General Manager Warren Miller has set about improving facilities at Over-Seas House since his appointment in 2019. The pandemic has provided an unexpected opportunity to get cracking on the work, with more to come in 2022
It has been a genuine pleasure to be part of the Royal Over-Seas League since I joined in October 2019. Little did I know that the majority of the time would be spent in lockdown, due to the Covid pandemic. With any crisis comes opportunity and we certainly have not been idle during the closure of the clubhouse. Together with the support of Central Council and dedication of an amazing team, we took the opportunity to invest into club facilities and provide a much-improved offering to our members.
The most notable change was to bring the catering back in house, after being outsourced for over a decade. We successfully negotiated an early exit from the contract with Grayson’s and after a vigorous tendering process to go with another catering company or bring catering in house, it was unaminously agreed by Central Council on the 15 December 2020 for the latter.
This led to us to review all the food and beverage areas, and it became evident that most of the facilities required much-needed investment. With only five months to build a team and complete all the works before reopening in May, it was an immense challenge. Our focus was to maximise our beautiful garden and offer a Covid-friendly space to dine in and meet safely with other members after over a year of lockdown. To achieve this, we redesigned the space and added more seating, purchased new parasols with heating and lighting, built a new outdoor Members’ Bar and Alfresco Kitchen, with a BBQ and pizza oven. Although many of the equipment deliveries were hit with delays, we managed to launch the Garden with our new offering with much success.
It is often the case that the works most needed happen behind the scenes, so to allow us to deliver our new menu and improved service into the Garden and Brabourne Room, we needed to redesign and replace most of the equipment in the Brabourne Room’s kitchen, which came at significant expense.
Other works completed during lockdown including the much-anticipated, yet delayed opening of our newly refurbished Willingdon Drawing Room as well as light makeovers of the Lobby, Bar, and Brabourne Room. We took the opportunity to refresh 40 of our bedrooms and are now in the process of scoping out the works needed to upgrade our main kitchen, which is essential in the relaunch of our Art Deco Restaurant on the lower ground floor, planned for 2022. Once these works are completed, it will allow us to offer much more to our members in terms of catering, and bring back fine dining to the clubhouse, which members have missed.
We have worked with designer Afra Affara to bring many of these new areas to life, who explains the thought process behind each room below.