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Thursday, 1 December 2011

Christmas arrives at The Cloud Hotel!

With the festive period upon us, The Cloud Hotel have created some must see decorations that add to our unique relaxing atmosphere.  Come and see them for yourself!





























Saturday, 26 November 2011

Time to Decorate the Hall with Holly!

It's Christmas time, mistletoe and wine! The decorations go up at the Cloud Hotel on November 27th in time for the pre-Christmas lunches and dinners that start  on December 1st. Mike Dacombe from Inspiration  in New Milton has been decorating the Cloud Hotel at Christmas for 17 years and never fails to delight us with his creative and festive decorations. I'm sure like me you are all wondering what happened to this year as it has just flown by. If you haven't booked your pre-Christmas lunch or dinner yet there are still a few days with spaces left.

It's the time of year for parties and functions and I attended the Everywoman of Influence Dinner on Thursday at the Landmark Hotel in London. 180 people attended the event, of course it was mainly women and the room was buzzing! I love these events as you never know who you are going to meet and there are always so many inspirational women at the Everywoman events. It's an opportunity to network and listen to successful women and hear what it takes to build a successful business and create an environment where the most talented want to work. It's also an opportunity to catch up with friends and have fun and I certainly did that. 

The following day I attended the Three Butterflies lunch at the Savoy Hotel in aid of the charity Womankind. Womankind is entirely dedicated to working with women's organisations in Africa, Asia and Latin America and makes change for these women happen by investing in women. It was another very enjoyable and interesting occasion with more amazing and courageous women to chat to. I had a wonderful two days and came back to my business absolutely fired up and ready to change the world! 

It is beginning to feel like winter now and I lit the log fire for the first time today. There is nothing better than to sit by a roaring log fire in a cosy lounge enjoying a cream tea or hot chocolate after a day walking in the New Forest National Park. 

On that note I'll close, go and make a cup of tea and take a break in front of the log fire.

Avril




Sunday, 23 October 2011

Clocks Go Back

What a surprise it was to draw the curtains one morning last week and to see a white frost covering the New Forest. The guests had to scrape the ice of their cars! What has happened to Global warming? However the sun soon came shining through and it was a beautiful autumn day. The trees are just beginning to change colour and the best time to see the wonderful autumn colours of the trees is the first week in November. That is when our winter tariff starts and you can enjoy a lovely weekend walking in the New Forest, relaxing by a warm log fire with an added bonus of enjoying the third night free.

Lymington market takes place every Saturday and is a great place to buy your Christmas presents and find some bargains away from the hustle and bustle of the large city shopping centres. There are also some lovely gift shops in the area and I can particularly recommend Pot Pourri in Brockenhurst and Inspiration in New Milton. Mike of Inspiration is responsible for decorating the Cloud Hotel at Christmas and what a fantastic job he does every year, in fact many local people make a point of visiting the Cloud in December just to see the Christmas decorations.

I spoke to the ladies of Laverstock WI on Monday evening and I can't tell you the pleasure it gives me to know that I have encouraged some of the ladies to take that first step to reach for their goals and dreams. I even had an 89 year old come up to me and tell me that after hearing my talk she was definitely going to buy a computer and go to classes to learn how to work it so she can keep in touch with her grandson who was off to Singapore.

I was one of the judges for the Nat West everywoman business awards last week. These awards celebrate inspirational business women who have achieved significant success and particularly those who have  overcome adversity. This was the 6th year that I have judged these awards and I am always inspired by these women who have such courage and determination. Choosing the winners is always a difficult job as they all have such talent and aspirations to succeed. The finalists will be announced on November 4th and the winners will be announced at the award ceremony to be held at the Dorchester Hotel London on Dec 7th. Tickets for this fantastic event are available at www.everywoman.com

The clocks go back on Saturday October 29th which means that winter is on it's way but the advantage on Saturday is we all get an extra hours sleep if we are lucky. As I will have my 6 year old grand daughter staying with me I doubt that I will be-able to enjoy that extra hour as she will be up with the lark as usual!

It has been a weekend of dance for me and I was lucky enough to go to the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton to see the English National Ballet's programme 'Gershwin'. What a fantastic performance it was and I loved and lived every minute of it. There is some amazing young talent in the company which having trained to be a ballet dancer I appreciate. In contrast I went to Portsmouth today to watch my Grandson take part in a street dancing competition. It was so encouraging to see so many young people dancing with such energy and enthusiasm and enjoying themselves.

Do come and enjoy yourself at the Cloud Hotel and take advantage of our winter breaks before the Christmas rush.

Avril



   

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

AA Hospitality Awards

On Monday September 26th I attended the AA Hospitality Awards Gala Dinner at the London Hilton Hotel, Park Lane and I am delighted to announce that the Cloud Hotel was awarded the AA Inspectors choice of Two Red Stars. To quote from the AA  ' This is the AA's supreme accolade, used to recognise hotels that stand out as the very best, regardless of size or style'. Nearly 800 people from the industry attended the event and I was lucky enough to be accompanied by one of my daughters, her partner and my friend Richard. After 35 years of owning and working at the Cloud Hotel I was absolutely delighted to have been recognised by the AA. Of course I couldn't have achieved this without the hard work and commitment  of my staff so I would like to thank them publicly for all their loyalty and support over the years.

Avril Owton MBE with the AA 2 Red Star Award - the AA's supreme accolade used to recognise hotels that stand out as the very best, regardless of size or style.


The Cloud Hotel supported the Biggest Coffee Morning in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support on Friday September 30th and raised £520-00. Thank you to everyone who came for coffee and enjoyed the chef's homemade biscuits and delicious chocolate brownies. The weather was glorious and most people enjoyed their coffee in the garden. Not only does this event raise lots of money for Macmillan Cancer Support but it is an opportunity to catch up with friends and I was delighted to welcome some of my friends that I hadn't seen for ages. Thank you to everyone who came and supported us.


The revised edition of my book 'Delighting Your Customers' by Avril Owton MBE and published by Bloomsbury is now available on Amazon, at Waterstones Book Store or at The Cloud Hotel.


The next Women's Network meeting is on Wednesday October 26th at 6-30pm for 7pm when Christine Dykes takes a look at the world of women in politics. 


I hope you are all enjoying this wonderful Indian Summer and making the most of the warm sunshine before winter sets in.


Avril





Monday, 29 August 2011

'September Morn'

'September Morn' by Neil Diamond is one of my favourite songs and September is one of my favourite months. The evenings are drawing in and there is a calm and peace about September which I always enjoy. That's not to say the hotel has quietened down, now the school summer holidays are over the more mature customers take advantage of the warm days and take a break before winter sets in. The heather is in full bloom bringing colour to the New Forest and the blackberries are ready to pick, my six year old Granddaughter helped me to gather enough blackberries last week for the chef to make apple and blackberry crumble, it went down a treat especially when served with custard!


There is still plenty of activity in the New Forest National Park during September.

The Romsey Show takes place on Saturday 10th September at Broadlands, Romsey. This is a great day out for the whole family. A real agricultural show that has been held annually since 1842. You can enjoy traditional countryside activities with displays of falconry, gun dog training and the ever popular parade of hounds to name just a few of the attractions. Hundreds of horses are entered in a huge number of equine events. There's the family dog show, marching bands and an exciting programme in the main ring.

The International Autojumble takes place at Beaulieu on September 10th-11th. It is the largest outdoor sale of motoring items this side of the Atlantic with well over 2000 stands.

Following that is the Southampton Boat Show at Mayflower Park from September 16th-25th. It is the UK's leading outdoor Boat Show and is a wonderful day out. Full details can be found at www.southamptonboatshow.com

On September 19th a revised edition of my book Delighting Your Customers will be published by Bloomsbury as part of Business on a Shoestring series. I hope some of you will enjoy reading it.

The main event at The Cloud Hotel this month is The World's Biggest Coffee Morning on September 30th from 10-30am until 11-45am. All proceeds raised go to Macmillan Cancer Support.  Do come and support us and enjoy our famous chocolate brownies made by our chefs. We aim to raise a lot of money for this worthwhile cause as well as have some fun on the day.

Every September commoners let their pigs out on to the New Forest to eat the acorns that are poisonous to the horses and cattle. This ancient right is known as the pannage season and I understand they are going to be let out in early September this year. Sometimes they can be spotted on the Cloud Hotel car park.

Let's keep our fingers crossed for some warm days in September!

Avril

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Come and Enjoy the New Forest National Park

Well it's August already and the New Forest Show is over for another year. The weather was kind to the Show this year although the heavens opened for about an hour just as the Show opened but then the sun shone and the visitors poured in to New Park to enjoy the annual event that seems to get bigger and better every year.

The weather has continued to be warm and sunny and the guests at The Cloud Hotel have at last been able to relax in our secluded garden and even eat alfresco. Being able to start the day with a freshly cooked full English breakfast on the Hotel Patio in the sunshine is what some of our guests have been able to enjoy.

Because we only welcome children over the age of 12 years the Cloud Hotel is quieter than usual in August due to the fact that our clientele come to the Cloud hotel to unwind and relax so are inclined to avoid the school holidays. If you feel like a last minute break there are still rooms available. Don't leave it too late if you want to book for September as it is getting very busy and we only have a few rooms left.

There are plenty of interesting events happening in the area during August. If you are interested in Art, 2011 sees the relaunch of the Hampshire Open Studios from Saturday 20th to Monday 29th of August. There are some very gifted artists, potters and sculptures in Hampshire showing their work at different venues and if you would like a copy of the guide contact Pete Gilbert email pgilbert675@btinternet.com. There are also many crafts on show.

On Saturday 13th August the Ellingham, Harbridge and Ibsley Agricultural Show takes place in the beautiful setting of Somerley Park, Somerley, Ringwood. There are many craft and Antique fairs in the area and for full details of all the events see www.thenewforest.co.uk.

The Open Top Bus Tour of the New Forest National Park is very popular this year . It's a great way to see more and explore more of the area and enjoy the magnificent heath and forest landscape. You can hop on and off where you like and catch another bus later on. You can visit Beaulieu Motor Museum and Palace House as well as Exbury Gardens. You can leave your car behind and even take a cycle and put it inside the bus.

The Wessex Women had an enjoyable evening on Tuesday August 2nd when they met at the Cloud Hotel to hear Hazel Wilson give a very entertaining and interesting talk. The title of the talk "An undercover agent" surprised the ladies when they thought they were coming to hear stories of a spy but instead heard about Hazel's career as a corsetiere!

Here's to the next time

Avril

Monday, 18 July 2011

Charity Cream Tea

Thank you to everyone who attended the Charity Cream Tea held at The Cloud Hotel on Sunday July 17th as part of the Hampshire Food Festival and helped to raise the grand total of £811-00 to be shared between Naomi House Children's Hospice and the Beaulieu Countryside Education Trust, two very deserving charities. Eighty people enjoyed a clotted cream tea and I would like to give a special mention to my staff who worked so hard to make the event a success. I would also like to thank Linzi Luker for donating the scones [ everyone said they were delicious] 3663 for donating the strawberry jam and Wrights Dairies for donating the clotted cream. The raffle raised a total of £192-00 thanks to the generosity of Phase Eight and Neat of Lymington, Barry Rickman Photography and Corbins Florist. Thank you for your generosity.
If you would like more information about the events being held as part of the Hampshire Food Festival visit http://www.hampshirefare.co.uk/

The New Forest Show takes place on 26th, 27th 28th July and we are all praying for some good weather. It's a great day out for the whole family with so much to see and do. It's a celebration of traditional country pursuits, crafts, produce and all day entertainment in the two Rings.There is free parking, a cycle rack for those going by bike and if you prefer the 'train to take the strain' there is a continuous pay-as-you-go shuttle bus service to and from Brockenhurst station.

A familiar figure outside the Cloud Hotel was the car park attendant Albert. Albert had the most amazing energy and would run from one car to the other making sure customers parked in an orderly manner and where he put them! He alleviated all the problems we have had with the neighbours who complain when cars park outside their houses, even though it's public highway! He really was a great asset to the Cloud Hotel and became a friend to so many of our customers. Unfortunately he decided to retire at the end of June and we still haven't found a suitable replacement but we are still looking! We wish him a long and happy retirement.



The summer baskets outside the Cloud Hotel are in full bloom now and looking quite spectacular. I only wish the weather was the same, however the weather hasn't dampened the spirits of our guests as there is so much to do in The New Forest National Park.The New Forest open top Bus Tour is popular with our guests. The bus takes you through the heart of this magnificent heath and forest landscape. Tours run every day and you can hop on and off where you like and catch another bus later on.You are also able to take your bikes on the bus!

On Monday 18th July I had the pleasure of being interviewed on Radio Solent by Katie Martin about running a Bed and Breakfast. As I explained to her I own a Hotel which is different to running a Bed and Breakfast Establishment in your own home and that I don't do the cooking [although I used to] as I now have a chef. However, as in my most of my interviews Katie was more interested in my life as a Tiller Girl! I'm always happy to chat about my dancing days as I loved them.

If you are looking for a quiet place to stay in August where you can be looked after and relax and where there are no young children running around then come to the Cloud Hotel, we only accept children over 12 years old. Hopefully the sun will be out and you will be-able to sit in our secluded garden enjoying some chilled wine or a scrumptious clotted cream tea.

I have now learnt to Tweet so you can follow us on Twitter. I need some followers so if you would like to get all the latest news and Special Offers follow us on Twitter.

Wishing you all happy holidays

Avril

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Blooming June already!

Here we are nearly half way through the year and before we know it we will be celebrating Christmas. We are already taking bookings for our popular pre Christmas Lunches and Dinners, the year just seems to be flying by, I'm told it's a sign of getting older and I can't argue with that.

Of course always being so busy also makes the time rush by but I wouldn't have it any other way as I'm never bored, it's trying to find that work life balance that seems to elude me!

The hotel continues to be very busy with many of our regular customers returning to us as well as having the pleasure of welcoming new customers to the Cloud Hotel. As I have a great team of staff supporting me I am able to attend the functions I get invited to and on Wednesday I attended the Annual Lunch of the Institute of Hospitality at the prestigious Dorchester Hotel, I must confess it is one of my favourite hotels in London. I always enjoy these occasions as it gives me the opportunity to meet new people, catch up with my friends in the industry, hear their news and compare notes.

I'm off to the Dorchester Hotel again on Friday this time to attend the Women in Banking and Finance Awards  for Achievement 2011 lunch. I go to this event most years as I find it inspirational to meet women from other professions. I learn from them as well as make new friends.

'A Sheer Delight' was the heading of the article written about my book 'Delighting your Customers' in the Southern Daily Echo by the Editor Ian Murray on Tuesday June 7th. Although it stated that it was my new book it was actually first published in 2007 and a second edition is about to be published by A & C Black in August so look out for it. 

Summer in The New Forest National Park is magical with the ponies, donkeys and cattle roaming freely in front of the Cloud Hotel and grazing along the side of the roads. It's quite unique and well worth visiting the area. If you want to unwind and relax in peaceful surroundings with no noisy children to disturb you [we welcome children over 12 years]  take one of our special summer breaks. Book 3 nights and get 4th night free arriving Sunday or Monday. All details are on our website http://www.cloudhotel.co.uk/ or call 01590 622165.

We are taking bookings for our New Forest Charity Cream Tea to be held at The Cloud Hotel on Sunday July 17th 2011 from 4 pm. All proceeds will be divided between Naomi House Children's Hospice and Beaulieu Countryside Education Trust. Please call to book your table. We hope to have good weather so we can enjoy tea in our secluded garden.

I hope you are all enjoying a peaceful and relaxing summer.

Avril

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Midnight Ramble

How my legs ache today after joining in the fun on Saturday night to take part in the Midnight Ramble in aid of Oakhaven Hospice. Eight of us from The Cloud Hotel including staff and family members, not forgetting Daisy the Collie, joined hundreds of local people to walk to Hurst Castle and back. I enjoyed having the company of two of my daughters and one of their boyfriends to accompany me on this 3 mile walk. What makes this walk so strenuous is not the length of it but the pebblestones you walk on. The evening started at The Marine Restaurant Milford on Sea where everyone registered and collected their T Shirts. The Marine Restaurant had made a huge effort to create a fun atmosphere with music and some entertainment before we all set off  at 11-15pm to 'walk and talk' until we reached  Hurst Castle. Unfortunately we were not allowed to enter Hurst Castle this year but we all took a short break and watched the reflection of the moon on the sea for a while  before, in my case, struggling back to base where there was a welcome drink and food waiting for us.  It was a lovely evening and I have to congratulate everyone at The Marine Restaurant for their hard work  and to my second chef Pete for being back at the Cloud Hotel the following morning to cook breakfast after a very late night. I hope thousands of pounds were raised on the evening for Oakhaven Hospice as the Hospice needs every penny it can get to be-able to continue to give the wonderful care they give to their patients. It was worth having aching legs today!

We have welcomed our waitress Lucy back from her work experience at the Ritz Hotel in London where she had a wonderful time. She was able to work in different departments of the hotel, she met lots of people, some famous, and she tells me she has learnt alot from the experience.

I'm busy re writing my book 'Delighting Your Customers' as the publishers A & C Black want to publish a second edition. I'll let you know when it's on the book shelves.

I have been invited to be a judge for the 'Everywoman Awards' This is a prestigious award for business women of all ages and the nominations can be submitted now.If you know anyone who you would like to nominate or even nominate yourself go to http://www.everywoman.co.uk/ where you will find all the details of the different categories etc.

 Good luck

Avril

Monday, 18 April 2011

Everyone Needs a Holiday

Everyone needs a holiday to refresh their body and mind, to be-able to relax and have a break from the routine of everyday life. I have just returned from a lovely relaxing holiday in Cyprus. The hotel was excellent and the weather warm and sunny so I am now refreshed and ready to do everything I can to help my customers relax, unwind and enjoy the beautiful surroundings of The New Forest National Park. I understand that the weather was lovely while I was away and The Cloud Hotel was fully booked but I am in the lucky position of having excellent staff who I know continue to give the caring and excellent customer service that is expected of them.I am sorry if I missed seeing some of my many regular customers and also any new customers but I'm confident my staff looked after you and made you feel welcome.

Easter is only a few days away and the New Forest National Park is coming to life with the fresh green shoots appearing on the trees and the yellow gorse bringing a mass of colour to the area. I spotted a baby donkey in the forest yesterday, he was so cuddly and tiny with great big ears I wanted to stroke him but just like the New Forest ponies you must keep your distance and only look and admire the animals. Although the ponies look docile they are wild and sometimes will give you a nasty bite or kick and you are taking a great risk if you get too close and try to stroke them. Why not take advantage of our late special offer for Easter. Stay 2 nights and get the third night free from £187-00 per person dinner bed and breakfast. There are only a few rooms left so don't delay if you would like to experience the peace and tranquility of the Cloud Hotel.

Spring is a wonderful time to escape to the New Forest and enjoy the freedom of the wide open spaces for walking, cycling or riding. If you don't fancy sitting in traffic jams over Easter come by train and if you let us know when you are arriving we will pick you up from Brockenhurst station at bring you to the Cloud Hotel.

Exbury Gardens is a lovely place to visit this time of the year with the rhododendrons, camellias, magnolias bursting into flower from April to Mid May. Exbury's woodland floors are carpeted with bluebells at the moment and for those people who are unable to walk long distances the Exbury Gardens Railway is a wonderful way to see the gardens.

The weather forecast is good for Easter so wherever you are spending it I wish you a very happy and peaceful Easter.

Avril

Saturday, 2 April 2011

The Top 100 Most Influential Women in Hospitality Travel and Tourism

Cloud Hotel Proprietor Avril Owton voted in the Top 100 Most Influential Women in Hospitality, Leisure, Travel and Tourism 2011


On Thursday March 31st I attended the Women 1st Top 100 Most Influential Women in Hospitality, Leisure, Travel and Tourism and Shine awards at the fabulous newly refurbished Savoy Hotel in London. Women 1st was launched in 2009 by Cherie Blair and is an initiative from People 1st, the sector skills council for hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism to address the lack of representation of women in senior positions. Since its launch it has provided opportunities for over 400 women to undertake tailored development training and to provide mentoring to support them in their career. The event was attended by 250 people, mainly women  and was all about celebration and launched the inaugural Top 100 Most Influential Women in the sector  recognising the impact and influence women have throughout the industry. The evening started with a champagne reception where we all had the chance to catch up with friends and colleagues, The room was buzzing with excitement and lots of chat. Dinner was served in the River Room and we all waited with baited breath to hear the results. I can't tell you how excited and thrilled I was when a photo of me appeared on the screen to learn I had been voted one of The Top 100 Most Influential Women in Hospitality along with Delia Smith, Nigella Lawson and Prue Leith and many others! It is such an honour to be amongst such high profiled women and I will continue to encourage young women to  reach their full potential. After a delicious 3 course dinner the main awards were presented.The event was compared by Gaby Roslin, one of the country's most popular television presenters who was not only entertaining but also very amusing and natural. You can see all the results including the 5 individual awards and the 2 business Shine Awards celebrating outstanding achievements on www.people1st.co.uk/women1st
It was a great night full of inspirational women and I was lucky enough to be accompanied by Clive and Jennifer Deakin who have been a great support to me over many years.

The Cloud Hotel is at last on Face book and you can keep up with all the news, events and special offers. I am not a techie but with the help of my web designer Karl Jones karl@kndesign.co.uk I am improving my skills and hope to be as good as my young grandchildren one day!

Always being on the look out for new ideas I attended a fascinating workshop presented by Emma James of http://www.tastymarketing.co.uk/ and Stephen Burge of BH1 promotions http://www.bh1.co.uk/  about Lumpy Mail. Marketing. Lumpy Mail is an American idea [surprise, surprise] but the Americans certainly know how to market themselves and get new business. It would take too long for me to explain it to you but all information about Lumpy Mail can be found on http://www.lumpymail.com/ and if you are interested in getting more information contact either Emma of Tasty marketing or Stephen of BH1 promotions.

Easter will soon be here and as it is late in the calendar this year there is a good chance of there being some good weather for us to enjoy. The New Forest foals will be appearing soon and the New Forest is coming alive with fresh green shoots on the trees. Bring your walking boots and enjoy the clean fresh air and wide open spaces in The New Forest National Park right on the doorstep of the Cloud Hotel.

Let us take the stress out of your life and come and unwind and relax at The Cloud Hotel. I look forward to your company.

Avril

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Give Mum a day to unwind and relax

I can't believe it was almost a month ago I wrote my last Blog, times just flies by when you are busy!  The clocks go forward on March 27th and we can look forward to lighter evenings and hopefully warmer weather. The Spring flowers are in full bloom bringing colour to the New Forest and it won't be long before we see our first foal of the year in The New Forest.



The next big event in the calendar is Mothering Sunday on April 3rd when we have the opportunity to show our Mums how much we appreciate all the warmth and love they give us.

I love this Proverb:
'God couldn't be everywhere so he invented Mothers'. Give your Mum a day off and treat her to a delicious traditional 3 course Sunday Lunch, you do need to book early because every year we have to disappoint people who leave it too late to book. Alternatively treat Mum to one of our traditional High Teas that have become very popular since we started them last year, you can always add a glass of bubbly to make the occasion extra special.

The Variety Club Children's Charity has been helping sick, disabled and disadvantaged children and young people for 60 years. They have raised over £200 million pounds in the last 6 decades and improved the lives of more than a million children and young people. They provide the Sunshine Coaches, electric wheelchairs, outings to exciting places, equip children's hospitals and help in many other ways where help is needed. On Tuesday March 8th I had the pleasure of attending the presentation of equipment to the Variety Club Children's High Dependency Unit at Salisbury District Hospital by Christopher Biggins. This is a very special unit that will cover seriously ill children from Dorset, Hampshire and parts of Wiltshire. What a wonderful unit this is, the children will have wonderful care in such bright and colourful surroundings. Everything has been thought of including accommodation for the anxious parents. Like all charities the Variety Club rely on the generosity of the public and if you feel you could help in some way visit their website. http://www.varietyclub.org.uk/
Talking of Variety I have really enjoyed watching the programmes on BBC4 recently about Variety. It has brought back so many happy memories to me from my dancing days and time at The London Palladium. Those were the days when entertainment was fun with glamour and no bad language, how sad it is we don't have those shows on television now! Or am I just old fashioned. I also enjoyed seeing two of my ex-boy friends being interviewed!

I very seldom have the chance to watch television but I was lucky enough to see 'Agony and Ecstasy a Year with the English National Ballet' also on BBC 4. I lived every minute of the programme having trained as a ballet dancer before going into Variety I felt the dancer's agony and enjoyed their ecstasy! A great programme and I hope that anyone who watched it will realise the hard work dedication and pain that goes into a dancer's life. It was the training I received as a dancer that gave me the discipline stamina and drive I have in my business. I'm looking forward to next Tuesday when I can follow the English National Ballet Company rehearsing for Romeo and Juliet.

The weather in The New Forest has been fine and sunny this week and my guests at the Cloud Hotel have been able to get out into the fresh air and explore the beautiful countryside. The Cloud Hotel is in such a suberb location and is envied by many. It is ideal for walking, cycling and riding. Getting out into the fresh air gives you the opportunity to blow away those cobwebs after the long dreary winter. I am still enjoying my Nordic Walking in the forest with Karen Guttridge of Slimfocus and I have also lost some weight!

With the cost of petrol so high why not let the train take the strain. There is a direct line from Waterloo to Brockenhurst and if you book online with South West Trains you can get a reduced price ticket. If you let us know in advance your time of arrival we will organise a taxi to meet you from the station and bring you to The Cloud Hotel. On arrival we will treat you to a complimentary tea or coffee to welcome you.

At the Cloud Hotel we only welcome children over 8 years old creating an atmosphere of calm and a place to unwind and relax.

I look forward to having the pleasure of your company.

Avril

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Love was in the Air at The Cloud!


It was a full house at The Cloud Hotel Encore Restaurant for Valentine's Lunch for the 'Young at Heart' proving that you are never too old for Love and Romance. Love has not always been associated with cards and roses but also with food and as chocolate is the traditional food of love each guest received a small gift of chocolate. 'Inspiration' of New Milton provided us with the chocolate gifts that were beautifully wrapped with ribbon and hearts, this is our way of showing our customers they are special not only to their sweethearts but also to all of us at The Cloud Hotel. The evening celebrations started with champagne and canapes followed by a Romantic four course Dinner and more chocolates! It is really important to share special time together and to show our love for each other. It is often said that Valentine's Day is just a commercial exercise and a way to make money for some businesses but I believe it is an opportunity for couples to spend some quality time with each other and bring them together. Showing your love for each other can often be overlooked in the busy world we live in.

Burns Supper was once again a lively evening with Harry Macfadyen piping in the Haggis and making sure the evening went with a Highland Swing! Photos of the evening can be seen on the Cloud  photo gallery. Next year's Burns Supper will be held at The Cloud Hotel on January 28th  2012 and if you would like to come and join in the fun you do need to book early as I already have several tables booked.
After a break of a few weeks I have started Nordic Walking again with Karen Guttridge of Slimfocus. I couldn't wait to get back out into The New Forest National Park and enjoy the fresh air and wide open spaces that  face the Cloud Hotel. The New Forest is still quite wet under foot and you need waterproof shoes or boots for walking but guests staying at the Hotel at the present time have enjoyed long bracing walks in the forest and by the sea at Highcliffe, Mudeford and Barton-on Sea. They return to The Cloud Hotel to relax and unwind by the open log fire whilst, in many cases, enjoying a clotted cream tea.
Spring will soon be here with the warmer weather [I hope] and lighter evenings. I love Spring in the New Forest when the fresh green shoots appear and I can spot my first foal. Even after living here for 35 years I still get excited when I see my first foal of the year, especially if the foal is outside the Cloud Hotel and all the guests can enjoy the experience too. The New Forest National Park is such a beautiful part of the country to live in and to visit that it would be a tragedy if the Government decided to sell it. I urge you to petition against it if you feel the same way as I do.
I spent a day at the Careers Fayre for Year 9 at Avonbourne School for Girls in Bournemouth last week.
The aim of the event was to provide girls in Year 9 an opportunity to meet local FE/HE providers and businesses to discuss career opportunities. I am not only passionate about encouraging young girls and women to meet their full potential but also to encourage them to have a career in hospitality, travel and tourism. It is a large, vibrant and growing industry that needs a skilled and motivated workforce and is full of potential especially for women. It was a long and challenging day as trying to keep the attention of 14 year old girls is not easy but I hope I managed to inspire a few girls to consider hospitality as a career. It was surprising how many of them thought hospitality was a career in just cooking, they obviously hadn't been watching Michel Roux's  programme 'Service'. Unfortunately I was only able to watch a couple of the programmes from the series as I am usually working in the evenings.
The next special day on the calendar is Mothering Sunday on April 3rd when we all have the opportunity to spoil our Mothers and show them how much we appreciate all their hard work, love and support. A weekend away from the children would be such a treat to any Mum who needs a break [most of us do]. Dad's how about taking advantage of our winter week-end break, stay two nights and get the third night free from £182-00 per person dinner, bed and breakfast inclusive of three nights. Alternatively treat Mum to Sunday Lunch in our Encore Restaurant or a Champagne Tea.
The next Wessex Women's Network event is on February 22nd and we have the pleasure of welcoming Ian Murray as our speaker. Ian is the Editor of The Southern Evening Echo and the title of his talk is 'Life in the Media' I think the ladies will have plenty of questions for him especially about the responsibility of the media in the 21st century!
That's all for today but remember.

THE MORE YOU GIVE THE MORE YOU GET BACK,THAT'S THE WAY LOVE WORKS

Avril

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!

Avril

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 http://www.harrymacfadyen.co.uk/ 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

Avril