December 2, 2021
Luxury defined by…. Brian Murphy
Brian Murphy is General Manager at Antigua’s Carlisle Bay, the only member of Leading Hotels of the World in the twin islands. With nearly 20 years of experience in the hospitality sector, he started his luxury career in Luttrellstown Castle and the Merrion Hotel in Ireland, before moving to the Sandy Lane in Barbados and then onto Antigua.
What was your journey to becoming General Manager at Carlisle Bay?
My father was a hotelier in the region, so I always had the Caribbean on my radar. After doing man-agement training with Marriott, I got offered a job in the Cayman Islands working in reception where I fell in love with the Caribbean all over again. After becoming involved with the luxury five-star mar-ket in Dublin, I moved to London to continue my career.
However, eight months later, I was offered a job as the Food and Beverage Manager at Sandy Lane in Barbados and from there to Antigua and Carlisle Bay. This was in fact my third The Leading Hotels of the World property, meaning I have a very good understanding of this luxury brand and the uniqueness that is expected.
What does luxury mean at Carlisle Bay?
Carlisle Bay is quintessentially Caribbean. We are the only hotel in Antigua that is adjacent to the rain forest on a half-moon crescent shaped beach, and as we are exclusive due to our location, we cater to a lot of celebrities. They can come here and be nondescript and private, which is what they are looking for.
Luxury in Carlisle Bay is really the simplicity behind it. We anticipate the guests needs before they know it, their preferences are being acknowledged whether it’s their suite location, their dining preferences or their special dietary requirements. We always try to be one step ahead.
When we’re speaking to a guest, we are picking up information about whether they are celebrating a milestone, if they’re escaping something or even in mourning. We try to adapt to the situation at hand. It’s all part of the mystique – everything needs to be effortless.
What would you like guests to take away from their stay?
I’d like them to feel that their stay has exceeded their expectations in terms of service, delivery and product. We want Carlisle Bay to be a home away from home where someone always anticipates their needs. We want them to leave here refreshed, relaxed and worry-free and ready to get back into their busy lifestyles once again.
What makes Antigua so special in your opinion?
Having travelled across the Caribbean extensively, I’ve realised that each island has its own attrib-utes. The one thing I see about Antigua is that we are understated and still have the ability to pro-vide that Caribbean feel. We’re not overdeveloped in terms of infrastructure; visitors are actually coming to a tropical island like they would have done 40 years ago,
What is luxury for you?
For me, it is the finer things in life and having what makes you feel good. Luxury is subjective, but is a bottle of fine wine? Or is it, for example, steak tartare or truffle ravioli? These are all things that I love to indulge in, but for me it’s the people that are part of it that make it so much more.
Without the human touch everything becomes soulless. I look around Carlisle Bay and I’ve seen it at its busiest and at its slowest when we were down to just two percent occupancy. At that time, it was a different hotel to what you see today. A hotel is only bricks and mortar, and it really is all about the people in-side and the energy of the guests and the staff who are interacting. That is how guests get a feel for the culture. For some people luxury is about coming away and not seeing anyone, however, a lot of people want that interaction and personal touch – someone who is there discreetly anticipating their needs.