Congham Hall Hotel is top place to work, says award-winning restaurant manager

Mayor's Award Business winner Service with a Smile, Karen Malkan at Congham Hall Hotel ANL-140605-124229001
Mayor's Award Business winner Service with a Smile, Karen Malkan at Congham Hall Hotel ANL-140605-124229001

When it comes to job satisfaction Karen Malkan could happily award herself a five-star rating for her career at Congham Hall Hotel.

And the pleasure she gets from her role as restaurant manager shines through her personality, so much so that she has just won a prestigious Mayor’s Award for Business.

Karen was the winner of the Service with a Smile Award, having been nominated by a hotel director and in the frame for the accolade along with 57 other people.

Lynn News readers cast their votes and Karen came out on top. “It was fantastic to be nominated, let alone be chosen as the winner. To know that people have that much appreciation for what I do came to me as quite a surprise,” said Karen. “I would like to say a big thank you to all the team at the hotel whose total loyalty and support count for everything.

“I cannot do my job without smiling! It’s what I do as soon as I go through the door when I arrive at work. It’s a smile from the heart and I get my reward from holiday guests who enjoy their stay in this beautiful part of Norfolk – it’s a gem of a place.”

Congham Hall Hotel is a 26-bedroom Georgian mansion which prides itself in offering traditional hospitality and luxury with modern amenities. It is set in 30 acres of parkland and has stunning grounds, which Karen’s restaurant overlooks.

“I absolutely love my job – you never have the same day twice. You meet different people, a vast array of them, and it’s a very sociable job. I don’t think I could do anything different now. I couldn’t work behind a desk from nine to five every day.”

Ironically, working in the hospitality industry wasn’t Karen’s first choice of career – it was one in freshwater and marine biology. In pursuit of this, she completed a degree in the subject at Hull University graduating in 2005. “I had hoped to work somewhere such as the Environment Agency, but it was very difficult to get a job.

“In the meantime I used to work at Knights Hill Hotel waitressing during the holidays and then I joined Congham Hall as a waitress.”

Karen, 29, who still lives at Grimston where she grew up and which is just down the road from her work, was promoted to assistant restaurant manager within a couple of years and then to her current role. “It’s a job with a lot of responsibility. I am on hand all the time and in charge of a team of people. I train new recruits and help to guide young people through their careers which is very rewarding. The experience they get can be so vital to their futures.”

Karen said that she also gets a huge amount of support from her boss, hotel owner Nicholas Dickinson. “It’s amazing to work with Nicholas who has invested in the hotel. He pays great attention to detail and has so much energy. He is always there to support us and will help out wherever needed,” said Karen.

She and her partner, Colyn Payne, who is sous chef at the hotel, are expecting a baby in September. She is looking forward to motherhood and also to returning to her much-loved job in the future.

n Sponsors of the Mayor’s Business Award for Service with a Smile was the Lynn News