Robert B. Cook is a successful hotelier, respected businessman and CEO of the popular restaurant chain, Fridays.
Hotels are in Robert’s DNA, and after completing a graduate trainee programme with Bass he joined The Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh. He went on to work with legendary hotelier Ken McCulloch at the Malmaison group, first as General Manager of Malmaison in Newcastle, then as Operations Director for the Group.
Working once again with McCulloch, Robert moved to Monte Carlo to work on the Columbus Hotel, in collaboration with F1 racing driver David Coulthard. He went on to become managing director of the Columbus and Dakota hotel group.
In 2004 Cook returned to Malmaison as CEO. The hotel group’s owners, Marylebone Warwick Balfour, then bought the Hotel du Vin chain and Robert is credited with the growth and expansion of both groups, and with creating two unique and recognisable brands.
As CEO of De Vere Hotels Robert was tasked with breathing new life into the brand and reinventing its image across all estates. The company underwent a major re-branding and was renamed De Vere Village Urban Resorts.
After his successful tenure at the helm of De Vere, Robert served as Chief Operating Officer of Macdonald Hotels & Resorts before moving away from hotels and becoming CEO of Virgin Active UK in 2016. Incorporating fresh ideas from the hotel industry he steered the brand into the future.
Run by his wife Debbie, Robert is the owner of The Cookie Jar, an 11 bedroom boutique hotel overlooking Alnwick Castle in Northumberland. He is also a Board Advisor to Valley Ridge Resort Development in Suffolk.
Robert was awarded the Freedom of the City of London and is a Master Innholder of the hotel industry. He was recognised as Manager of the Year by The Cateys Awards in 2006 and holds an Honorary Doctorate for his contribution to the hotel industry from his alma mater, Robert Gordon University.