Trump Turnberry – Ralph Porciani – 11 July 2017
Ralph Porciani, general manager of the Trump Turnberry resort, last week gave an entertaining and insightful presentation on the restoration of the Turnberry Hotel. Ralph firstly told the club of his Scottish-Italian roots and his childhood experience of helping in the family-run chip shop. This stood him in good stead for his later embarkation on a career in the catering business, initially as a top chef at various, high profile London hotels and restaurants, before the executive chef opportunity at Turnberry came along in 2004, leading to promotion to Director of Operations for the hotel in 2011. This instantly recognisable, traditional Edwardian building first opened in 1906 as the world’s first golf resort. On the sale of the hotel and golf courses to the Trump organisation in 2014, Ralph was retained as General Manager of the hotel.
Ralph described how the hotel’s original Edwardian elegance had become somewhat tarnished under various, previous owners and how the Trump team’s vision for restoring this has been realised. The multi-million-pound renovation commenced in March 2015 with the restoration of function rooms, dining rooms, and meeting rooms to their former glory and in December of the same year the hotel closed to allow the clearing of 120 bedrooms of all furnishings and fittings (a task which was achieved in just 5 days); the replacement of 585 windows; complete overhaul of the dilapidated roof; and refurnishing of the bedrooms, all to exceptionally high specifications and a remarkable quality of finish. The jewel in the crown is the creation of a fantastic new ballroom which provides a stunning architectural addition to the hotel façade, a marvellous standard of internal decor and fantastic views over the golf courses to the sea.
In addition to the main building, two luxury suites have been created in the Halfway House (the iconic lighthouse) and a programme of upgrading the villas fronting the hotel is to begin shortly.
Ralph praised the Trump Turnberry management team for its commitment to the staff throughout the renovation process and for its determination to retain the core values and to respect the history of the resort. He believes that the restoration of the hotel and the transformation of the two golf courses have “made Turnberry great again!”. His talk was sprinkled with amusing little anecdotes such as how the great Gary Player (a frequent visitor at Turnberry) gave an impromptu lesson on bunker play to the young son of the course manager.
Euan Lawrence, who has provided architectural input to the project, gave the vote of thanks to Ralph for his excellent presentation.