The Hotel TerraVina Blog

Au Revoir to 2013 as Hotel TerraVina looks forward to the arrival of 2014 with much excitement and anticipation…

This will be the last blog of 2013 and I have to say that I am looking forward to seeing the back of this year- it has had many highs, not least the most special being Gerard’s award of Decanter Man of the Year, George’s award from the Good Food Guide, of Chef to Watch in 2014, Romané’s numerous awards and achievements and all sorts of other positive and pleasant happenings too numerous to mention.

However, just as most years, there have also been some lows, some more of a “body blow” than others.  On going legal battles, the realization that not everyone we deal with are as honest and trustworthy as we would hope, trees crushing cars, (thankfully no- one was injured), treasured team members “flying the coop” for new and exciting adventures, but who are very much missed and most poignant of all, varied dear friends and colleagues battling with serious illness and coping with bereavement. So on balance it’s been a bit of a mixed bag of a year and I am sincerely hoping that 2014 may bring a little more calm, balance and positivity, as well as good health and much contentment to those near and dear to us.

That said there’s certainly not been a dull moment and whilst life feeling like a rollercoaster can make you feel a bit dizzy on occasion it certainly cannot be called dull!

So all that remains is for me to thank you all so much for your encouragement, support, enthusiasm for the hotel and the team and for reading my blog- it is hugely appreciated and always great to read comments from you all.

We hope to see many of you in the New Year and please do keep up to date with all our news and special offers by reading our newsletter and website, as we have some fantastic mid week rates up our sleeves in readiness for the New Year, starting immediately from 1st January, so hurry back and come visit us soon.

Have a superb Christmas and New Year and all good wishes to you all one and all, from all of us here at TerraVina.

Till next year!

Nina, Gerard, Chris and all the Team

Ps: many congrats to my mate Philippa Robinson and her friend Mel Hatton who
have recently successfully completed the Land’s End to John O’Groats classic
car Tour ‘Le Jog’, with all of their hard won donations going to raise
much-needed funds for Naomi House and Rosewood Free School, (adjacent to our
own adopted charity, Rose Road Association) which will enhance the lives of
the children using the facilities. If you want to read all about their
fantastic achievements then here is the link:
http://www.heroevents.eu/Events/LeJog/lejog_2013/event_report/

Well done Philippa and Mel- brilliant achievement!

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Christmas Time at Hotel TerraVina- twinkly lights, a sprinkle of glitter and some Christmas cheer

Christmas comes but once a year and when it comes it brings good cheer……it forgets to mention how quickly Christmas seems to come upon us fro one year to the next- no sooner have the decorations been packed away only to be unwrapped again ready to be hung once more. This year it was with some trepidation that we unwrapped the decorations from their boxes as we weren’t sure how many would be in good repair- during the storms earlier in the year we had a huge tree that fell and crushed a number of cars along with the storage shed where the decorations, amongst many other things were kept- the glass baubles were all shattered, the “nodding” reindeer now have slightly squashed legs, but still nod and a few other baubles and trinkets did not survive the weight of the tree upon them….. however, with an assortment of new decs mixed with the salvaged old ones, the hotel is now looking resplendent, with twinkly lights, baubles and icicles hanging from various trees dotted around the place.

I love Christmas and decorating everywhere to make it all look festive- I was able assisted this year by Laura, Suzi and Rebecca with added muscle from Matt, Chris and David and Clive our stoic night porters who were tasked with gathering all the decorations from far and wide around the hotel.

We recently hosted a Winter wedding with Christmas as the theme and the room was transformed into a Winter Wonderland and looked truly beautiful- it’s amazing what magic chair covers, cloths and a very fancy fibre optic curtain can make, coupled with beautiful festive floral arrangements- truly lovely.

And so it is that we are all currently feeling very festive and full of good cheer- as always there have been some hiccups with the rare few guests who are not so embracing of the bonhomie of this time of year, but overall we are blessed with lovely guests who we are thrilled to welcome back time and time again and we thank you all for your continued enthusiasm and support of TerraVina- it is hugely appreciated.

I’m off to Romané’s Carol concert, where he is reading a passage from Isaiah and no doubt I will let the side down and have a teary eye as I look on proudly and wonder where my baby boy has gone to be replaced by such a gorgeous, tall and handsome young man instead!

Till next week, when amongst the frantic Xmas shopping, wrapping, tree decorating (at home) and general mayhem that is Christmas I will find the time to write the last blog (probably) of 2013.

Nx

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Nina is back and writing Hotel TerraVina’s blog after a two week (or so!) sabbatical

After my last blog of a couple of weeks ago, when I ranted and let off steam, I have had a couple of week’s break to calm down, tie up some loose ends and generally just tackle all sorts! Many thanks to Sheila for writing a guest blog in my absence last week- much appreciated.

I would like to say that I am now calmer, less stressed and the world is once more a calm and friendly place- sadly I can’t and whilst I won’t rant again about all the things that continue to irritate, stress and frustrate me, needless to say that the last couple of weeks have been a rollercoaster and I’m feeling ready to jump off! I’m not sure why I am so irritated by the lack of flexibility that some customer services offer, be it in café’s, shops or restaurants; why indifference to guests and customers should irk me so in hotels, hospitals and airports, but despite trying to “keep calm and carry on”, it’s not working and I’m as cross and angry as ever at the lack of customer care that so many of us are subjected to, in so many varied situations, on an almost daily basis.

However, I’m taking a deep breath and thinking calm and happy thoughts, which leads me onto some heart warming snippets to blog about instead.

At the end of November, the annual dinner dance at Rose Road, the hotel’s adopted charity that Gerard and I support, and for whom we are both Ambassadors was held. The evening was lovely, and was a success in raising much needed funds for the charity – some of the young people who are cared for at Rose Road were in attendance and it was truly heartwarming to see them enjoying themselves and to share their undiluted joy at such simple pleasures as listening to the dance music, being turned this way and that in their wheelchairs to the tunes and watching them be enthralled by the disco lights and glitter balls- it puts life’s irritations into better perspective.

This week we took Suzi (our original TerraVina General Manager), out for lunch to thank her for all her hard work over the past almost seven years- we offered a list of venues for her to choose from and as she had never previously visited, she chose Le Manoir aux Quats Saison, which is a favourite of Gerard and I, no less because we love Raymond. George, our exec chef came along too as Suzi’s guest and a great time was had by all- the Manoir team are exemplary when it comes to service standards, but they offer exceptional customer service in a very natural, friendly and warm manner and so the result is that the restaurant doesn’t feel stuffy at all, but just a lovely place to relax and enjoy a delicious meal- Raymond was on fine form and he and Gerard enjoyed catching up and chatting. It was a lengthy and fantastic lunch and Suzi and George both loved the place, which whilst it is always lovely looked even more resplendent with the beautiful Xmas decorations and twinkling lights.

I’m surprised that Xmas is so close- how did that happen? Friday 6th December is our hotel decorating day and we have gathered the troops past and present to join in and help and so we have Suzi, Laura and Jackie, our long past assistant manager and once Restaurant manager coming back for the day to help me and the current team decorate- it’s a TerraVina tradition to all share decorating the trees and we love it- I always worry that the mess and muddle of decorations all over the place will never be cleared away and then in a blink it all looks beautiful and so I am looking forward to welcoming familiar faces back for a fun filled day of decorating and laughter and no doubt a glass or two of bubbles to help us in our decorating tasks!

Till next week and thank you for continuing to read the blog regularly, it is much appreciated and always surprising to hear so many people enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it- I have missed writing it the past few weeks and am very glad to be back!

Nx

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No Nina Basset, so will her temporary writer do?

In a slight deviation from form, today’s blog is written by ‘the Hotel’ as opposed to Nina. Don’t worry, she hasn’t given up the writing ghost permanently, it’s just a little thing called Christmas that’s keeping her away from the computer and her blog, while she is busy preparing things for the seasonal guests and diners.  Hopefully, the ‘temporary’ writer will suffice for now. Granted we’re not a match for Nina and her blogs, but hopefully the update will be useful to our readers!

As you can imagine the countdown to Christmas is well and truly on now at Hotel TerraVina now and we’re very pleased to say that while the weather has been a tad on the ‘cold’ side, it has made the New Forest look spectacular!  So as usual, the view from TerraVina is a very pretty one!

We’ve got quite a few events happening at the moment as well, including The Philipponnat Dinner With Charles Philipponnat Champagne Dinner. This black tie event is happening on the 1st of December (space very, very limited now) and offers the chance to experience a delightful dinner, complete with a range of different Philipponnat Champagnes and of course plenty of engaging conversation.

We are actually very excited to have Mr Charles Phipponnat with us for this event too!  He is the wine maker himself and will of course be commenting on the wines for us, so it should be a really great evening for all who are there.

Equally our Mid-Week breaks have been a real hit so they will continue until Mid-December if you feel like getting a break away from it all at a fantastic rate!  Do check our Late Availability as well or call us on 02380 293 784 to get the very latest availability if you fancy a night away on a whim!

On another note, we recently sent out our latest newsletter so if you missed it you may want to take a peek at the various events we have happening pre and post- Christmas here! Equally, if you want to join the Hotel TerraVina mailing list please drop us a line at the hotel on: info@hotelterravina.co.uk and we will be happy to add you!

Finally, if you get stuck for a Christmas gift this year, don’t forget the infamous TerraVina dog, our stunning wine boxes and our TerraVina Gift Vouchers!  They’re guaranteed to make the recipient very happy so do contact us if you want to give something a little special this year!

That’s our update done and we’re pleased to say that Nina will very much be back soon where she belongs at the helm of her blog, but for now have a great week!

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Hotel TerraVina hotel owner admits to being a “Grumpy Old Woman”

It’s official, what those nearest and dearest to me have always known, I have this week finally admitted to myself- I am a “grumpy old woman”, albeit only temporarily.

Yes it was my birthday this week, but that’s not why I am grumpy as actually I thought I was a year older than I actually am, so truly this year I have gone backwards in age! No, what is making me grumpy are people and companies who I have had recent dealings with and their acceptance that the service they provide is ok to be merely adequate and mediocre. It’s acceptable to have to chase them. It’s normal to have to have them back to fix a fault at least 3 times over, it’s usual for new equipment to go wrong after only a couple of weeks- really…. Well No, No it isn’t…… have you ever seen the film Falling Down with Michael Douglas when the world just gets too much for him in terms of people’s behaviour, arrogance and rudeness to each other- well that’s me this week, but without the action stunts and the gun!

I won’t name and shame, but needless to say that I have had cause to complain, get cross and then angry and then furious, on so many different occasions this week and I’m normally so placid and non confrontational, but this week my blood pressure has had cause to soar. In fact as I type this I have steam coming out of my ears at the injustice of someone’s rudeness to one of our team- it’s so unnecessary and bearing in mind how much in the spotlight we are under working within the service industry, you would think that those in a similar or even the same industry, would know better and be a little bit more supportive of their colleagues and peers instead of wanting to be so arrogant and rude to them.

I am having a raging moment which is lasting all week.  So far what’s bugged me are…. People who don’t say thank you when you let them out at a junction, idiots who don’t read their e mails properly and leave you for hours worrying about something because they have misunderstood and given you the wrong information and then when they realize their error merely say “sorry, I‘ll have to be more careful, hope it didn’t cause to much inconvenience”- well Yes actually it did and a lot of worry and concern too and then there’s the chap who behaves in  the most arrogant and impolite manner and really makes himself look an absolute idiot and who should know better as he works in hospitality, but didn’t have an ounce of good manners- well he’s not welcome back!

Do you get the feeling I’m still angry- too right I am and whilst I hate to rant, currently all the deep breaths and counting to 100 are to no avail as I’m still furious with all sorts of people and they know who they are!

Thus in an effort to calm down, I have locked myself in a room and I am visualizing calm and happy thoughts whilst typing this week’s blog— not working yet! I’m leaving KEEP OUT on the door.

Till next week when hopefully balance will be restored and I will be back to my usual calm, serene, easy going self- Gerard tells me he’d like to meet that version of me as he has never had the pleasure to do so yet!

Nx

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Awards galore and all sorts more…

As those of you who read this blog regularly know I am exceptionally proud of both Gerard and our son Romané… one of them is currently in China and the other is in Paris and so it has been just Malmsey and I home alone which has been fun filled, chaotic and hectic and thank goodness for my parents who have stepped in regularly to take over the reigns when I have been needed unexpectedly for a busy mid week dinner service or for an impromptu, last minute organised sleepover before the Paris trip, in between trips up and down to London for various complicated reasons, thus all in all whilst the boys have been away on heir respective jolly outings it has been as hectic as ever…….hence the lateness in this week’s blog and no blog at all last week in fact!

This week’s blog unashamedly is singing the praises of my two clever chaps…. For Gerard, who has won yet another award… Sharon, the fantastic  lady who helps keep our house organized and us in ironed clothes is exhausted from dusting all the trophies! This fantastic one was the Harpers Award for The Best Ambassador for French Wines and we are all, as always so proud of him and all his achievements. He is an inspiration and never ceases to amaze me with his work ethic and his ability to continue to share his knowledge and expertise with so many others in such a charming and passionate way- well done Gerard.

My other clever chap is Romané who has done brilliantly in his first round of assessments for his GCSE options (can he really already be studying for his GCSEs- where did my baby boy go?) and not only that, but he also gained a Distinction in his recent LAMDA exams- very well done Romy….. he obviously takes after his papa.

As for me- well no pressure living in such a high achieving household….. I’m good at sleepovers and being “mums” taxi, so maybe when they create an award for that I can be in the running.

Till next week, when I will have my chaps home and all will be right with the world

Nx

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Hotel TerraVina on the joys of the New Forest

Imagine the scene…. John Wright, a famous, mushroom foraging expert is discussing funghi around the trunk of a (circa) 300 year old oak tree, which is located only feet away from where he is standing, just about to host a foraging lunch at Hotel TerraVina when, with an ear splitting crack one half of the trunk just breaks into two and half the tree falls down with an almighty crash… everyone held their breath and expected a movie extra to shout “CUT” and wave the clapper board in front of their eyes….. but no there was no such shout of “CUT” or indeed “TIMBER” instead just gasps of shock and bewilderment at what everyone had just witnessed. Literally the tree had simply cut itself into two and one half had fallen mightily to the ground, sadly swiftly followed some 30 minutes later by the other half crashing down too… it was surreal and almost like watching a banana being peeled how the two halves simply fell away fro each other.

The tree was located in the paddock adjacent to the hotel and had been admired by one and all as a magnificent species. We are all feeling bereft at its’ loss as it has left a huge space between the ground and the sky.  It made me think that you can see something beautiful and magnificent every day and yet only take it for granted, only to realize its’ significance once it’s gone. It certainly made an interesting topic of conversation at the lunch that day!

Whilst in a philosophical mood, I have noticed too that we have no pigs as yet in the area of forest adjacent to the hotel despite it being the pannage season- most years we have families of pigs grazing greedily on the acorns and it is a heart warming sight watching the tiny piglets chasing along to be close on the heels of their mummies and then weeks later see them growing fat and round and becoming more and more independent, but this year they are missing and we miss them as they are a constant source of amusement, just as are the donkeys and mules that sometimes meander by, but of course we do have the ponies and deer for the guests to be surprised by – they are the constant and make the forest the special, enchanting place that it is.

Gerard and I were in London this week for Gerard to receive an award- yes! Another one. This time he was invited into the Academy of Food and Wine Service Hall of Fame. Whilst it was lovely to be in London together, as he has been travelling in China and the USA for the past few weeks, (so much washing and unpacking of suitcases!), we were both so pleased to be on the train and arrive at the outskirts of Brockenhurst where you have the most picturesque glimpses of the forest and we felt pleased to be home.

Enjoy the Autumn sunshine

Till next week

Nx

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Hot news – New Forest hotel, Hotel TerraVina is celebrating being in the Sunday Times Top 100 British Hotels…

An extra blog for this week as I couldn’t resist telling everyone our latest
exciting news

Having received a “heads up” last week that we were to be included in a
feature in today’s (29th September) ,Sunday Times Travel section, and having
been interviewed for a piece within the feature relating to my time as a
Hotel Inspector, we were at the newsagent bright and early this morning to
buy some copies and read with anticipation our write up.

The New Forest did brilliantly, with forest hotels being included in various
categories such as Chewton Glen, Limewood and The Pig, (congrats to all of
them) and of course ourselves, all being included in the Sunday Times Top
100 British Hotels and we are in the Top 10 for foodie hotels. We are
included with many greats, including Le Manoir aux Quats Saison, (well done
Raymond and team- justly deserved) and Gidleigh Park, (well done Michael and
team too) and we are simply thrilled to be included with such fantastic
company.

Well done to our very own TerraVina team- we are extremely proud of George
and his great team of chefs and of course all of the rest of the team,
without whom TerraVina would not be the place it is- thank you all for your
hard work, commitment and passion for what we do.

Last but by no means least, many thanks to all the editorial team at the
Sunday Times for liking us enough to include us in such a prestigious list
of special places- we are very proud to be included.

Full feature here:
http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/travel/weekends/Places_to_stay/article13
18468.ece

Till later this week

Nx

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Blog on a Blog- Hotel TerraVina mentions Farm and Countryside Blog with much appreciation…

This week I am blogging about a blog- I read many other blogs not only because they are interesting and often fun and entertaining, but because I am trying to ensure that our own Hotel blog and Malmsey blogs’ aren’t missing a trick or two and are keeping up with blogging trends and remain a good read to those loyal blog readers who “tune in” each week… many thanks by the way for continuing to read my blogs- you are all very kind! I love to receive comments and feedback too so please do type a word or two now and then in the comments box.

However, I digress. Back to other blogs. One of my current favourites is http://farmandcountrysideblog.co.uk/

This is a new blog, written by a friend of mine and whilst that’s a good enough reason to like it, as is the fact that this week she has written the most lovely review about TerraVina, many thanks Sheila, but besides from all those reasons, it is simply a very well written, entertaining and diverse blog about all sorts of aspects of country life and I am loving reading it. Sheila has recently discovered the joys of visiting Country fairs and steam fairs and her descriptions of them made me want to pack a picnic basket and hurry along in a vintage VW camper van… which as I have mentioned camper vans, how sad to hear that yet another relic of a bygone era will soon disappear as the VW van is not going to produced any longer- future generations will have missed a treat, no music festivals will be the same again in years to come!

Enough of reminiscing about Hippy youths, this week the forest has looked never better with glorious rolling mists in the morning only to be dappled in Autumn sunshine by mid afternoon- long and mellow days with the pigs now out and eating their own weight in acorns- I love this time of year in the forest and do hope that the sunshine lingers just a little longer so we can enjoy it for a few more weeks before the win whips into a chill factor and the grey skies arrive to subdue us all just a little bit.

If you haven’t taken advantage of our Autumn mid week offers then do so as they are fantastic value and for those who live close enough to come for lunch don’t forget we are open throughout the week, not just on Sunday lunchtimes and the menu is just as tasty Mon- Sat!

Hope to welcome you all soon

Till next week and many thanks again Sheila for blogging about us

Nx

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Gerard talks “Wine and Fashion” in the New Forest at Hotel TerraVina….

As much as I love my darling husband, it has to be said that his fashion sense is sometimes not as good as it might be. Thus imagine my surprise when Gerard was invited to “star” in a video all about Paris Fashion Week and talk about his selection of wines to match fashionable designers who are all well known and highly talented “Fashionistas”….. obviously I knew he wouldn’t fail on the wine front but the fashion bit made me uneasy!

However, I shouldn’t have worried, as he knew each of the designers that he had to match the wines to and it makes for an entertaining video… see below:

Download link

http://we.tl/aIPiJ74upQ

So, in future I shouldn’t worry so much about matching his socks, packing his suitcase with shirts, ties and socks all folded together inside the best trouser/jacket combos… or perhaps I will, as having let him loose in the wardrobe today, he dressed himself in an interesting combination of every clashing colour possible!

Talking of colours… sometimes I surprise myself with how I seamlessly segue topics together, (anyone would think that this blog is actually prepared and planned). Anyway back to colours, for those who love the Autumn as much as I do, then hurry to the New Forest as the leaves are already turning and the colours are stunning with a wide array of Autumnal hues which are so pretty. Exbury is looking beautiful, the forest never better in its russet and golden mellowness and we have some fantastic mid week October breaks to entice you still further, complete with a glass of Sherry and a selection of tasty TapaVinas.

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

We look forward to welcoming you very soon and before I go I must just congratulate Ana and the wine team as they have won a prize for the “31 Days of Riesling” campaign that we ran in July. Ana spearheaded it and ensured we matched food and wine combinations with delicious Riesling wines whenever we were able to- the campaign was a big success and Ana won £1,000 worth of Riesling wine for the hotel- well done Ana and team

Till next week

Nx

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