By Anton Constantinou
In the race to secure quality accommodation in London, many pass up on the opportunity to live further afield, unaware of the benefits that come with being in the suburbs.
Of all the areas to reside close to the capital, Hertfordshire remains an ideal destination for business travellers, offering brilliant links to the city, and a quiet escape from the big smog.
As a leading property operator in Hertfordshire, Carly Fitzpatrick, Managing Director of Portfolio Apartments, knows this only too well, and has made it her priority to offer quality serviced accommodation in the county.
In our inside scoop with Portfolio Apartments, we spoke to Carly about the company’s property offering and why Hertfordshire is such a great place to operate.
Why have you chosen to operate purely in Hertfordshire?
At the time of setting up Portfolio in 2015, I identified Hertfordshire as an ideal place to operate, due to the number of corporate companies based there. There was a big demand for serviced accommodation in the area, and few providers, so I seized the opportunity to make my mark. Since then we have grown to become the leading operator in Hertfordshire, which has paved the way for expansion elsewhere.
What about Hertfordshire makes it a great place to relocate to?
Hertfordshire consistently ranks as one of the best places to live in the UK, with vibrant towns surrounded by beautiful countryside, all only a stone’s throw from the capital.
Excellent rail and road links make Hertfordshire a great place to be, whether you’re working locally at one of the many major corporate HQs, or commuting into London.
City workers who choose to live out of town, can escape the hustle and bustle of the busy streets after a day’s work, and be back in their Hertfordshire Portfolio apartment within 30 minutes. The area is great for families, offering excellent schools and local services, as well as brilliant quality of life. Towns such as Welwyn Garden City & St. Albans have a really cosmopolitan feel about them, with great bars and restaurants for young professionals working away from home.
As a Londoner myself, I love the more relaxed pace of life you get with Hertfordshire, but there is still plenty to do.
As a smaller property provider, what can you do that larger operators can’t?
As a small company, we’re able to offer that personal touch and maintain good personal relationships with our guests.
No request is too complicated for our team. We go out of way to meet every need or want, be it an extra pillow or advice on schools. We do our very best to accommodate people in all situations, including personal emergencies, and make the process as stress-free as possible by ensuring that we’re on call 24/7.
As well as our standard inclusions, such as generous welcome packs, Sky TV and Molton Brown toiletry sets, we also offer late check-outs and early check-ins.
Having a small team and a relatively small list of properties allows us to develop these personal relationships, all the while still providing our luxury standard of accommodation.
What makes your offering unique?
Apart from being the only officially accredited supplier in our area, the thing that makes us really unique is our small team – and the bespoke service that comes with it.
As a seasoned business traveller and consultant myself, I bring valuable personal experience to the company. I used to travel a lot for work, and would often stay in serviced apartments, so you could say that I’ve been in the same shoes as our guests. I’ve seen the best and worst sides of the industry, and I think this knowledge and background has helped shape Portfolio into a company that I would have wanted to book with in my previous life – and that’s really important to me.
How personally involved are you in the apartments that you oversee?
I was cleaning an apartment before a last minute check-in recently – does that answer your question?! I’m involved in everything – from choosing the furniture to overseeing our marketing and dealing with guests. With that said, I also have a really good team that I know I can rely on.
Which new locations, if any, do you hope to expand to?
Our latest addition to the brand was our own self-contained “Portfolio” block in St Albans earlier this year, which was a huge step for us.
Whilst we are always keeping our eye on the surrounding areas and Home Counties, our priority right now is Hertfordshire.
We don’t want to grow too fast to the point where we “spread ourselves too thin”, as this could lead to the service and standards of our apartments being compromised.
Of course, I’m ambitious and want to expand, but I think this process needs to be done gradually, without sacrificing any of our core values or diluting the brand.
Any other growth plans on the way?
We have a few things in the pipeline. However, at this stage, all I can say is, watch this space – there is plenty more to come from Portfolio in 2019.