A once derelict hotel is now booked up a year in advance thanks to Taylor Swift and her fans.
Marie Carter, 26 year-old from Anfield, is the manager of the Phoenix Hotel in Kirkdale. The hotel is a local success story, reopening in 2020 after the building was disused for more than 20 years.
Marie has been a pivotal part of that, and the business is now reaping the rewards with sold-out bookings on all three days of Taylor’s Liverpool shows. Like other venues in the area, it is preparing for a big boost in business next June, given it is a short walk from Anfield stadium.
Since the stadium was granted the licence for concerts outside of the football season in 2018,local businesses have seen increased summer trade with huge names such as Take That taking to the stage.
The Phoenix is one of these, with members of the team getting tickets for Elton John’s shows at the stadium last year.
Marie said: “We had the production team stay with us, so we got tickets gifted to us. There’s loads of benefits to working in hospitality. We get to witness it first hand as well as working on it.”
Marie added: “All the businesses will feel [that boost] because it’s such a big event. We’ve seen bookings come in straight away. I imagine everyone else will see that. It’s quite flattering that they’re choosing us over the big hotels in town.”
Marie joined the team when the hotel was being reconstructed. However, hospitality was never an area she expected to work in when she first came to the city from her hometown of Leeds.
She said: “Being in a managerial position is something I wanted to do. Because I had experience working for the NHS, I thought it would be a graduate scheme working for the NHS to be a manager. I never thought hospitality would be something I’d be doing.”
Despite this scepticism, she found work as a part-time receptionist while studying and soon found her passion. Marie said: “I’m quite a practical person. I knew that with hospitality, I was learning things about how the systems work, all the admin and managerial side of things. It made so much sense to me rather than going into a classroom.”
Taylor Swift fans booking out the hotel is a major milestone in how far the business has come. Marie worked with the owners before the reopening to mould the hotel into a boutique venue which had lower prices than similar establishments in town.
She said: “With the owners, we put a plan together and created it all together with our own ideas, from my own experience of working in hotels and their experience of developing hotels.”
She added: “We put together what we’d want in a hotel, what we were kind of missing in other hotels. It’s not just the guest aspects, it’s creating a culture where everyone’s kind.”
Maire argues that it’s these aspects, such as the hotel’s smaller size, the “brilliant” staff that know each guest by name and the hotel covering the cost of a taxi to the city centre that make it such a rewarding place for her to manage.
She said: “From the smallest things, from someone staying on their anniversary, to someone recovering from an illness or a hen party, it’s all really nice and rewarding. When you’ve got children coming for their first match at Anfield, there are so many experiences which are enjoyable.”
Marie recalls one guest who was staying over after recovering from a long-term illness. She said: “Her experience at the hotel, it was just one night, but her staying has motivated her to go and do things which she previously never had the confidence to do.”
Given its short walk from both Anfield and Goodison Park, many football fans grab a drink in the bar on matchdays or stay over for the weekend at the Phoenix. But Marie argues the business now has a “core” set of customers who visit all year round.
The Phoenix brand has expanded to include the Phoenix Pods on Vauxhall Road and the Phoenix Collection on Leigh Street, both in the city centre. Developments like this have given Marie confidence in the business’ future.
She said: “My journey so far has been really exciting and I can see more happening in the future with the Phoenix brand.” Marie also relishes working with Scousers daily and feels settled in the city.
She said: “I only realised I wanted to stay once I started working. When you’re a student, you’re around other students from different areas. When I started working in Liverpool, I was around more Scousers and I found it was really welcoming, a community. They’re so friendly, people speak to you like they’ve known you forever when you’ve only just met them.”