The Hotel TerraVina Blog

The Basset’s at TerraVina take on the ASL Ice Bucket Challenge

In case you missed it, Gerard, Nina and Romane recently all took up the ice bucket challenge, getting soaked and cold in the process!

For your personal enjoyment, we thought we would post it on the blog!

Enjoy!

 

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TerraVina’s eventful Summer of 2014…

There has been no blog for a number of weeks for all sorts of reasons, no less, it’s the summer time and the hotel is hectic. I have been away, Romané is off school and I have been home part time, being mum and in amongst all of that, there’s all sorts of goings on in a long running legal battle that has “hotted up” in the last couple of months, but Gerard has banned me from writing about, so that’s all I can say on the matter for the moment.

Suffice to say, we couldn’t have come this far without the tremendous support of our ever brilliant team of management and staff at TerraVina, our current legal team, (there have been a few changes to those along the way!) and to family who have lent tremendous support throughout, with hot dinners on the table after endlessly long days locked in stuffy offices and courtrooms.

Eventually there will be an end in sight, but despite the summer nearing its end, the legal battles continue apace with further Court appearances scheduled and who knows what after that. However, we remain strong, resilient and determined. The hotel, our team and our fantastically loyal and enthusiastic guests, remain a source of diversion to us which is a welcome relief. But if you do not see so much of Gerard and I at the hotel during the mid week in the coming months, or the blog is not as regular as a weekly one now and then, please forgive us; our time, efforts and energy are caught up in securing our future and working towards a positive outcome from a horrible situation.

In the meantime, we have some great value special breaks, late availability dates and some great wine events coming up for the Autumn and beyond and so we do hope to warmly welcome you back again to TerraVina very soon and the most fantastic news received today, Romané our fabulous son, took his maths GCSE a year early and has just received his result- he got an A!!! brilliant news and we are so proud of him! He obviously takes after Gerard, as Maths was certainly not my favourite subject and nor was I especially keen on exams but Romy takes them in his stride and seems to be unfazed by them.. just like GB!

Until next time

Nx

 

 

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Yet another week(s) of all sorts at Hotel TerraVina

I am back and full of apologies for not having written a blog for a couple of weeks but I do have a good excuse; actually I have a number of reasons why I wasn’t able to write for the past few blog posts.

As regular readers will be aware there is rarely a dull moment at TerraVina, between the guests and the staff keeping us busy and “on our toes” and throwing us a curved ball to catch now and then and recent weeks have been no exception, with a broken down boiler, (luckily we have two boilers and an efficient repair man), broken down dishwasher, (sadly not repairable, so a new one has been installed), a swimming pool that was “eating” the chlorine too hungrily, (now all fixed by our super pool chap) and guests who don’t like the colour of the reception walls or the front door (no comment!) and then to add further mayhem into the mix, one of my oldest and dearest friends (she’s not old just that we have been friends a very long time!) has had a mid life crisis and I made a mercy dash to what felt like the most far flung corner of the country (the trip took me 9 hours!) to lend support, a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen and a dose of sense and calm… all the while whilst planning for the latest round of Court room battles which have now been dragging on for the past 18 months and which feel like they will never go away.

So all in all, I haven’t had a moment to catch my breath, as to add even more chaos to what is already a very hectic life of juggling, Gerard has been on endless trips and I have been rotating suitcases in and out the door. Romané has been in a whirl of end of term parties, activities and Duke of Edinburgh awards expeditions, the dog has been frantic with all the comings and goings and I have been in endless meetings with barristers, solicitors and legal eagles- life is certainly never dull and when there has been a moments respite (I’m sure there were some, I just missed them), I have been too busy, stressed and frantic to notice.

All I can say is that without my tremendous support network of my parents who are always there to pick up the pieces, run with the balls that I can’t manage to juggle and have a hot meal, a kind word and a cup of tea at the ready whenever I need them and of course the fantastic TerraVina team who keep me sane, make me laugh when it’s all getting too much and ensure the smooth running of the whole operation whilst allowing me to think I have an important role to play(!) amongst them all.

I must not forget to mention too my darling husband, who is endearingly eccentric, has his head in the clouds or more likely a wine book and who never ceases to amaze me with his kindness, patience and support and who won a 4th Catey award on Tuesday evening. This time it was an inaugural Catey, the Wine and Spirit Ambassador and I am as always so very proud of him and all he achieves- he is an inspiration.

Till next week…. Enjoy the sunshine

Nx

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Missing the blogs…?

For regular readers who enjoy Nina’s blogs we wanted to let you know she hasn’t forgotten to write one but has been super-busy for the past couple of weeks!

We will be posting a special New Forest events blog this week but rest assured, Nina will be back talking about New Forest life at Hotel TerraVina very soon!

x

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Hotel TerraVina is in a reflective mood…it must be the sunshine!

Apologies there was no blog last week- this was due to a technology hiccup… I haven’t a clue what it was except that the IT whizz told me the blog had been corrupted!! I can’t imagine why anyone would want to corrupt the hotel blog but there we are… anyhow he has fiddled with the bells, whistles and knobs that make it all work and voila we are back on track.

Last week and this have been memorable for all the right reasons… great guests, successful events, happy and well behaved children, sunny days, al fresco dining and great service from our suppliers AND Romané, our son has done exceptionally well in his school exams. Gerard and I are very proud of him and all the hard work that he has persisted in.

I have been in reflective mood… it must be the sunshine making me feel all warm, fuzzy and nice. Most of the time, life is a rollercoaster of situations, dramas and crisis, adventures, excitement and joy. You never know quite what one day to the next is going to serve up in terms of scenarios which is what, I suppose, makes it all exciting, but one thing we should never forget nor take for granted, is that every day is unique and should be as special as possible, even when they are not such happy or good days… they cannot be relived and even an ordinary day is worth celebrating. We can’t rewind, playback, freeze the moments in time and air brush the bits we didn’t like out. Real life doesn’t quite work like that and whilst it’s a life long lesson to learn, it is very true when people who have looked terrible times, death and adversity in the eye, tell you to live each day as if it’s your last, never take a day for granted and treat each one as unique… if only we could all be wise enough to remember that more often than we rarely do.

It’s not often I take a moment to reflect- usually I am too busy to have a moment to spare, (or think I am) juggling being a mum, wife, hotelier, friend and dog walker, but when you do, it is telling how much we take for granted and how our work life balances are mostly completely off kilter…. Thus I am making a mid year resolution, (I never bother with New Year ones), and that is to treasure each day a little bit more than I do at present and stretch out each one to get the best from it as it will not be the same tomorrow.

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Twitter gives Hotel TerraVina food for thought this week…

I read a tweet a couple of days ago, posted by a lady who we follow on Twitter… the social media phenomena that I still don’t really “get”, but that I use for the business as it seems to reach a wide audience of people interested in knowing what we do and are keen on keeping in touch with us… anyway I digress; the quote was I thought very apt and so I retweeted it and have noted it here too…..

You don’t always need a plan. Sometimes you just need to breathe, trust, let go and see what happens…..Mandy Hale

In this day and age of planning every moment of our lives, of being constantly “in touch”, be it by tweet, e mail, Face Book, Instagram or all the other social media outlets we have at our fingertips, of feeling that we can never switch off, I read the quote and thought… yes, what a great idea. So far I’m breathing and waiting to see what happens next but I hope it happens soon as I’m not very patient! But then I read another of her tweets that stated: Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish…..John Quincy Adams… so that told me then!

Actually @WinchesterLady1 seems very adept at finding great quotes and sayings to remind us all should we choose to listen and take notice that life is about so much more than just being on the hamster wheel, racing through life, joining the rat race, head down and running at everything full pelt… I read her tweets regularly and enjoy what she notes as it makes me stop a moment and think about what really matters and ensures that I put things into a better perspective at a time when knee jerk reactions to other people’s thoughtlessness, unkindness, greed and unfairness could so easily tip me over the edge….. and so it is that I am breathing deeply, looking beyond the obvious and the immediacy of situations and actually I am feeling calm, composed and ready for action!

Which is just as well as this past busy BH weekend and previous week has had its fill of situations for us and the team to deal with.. a full hotel, (hallejuha!) lots of children, who were all delightful and very well behaved (thank you!) some sunshine now and then, but not enough of it and a boiler that decided to stop working! Now we pride ourselves on the fact that our plant room has been designed to cover all eventualities that an 11 bedroom hotel may face in terms of x11 very deep baths being filled at once, whilst x11 monsoon showers are also on full pelt, all at once thus demanding gallons of hot water and so far in 7 years, with the exception of a power cut we have delivered, but not this past weekend when one solitary room was left with only warm water for about 20 minutes, whilst the one remaining boiler worked overtime… thanks to the guests for their patience, to the boiler repair man for coming out to research what parts are needed for the repair and to the team for keeping me calm and sane as usual… as there was also the next door neighbours smelly bonfire on the one evening when  guests could sit out on the terrace and drink and dine al fresco, or the cows that threatened to invade the garden through the fence that was bought down by a fallen tree and new garden furniture that arrived with x3 cartons missing and was (I thought) ready made up, but wasn’t and guess what…. Yes there were screws missing; still with the help of lovely Alex, one of our part time team, all was soon made up, in situ and looking lovely.

Once again a huge thanks to Chris, Lydia, George, Gavin, Lin and all their respective teams for ensuring that we were able to get through another busy BH with not too many mishaps, albeit there were a lot of Z beds to assemble and make!

Thanks team, you are all brilliant and to use another quote from my twitter “friend’s” feed….There is no greater intelligence than kindness and empathy…….. Bryant McGill. The TerraVina team are all very intelligent then as they are extremely kind and very intuitive to our guests and each other.

Till next week

Nx

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Time for reflection and taking stock at Hotel TerraVina

Recently I attended a legal mediation. Mediation is an interesting process and apparently, in some cases, can be very effective in brockering a deal with warring parties.  What mediation cannot mend though is the damage to personal and business reputations, the loss of precious time, compensation for the considerable effort and stress that is involved in a dispute and the not inconsiderable financial costs involved in such irretrievable breakdowns. The mediator I met was exceptionally professional and an expert in his field.

It is always so uplifting to receive good service, in whatever field. I have to say that the hotel (well known locally and once quite famous on the South Coast), I popped into, for a quick coffee before the meeting, desperately needed some much improved customer training skills to be instilled, as the service there was appalling…. I was embarrassed to be involved in hospitality, in the face of their incompetence, indifference and lack of care towards guests.

However, such meetings, service examples and just general day to day issues, including stopping the cows from entering through the hotel fence over the weekend… I know my life is so diverse (!) led me to ponder and reflect. On dissecting the problems we are currently faced with, and they are very complex, far reaching and enormously impacting on our business, after many months of living with them and wrestling to ensure they do not swamp us, my conclusion has been that every situation needs to be treated as a learning curve and whilst unpalatable, with the right approach and attitude, all problems are manageable, if you do not allow them to control you.

Of course, no one steps into a business venture, relationship or career expecting it to fail but if it does, or it all goes slightly askew, if you care deeply, then the hurt and pain it causes is immense. The stress is huge and the unfairness of the situation is hard to embrace. However, on reflection, isn’t that just a mirroring of life in general? Sometimes, in fact often, life is unfair….one wonders why people in the prime of their lives, at a young age and with seemingly much to live for, are snatched from us by accident or through illness? Why do some children die so young or become critically ill, why are older people so terribly afflicted by Dementia and Alzheimers? Why was such a brave and charming young man, such as Stephen Sutton, the brave lad who raised so much for the Teenage Cancer Trust, not able to have a longer life to live, when he did so much good and inspired so many, in the few short years he was here? Life is cruel and sometimes seemingly very unfair and not all whom we meet will be full of graciousness, love and kindness. Some are avaricious, immoral, egotistical and prepared to stop at nothing to attain their greedy goals. Others are cruel, unkind and mean spirited.

However, life can be good and the world of business can be too- when the right business partners are chosen, when the best business deals are done, when the adrenaline is flowing and the team spirit is soaring, there is nothing as exciting as watching a business thrive, soar, grow, succeed and flourish… life turns full circle and whilst there are stalls and hiccups along the way, sometimes it’s worth hanging in there to see what the next turn of fortune may bring.

To all those facing adversity, whatever it may be, stay strong, true and believe in yourselves as the power of positivity can never be underestimated.

God bless Stephen Sutton and may he rest in peace and be remembered for being such an inspiration to so many. His legacy is huge not just in the amount he helped to raise, but in the spirit of  how he lived life to the full to the very end.

Till next week

Nx

 

 

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Sunny weather, sunny smiles and sun shine moods at TerraVina…

As I write this, I am reminded of the song that Morecambe and Wise used to sing… “Bring me Sunshine”, I’m not sure why, except it is a gloriously sunny day, with wall to wall blue skies, the birds are singing and all seems well with my world for a little moment to be savoured and relished.

I know that when some of the team read this blog they will say… Morecambe and who? Last week most of them made me feel completely out of touch when I mentioned I was off to a concert… I think they were imagining some hip and trendy young group that’s in the charts and of course my street cred would have shot up (!) but instead I was met with blank faces when I said, Englebert Humperdink and I was jolted back to earth with a thud and no street cred intact (!) when they all chorused incredulously “Who????”….. nothing like making you feel old.

The concert tickets were a birthday present for my mum and we were both actually looking forward to what should have been a great live show, with a 60 piece BBC Orchestra, guest appearances and the atmosphere of one of my favourite London theatres, the Palladium… I would have been the youngest there of course which would have been great for my ego. However, sadly the concert was cancelled at the last minute as poor “Hump” was taken ill….a terrible shame but I suppose when a performer is 76 plus it’s a risk booking tickets – I should have booked for One Direction instead, but then Romy (my son), would never have spoken to me again, as I would have seriously damaged his street cred.

Another “golden oldie” who I saw recently and laughed at till it hurt was Pam Ayres… she is still brilliantly funny, very topical, astute and engages with her audience brilliantly… again the team had no clue who I was going to see, (the innocence of youth…. They all like the shouty, noisy style of comedian that’s on at the Apollo instead- I wouldn’t be allowed into the Apollo as I’m a hundred years too old for any of the shows they have on there.

And so here I am reminiscing and enjoying the sunshine- long may it last. I love the sunny weather. It makes me cheery, people are nicer to each other, we all smile more, the gardens and the forest blooms and people splash in the hotel pool and sounds of laughter fill the air and the clothes we all wear are lighter, brighter and prettier colours…. Lovely. Then of course when the sun shines there’s a great excuse for sitting outside with a cocktail (or two) and just watch the world go by….. all in,  I hope the sunshine lasts a little while yet and we all benefit from its rays, its warmth and the pleasure those sunbeams bring.

Till next week    Nx

 

 

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Hotel TerraVina asks… Whatever next????

I admit that, in agreement (but don’t tell him so!), with my darling husband, who tells me often, I’m not the easiest of people to be around on occasion… well who is? I have an explosive temper, BUT, only when really pushed so far and I very rarely lose it, as over the years I have learned to contain it, but now and then when I do lose it, it’s fairly spectacular!

However, when at the hotel, I try to remain cool, calm and as professional as possible, but in recent months, I have noticed that a tiny percentage of the general public have tried very hard to test my patience, my sanity and my temper…. Is it them or me? I believe (of course) it’s not me! It’s not just when they visit us they are unhappy and bad tempered, they are probably like that by nature and treat all front of house/customer service people in the same rude manner, but frankly I’ve had enough and have come to the conclusion that maybe I have been doing this job too long, am getting too old; I am for the first time ever wearing reading glasses to type this and am horrified that actually I haven’t been able to see properly for ages as the words are all jumping out at me and are so large and clear- WOW! Perhaps I am just not patient, kind and thick skinned enough to mind the abuse that we have thrown at us, admittedly on very rare occasions, but that said it is less rare and more commonplace than it used to be, and I’m sure that’s due in part to the likes of Trip Advisor, (other review sites are available!), giving people a platform to easily grumble, at their frustration at what is happening in the world, the UK and with the economy and just generally that people are less well mannered and nice to each other than they used to be and more keen to complain, shout, swear and generally be unkind to each other….. love thy neighbour (and fellow man) is a long gone saying I fear.

We are blessed with great staff and lovely guests most of the time and so when we have a “rogue” member of the team or a guest who doesn’t like what we do, we notice it keenly, care about the fact deeply and try to put it right, but it’s not always possible…. Sometimes the staff member will simply never fit in, never get the feel for the job in hand, realise the high standards we expect and not have the passion to love the job enough to take the lows with the highs. Sometimes, (mostly very rarely), we get unreasonable guests, such as the man who complained about the fact we didn’t ask how he would like his chicken cooked, guests who don’t agree with our no dog policy, (let me point out we personally LOVE dogs, but not all the guests do and as a business we need to please the majority for the business to survive), the guest who ordered a cake and was very precise of its specifications and what table they wanted only to not turn up, call to cancel or have the courtesy to answer our subsequent phone and email messages to check all was well or  the guest who cancelled a dinner booking because they didn’t like a starter dish the last time they dined with us many months before, as apparently the cheese in  the dish completely overpowered it, (there’s no cheese in the dish), and the guest who swore at me because we serve Nespresso coffee.

BUT, as harassed hoteliers, we have no recall when a tiny proportion admittedly of our guests break the door handles on the bedroom doors, (and often don’t let us know) break the TVs, smash the lamps, scuff the walls, stain the carpets with red wine, nail varnish and worse, break the bed, damage the baths and sinks by chipping the enamel, make staff cry with their bad manners and rudeness and so on and on and on……. however, just when I think, that’s it, enough is enough, I’m going to retire and go to anger management classes, we have people who surprise us with the unexpected and that’s exactly what happened at the end of last week.

Wedding guests wrote glowing tributes to our team, we had various TA reviews that were very kind and complimentary and e mails and cards from  guests thanking us and the team for ensuring they were so well looked after during recent stays and then the icing on the cake, a gift of a beautiful Orchid to say thank you to us and the team for being lovely hosts, from one couple who visit us very regularly, are huge supporters and simply super  nice people and a bouquet of gorgeous roses from another set of friends and guests who we have known for many years and who know that the past few months have not been somewhat trying for all sorts of reasons and just wanted to let us know they were thinking of us…. My faith in humanity has been restored.  Thank you to them all- their kindness is much appreciated and arrived at just the right moment.

At the time of writing this, one of my very dearest friends is being re-admitted to hospital for a further brain operation to remove a 3rd tumour. I have known her for 25 odd years, am Godmother to one of her beautiful daughters and love her and her family dearly and her being so brave in the face of adversity puts life’s little niggles into perspective. I just want to take this opportunity to let her know we are all thinking of her, cheering her on and sending much love for a speedy recovery

Till next week

Nx

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Hotel TerraVina has a great team and often they go far and beyond the call of duty…

We are immensely proud of our team who work with us here at TerraVina. Many of them have been with us since the very beginning and others for a number of the past 7 years. Our guests often remark on  the calibre of our team, how super friendly they all are, how professional, polished and utterly charming and we absolutely agree with them- they are indeed a lovely group of people who are a pleasure to work with and who make TerraVina the special place it is.

There are many team members who deserve a personal mention and all of them have individual talents worthy of praise, however, this week we received one of the nicest, kindest e mails that we have ever been sent in praise of the team and noting how special they all are. Singled out for warm compliments were Chris, our GM, Tanguy, our head sommelier, George and the kitchen team and earning an extra special mention was Lydia, our deputy manager.

Lydia is our “superwoman” she is Chris’s right hand, wing woman and takes on every challenge, opportunity and curved ball that we throw at her. She is loved by all and both us and the team can’t imagine TerraVina without her, she is a true hospitality star and we are so fortunate to have her.

Last weekend the hotel hosted a wedding and indeed it was the happy bride and groom that wrote us such a kind and complimentary e mail of thanks…. In it they mentioned Lydia as having been brilliant in helping them to organise their very special day and her tireless work throughout the preparation and the actual event to ensure that everything went smoothly and everyone had a super time… they then mentioned the fact that she had even given up her shoes for one of the wedding guests who had an emergency shoe situation only moments before the ceremony was due to start. When I checked with Lydia, she laughed and told me that indeed she had lent her shoes to one of the guests……. Now that’s what I call service and offering the very best detail. Well done Lydia for being such a star and a trooper.

May we take this opportunity to thank all of our team for all that they do- we are very proud of you all and from Gerard and I and all the team, we wish everyone a very Happy Easter; we hope to welcome you all again soon to sunny TerraVina (the sun is shining in all its glory and the pool is open too!)

Till next week

Nx

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