Living & Working at Burgh Island: A Unique Hospitality Role on the Devon Coast

Living & Working at Burgh Island: A Unique Hospitality Role on the Devon Coast

Hospitality offers countless opportunities to find your calling and boundless room to grow, and Vlad and Lilly Krupa at Burgh Island are living proof of that.

What started out as a short working holiday at Burgh Island is still ongoing some 15 years later. Today, we both live and work on the tidal island leading the hotel’s guest relations and events teams, while our mother heads up housekeeping. Living among unspoiled nature, it’s not a life we ever envisioned, but it’s one that we — owing to Burgh Island’s excitement, community and bliss — would find difficult to ever give up.

Never a dull day

Vlad and Lilly Krupa, Director of Guest Relations and Head of Brand and Events.
Vlad and Lilly Krupa.

Together, we organise the breadth of events and experiences that keep guests at Burgh Island amused. Providing entertainment is one of hospitality’s greatest challenges, particularly so when you’re located on a remote island often cut off from the mainland.

We don’t have a bustling local nightlife to rely upon, and when the sun sets and our patrons return from exploring the Devon coast, it falls entirely on us to help them relax and unwind.

It’s an incredibly rewarding role for the creative mind — in our time at Burgh Island, we’ve concocted murder mystery weekends, held high-class black-tie balls, and hosted lavish parties to rival those seen during the hotel’s early days in the roaring 20s.

Back then, when Burgh was a private house and owned by Archibald Nettlefold, filmmaker and high society socialite, the hotel was known as the ‘Ritz of the West’, which played host to a swathe of the day- sometimes week-long parties, inspiring Tony Porter to write The Great Palace.

Its lavish parties attracted guests such as Winston Churchill, Noel Coward and Josephine Baker.

Agatha Christie famously used the island retreat to write ‘Evil Under the Sun’, and it was the inspiration for the setting of her novel, ‘And Then There Were None’. Even now, with exclusive hire opportunities, guests can live by the ‘my island, my rules’ mantra once enjoyed by Nettlefold and his friends. This variety of events is a testament to the breadth of unique experiences that a career in hospitality can provide (and no two days are ever the same on our island home).

Living in the workplace

A view from the shore looking out towards the island

We’re fortunate to live and work in an idyllic setting alongside our loved ones and colleagues, and we take full advantage during our downtime. When we’re not on the clock, we can often be found enjoying a drink in the hotel’s Pilchard Inn pub or mingling with guests out on the terrace. However, Bigbury-on-Sea is only a short sea tractor ride away, providing an escape from the workplace when we desire it.

Living in the area is like being on a permanent getaway, particularly during the summer months. While most finish their workday and sit in front of the TV, we’re free to traverse the landscape, kayak along the seafront and enjoy a bite to eat with an unmatched view of Devon’s idyllic coast.

The extended Burgh family
Having made Burgh Island our workplace and our home, we have come to view our colleagues as part of our extended family. That bond was strengthened further during the Covid-19 lockdowns when team members who were not from the local area were invited to spend the [best part of a year] living together in the hotel.

This is a sentiment that the entire team has come to share, evidenced by the comradery we all show. We’re always willing to go beyond our remit to help each other out when necessary, and nobody is unwilling to put in a shift — we even had Burgh Island’s owner, Giles Fuchs, washing the dishes in The Nettleford during the busy period that succeeded the pandemic lockdowns.

A home away from home
As an employer, Burgh Island has provided everything we were looking for in a hospitality role: a supportive work environment, valuable training in the areas and skills that interested us, and plenty of opportunities to advance our careers. It didn’t take long for our tidal island to feel like home, and we have never left for the same reasons that guests come back here time and time again, not only because of its idyllic surroundings but for the excitement and togetherness that the island provides.

This guest feature was written by Vlad and Lilly Krupa, Director of Guest Relations and Head of Brand and Events.

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