Cliveden House
Cliveden House

The media are circulating the remains of the fallen empire of tycoon Andrew Davis and his von Essen Hotels.  His hotel portfolio fell into liquidation in April 2011, but as further details emerge questions are asked on how many people, including Britain’s biggest Restaurant critic Michael Winner were taken in by the hype.

In an article by Stephen Robinson for The London Evening Standard on 31 May 2011, he writes how the rise of Andrew Davis involved..’his own chutzpah, aggressive public relations, gullible media cheerleaders and stupid bankers’.  Brought into the mire is Michael Winner, one of Andrew Davis’s and von Essen’s  greatest supporters who used his Sunday Times Winners Dinners Column to regular write rapturous  reviews on von Essen hotel restaurants between 2008 and 2011 and even voted them as the best UK Hotel Group in November 2009.  The group were also the main sponsor of the Sunday Times Rich List in 2009 and 2010.

At odds with media hype were the rapidly declining fortunes of the von Essen hotels with many unable to afford basic running repairs. Design Restaurants had been informed that one illustrious and former Michelin rated property had allegedly been unable to offer a tasting menu due to lack of crockery sets.  Quality suppliers either deserted von Essen or put up with grossly unfair payment terms.

London Evening Standard – 31 May, 2011

Cliveden’s latest scandal and how its tycoon owner duped the banks and London society


The Sunday Times – 27 December, 2009

Michael Winner reviews Homewood Park, near Bath

Link to main site.

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3 replies on “Michael Winner’s impartiality questioned in the von Essen scandal

  1. I worked for von Essen when Michael Winner was shamefully promoting them and used to feel sick about it. I remember reading an article that he wrote that was published on the 31st of the month. He was glorifying Andrew Davis and saying that Davis knew 90% of his staff by their first names and that Davis simply cared too much for his employees and his hotels. What a lot of bunk! On that date, as usual, on the last day of the month after 3pm. staff were due to be paid. However, no one ever knew where the cheques would be left and so it resulted in a series of phonecalls around the hotels and then perhaps a long drive to another county to pay the poor, often young and foreign staff. Around 6pm. the cheques would finally show up at their proper hotel. Then it would take 3 to 10 working days for the cheques to clear but in the meantime this money would stay in Davis’s account to gain interest. Suppliers were equally treated very poorly by this greedy and uncaring group. Obviously Michael Winner didn’t ever question what was going on in the background (although the staff would have been to scared to say anything) as long as he was being flown around in helicopters from one hotel to another and wined and dined so that von Essen could get enormous free publicity from him which otherwise would have cost them a fortune.

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