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Sunday, 23 January 2011

An Explosive Force In Hospitality!

On January 17th and 18th I attended the Master Innholders 18th Annual Hotel General Managers Conference at the newly refurbished Savoy Hotel in London. 'Creating an Explosive Force In Hospitality' was the theme of the conference this year and nearly explode I did when I was asked by the photographer to move to one side as he only wanted the men in the photo! And they are trying to encourage women into the industry? However although both the industry and the conference is male dominated it is always an event I attend as I learn so much and continue to get new ideas for The Cloud Hotel. I am passionate about the hospitality industry and I never stop learning and enjoying the challenge of running my own hotel. As in all conferences there are excellent speakers and those who either have nothing in common with you or are just plain boring but I have to say most of the speakers were very good this year. The first person to take the floor was Kiaran MacDonald the General Manager of The Savoy Hotel who told us about the trials and tribulations of refurbishing the Savoy that re-opened on 10th day of the 10th month in the year 2010. The first guest to check in was Stephen Fry who checked in at 10am on that day. My room was beautifully furnished and the bed was so comfortable it was to die for! There was just one criticism, there was no mirror where you plugged in the hairdryer to dry your hair. For me one of the most inspiring and entertaining presentations of the conference was given by Paul Dickinson the marketing director of Virgin Atlantic. His presentation was not only informative and full of marketing ideas but very amusing. Dame Kelly Holmes was the guest speaker at the Black Tie Gala Dinner. Every time I watch the video of her winning her two gold medals at the Olympic Games I get very emotional. She is so inspirational and a great role model for the up and coming young athletes.

I am passionate about encouraging young people to have a career in hospitality and I am delighted to report that Lucy Whittington has been accepted by The Ritz Hotel in London to do two weeks work experience. Lucy started working part time at The Cloud Hotel five years ago and I have watched her mature and grow into a very responsible young lady and a delightful member of staff. I am very proud of the progress she has made at The Cloud Hotel and wish her luck in London. She has the advantage of being the daughter of Mandie who has worked for me for eighteen years, Mandie is a key member of staff with a lovely personality. Lucy was only six weeks old when her Mum started working at The Cloud Hotel.

On Thursday I was invited to speak to the Lymington Chamber of Commerce at their breakfast meeting to be held at Stanwell House Hotel. It was an early start and when I had to get up at 6am and it was freezing cold I thought why did I agree to do this! They were all business people and I was very nervous but I needn't have been. They were a lovely group of people, many of them I knew and they were a very responsive audience. I was delighted that I had Got Up, Dressed Up and Showed Up and I had had the opportunity to tell them how I turned The Cloud Hotel into a profitable hotel and give them tips for surviving the downturn in the economy.

On Thursday we had the pleasure of welcoming the carers of Alzeimers sufferers who were staying at Netley Waterside House to The Cloud Hotel. Netley Waterside House in Southampton provides respite care and breaks for adults of any age with physical disabilities. The centre is specially designed, equipped and furnished where disabled people can have an enjoyable break. They have specific weeks for people suffering from Alzeimers/dementia and their partners. One of our favourite charity events is having the opportunity to give the carers of the Alzeimers sufferers an evening away from their partners and spoil them with champagne and dinner. It really does give myself and my staff such pleasure to see the carers relaxing and having the opportunity to enjoy themselves. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Netley Waterside House they would welcome you and if you have any spare time they are always in need of volunteers.

We are getting prepared for our Burns Supper to be held on Saturday January 29th we still have a few rooms available.

The newly decorated lounges and reception area have proved to be a success and have given The Cloud Hotel a fresh look.

Valentines day will soon be here!


Sunday, 16 January 2011

Goodbye 2010 -- Hello 2011

With the Festive Season behind us and all the decorating and refurbishment completed on time the Cloud Hotel re-opened for business on Friday January 14th after a two week break. I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and were able to enjoy time with your families.Christmas at The Cloud is always a very special occasion and this year was no different with so many regular customers enjoying each other's company and re-booking for Christmas 2011 as they left. The Hotel always closes on December 27th to give the staff a break and to be-able to have the chance to decorate the rooms and do general maintenance while the hotel is empty that way we do not disturb guests while they are staying with us. This also allows the staff to spend the New Year Celebrations with their family as most of them have worked all over the Christmas period. My family come on Boxing Day [ four children, five grandchildren and partners totalling twelve] I cook our Christmas lunch and we enjoy a family day privately. I always love having all my family with me.

To reward my staff for all their hard work and loyalty during the year I always take them out to dinner and a Show while the Hotel is closed. We usually go to see a Show in London but this year we decided to go to The Mayflower Theatre Southampton to see Paul O'Grady as Widow Twanky in the Pantomime Alladin. Solent Coaches picked 21 members of staff  up from the Hotel at 4pm as we were having dinner at the Ovation Restaurant in The Mayflower before the performance. We enjoyed an excellent meal and wine with a friendly and efficient service before taking our seats to enjoy a thoroughly entertaining Pantomime. I have appeared in many Pantomimes in my previous career as a dancer and know how much fun they are to appear in so I was delighted that everyone enjoyed themselves. We even had a mention from the stage! Taking staff away from the workplace and out of uniform allows everyone to relax and enjoy each others company and creates a great team spirit.

Talking about my dancing days I enjoyed watching  'A Hundred Years of the Palladium' on TV. It brought back great memories of when I appeared on Sunday Night at The London Palladium with the Tiller Girls in the early sixties. They were great days, I loved every minute of it and worked with some very famous stars including Judy Garland. The theatre life is a fantastic training for business and hospitality, you were never late for rehearsals or the show, you worked as a team, always gave your best performance and if you were standing up and breathing you were on!

Burns Supper is always a very popular event and will be held on Saturday January 29th at The Cloud Hotel. Harry Macfadyen drives all the way from Scotland to pipe in the haggis and compere the evening. We have enjoyed his company for the past eight years and Burns Night wouldn't be the same without Harry who not only plays the bagpipes, guitar and sings but also organises the Scottish Country dancing after dinner. He appeared at The Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2007 and was invited to play at one of our guest's wedding last year having met the couple at The Burns Supper.

The future is uncertain but we are all excited at the prospect of another busy year at The Cloud and to having the pleasure of welcoming our regular customers back as well as introducing new customers to The Cloud.

A belated Happy New Year to you all