The Hotel TerraVina Blog

TerraVina goes back to Uni…

This week I feel as though I am immersed in academia, albeit I am by no means an academic myself. Gerard has recently returned from a two week study stint for his OIV, which is a Master of Science in Wine (he’s so clever, determined and inspiring), when he was in Paris studying – I love Paris and having lived there for a time many years ago I yearned to be there again enjoying the sights, the sounds and smells that are uniquely Parisienne, with my lovely husband, but sadly time did not allow me to be with him this time round as I had a few challenges here to continue to sort through, such as the ongoing legal battle, to divorce ourselves from a disastrous business relationship, staff development and recruitment, following two key members of the team leaving us to re-locate to different parts of the UK and I have also been busily collating and digesting information about AS levels and A levels for Romané, (our son), for when he is ready to have completed his GCSE’s, (this summer) and embark upon his further learning…

I am now absorbing all sorts of finer details about UCAS, what grades are required, what subjects dovetail well with each other, or at least complement one another enough for Universities to look on them favourably as A level choices and then in amongst it all I too returned to Uni, albeit I don’t think I am cut out for a student lifestyle anymore and the volume of study required would definitely stump me as I am just not one for applying myself to studying, much to Gerard’s dismay and Romy’s amusement, especially when I try to be stern, (it never works and neither he nor Gerard take me seriously) and tell him how important studying is.

Anyhow I am rambling and to get back to the point….Following a research project that I was involved with, wearing my Hotel TerraVina “hat”, for over a year in 2013, there is now a 2nd phase, which I am delighted to have been invited to be a part of. It is an interesting and stimulating programme with a mix of x15 business owners, managers and operators of all sorts of businesses associated with Tourism in one way or another- however being on campus, amongst young students makes me realise that it is a very long time since I was in such an environment and how fast paced the technological changes have happened, how students demeanour and attitudes have changed and how so many of the lecturers look very young… but maybe I’m just getting old! I needed a Sat Nav to get around the university it was so huge and spread over what seemed like many miles and navigating the halls to get from one lecture room to another was like being taken along on a wave of fast waking, fast talking students all texting, Googling, Instagramming, You Tubing and Snap Chatting.. I’ve got the lingo just not a fast enough brain or fingers to keep up with it all! To top it all, even the “simple” questions that the research requires was in a language that I didn’t readily recognise and it took me a few minutes to digest and fully understand the words which were very long, intellectual and too complicated to fathom fast.

However, I am looking forward to being part of the project and getting to grips with all the digital advancements – just when I was beginning to feel confident around Twitter and Face Book (sort of) and a bit of an “old hand” at blogging, now I have to embrace still more digital wizardry.

On a gentler note, half term is upon us and with my own gorgeous son off in New York on a drama trip with school and Gerard in Russia, Ukraine Georgia and Kazakhstan, I am at the hotel hearing all about Peppa Pig visits, Exbury Garden adventures and Guided walks in the forest from lovely guests, many of whom are returning yet again for another dose of TerraVina R&R.

If you haven’t looked at our special breaks for a little while do have a peek and be tempted to come and visit soon- we have great breaks, late rates and some super Early Bird offers to lure you back to TerraVina and the forest.

http://www.hotelterravina.co.uk/special_breaks.asp

We hope to see you soon

Till next time

Nx

 

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Moving on at Hotel TerraVina

I feel like a bereft “Mother Hen” who is losing some of her precious chicks. After almost 5 years with us, Chris, our General Manager is “flying the coup” and is relocating to Devon. To be fair, when we promoted Chris just over a year ago into the GM’s position, when Suzi, our then GM of 6 year’s standing, moved into a part time role, Chris did tell us that he would not be able to fulfil the role long term, as it was his intention to move his young family back to Devon and the family farm and holiday cottage business, where Chris himself had lived as a child…. However the year has flown by far too quickly and now it is with sadness that we have to say “Goodbye” to him.

Chris came to us as an eager, but inexperienced assistant manager and we have watched him grow both professionally and personally. He has become a father twice over in the time he has been with us and taken on the responsibilities of both fatherhood and general management of the hotel with great aplomb, despite the fact that there are few parallels between the two. Put simply, we will miss him greatly, as will so many of our regularly returning guests who always remark on what a lovely chap he is and indeed he is and so much more.

We wish Chris, Robyn and their two adorable little girls, Eva and Lily much success and happiness in Devon and look forward to regular updates from him……… at the same time, the “nest” is emptying further with one of our other fantastic protegées, Lydia, Chris’s deputy, leaving us to join her partner in London and take up a new and exciting position in bustling Covent Garden. Lydia has been with us for over two years and has become a much appreciated and loved member of the team. We will miss her calm and caring nature, her unflappability and her warm personality. To lose them both almost simultaneously is certainly not ideal, but one of the attributes of a hotelier is the ability to deal with the many curved balls that get thrown at you on a regular basis, be it from the staff or the guests and we have a contingency plan in place and high hopes for the new managers who will help Gerard and I to continue to take TerraVina forward with the same ethos of warmth, friendliness and professionalism that we have always strived for.

We are very fortunate that so many of our team stay with us for lengthy numbers of years, but that makes it doubly difficult to let them go and fly the nest as we become very fond of them and think of them as our extended TerraVina family- that said, we have done so many times before in the twenty odd years that we have been hotel owners and so I suppose we are better practised at it now and thinking positively, it is always rewarding to watch them spread their wings and go onto still greater achievements in their careers- we watch them with great pride and follow their careers with great interest.

Thank you Chris and Lydia for all your hard work and enthusiasm over the past years. You will both be greatly missed, but we feel very proud to have watched you both grow and to see the personal confidence and experience you have gained whilst with us and that will stand you in great stead for your next career adventures, which we will be proudly following closely.

For those of you who are keen to meet the new GM and deputy, then please do take advantage of our great mid week offer for both October and November and don’t miss our Early Bird offer for mid week stays in November. We look forward to welcoming you to TerraVina soon and for you to have the opportunity to meet the new faces in the team

http://www.hotelterravina.co.uk/MidweekOctoberrates.asp

http://www.hotelterravina.co.uk/MidWeekEarlyBirdNovemberOffer.asp

‘Till next week

Nx

 

 

 

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Basset’s All Sorts…

Now the summer is ebbing to a gentle end with shorter, mellow days almost upon us, I’ve been reminiscing about the summer past and have to say we were certainly blessed with warm sunshine and long, hazy days. We have welcomed lovely guests to the hotel, both loyal, returning ones and also new ones who have just discovered us and we hope they will become enthusiastic returners too.

Returning to a place has its benefits as we found once again this year, albeit with a lovely surprise in store when we arrived in Norfolk. After our annual Minorcan jaunt; that’s the one that Gerard isn’t invited along on.. just Romané, my mum and Romy’s friend Rob (a first this year and hugely successful as the boys had much more fun together than Romy would have had with just his mum and nana for company, albeit we meet up with some great holiday friends every year whilst there) bliss! We then decamp as a family, (albeit minus Gerard as he was wine tasting in California), to glorious Norfolk for a couple of weeks of dog walking, eating and relaxing. Spending time catching up with friends (who are fortunate enough to live in Holt) and generally just delighting in the North Norfolk coast. Holkham Beach and Brancaster Straithe are particular favourites and the Crab Hut at Brancaster, www.letzersseafood.co.uk/ serves the best crab and prawn baguettes for miles… it’s a must go place even if you don’t want to indulge in crossing the water and walking along the exposed sea bed whilst the tide is at its lowest and paddle in the pools of warm water. I always fall in and get soaked but that’s half the fun!

The delightful and buzzy village of Holt, the Lavender Farm at Hunstanton, Cley, Wells and all the gorgeous villages in between are pretty and provide a meandering route through a very lovely part of the county.

As in previous years, we stayed in the village of Docking and rented a cottage… but this year we were thrilled to arrive and note that the new owners, Jane Jones and family, who have created the company Naturally Norfolk, http://naturally-norfolk.com/ had completely renovated and refurbished and created a cosy, super stylish cottage with every detail thought of, even to providing a hamper for picnics which came in very handy when we went to the Last Night of the Proms in Blickling- which was a simply fab event and one that Jane herself suggested we might enjoy and indeed we did. The Spitfire and fireworks were equal highlights to the music which was stirring and moving, being in remembrance of the World War One veterans and soldiers who gave their lives. Having such a pretty and comfortable cottage to come back to each day was a joy and made an already great holiday even more special… we are already booked in for next year as Romané is returning once again to Greshams for summer camp and we are hoping to squeeze in a few shorter visits to stay in the cottage prior to the summer if hectic schedules allow… we may even convince Gerard to come with us!

Back home in the forest we have some great Autumn breaks to tempt you to visit for the first time or re-visit us again and (I can’t believe it) but we are already planning for Christmas and New Year and beyond!

Till next time and hoping to welcome you to TerraVina soon
Nx

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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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