adventuresof theIcycle Tricycle”. Ten years after the launch of Tynant, Robin sold his shares and set up Alfresco, an own-label soft-drinks business which he continues to run to this dayand produces products fora number of high street not able slike Pret aManger, Cafe Neroand Leon. Robin’s greatest achievement, however, has been to fight back from Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a debilitating illness which interrupted hislife in December 2004 and completely paralysed him from the neck down, taking almost 2 years of relentless physiotherapy to regain mobility. He recovered sufficiently to write a book on the subject, ‘A Solitary Confinement’, the proceeds of which are given to GAIN, the UK charity offering support sufferers of Guillain-Barre, where he is a Trustee. The book has sold over45,000 copies to date exhausting every friendship Robin has ever made in his restless pursuit of selling to everybody he meets! He has also worked tirelessly to promote accessibility within the tourism and hospitality industries, launching the Bespoke Access Awards in April2016, alongside RIBA and the Design Council, with the aim of turning hotel bedrooms and public areas into less-functional and hospitalised spaces. Seeking to inject delight and surprise being the principle aim. The first prize-giving ceremony took place on 1stDecember 2016at the House of Lords. In recognition of this, in 2017 he was named "Hotel Sector Champion of Hospitality" by the Minister for Disabled People and the Government’s Office for Disability Issues. Non-Exec Roles Robin isth e Chair and a Fellow and Trustee of the Institute of Hospitality. He is a Master Innholder and a non-exec on a number of different businesses ranging from a laundry company to an online art company. At heart, Robin is a marketeer and his passion for fine food led him to pioneer England’s first food festival, the Bath International Taste Extravaganza (BITE).He is past chairman of his school’s‘Old Edwardians’ society and many fundraising committees; he is also past chairman of numerous hotelier and tourism groups from Llandudno to London and remains a visiting speaker at Lausanne, visiting fellow at Oxford Brookes and the Maltese Tourism College (the island of his birth).