Nicola Underhill is the General Manager at the Hilton hotel on site at St. George’s Park, a role she has held since 2015.
The Hilton has housed hundreds of England camps and thousands of players since St. George's Park (SGP) opened, but Nicola explains how you can just feel the difference around the venue since the England team arrived for their UEFA Euro 2020 base camp...
Can you briefly explain your role and responsibilities at SGP?
I am the General Manager for the onsite Hilton hotel at St. George’s Park. I am fully responsible and accountable for every aspect of the business and work closely with The FA to ensure we are aligned on delivering the overall objective for SGP, whilst ensuring my team provide exceptional experiences for all hotel guests.
How has UEFA Euro 2020 impacted on your role in terms of preparing for the tournament?
Managing a hotel, and all it entails, takes a lot of planning and preparation anyway so my team are well versed in these areas. However that said, this is the biggest and most important event that the hotel has been part of since it opened, and therefore precision and detail have been key. I’ve personally been involved in so many elements of the preparation and it was great to work so closely with FA Team Ops, FA Security, my Ops team, Hilton Safety and Security, The FA Nutrition Team and the SGP Grounds Team to name but a few. I think that everybody has done an excellent job in delivering an exceptional basecamp for our England team.
With the England team now on-site at SGP, how has your day-to-day role changed in the short-term?
Many aspects of my day-to-day job continue just the same and I still have the same number of Teams calls with Hilton about all things hospitality (where I love showing off my SGP England top, which is our new basecamp uniform). However when I’m up in the hotel, checking in with my Director of Ops and his team, and with FA Team Ops, you can just feel the difference and I go into OCD overdrive mode! I’m probably driving my team mad but naturally just want everything to be perfect.
What has it been like to be around the site since the team arrived?
Well it definitely takes a lot longer to get to my office in a morning with all the security checks and COVID testing! On a serious note, it’s incredible. We wanted to create a relaxed atmosphere and vibe so that the team feel at home, as they are here for a long time without seeing their families, and I truly believe that we have achieved that.
What does it mean to your personally to work in a position where you are playing a part in such a high-profile event?
Well my nine-year-old football-loving nephew thinks that his auntie is super cool and that she has the best job in the world! I am definitely part of something that feels incredibly special. I managed to catch the last five minutes of Gareth’s speech to all the players and backroom staff on the day of arrival and it just gave me goosebumps, listening to his words and seeing them all gathered in MY hotel lobby preparing for such a big tournament. My entire team and I are very proud to be a part of it and every time they win a game, we feel that we have played a small part in that victory – and when I’m an old lady, I’ll definitely be telling everyone that chooses to listen, about this particular chapter in my life.