Happy birthday to us. One year ago today we officially opened our doors and I wrote this post, reproduced below:
‘Well, today we have officially opened our doors. It is a special day.
We have 15 in the restaurant tonight, not bad for a Thursday. Rhianwen Pugh is playing for us in the hall and we can hear laughter ringing up through the corridors. We have our first canine guest, Molly, she is so very welcome. It feels good, more than good.
Throughout the eleven months we have been at Palé I have imagined glimpses of the future. Unknown people sat in the drawing room, laughter and light abounding. A vision of things to come, a wisp of the intangible. Well, tonight shades of the future have become a solid truth. We are excited and proud and determined to get it right, to give our guests the very best of experiences.
We would like to thank those who gave us feedback throughout the soft opening, for your generous comments, your patience with the now sorted payment system, the confidence that you gave us whilst helping us improve.
This week I must mention Steve, Gareth, Pim and Georgina. We had no idea what it would really take to put our vision into place and you have worked tirelessly to get us to today. We are so grateful….
I have slipped away this evening to write this blog, an excuse to sit with the dogs. Life intrudes at times and we have a very poorly flat coat, Bracken, naughtiest dog in the world laid low, holding his own at the moment, his head on my foot as I type, my boy. It’s not looking too good but we will hold on to hope.
Palé Hall Hotel is open. We hope to see you soon.’
Well, that’s probably been one of the quickest and one of the hardest years of our lives. It’s also been one of the most satisfying. Gareth, Pim and Georgina are still here, as are a loyal and valued core team, still working hard, still helping us to realise the dream, the Palé dream. Sadly, Bracken is no longer with us.
During that time, we have won awards, accolades and occasionally dropped the ball; during that time we have laughed, worked, played, worried and cried together; during that time life has intruded for us all with some highs and lows in each of our lives; during that time staff have come and gone. With each setback we become a little stronger, a little wiser, more of a family; and during that time our focus has been clear, a long and winding road, if you will, to create the best guest experience that we can. We have had thousands of guests through the doors of our home and almost without exception they have been interesting, fun, appreciative, understanding and lovely people. Many have returned again and again; what an accolade.
Those of you who follow this blog will realise I have taken a few weeks off. Writer’s block and fear of boring you all rigid has dried the flow, but surprisingly guests and locals have missed it, so here goes again.
What of the future? Well, we are developing our final bedroom in the main house. For this we have set ourselves the task to develop an accessible suite that doesn’t look like one. I have spent hours on the internet scouring antique sites for pieces of furniture that are both beautiful and have the right dimensions to allow wheelchair use. We have moved switches and plugs, and found beautiful non-slip flooring. It’s to have a light and airy feel, the bathroom dramatic whilst functional, and where additional rails will be needed we have sourced stylish and removable ones. No compromise has been made and it will be as beautiful as all our other rooms. It’s to be named Westminster as a tribute to one of Pale’s most important owners. For twenty years Palé was owned by the Duke of Westminster and it was during this time that Winston Churchill stayed here. It’s been a great project, one I have relished, I do so love to shop!! Westminster will be ready in a few weeks and will no doubt get its own blog post.
What a difference a year makes. This time last year we were terrified and excited in equal measure. Last September we ran at 20% occupancy whilst this summer has been closer to 70%. This time last year we had no bookings for Christmas and New Year and we struggled to fill our first Michael Caines Evening. This year Christmas is already fully booked for residents and Christmas lunch is also full. Rest assured plans are afoot for a wonderful festive December. New Year’s Eve is selling fast with most rooms gone and just a very few non-resident places available. Once again, we fully intend to light up this part of the Dee Valley with another spectacular firework display – traditions have to start somewhere!!
What else do we hope for? There are obviously further industry awards that we aspire to. We want to strengthen and stabilise the team and to develop training opportunities for our staff at all levels. Actually, it’s simple, we just want to get better still.
Those due thanks are legion, from Williams Home who keep us running, David for our beautiful website, our suppliers of wonderful local produce and services, the hundreds of people directly or indirectly doing business with us, nearly all of them in North Wales, we thank you. And once more to our wonderful and supportive guests we offer sincere thanks.
Over and over again our staff are mentioned in reviews and in our guest book. The theme is clear, Palé herself is beautiful but it’s our staff that are the real stars. So, Alan and I offer each and every one of you, past and present, our thanks for your part in the journey. It’s been a pleasure to know you, work with you and watch you develop, taking our hands and taking each step with us.
A guest sent me this quote in a card once, she felt it applied to Palé, I have used it before but feel a reprise is called for:
“I determined to do no less than to transform the world with Beauty. If I have succeeded in some small way, if only in one small corner of the world, amongst the men and women I love, then I shall count myself blessed, and blessed, and blessed, and the work goes on.” William Morris
… and the work goes on.