Carrie Wicks, former operations director of Firmdale Hotels, has been appointed chief executive of the South-African-based Leeu Collection, which earlier this year bought its first UK property.
In her new role, Wicks will oversee the expansion of the group which is owned by Analjit Singh, one of India’s richest entrepreneurs.
The company acquired the four-AA-star, 30-bedroom Linthwaite House hotel, set in 12 acres of grounds overlooking Lake Windermere, Cumbria, in January, to add to a portfolio of properties in Franschhoek, South Africa. They include three luxury boutique hotels (Leeu Estates, Leeu House and Le Quartier Français); Tuk Tuk, a craft beer microbrewery in collaboration with the Cape Brewing Company; and Marigold, the town’s’ s first Indian restaurant.
Wicks, who left Firmdale Hotels suddenly in January after nearly 20 years with the company, said she is “very excited” to be joining Leeu Collection.
“There is no doubt that Analjit Singh is an inspirational founder and I anticipate an incredible journey with him and the team as we grow and develop the portfolio.”
Wicks, winner of the Manager of the Year at the 2009 Catey Awards, played an integral role – alongside founders Tim and Kit Kemp – in developing Firmdale as one of London’s most successful independent hotel groups, with its bold, distinct interiors and top quality service. While Tim oversaw the property development and Kit led the design team, Wicks headed the day-to-day running of the hotels.
She joined Firmdale in 1997 as general manager at the Covent Garden hotel, having earlier spent 12 years working in restaurants and hotels in Johannesburg and Cape Town in South Africa.
Leeu Collection described Wicks as “a driven and positive individual with recognised leadership qualities and international experience” who will take the company to a higher level of excellence.
Analjit Singh added: “Carrie brings strong management capability and strength to Leeu Collection as we enter a phase of focused attention on operations and excellence in guest experience. We are delighted to have Carrie to lead the team.”
Singh is the founder and former chairman of Max India, which has interests in insurance and health care.