Luxury boutique hotel Mollies’ managing director Steven Colthart wants guests to experience the best of Auckland and come back. With the five-star St Mary’s Bay retreat now being turned into a private home, Colthart said the success of Mollies is owed to service and discretion.
His passion for hospitality started at an early age. Colthart began by washing dishes and making coffee. He went to high school in Auckland and spent some time at Auckland University before moving to Sydney and working in almost every aspect of front-of-house. He was very close to his uncle, who owned the successful Burdekin Hotel in Sydney.
“When I first worked for my uncle, the deal was I could apply to work in the hotel as long as I didn’t let anyone know we were related.”
In his early 20s, Colthart was given some managerial roles focusing on the beverage side. He wanted to be a restaurant manager.
“That was all I wanted to do because I was extremely passionate about cuisine and looking after people.”
His true passion early on was cocktail making, and said he was lucky to be mentored in both New Zealand and Australia. He worked in five-star, Michelin restaurants, but never in hotels.
“I believe I’ve ended up in the hotel business because soon after I was approached by prominent families to look after their hospitality requirements. A lot of these people loved entertaining friends and family. For many years I was working in a hotel way, but in a private environment.
“The absolutely beauty of working in hospitality is you can travel, the skills are very transferable. When I lived in Queenstown it was a perfect situation. You could be skiing, playing golf, and that was the huge attraction for me and lots of my friends.”
When Colthart took over Mollies with his wife Bernadette, what they really bought to the business were human resources. The couple has taken pride in providing genuine, dedicated service, meaning they’ve been lucky to see a lot of regular guests.
“What we bought was world-class service in a very intimate setting, out of a beautiful established property.
“I believe that when people travel to New Zealand they want to interact with New Zealanders. It’s been a really nice situation to have passionate Aucklanders look after international guests.”
His biggest achievement to date has been lifting Mollies’ TripAdvisor ranking from eight to number one within the first 12 months of tenure. Through hosting high-profile guests and celebrities at Mollies, Colthart has also been able to expose his children to successful people, which he considers one of his personal achievements.
“I really love providing an environment where our employees can learn and thrive and grow. I particularly enjoy working with passionate people one-on-one too.”
Internationally, Colthart said he would love to work in Thailand. “We have an affection for Thailand including its people, its cuisine and certainly its environment. There’s a part of us that sees us there in the distant future.”
Moving forward, Colthart said he’d like to continue using the Mollies brand, but only if the next property has a strong resemblance to the St Mary’s Bay one. What has given him an enormous amount of confidence is the consistent comment from his staff, “Well what are we doing next?”
“That was very humbling. Bernadette and I aren’t Mollies, it’s the guests, it’s the people who work here. A lot of our guests have an emotional attachment to Mollies.
“It’s mixed emotions, but the overriding one is optimism of our future and of small boutiques in Auckland.”