Archives Month: July 2017

Being an hotelier is no bed of roses! Constantly having to be aware of pricing, market share, staffing, TripAdvisor and the rest of modern marketing and social media are all issues that lay in wait for us.

At times there is so much to think about that we can slip up on the obvious and forget that this is the hospitality industry.

Having been involved with hotels, extensively in the UK but also throughout the world for all my working life has given me experiences of the brilliant and not quite perfect hotel offering.

I like to think that I am a fairly normal hotel guest, certainly not too demanding, so what do I look for in an hotel that I will want to revisit.

Of course, the first impression counts, so a relaxed, friendly, smiley, efficient welcome is a good place to start.

After travelling to my destination, I want my room to be ready when I arrive and to find that housekeeping has done its job properly. After unpacking, the shower or bath is calling so that I can freshen up and change.

Here is where many hoteliers have taken their eye off the ball. Lovely large, white, fluffy towels are provided but where is the face cloth? Ok, I did think to pack one just in case but it’s so disappointing that the hotel couldn’t be bothered.

Never mind, the water is hot, so after drying off I jump into the bath robe, make a pot of tea and crash out for twenty minutes. How would you feel Mr Hotelier if the dressing gown your wife bought you for Christmas didn’t cover your nether regions or even meet up in the front. I must be careful not to walk by the window when I make the tea!

If you’re eating in, the whole question of food is very subjective, so if the menu doesn’t suit, it’s my own fault for not checking the iPad before I booked the room. But if you are using the restaurant, please Mr Hotelier, train your staff to know that customers are normally patient once they have a drink in their hand. If you are going to make your guests wait for a drink or the menu, you will probably be storing up niggles for yourself for the rest of the evening.

After a good meal and a decent bottle of wine I always go to bed happy, but sometimes not for long. Too many hotels in the UK are still expecting their guests to sleep on 4ft 6ins or 5ft spring loaded mattresses. Now neither her ladyship nor I  are that big, but please, king sized, memory foam mattresses in all rooms or stop calling yourself an hotel in the 21st century. How can we expect to attract more continental or inter-continental trade if we can’t provide the basics?

We need to consider that with a less robust pound, more Brits will remain in the UK and other nations will take the opportunity of favourable exchange rates to visit these near perfect islands.

If my blog hasn’t caused too much offence, do bear in mind that I have been funding hotels and their purchases of linen, beds, furniture, carpets, catering equipment etc. for over 40 years.

If you are thinking that perhaps it’s time to cut the bathrobes up for cleaning cloths or even turning them into flannels or giving your guests the beds they deserve, you know where to turn for finance, support and expertise.

 

 

The wonderfully diverse weather that we enjoy in the south of England is a real blessing to gardeners, hardly ever too cold, reasonable rainfall and our fair share of sun. However, it can make choosing the right time to take leave from the office a little problematic.

We decided to spend the first two weeks in June, catching up with the chores in the garden and spending time resting, reading and reflecting.

The weather for our first week was perfect for rolling up the sleeves and getting on with the ‘Chelsea chop’ while being surrounded by the first flush of roses this year (We are huge fans of David Austin roses).

By the end of the day, with the old bones creaking a little, it was very rewarding to soak in a warm bath with a large glass of chardonnay and plan the priorities for tomorrow’s schedule.

As the week came to an end someone turned the thermostat up and the south west of England went into shorts and ice cream mode. The heatwave lasted all week. There was nothing for it but to cease the horticultural endeavours and kick back in the shade.

It was good to stop and look around at the results of our previous week’s efforts. The borders looked blooming radiant. The alliums, Purple Sensation, were living up to their name, Nepeta was overflowing the edges and the blue Salvias and Geranium Rozannes were putting on growth as you watched them.

Recently Gardeners World viewers voted for the Golden Jubilee Plant of their choice. Not surprisingly, Geranium Rozanne came second behind everyone favourite, the rose.

Like summers of our childhood, day after day was spent with mug or glass in hand, soaking up the peace and quiet, which was only broken by the distant sound of silage making and the soporific sound of bees collecting their nectar.

For hours on end we watched our apian colleagues pollinating our plants for us and hopefully flying off to do the same for our farming neighbours.

With the serious decline of bee populations, you may want to do your bit to reverse the trend. When you are next in your local garden centre or nursery, remember that bees are particularly fond of plants that have blue flowers.

Geranium Bill Wallis and Verbena Bonariensis are both great favourites of bees and they have the added benefit of seeding prolifically throughout the garden, filling in the gaps for you. Your wallet will love you putting these plants in the trolly.

In our garden it is definitely the Nepetas that our friends make a bee line for. Plant a few of these and watch them grow dramatically. At the end of the season you can split the plant several times, increasing the chance for your plot to be the local bee heaven.

Depending on your soil and climate, one of the best attractors for bees and eye appeals has to be the Lavender. Choose a long-stemmed variety and plant it en masse, either in blocks or as an edging plant for paths or borders.

If you are not a user of Pinterest, open an account, it’s free, and tap into an encyclopedia of pictures and ideas for your garden. You could start by clicking on Armada’s Pinterest board, ‘Gorgeous Gardens’.

Happy Gardening