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Staying Cool – the background

Staying Cool offers design-led boutique serviced apartments, apartment hotels and now a holiday home – aimed at people who want to feel both completely at home and thoroughly looked after.

The well-travelled founders of Staying Cool are passionate about many things but three in particular stand out; design, detail and difference.

From the selection of each development down to the choice of individual pieces of furniture, we aim to provide an inspirational home away from home for the style-savvy traveller. From the colour of the stitching on a sofa to how comfortable a fork feels in your hand, the team knows how to sweat the small stuff.

Little extras really count – and we like to treat our guests to seasonal gifts and bespoke surprises. So much so that we won an ASAP Marketing Award for our #LittleExtras campaign.

Company ethos

We think the secret to our success is that we consider all our guests to be VIPs and enjoy surprising and delighting them.

We have a strong commitment to sustainability and have always prided ourselves on our green and ethical approach. We use virtually all chemical-free products plus consumables for guests are predominantly green, organic and Fairtrade. Produce is sourced from local and regional suppliers and we work with as many local independents as possible. 

Staying Cool currently has 35 serviced apartments at the top of the iconic Rotunda building in Birmingham and a stunning holiday home in Soller, Mallorca. We will open a new apartment hotel in Manchester in late 2020.

How did it all begin?

Our co-founders, Tracey Stephenson and Paul Taylor, are long-time friends. Staying Cool was born because they often felt frustrated by what was on offer on their business and leisure trips. They decided that there had to be a better alternative to a boutique hotel (great design but small rooms and a hefty bill) and a serviced apartment (more space but often blandly and cheaply furnished). Staying Cool started out with business people staying, especially creatives, but they were soon joined by families and tourists who liked what they saw.

Who is behind Staying Cool?

We’re proudly independent and still owned by our co-founders:

Tracey Stephenson – co-founder

Tracey is our Joint Managing Director and has day-to-day responsibility for running the operational business. She began her career in marketing and tourism and managed a range of commercial units in universities and local authorities, latterly at Salford City Council. Tracey then worked as a marketing and sponsorship consultant for clients including the Harlem Globetrotters. She then set up Staying Cool with Paul. Tracey is a board member at Birmingham Museums Trust and a member of the Association of Serviced Apartment Providers (ASAP) Advisory Board.

Paul Taylor – co-founder

Paul is our other Joint Managing Director who takes the lead on all things creative and design and manages the company’s development and growth strategy. Originally a media lawyer and board director of Granada TV/ITV, he then had a mid-life career change and re-discovered his creative roots and passion for design, returning to university to complete a degree in architecture at Manchester School of Architecture. He subsequently undertook a number of property redevelopments before co-launching Staying Cool. Paul is a non-executive director of Manchester Digital Creative Assets Board.

Our board

In addition to Paul and Tracey, the board is chaired by fellow director and shareholder Robin Sheppard of Bespoke Hotels Group. Robin is a classically trained hotelier with an eye for innovation, who by the age of 26 was General Manager of Bodysgallen Hall, the best hotel in Wales, moving on to be the GM of many outstanding hotels before co-founding the Bespoke Hotel Group, the UK’s largest independent hotel group, managing over 9,500 hotels rooms and £815m of assets.

During its early years the company also had a small advisory board including architect Glenn Howells, who transformed the Rotunda from derelict office block to stylish residential apartments with Urban Splash; James Lohan, founder of Mr and Mrs Smith; and Sue Vanden, co-founder of branding agency Hemisphere.

Our team

We like to promote from within whenever possible. Former Head of Guest Relations, Alex Mee, is the General Manager of Rotunda while his predecessor Gavin Burns has become the General Manager of our new Manchester apartment hotel, Cotton Yard. Gavin worked with Tracey for many years in Salford before he joined Staying Cool.

Just some of our awards and ratings

Gavin Burns and Tracey Stephenson receiving the Visit England ROSE Award for Outstanding Customer Service

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