- Neil Kedward
- Zoe Kedward
- Thomas Agius Ferrante
- Mourad Ben Tekfa
- Alix White
- Hannah Bewhay
- Oliver Crittenden
I am a proud Welshman having been brought up in the little village of Cwmrhydyceirw near Swansea. I was very blessed with a fabulous childhood in a tight knit community of lovely people, many of whom remain close friends today. It was these big personalities who instilled a sincere appreciation of what a great welcome looked like – a warm smile, a big hug and a cup of tea.
I have always been a dreamer and an adventurer at heart with my father encouraging me to go and see the world. I suppose this is reflected in my rich, varied and changing career. I always wanted to build things and so structural engineering was my first adventure – I have many bridges and even a professional Chartered Engineering qualification to show for it. After my years in steel and concrete, I wanted to find out more about the world and an MBA beckoned me to Glasgow following which I enthusiastically moved to the big smoke. My first business orientated role was in strategy and finance with a big 5 consultancy practice as they were then, before moving into industry and getting the opportunity to see the world. Having worked directly for some extraordinary professionals and industry leaders, the die was cast and I was ready for my own venture.
Perhaps the most important part of this journey is being blessed enough to meet my now wife Zoe. Together, we bravely turned our backs on our corporate careers in London to seek out the good life back home in Wales. The inspiration for this departure was a family visit to Pembrokeshire, an unplanned detour, and the incredible good fortune to stumble across a derelict unloved old country house, called Grove. Today, like us the Grove has moved on, and has been reinvented as a beautiful luxury hotel with 26 bedrooms and a fabulous restaurant that we are immensely proud of. Together Zoe and I have built on this success, creating wonderful restaurant venues at Coast in Saundersfoot and more recently at Beach House Oxwich in the Gower Peninsular.
I now wake up every morning to the fresh Pembrokeshire air excited about realising the potential of our brilliant staff to create exceptional experiences. These experiences somehow mirror my childhood memories that are built on a big smile and a warm enthusiastic Welsh welcome. It feels great!
In my spare time you will find me walking the Pembrokeshire Coastal path with Zoe and our mischievous labradoodle Bronwen, enjoying a beer and a pack of crisps in my local overlooking Carmarthen Bay, watching my beloved Swans at the Liberty, or still frustratingly attempting to master a smooth swing on a nearby links.
Having always wanted to run my own business, but not quite sure doing what, I have fallen into the wonderful world of hospitality and travel. I travelled around the world post university and then joined American Express on their graduate programme. Amex was an amazing company to work for and over the 18 years I was with them I learnt so much working in different parts of the business, with some inspirational managers and wonderful teams, gaining invaluable business knowledge and commercial experience across card and travel. It was hard to leave.
But after meeting Neil and renovating our house together, we decided to take on the derelict Grove as a major renovation project turning it into a 6 bed B&B with self-catering cottages. Now over 10 years later the Grove is a 5 star hotel with 26 luxurious bedrooms and two restaurants. We have also created two amazing restaurants, Coast in Saundersfoot and the now Michelin starred Beach House in Oxwich. These are run by amazing people committed to delivering our vision and the best customer experience.
Maybe a seed was sown, as a teenager waitressing in the local hotel. I think hospitality is in all of us who enjoy opening our homes to family and friends, the desire to make our guests feel at home, relaxed, properly fed, nicely watered and leave with the desire to return soon.
Having a father in the RAF, my early years were spent moving around Scotland and England, but now my home and heart is in Pembrokeshire, Wales. I love walking the countryside, and have done so from a very young age; with older siblings and rambling parents. Pembrokeshire’s rugged coastline, wooded valleys and hillsides is such a wonderful place for Neil and I to live, along with Bronwen our labradoodle, who can’t wait to get to the beach every morning.
Having been brought up in Malta by a Welsh mother and Maltese father I spent most of my early years running around the streets of Mdina, meeting visitors to our island on a daily basis. I started a paper round with a friend at the age of 10 and took part in all sorts of city events.
I later moved to the UK for school whilst heading home for Summers in Malta, where my first real job was a Summer of being a pool boy, followed the next year by a summer at the Corinthia Palace as a Trainee Receptionist. From then on I moved through various waiting jobs whilst continuing my studies until I formally joined Malta’s tourism school – Institute for Tourism Studies and worked as a commis chef at The Xara Palace , Relais & Chateau. During my course I also got to spend a year at the Mandarin Oriental in Hyde Park as a trainee chef.
Having graduated, I moved back to London to work at One Aldwych where I joined as a trainee and where I spent 3 happy years finally leaving to join The Berkeley as Reception Manager. The Berkeley was my home for the next 7 years progressing to a planning committee role as Food & Beverage Manager. In 2016 I had the opportunity to join the Phoenicia in Malta as Hotel Manager and helped to relaunch the hotel after a £20m refurbishment project.
3 years later I find myself in Pembrokeshire – managing the Grove of Narberth and living in Saundersfoot – you could say I have come home from home. The Grove is a special place to work where taking care of people is at the core of all that we do. When not at work I love to have people over for dinner, read and spend time with my wife Jenya and daughter Catherine exploring Pembrokeshire. Especially the beaches, come rain or shine!
I feel most fortunate to have been brought up in the Côte D’Azur, born in Cannes, to Tunisian parents.
My first taste for hospitality came at the tender age of 12. My dad asked if I wanted to earn some pocket money by helping him in his role washing up at a family-owned coastal restaurant, during the summer school holidays. I enjoyed my time so much that the following year, I was asked to help with food preparation, and shortly thereafter, I become a part-time chef working every weekend and school holidays for more than 10 years. The die was cast.
During my years at Nice University studying for a Masters in Applied Foreign languages, it quickly became clear that I needed to work to finance my studies. Once again I landed on my feet, with a friend of mine offering a front of house opportunity as a casual waiter for the Luxury Hotels of Monaco, during the Formula 1 Grand Prix and at various other events. This experience proved so successful that I knew for sure I wanted to pursue a career in the hospitality industry.
My first full-time role was as a commis waiter, working for the prestigious Société des Bains de Mer hotel group in Monaco. I then started my adventure in the UK, spending several years at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, before expanding my experience at other iconic British venues such as l’Ortolan and Hambleton Hall. Later, I returned to Le Manoir as Restaurant Manager, where I went on to spend the next 18 years helping Mr Blanc perfect his astonishing vision for the hotel and restaurant, latterly as Restaurant Director.
It was during this period that I can truly say I achieved my three biggest personal and professional successes to date: bringing up three lovely children — Alex, Bethany and Jack, and becoming a father figure to my step children Daron and Nicole; getting the title of Master of Culinary Arts in 2013; and marrying my wonderful wife Jenny last year.
My appointment as Restaurants Director for the Seren Collection feels like the most natural next step in my career. There is a genuine care for people, an unmistakable culture for excellence and ambition, to which I connect at a very deep level. Being part of such a company is very exciting. Needless to say that it also reconnects my wife and I with an element that we missed for too long, the sea. We cannot wait to explore this beautiful part of the world with its rugged coastline, beautiful beaches and all its secrets.
When not at work, I like gardening, keeping myself fit, cooking for the family, and visiting places with my wife. One could say that I like to keep myself busy!
I’m Pembrokeshire born and bred, and my family history is rooted in West Wales. I was brought up in a Welsh-speaking environment, with an established family background in business and retail, and, as with many people from this part of the world, a strong farming and mining heritage.
Growing up near the coast was pretty idyllic, and my parents always had us out and about exploring. We’d dash down to Broad Haven after school in the summer to enjoy fish and chips on the beach, and there was many an early weekend morning spent waiting for the boat to take us out to explore Skomer or Caldey Island. While being able to trace my local ancestors back to the 1300s is pretty cool, my interest in travel and culture was born at an early age, and I always knew I wanted to explore the world beyond Pembrokeshire. Leaving Wales for the great unknown — Brunel University — was my first solo adventure.
I gained a BA in American Studies and English, before completing my Masters in Creative and Journalistic Writing. I balanced my studies with extensive time in the US, exploring the east and west coasts, before taking a full time job on graduating with Gartner, a world leading research and advisory company.
I was at Gartner for 18 years, joining as an editor working on IT research papers, before moving to the conferences division and progressing to the role of Director of Communications. Working for a large global company was an incredible learning experience and I was fortunate to have opportunities to develop and lead new global teams throughout my time there. I was able to combine my love of creative content with developing engaging customer experiences for the largest technology and business conferences in the world. The beauty of having a communications and digital experiential focus was that it was ever-evolving and no two days were the same. I explored new technologies and trends, ran strategic planning, analysed metrics and developed creative messaging techniques, all while keeping the customer experience at the heart of everything we did.
There was never a dull moment in the conferences industry, particularly when working across different regions of the globe or being live onsite. There’s no truer feeling of exhaustion than after a week of 15+ hour days setting up and delivering an amazing event for 10,000 people — nor one of greater elation (relief!) than signing off the last official event communication with the team, shutting down the laptop, and heading off to celebrate together.
I travelled extensively and came to know the ins and out of Heathrow airport better than most. Little did I know all those years spent as a semi-professional international traveller, hotel stay-er, and restaurant go-er would become so useful for my next career move!
The pull back to Wales has always been strong, and the opportunity to return to Pembrokeshire to join Seren in this new and progressive role was an easy decision for me. I’m delighted to be part of such a passionate, supportive and adventurous team, and am excited to lead and develop the growing communications and marketing team.
Born and raised in Bishopston, Swansea I spent most of my teenage years working in a local gastro pub learning the ropes of the kitchen, bar and general management of a business. I loved being part of a team that created a warming environment and was the heartbeat of the community, so caught the hospitality bug from a young age.
Having studied Business with Marketing at Brighton University, in my early career I worked with large brands such as Tui Travel and Red Bull, travelling around the UK and Europe. Eager to immerse myself in city life and drawn to the food scene, I moved to London where I worked for Gordon Ramsay Restaurants managing his Social Media profiles and 10 London based restaurants. In the words of the man himself, what a ******* experience. I then joined growing casual dining group Tortilla where I ran the PR and Marketing activity and launched 23 restaurants in the major cities around the UK.
After a fabulous 12 years of being away, I pined for the fresh air, coastal walks and family feel of Wales so my husband Sam and I relocated to the market town of Mumbles. I joined the Seren Collection in 2016, delighted to be able to still work in the world of hotel and restaurants and proud this calibre of hospitality is at my home. If I’m not in the hotel and restaurants, you’ll find me down the beach with my lovely family.
I was fortunate enough to grow up a short walk across a field from the prestigious Michelin starred restaurant and hotel, Gidleigh Park, nestled on the edge of beautiful Dartmoor, so it was inevitable that I would spend my summer holidays working in the kitchen. I loved the overwhelming sense of team work and the pure passion and skill on show by all my colleagues. Whilst at university I ventured to Zambia to run a small lodge, further instilling my passion for hosting and meeting people from all walks of life. I returned to Gidleigh Park after university to pursue a hospitality career and joined the reception team.
The opportunity to take part in the Ten out of Ten Hospitality Management programme was too good to miss. It took me to some of the best hotels across southern England that included: The Vineyard at Stockcross, Mallory Court, Chewton Glen, Lucknam Park and Pennyhill Park. I covered all areas of the hotel from housekeeping to reception, HR to kitchen, sales and marketing to restaurant service, gaining valuable experience and working with some truly inspirational hospitality professionals.
After completing the programme I joined the historic Cliveden House Hotel and Spa as Duty Manager and later Guest Services Manager. At Cliveden no two days were ever the same. One moment you could be welcoming a Saudi Prince, the next doing a butler’s talk to a room of 60 business people. Next you could be sourcing a beer made in a small US town a guest has requested as it was the first drink that he and his wife drank together over 20 years ago.
After three successful years at Cliveden House my partner and I longed for the true sense of countryside and to be part of a company that is on a journey where we can help shape the product, so we were delighted to find the Grove of Narberth and the Seren Collection in 2017. When not working, you will usually find me walking the coastal path with my partner after borrowing Bronwen the “trainee hotel dog” or finding somewhere to indulge my passion in experiencing great food and amazing hotels.