THE Costa del Sol’s tourist industry is about to get an overhaul, if hospitality expert Chris Chapman has anything to do with it.
Think Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, but for hotels and restaurants in Spain…and with less swearing.
Chapman, a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality, has decided to take on the poor service offered in ‘far too many’ restaurants and hotels around Andalucia.
Starting in the Ronda area, the 78-year-old hopes to encourage bosses and staff to improve their offering to tourists, learn how to smile, and be more helpful.
Called CEPA, the idea was sparked after putting up with poor service for a decade while living in the Ronda area.
“It’s a shame because we have a lovely culture here and spectacular landscapes, but we don’t have the service industry to match.
“Too often I’ve seen grumpy waitresses treating tourists like idiots and the managers and owners either haven’t noticed or cared.
“The translation of menus is terrible, the food is not hot, there are so many problems,” he continued.
“One place we went to yesterday put the wrong food on the table, then went outside and had a beer and a smoke. That is not waiting tables.”
Chapman, from Wiltshire, continued: “It is a three-legged stool… I want to help them get ambience, service and quality of the food right. It is very important.”
“When I came here I thought this country was 25 years behind, but in fact it is more like 50 years behind… they need to bring things into the 21st century.”
Chapman started his career as a chef, before becoming a restaurant and later hotel manager.
He worked in catering for the army and police, before finally setting up a restaurant consultancy business in Devon and Cornwall in the 1990s.
While officially retired, he is setting up CEPA with a number of friends, including a local English teacher.
He has already had good feedback from local businesses.
“I’ve approached a lot of businesses and many seem keen,” he explains. “I’ll be visiting them and assessing what they need to change, then I will write up a report and then can act on that.”
As well as making staff feel more important in their roles, the most important factors are quality of service, ambience and quality of food, he adds.
“Get all those and the repeat visits will come rolling in.”
For more information, call Chris on 627 600 052.