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Tuesday, 13 December 2016

The end of another year!

It's been another successful year at the Cloud ending with an excellent report from the AA Inspector who visited us recently. She praised every area of the hotel for it's customer service and cleanliness and  increased our percentage rating to 80%. This is thanks to my loyal hard working staff who continue to give 5 star service to our customers.

I had the surprise of my life when I received an email telling me I had been shortlisted for  Inspirational Woman at Variety the Children's Charity Catherine Awards to be held at Grosvenor House Hotel in London in December. I had an even bigger surprise when I was announced as the winner. I felt so proud and honoured to receive this award against some very strong opposition and it has encouraged me to continue to inspire women to reach their full potential and fulfil their dreams. I had a wonderful evening with my son and his wife and met some very interesting people.Variety the Children's Charity does excellent work to help and support disadvantaged and disabled children and is a charity well worth supporting.

The hotel will be closed from December 23rd and re-opening on Friday 13th January 2017. Where has this year gone? This is the first time for 40 years that I will not be working at Christmas but spending it with my family. The staff are also looking forward to enjoying Christmas and New Year with their families.

My staff join me in wishing you a very happy Christmas and we look forward to welcoming back to the Cloud Hotel next year.

Avril


Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Christmas

Have you booked your Pre Christmas lunch or dinner yet? Our Pre Christmas menu starts on December 1st so not long to go and already comes dates are fully booked. For those of you who don't always want a Christmas lunch we are also offering our daily lunch menu throughout December as well as the
 Pre- Christmas menu.

The Autumn colours have been stunning this year and you can still enjoy the wonderful display of colour in the New Forest for at least another week so if you fancy a short break away take advantage of our weekend breaks and unwind and relax in the comfort of the Cloud Hotel. To avoid the traffic why not catch a train from London Waterloo direct to Brockenhurst and 'let the train take the strain'!It only takes one hour thirty five minutes and if you book in advance on line you can get a very competitive rate. Cycling is very popular in the New Forest,  you can bring your bikes and we will store them overnight in our secure covered bike shed.

It's been an eventful year with Brexit and now Donald Trump becoming the next President of the USA but it's been business as usual at the Cloud Hotel and we have enjoyed welcoming so many of our regular guests back to enjoy the relaxed friendly atmosphere of the Cloud.

We are offering our guests a Pre Christmas break between December 1st until December 22nd stay two, three or four nights and get one night FREE dinner bed and breakfast! Unwind and relax in front of a roaring log fire before the Christmas rush! Visit Lymington Market on a Saturday to do your Christmas shopping and get some bargains.

I look forward to seeing you.

Avril


Saturday, 24 September 2016

Autumn

I'm delighted to announce the arrival of Ryan Hawkins as our Head Chef. Ryan has previously worked at Pebble Beach and Elmers Court and we are enjoying his new menus which still have a traditional English theme. I  look forward to welcoming you to sample his delicious meals for either lunch or dinner.

Autumn seems to have come round so quickly but we are still enjoying  pleasant weather and the New Forest is a very calm and peaceful place to visit in the Autumn. It's the Pannage season in the New Forest when about 600 domestic pigs are released into the forest to eat the chestnuts, acorns and any other nuts available! Quite an unusual site to see.


If you want to enjoy the rich golden colours of the trees the end of October is the best time to come. Take advantage of either our mid-week break staying four or five nights and get one night FREE or enjoy a weekend break and stay two nights and get the third night FREE.

Just to remind you we are taking part in he World's Biggest Coffee Morning on Friday 30th September between 10-30 and 11-45am. Do come along and bring your friends to support this very worthy charity and help us to swell the funds. Annette will be making her delicious chocolate brownies for you to enjoy as well as raffling two of her sponge cakes. We look forward to seeing you.

The Christmas cards are in the shops which should remind you to book your pre-Christmas lunch or dinner. We are getting booked up already so if you have a special date in mind don't leave it too late. You can find the menus on our website or you can call reception 01590 622165 and we will send you a copy of one.

Finally I would like to dispel all the rumours going around that I have left the Cloud Hotel! Myself and my team are still here looking forward to welcoming you to relax, unwind and enjoy the surrounding areas of the New Forest.

Til next time

Avril

Friday, 26 August 2016

Bank Holiday

Here we are at the last Bank Holiday of the year and before we know it Christmas cards will be in the shops! Although summer seemed a long time coming we have had a lovely sunny August and hopefully September and even October will be fine, these are lovely months to enjoy the beautiful New Forest and as the children have gone back to school the whole area is quieter.

The Cloud Hotel is a place to relax and unwind and leave the stresses of life behind you. Just step outside and you are in the heart of the New Forest where you can walk for miles or bring your bikes, explore the area and enjoy the wildlife. We can store your bikes overnight in our secure covered bike shed. If you just want to relax and read you can sit and enjoy our secluded garden or the comfort of our cosy lounges.

Our next charity event is the World's Biggest Coffee Morning on Friday September 30th between
10-30am and 11-45am. All proceeds go to Macmillan Cancer Support. Please come along, bring your friends and support this wonderful charity.

Our Pre Christmas lunch and dinner menus are available and we are getting booked up so if you have a special date in mind book your table so you are not disappointed.

Afternoon teas have become very popular at the Cloud and everyone is enjoying Annette's delicious lemon drizzle cake and fruit cake, if you have someone with a birthday or special occasion why not book an afternoon tea to celebrate.

Myself and my excellent team look forward to welcoming you to the Cloud

Avril

Sunday, 7 August 2016

August Breaks

Summer is here at last and we have had some lovely sunny days enabling the customers to enjoy our secluded garden and even enjoy their meals alfresco! Luckily the weather was kind for the New Forest Show and as always it was a great success with thousands of people flocking to see this annual spectacular event.

We were also lucky with the weather for the Charity Cream Tea we held on Sunday July 17th and we raised £835-00 that was shared between the Variety Club Children's Charity and Naomi House Children's Hospice.  Our next charity event is the World's Biggest Coffee Morning to be held at the Cloud Hotel on Friday September 30th between 10-30 and 1145am. All proceeds go to Macmillan Cancer Support please come along and support this excellent charity.

I know it's rather early to be talking about Christmas but our Pre-Christmas lunch and dinner menus are now available and it's never too early to book as we get very busy for the month of December so don't leave it too late and be disappointed.

A reminder that we don't take children under the age of 14 so August is a quiet month at the Cloud Hotel and we still have rooms available why not take advantage of our special offers in August. Stay 2 nights and get 3rd night Free or stay 3 nights and get 4th night FREE.

I look forward to welcoming you to enjoy a relaxing break at the Cloud Hotel

Avril

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Summer?

I'm sure like myself you are all wondering when summer is going to come! Here we are in July and still the weather is gloomy most days but it must improve soon so that our customers can relax in our secluded garden. I am looking forward to the New Forest Show which takes place from July 26th until July 28th and I just hope the weather will be fine for this fabulous event.

We are holding our annual Charity Cream Tea on Sunday 17th July from 4pm and all proceeds are shared between the Variety Club Children's Charity and Naomi House Children's Hospice both excellent charities that do so much to support sick and disabled children and their families. To book please call the hotel reception on 01590 622165.

As I have mentioned before August can be a quiet time at the Cloud Hotel as we don't accommodate children under the age of 14 years and being the school holidays many of our customers avoid that time of year but it is a good time to come to unwind and relax. Take advantage of our summer breaks and either enjoy a weekend, stay 2 nights and get 3rd night FREE or enjoy one of our mid-week breaks and stay 4 or 5 nights and get one night FREE.

Just to put the record straight their are rumours that the Cloud Hotel has been sold, this is not true! I am still here with my excellent team and we look forward to welcoming you to enjoy a relaxing break with us.

Avril


Saturday, 4 June 2016

Flaming June?

A lot has happened since I last wrote a Blog but I am now back on track and looking forward to a busy year with some warm summer weather! June hasn't started too well with the weather and I often wonder where the expression 'Flaming June' came from as it's still quite chilly especially in the evenings. However the New Forest National Park is always a lovely place to visit at all times of the year and there is something to do in all weathers. The foals are appearing now, a time of year I always love, they bring new life to the New Forest.

I'm delighted to report that the Cloud Hotel has been awarded the Certificate of Excellence 2016 by TripAdvisor for the fifth year running and this is thanks to my excellent dedicated team of staff who continue to work hard and offer 5 star service.

The year is flying by and before we know it the New Forest and Hampshire County Show will be taking place from Tuesday July 26th until Thursday July 28th. If you are hoping to visit the Show this year we only have a couple of rooms left so don't leave it too late to book a room and be disappointed as it is a very busy time of year. All details of the Show can be found on their website.

Don't forget if you want to come away in August the Cloud Hotel is a hotel for grown ups only so you can still enjoy a relaxing break without young children disturbing you. Take advantage of our special mid week breaks stay 3 nights and get the fourth night FREE. For more information call the hotel reception on 01590 622165 I look forward to welcoming you.

Bye for now

Avril






Sunday, 10 April 2016

New Forest is coming alive

Spring is here the gorse is out bringing a golden glow to the New Forest and it will soon be time to be spotting the foals that start to arrive late April and May. The New Forest is coming alive after the long winter months, the trees are turning a fresh green the days are getting longer and it's one of my favourite times of the year to visit the New Forest National Park.

There is so much to do in the area. The world famous Exbury Gardens with its wonderful display of colour at this time of year when you can see the rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias. If you don't feel like walking round the huge gardens you can take a 20 minute ride on the steam train that takes you all round the gardens.

The New Forest Wildlife Park is on the edge of the New Forest and is also worth visiting. Follow the woodland trails to see the animals in beautiful natural settings.
You can find more details of both these attractions on their websites.

A wonderful way to explore the forest is by bike. You can either bring your own and we can store them in our secure covered bike shed overnight or you can hire them from the local bike hire shop next to Brockenhurst station.

Don't forget if you want to avoid the traffic there is a wonderful inter-city train service from London Waterloo to Brockenhurst that only takes one hour and thirty five minutes if you get a fast train.

Finally the Cloud Hotel is a hotel for grown ups where you can unwind and relax in the peace and comfort of our lounges or secure garden, when the weather is warm enough!

Please call for details of our special breaks.

Avril





Wednesday, 9 March 2016

International Women's Day

Yesterday was International Women's Day when women all over the world not only celebrated their achievements but brought attention of the mental and violent abuse many women are still suffering that has to stop for the future of our daughters and granddaughters. Equality for women is not a luxury it is our right.

I was lucky enough to be featured in an article in yesterday's Daily Telegraph Business 'Women In The Workplace' Hotels. I was delighted to have some publicity on International Women's Day especially as my industry is very male dominated. Something I learnt a long time ago from an American Restauranteur was to never turn down publicity as you need to and I quote 'Tell the World About Yourself" or you will very soon be forgotten.

The next major event on the calendar is Easter and fingers crossed we shall have some sunny weather by then although we have had some lovely days recently in the New Forest enabling my customers to explore the area by foot or by bike. Take advantage of our special Easter break stay 2 nights and get 3rd night FREE from £192-00 per person dinner bed and breakfast in a standard room arriving either Thursday 24th or Friday 25th March.

Finally I would like to thank those of you who take the time to give us your feedback on TripAdvisor. Positive feedback rewards the staff for all their hard work and we learn how we can improve from negative reviews, however I find it difficult to understand why after a number of excellent reviews we have gone from number 4 out of 12 hotels to number 9!! It makes me question how genuine TripAdvisor is?

I hope to have the pleasure of your company

Avril

Monday, 22 February 2016

Mothering Sunday

Valentine's weekend was a great success at the Cloud Hotel but love is still in the air as it is time to show our Mothers how much we appreciate what they do for us by giving them our love and making them feel special on Mothering Sunday. A weekend away where they didn't have to cook or wash up would be a very special treat for them and we are offering a weekend rate stay 2 nights and get the 3rd night FREE from £192-00 per person dinner bed and breakfast for the 3 nights.

Mum can unwind and relax in a haven of peace and tranquillity where there are no children under the age of 14 years. Alternatively treat her to an afternoon tea with a glass of bubbly. Sunday lunch is already fully booked but you can always bring her out to lunch on Saturday March 5th when the restaurant won't be so busy. Whatever you decide to do treat your Mum well every day as you will only ever have one.

The days are beginning to get longer and by Easter you will be-able to spend more time exploring the New Forest National Park either by foot or by bike. Just step outside the Cloud Hotel and you are in the heart of the New Forest where the New Forest ponies, donkeys and cattle roam freely in front of the hotel. If you feel like going further afield you can take a day trip to the Isle of Wight or visit the many gardens, museums and attractions in the area.

March 8th is International Women's Day. This year the theme is 'Pledge for Parity'and I like many other women will be celebrating and supporting the rights of women all over the world. I am passionate about empowering women and girls to reach their full potential and to have equal opportunities in all walks of life. That is why I founded Wessex Women's Network in 2003 to support and encourage women and girls in the surrounding area to fulfil their dreams as I hope my 3 daughters will one day.I still feel we have a long way to go but we will never give up!

The daffodils are in full bloom outside the hotel bringing a golden glow to the Cloud. Til next time Avril



Thursday, 11 February 2016

Celebrations

I had a wonderful evening on January 16th celebrating 40 years at the Cloud hotel with family, friends, staff and colleagues. Looking back I wonder where those years have gone? I've had my share of ups and downs but there has never been a dull minute! It's a great industry to work in and I think it's disappointing that more young people don't want to make a career in hospitality. I know it's hard work and long unsociable hours but there are endless opportunities to travel meet interesting people and have fun. It's a fast growing industry and you can be sure of a secure job with great prospects. Last week I had the pleasure of speaking to the members of the Lymington Town Sailing Club, although it was a cold and blustery evening there was a great turn out and they were a very receptive audience. I enjoyed it. I love going to London to network with the members of the everywoman club and last night was no exception. Mary Harney who was Ireland's longest serving female politician was the speaker and she was an absolute inspiration. I loved hearing her views on empowering women through education and how we can as individuals make a difference to promote equality in society? A subject I myself am quite passionate about. Champagne flowed in the lovely location of Grace Belgravia London's only women's only health and wellbeing club. We are looking forward to welcoming our guests to a romantic weekend where they can unwind and relax in the peaceful surroundings of the Cloud Hotel. We still have a few rooms available! Spring is on the way and we will soon be enjoying lighter evenings and hopefully warmer days. Happy Valentine's day Avril

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

BBC Radio Solent - 40 Years at The Cloud Hotel

In this BBC Radio Solent interview, Avril discusses 40 years at the Cloud Hotel and her experiences as one of the famous Tiller Girls.

Click here to download the interview.

OR

PLAY BELOW:

Friday, 29 January 2016

Celebrating 40 Years in Business at The Cloud Hotel

This lovely article from the Southampton Echo was written following our 40th Year at The Cloud Hotel celebrations.

“I DIDN’T know the difference between a chorus line and a bottom line.”
Those are the words of Tiller girl turned Hampshire hotelier Avril Owton who celebrated 40 years in business this week.
New Forest District Council’s leader, Cllr Barry Rickman; chairman, Cllr Alison Hoare; chief executive, Bob Jackson; and the employment and tourism manager, Anthony Climpson, were among guests at special event to celebrate Avril’s four decades at the Cloud Hotel, Brockenhurst.
Avril’s husband Tom took over the hotel from his parents when they retired in the 1970s.
She learned the trade from the bottom up, starting with the washing up with a quick promotion to room maid and then helped her husband, who was the chef, with the cooking as well as caring for her four children.
In 1991, disaster struck: her husband died of a heart attack. “I soon found out there was no life insurance – he didn’t believe in it – and that I was stuck with a hotel we couldn’t sell because of the recession at the time.”
However, Avril, inspired by a magazine article which said “you are the steering wheel of your life” and decided she would take on the hotel.
“I always say I didn’t know the difference between a chorus line and a bottom line,” she says, recalling the days when she was a member of the celebrated Tiller Girls dancing troupe, famous for their high-kicking routine, performing at the London Palladium alongside the like of Judy Garland, Cilla Black and Bruce Forsyth.
Avril had to borrow heavily from the bank to update the premises: “It was a bit like Fawlty Towers in its d├ęcor – my late husband didn’t believe in en suite bathrooms or TVs in the rooms although I knew this was what people would want,” she says.
The investment paid off – the Cloud’s profits increased by 800 per cent and Avril became Hampshire Businesswoman of the Year in 1995.
“I attended business seminars and got proper training,” and she was eventually asked to join the prestigious Everywoman network.
She also founded the Wessex Women’s Network and in 2008 was awarded the MBE.
Now in her 70s and still running the hotel and her network.
“When I started our busiest time was the months of July and August, when people would come for their main summer holiday,” she says. “Now we’re a top destination for short breaks and the main season extends from March to October, you can drive here from London, or come on the train and be here in time for a walk before lunch,” she says.
Cllr Alison Hoare said at the event, “Avril is the most inspiring woman I have ever met. She is a woman who when the worst thing possible happened, rolled up her sleeves and turned the Cloud into the wonderful, award winning hotel it is today. She has raised incredible amounts of money for MacMillan Cancer charity and even found the time to write a book in 2007, ‘Delighting Your Customers’. Avril epitomises the values of the New Forest and the special unique qualities of the people who live here, success through hard work, but finding the time and commitment to help and inspire others.”
Anthony Climpson has known Avril for thirty of her forty years at the hotel and describes her as, “the inspirational hotel proprietor who is one of the New Forest’s greatest advocates.”

Friday, 15 January 2016

Back in Business

Well Christmas has been and gone and here we are ready to face a New Year. The hotel opened it's doors today after our refurbishment and we are looking forward to welcoming our customers back for another enjoyable and relaxing stay.

It's an exciting day for me tomorrow when family, friends, staff and business colleagues join me to celebrate 40 years at the Cloud Hotel. I can't believe I have been at the Cloud Hotel for 40 years the time has just flown by. We've had our ups and downs like any business but there have been many exciting times and never a dull minute! I really appreciate the support I have had from family and staff and couldn't have managed without them. Thank you to you all.

We were delighted to welcome Esther Rantzen to lunch before Christmas, she had just finished filming for a BBC TV programme and she was a pleasure to meet.


Love is in the air on February 14th when we will be celebrating Valentine's Day. We are doing a 3 day break and you can stay 2 days and get the 3rd day FREE. As it falls on a Sunday this year you can enjoy a romantic Sunday Lunch or romantic candlelit dinner. Please call reception on 01590 622165 for details.

I know some of you have experienced terrible floods and bad weather and our sympathy goes out to you  but fingers crossed the weather will improve and we can enjoy a warm and sunny Spring and Summer.

I look forward to welcoming you to the Cloud Hotel to unwind and relax and remember we only accept children over 14 years of age so it is a haven of tranquility.

A belated happy 2016 to you all

Avril