The Hotel TerraVina Blog

Food Glorious Food at Hotel TerraVina …

In the most recent weeks we have updated our lunch menu offering in the main restaurant. It has been brilliantly received and people love the new style of menu, the choice, the dishes and the great value it offers. It has injected a new lease of life in to the lunch time trade and so coupled with the excitement of only recently launching the new, finer dining restaurant too, we are very pleased with the developments that are taking place… they may not be huge, or in the shape of fancy named, celebrity chefs,  we prefer our own, lovely,  George Blogg any day, ambitious refurbishment plans or gimmicky special offers, but we are steady and consistent at TerraVina and are pleased that 2013 has started with us being able to present opportunities to offer new ideas and plans to our lovely and loyal as ever guests.

Never standing still, albeit we are somewhat reined in by the current economic climate, we are as proud as ever of what the team have achieved and only last week we had cause to celebrate the brilliance of our super duper Head Sommelier, Laura Rhys, when she was awarded the Chairman’s Award at the annual Imbibe Magazine awards… huge congrats also to our fabulous protégée, Xavier Rousset, who was crowned Restaurant Personality of the Year. We are immensely proud of you both- well done

In the meantime, my boys are home, at least Gerard was home a day or two, but has now flown away again. Romané left for his trip as a boy and returned from NY as a very mature young man, full of independence, and stories of how wonderful his trip had been – the house is back to being noisy, chaotic and in a constant state of flux and I have to admit that it is much better that way!

Till next week

Nx

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Home Alone – but Team TerraVina rally to the challenge

I am home alone. Gerard flew to South Africa on Saturday for a week of very intense wine study, as he has enrolled on a course, (over 3 years!), that will take him travelling all over the world to learn still more about each countries wine production- sounds like lots of hard work, but fascinating all the same and my darling son flew off to New York on a Performing Arts trip with some of his school mates on Sunday- thus it is just Malmsey and I left “home alone”. Malmsey is living through a phantom pregnancy -see her blog for the fun details http://caninetailsofmarmitemalmsey.co.uk/, so the week has so far been eventful without them both.

On Sunday morning, having dropped Romy off into the excellent care of x5 very brave teachers (who would want the responsibility of x40 odd teenagers in New York!), I drove back towards TerraVina feeling somewhat bereft. I know it may seem overly dramatic, (no guessing whom Romy gets his dramatic tendencies from!), to overstate the feeling, but it is the first time that both of my “boys” have been away at the same time, for such a length of time and it hit home that Romy is no longer “my baby” but a very mature, handsome and wickedly funny young man, striding out on his own to explore his fledgling independence.

Of course, as is so typical of teenagers, there have been so few text messages that when a one worder, or if I’m really lucky one liner, arrives from him, I am pathetically grateful for the news, such as it is… at midnight last night I was luckier, two texts from him… one with two or three words letting me know NY is awesome and the 2nd asking me to top up his pre-paid credit card as he’s been shopping in Macy’s- bless him!

Two days in and I am getting used to the peace, the calm and the tidiness of the house. Malmsey and I are snuggling up together to have tranquil nights in (when I’m not at TerraVina) and we are marveling at the stillness that pervades an almost empty house.

As always, the fantastic Team TerraVina have been brilliant at reading my mood, ensuring I’m not feeling lonely without my “boys” and feeding me chocolate and hot drinks, (ok, sometimes alcoholic ones too) to keep me chipper- we are having fun and despite the weekend being very hectic and short of Will, Lydia, Laura and Gerard, (Laura is in Argentina on a fantastic two week trip), all has gone well so far and whilst we will be pleased to see everyone back, it is very much business as usual and well done team for holding the fort so well.

Till next week

Nx

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No blog last week and only a few lines this week

I am not going to apologise for the tardiness of last week’s blog, or in fact it could be argued that next week’s blog is merely early and I missed last week all together. However, I am still not apologizing as I have a very good reason for not having time to post a blog last week and that is that my darling, talented son, Romané took precedent above all else as it was his 1st performance in his school production of the “Threepenny Opera” and he was magnificient… ok, I know I am slightly biased but, he and all the other exceptionally talented cast were magnificent and as I type this with the BAFTAs on in the back ground, I can tell you they were worthy of winning a musical equivalent of a BAFTA as they were all brilliant.

To attain such brilliance took hours and hours of endless rehearsals, learning of lines, costume fittings and the like and thus I’m afraid last week I simply ran out of time to write my blog as I was constantly ferrying Romy and friends back and to from rehearsals at the theatre… a real proper pukka theatre, with lights around the mirrors in the dressing rooms! The smell of the greasepaint, the lights, camera, action calls whipped us all into a frenzy of excitement and both nights were exceptionally enjoyable and no one wanted the show to end.

Well done Romané and I promise I will get myself more organized for future weeks worth of blogs… time management is my new buzz word so watch this space!

Till next week…probably!

Nx

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Something new…The Dining Room at TerraVina is launched

After a number of “soft” trial runs, from December until now, this week we had a number of journalists visit the new “Dining Room at TerraVina” to try George’s forest foraged and Dorset and Hampshire fare tasting menu.

Delicious!

The new finer dining “Dining Room at TerraVina”, will be open only on Saturday, Sunday and Monday evenings  and will offer only a tasting menu. It will stand alongside the main restaurant but the style of service, presentation and menu is all a little bit quirky and fun. George, our geologist by training, but chef by passion,  is Dorset born and bred and is a hugely talented chef whose previous positions include Sous Chef at Le Champignon Sauvage and The Square, both of which hold two Michelin-stars.

For those who would be interested to give it a try, here’s a little bit more information to entice you,

“The Dining Room at TerraVina” offers a choice from a nine or twelve course tasting menu comprising of dishes created entirely with foraged and fresh produce exclusively from Hampshire and Dorset. From the bread flour to the meat, sea herbs and locally landed fish, every single item of fresh produce is of Hampshire or Dorset origin with only one exception, the Snails (which come from Aylesbury). Even the plates are made from hollowed local bark and cocktails sticks created from New Forest Hawthorn branches. Standout dishes include a Pumpkin and Dorset Truffle Velouté, Lymington landed Turbot with hand-picked tidal greens and cockles and a Dorset Acorn Brûlée with Chocolate Sorbet.

Oxtail

Lobster, carrots and buttermilk...

We are only able to seat a limited number so bookings will be essential but we do hope that some of you will be tempted to come and give it a try.

Till next week

Nx

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Absence makes the heart grow fonder. TerraVina misses Gerard…

Many people who are aware that Gerard travels extensively ask how we ever manage to see one another and I always joke that it is lovely when he is away as I on the rare occasions I sit and watch TV, I get to be in control of the TV remote.. why do men do that when you are settled and watching a show and they randomly switch channels, without asking and then proceed to do a run down of ALL the channels whilst you are missing the vital bit of the whodunit? It’s definitely a “man thing”, as we girls would never do that… so I get the remote, I have all the bed to myself, the house stays tidy, I can eat cheese on toast every night if I want to and just generally be completely selfish and enjoy the peace and quiet of my own company- lovely!

At least it is for about two days and then I start to miss the banter and the presence of GB being at home and not to mention the cup of tea in bed every morning. Thus it is with mixed feelings that I realise that if he travelled 90,000 plus miles last year, in 2013 it will be more as he has still more trips around the world planned- I tease him that he has the Life of Riley and is constantly on a jolly, but actually I secretly think it’s not all it’s cracked up to be- airplane travel is mostly stressful and horrible, not glamorous and relaxing. Staying in a hotel on your own and living out of a suitcase is not so enjoyable and exploring different countries without loved ones to share the memories and experiences isn’t much fun- thus I think that whilst I would love to sometimes say “Stop the world I’d like to have GB’s travelling itinerary for a day or two”, actually, in reality I think I have the better option of being at home with Romy and Malmsey and family and friends, in our own surroundings and with our TerraVina support team around us.

Gerard is currently in Canada, having a great time I am sure tasting Ice wine and taking trips to beautiful, snowy vineyards, but just in case he is reading this… hurry home, we all miss you and want you back soon

Till next week

Nx

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High Street Pain worsens as does hotel industry pain too

This morning it was announced that HMV, a High Street institution for over 90 years has called in the administrators. This news being hot on  the heels of the news of Jessops closing all of their stores. Both stores employ thousands of people and the fallout from just these two company closures will be grave. Undoubtedly and unfortunately, there will still be more, further gloomy news to follow regarding other High Street companies who simply cannot compete with on line retailers who’s overheads are so much less and who’s profit margins are thus so much healthier that they can afford to do deals for the customers.

Which leads me onto hotels… only a couple of years ago if you created a special offer that was great value for money the phone rang off the hook, bookings soared and guests were very appreciative of the value they were being offered for just a snapshot in time… nowadays we are bombarded with special offers- Travel Zoo, Secret Escapes, Late Bookings.com, Hotels Direct, KGB Deals, Wowcher, Trivago to name just a tiny few. Then of course there are each hotels own competitors all trying to out do each others good value special rates and discounts… it’s a “dog eat dog” world now and one that is not a very happy place to be- it’s become a jungle of consumers wanting more and more and hotels shaving off more and more from their prices until their product has become undermined and devalued… where will it all end? It is a sorry state of affairs and as hoteliers it is a game that we are not comfortable to play, but we are somewhat forced to by market demands.

Whilst I still think that the hospitality business is a great industry to be involved in I’m not sure that  being an hotelier is all it’s cracked up to be; nor for that matter a shop keeper or small business owner of any type- in fact being entrepreneurial in any shape or form seems to be frowned upon and stifled by the red tape and bureaucracy that is rife in so many countries and is no different in the UK- roll on retirement, although with the age of that being constantly upped who knows when that might be!  Never mind, I have a plan…. If we think positive and stay focused with a “can do” attitude we can think ourselves out of the doom and gloom and watch the green shoots grow. Roll on the Springtime and some sunshine instead of the snow.

Till next week

Nx

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Tales (and tails) for the New Year from Hotel TerraVina

Taking advantage of the fact that Romané was still off from school, we escaped to London for a few days last week and had a super time. London was heaving with tourists and we found ourselves asking “recession, what recession?” as London certainly seems, from a general overview at least, to be less hard hit than other areas around the UK, with busy, bustling restaurants, full hotels and lots and lots of shoppers all spending- it was a welcome sight to see.

We had great fun…we went to a couple of shows, ate out in a variety of our favourite places, including 28 -50 Wine Workshop and Kitchen and Terroirs, to name just a couple. I spent the day with one of my god daughters, which gave me the perfect excuse of indulging in all things pink and fluffy- Romané and I had a super day with her in Harrods, (don’t think Romy enjoyed the pink, fluffy bits quite as much as me though!) enjoying pizza, eating ice cream and being wowed by the vastness of the toy department.

Meanwhile back at TerraVina, the team looked after the hotel brilliantly- we have had some super guests to stay and some truly lovely comments about the team, all of whom we are very proud of, so it is terrific when the guests agree that they are all very special.

Thus with the New Year come new challenges- the Dining Room at TerraVina re-opens from the 19th January and we are looking forward to putting that on the map. We have been busily redecorating (on going, and going and going, but the results are rewarding) and sprucing here and there and so I have been having fun shopping for the all important essential finishing touches.

I hope you don’t mind me using this blog to tell you about a new blog that I have started to write, but I am quite excited to share it…. Malmsey our gorgeous puppy now has her very own blog- Canine tails of Malmsey Marmite, so for those of you who like dogs and want to read a little bit of fun and frolics, then please do have a read and let me know what you think

http://caninetailsofmarmitemalmsey.co.uk/

Till next week

Nx

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Hotel TerraVina says Happy New Year and let’s hope it’s a good vintage…..

Uncle Alan.. this blog is for you!!

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Year. We were busy with a double sitting for Xmas day, a slightly less busy Boxing Day and then a good for days in between followed by a busy, fun filled New year’s eve celebration where the hotel gets bedecked with streamers, balloons and gold and silver sparkles and looks very twinkling, pretty and festive.

We had great guests and were so proud of our team, who as always worked so hard for us and overall as is always the case when we de-brief after Xmas and NY, despite the fact we all worked hard, we had a fun filled time with lovely people.

2012 ended up an interesting year where as always many events happened. Gerard travelled around the world, clocking up 90,000 plus miles and his mission for 2013 is to travel even more miles and taste even more wines! We enter 2013 with a burst of energy, exciting plans for the hotel, what with the January opening of “The Dining Room at TerraVina’, our regular, monthly wine events, new, demonstration cookery events and if we can raise the funds the extension to build extra bedrooms and the cookery school- unfortunately the long running recession has bitten us hard and we have had to postpone the building plans but we are hopeful that 2013 could well be the year that the building grows.

We are off to London for a few days of post Xmas rest and relaxation with theatre shows, restaurants and cocktails beckoning and then it is back to puppy training in earnest, the school run and the usual juggling of all the different hats we wear as busy hoteliers, restaurateurs, MD, parents and all the other multi tasking roles we hold.

Thus happy New Year to all of you and we look forward to keeping in touch through the year and hope to see you during 2013 at TerraVina.

Till next week

Nx

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Wishes

As the festive season is now in full swing, the time to write my blog seems to be shrinking still further- we have had another great two trials in our new,  “Dining Room at TerraVina”- thank you so much to all the lovely friends, guests and enthusiasts who have loved it… we are now taking bookings for 19th, 20th and 21st January, so if you fancy a trip to the forest and some of George’s forest delights then do come and see us.

I have been driving all over the country visiting all of the properties that I now look after- each place is looking beautifully festive and bedecked in gorgeous Xmas decorations. The teams are working hard (Thank you all) and the 10in8 teams are looking forward to a break for Xmas and NY.  I love this time of year, decorating and planning presents and then wrapping them to look beautiful and tempting under the tree… this year our puppy has been “helping” so the tress look a bit wonky and the presents wrapping paper a bit frayed and chewed at the edges here and there!

The TerraVina team are working over Xmas and NY as we are open and busy, busy, busy. Both and Gerard and I would like to say a very hearty Thank you to them all for the loyalty, hard work and commitment they all show to us, not just at this manic time of year but throughout the year. We feel very lucky to have them as our team.

I am sure I have many tales to recount of the past couple of weeks, but as I’m writing this, I am also preparing a speech for an after lunch event I have been invited to speak at, plan the rest of my week around outings, work, school runs and pick ups and dog walking, along with a trip to Santa and Peppa Pig with my god daughter and Romy (he’s far too old for Santa of course and Peppa Pig, but adores Georgia and it is one of the highlights of the year for us to all spend the day together).  So if I’m honest, I can’t remember what day of the week it is today let alone what I did yesterday or last week- it was however a busy, challenging and mostly enjoyable time made even better by the antics of Malmsey, our adorable puppy who at 10months old is getting even prettier, and more naughty and mischievous by the day- we all adore her and I cannot imagine our lives now without her as she makes each day that little bit more busy, chaotic and fun.

Romané is in his final week of his 1st term at school and I am off to Romsey Abbey tonight with him to enjoy the school Carol concert- then I will truly feel festive and that Christmas and all that it truly means is here… thus, to all of you have a lovely Christmas and New Year. Enjoy being with special friends, family and loved ones.

Thank you all for continuing to read the blog- until next year

Warmest wishes

Nina x

Ps: Whilst I don’t want to bombard you with commercial “plugs”…. We do have a January offer that is such amazing value I did just want to bring it to your attention. Thus if you fancy a trip to TerraVina early in the New Year and can come and see us in January have a look at this too good to miss offer: http://www.hotelterravina.co.uk/Januaryspecial.asp

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Floods, Tempests and Tempers- just another week at TerraVina…

For those that know me well or for those who read my blog regularly (Thank you for doing so), you will be aware that I juggle a number of hats and that my week is generally fairly hectic, or even, I think it’s safe to say frantic, manic and chaotic most of the time.

This past week or even ten days has been no exception- One of the days, I tried to get as many visits into one day as was possible and thus started out at 7am with a trip to Romsey for the school run, then I went to Reading for a meeting, then onto Woodstook for another meeting, then across to Birmingham and then onto Ludlow, eventually arriving at 9pm ready for a quick dinner and bedtime. Coming home from Ludlow the next day, (I was sensible enough not to drive back again all in the same day), the weather was so bad that the roads in and around the lovely market town were almost impassable and in fact at one point my fellow passenger, Alan Murchison, our Group Executive chef, had to jump out and rescue a poor lady stuck in her mini- she jumped into my car and he jumped into her mini and we braved the torrents and got her safely to the motorway and on her way home- the journey took over 5 hours in horrible conditions.

Home safe, the next day I was minding my own business in a local car park, just about to park when crash, bang and another car had reversed straight into me- no one was hurt and whilst my car was scratched and dented it’s only a car, so no point making a fuss- however the poor young girl who hit me was distraught and so I spent half an hour trying to subside her sobs and the nicer I was to her the more she cried- it wouldn’t have mattered that I had to stay with her for so long calming her down, except that it was pouring with rain and I was soaked to the skin. Eventually she stopped sobbing and I was able to dry out over a cup of tea!

Back at TerraVina that evening for a busy dinner service and the cellar had flooded- we have a pump to ensure it doesn’t flood, but with the excessive rain and high water table in the forest the pump couldn’t cope- thankfully Gerard designed the cellar well so the water hasn’t damaged any bottles, but there was a near tantrum from the Wine Man, but we soon mopped up and calmed him down.

All in the same week, whilst in a meeting, I  had an urgent text from Suzi our super duper GM- it was her day off, so not a good sign that she was at the hotel- I knew there must be a problem, especially when she texted back a reply stating no one died BUT……the BUT was that due to the awful weather- high winds and driving rain, two trees had toppled over and crushed two cars in the staff car park- luckily no one was hurt, but the cars were very mangled. Now we have a battle with insurance companies as even though I mistakenly thought that was why you had insurance, to cover you in the event of an accident, natural occurrence, act of God, but seemingly not as they have been less than helpful to deal with and it makes you wonder why you pay a hefty premium each year.

Apart from all that excitement there has of course been the usual day to day dramas that are part and parcel of hotel life- staff present you with a challenge or three and the juggling just never seems to stop, but that is of course what makes being a hotelier so exciting (mostly!)

Till next week

Nx

Ps: Can I put in a plea- if you like what you read, (or don’t like what you read) can you sometimes make a comment and “Like it” for Face Book and Tweet it to Twitter- the reason being is that I have enrolled on a marketing project in conjunction with Bournemouth University, (I know, where on earth will I get the time to do that too!) and whilst my marketing lecturer and the student I have shadowing me, were impressed I write a weekly blog , they were less impressed that so few people comment on it, tweet it and like it on Facebook… sorry to ask but if you can help push me up their rankings, I might be a more model student and get a gold star!

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