Last week we went to North America. Canada first and then New York as ambassadors of Palé Hall Hotel. We went with Small Luxury Hotels, a group of like-minded independently run hotels from the four corners of the world. We met some lovely people, many of whom have been attending these showcases for years. They were kind to us rookies and generous with their advice. They were also universally impressed that we achieved our AA 5* star rating so soon after opening. We loved both the Americans and the Canadians, as different from each other as the English and Welsh are to each other, but both nations proved warm, friendly and very interested in what we are doing. We hope that this is the beginning of a great relationship with our friends ‘over the pond’.
We went to stay at Lympstone Manor as Michael’s guest on Sunday. All I can say is ‘Wow’. Very different in style to us, Lympstone is the modern classic to our traditional classic. The reception rooms are cool and welcoming, the bedrooms beautiful and comfortable, and the bathrooms left me speechless, unlikely but nevertheless, true. As you would expect from a hotel that will run in Michael’s image this is a wonderful stage set for his food. We had the tasting menu and we savoured every mouthful. We have eaten at some of the finest restaurants in the world but Michael produced some of the best food we have ever tasted. The stall is set out, his battle colours flying. What an honour it is to work with this man.
Last night we cleared the decks for our Gin and Jazz evening. Along with Chris from Snowdonia Gin, and a wonderful two-piece piano and double-bass ensemble, a great time was had by all. Chris wowed the guests with four stunning Gin cocktails, two each from their yellow and black label gin; my word they were good. So, thank you Snowdonia Gin for coming along and making it such a great evening. We all agreed that this was an evening to continue and grow to something bigger … We also discovered that the main hall makes a great dance space, better than we had expected, so that has sent our thought processes into over-drive … Anyone for a tea dance?
Alan and I are having a holiday next week, a proper one! We are off to Petit St Vincent, a place so quiet that there is no internet and no mobile phone reception, there are no phones in the cottages and you hoist a flag for room service. I am not sure how Alan will cope. When he was a chief exec he was known as ‘Two-Phones Harper’ and could often be seen jugging two calls at the same time, it was bad enough when he went down to one phone – a bit like Gollum losing ‘his precious’, it was painful to watch. Whether a whole week with no phone contact will help him relax or have the reverse effect remains to be seen. His Kindle is full of books and we will also be taking our wine study book. As part of our ongoing drive to be better and then better still, ten of us have been following the WSET level-two wine tasting course. This involves three days of wine tasting with a tutor. We learn about food pairings, grape varieties and how to describe wines, it’s been thoroughly enjoyable but then there is the exam. It’s the day after we return from holiday and we Harpers are competitive bunnies so we will be revising – a lot!! The gauntlet has been thrown down to the rest of the staff.
There won’t be a blog next week as we are away. Thank you all for your continued support.
So, have a great couple of weekends.