Thursday, 1 December 2011

Something Borrowed....Something Blue

Weddings – There are all sorts of great traditions for weddings The main ones remembered more often than not today is “Something old, something new something borrowed something blue....” however most people forget the last item on this old rhyme, “....and a silver sixpence in her shoe”.

Whether you are planning a grand affair or a small intimate day with only the closest of family and friends, you will find that yourself and others will concern themselves with making sure traditions and superstitions are followed! However do you know the real reasons behind the having a maid of honour, bridesmaids, best men, ushers, the white dress.....Here are some facts for you...Not all but some...

Tying shoes to the back of the wedding couples car comes from Tudor times where guests would throw shoes at the bride and groom and they would be bestowed with good luck should they or their carriage be hit! In Anglo Saxon times the groom would symbolically strike the bride with a shoe to establish his authority. Shoes would then be thrown to at the bridesmaids to see who would marry next. A far cry from the pretty bouquet of flowers that they now get to catch!

The groom will normally wear a button hole, and it traditionally should match a flower that is in the bridal bouquet. This dates back to medieval times when a knight would wear his lady's colours as a declaration of his love.

Sundays used to be the most popular wedding day as it was the one day most people were free from work. However in the 17th Century, Puritans put a stop to this believing it was to be improper to be festive on the Sabbath. Saturday's were rarely considered! “Monday for health, Tuesday for wealth, Wednesday best of all, Thursday for losses, Friday for crosses, Saturday for no luck at all”

Grooms, you choose your best men to make a speech, give you support on the big day and look after the rings, but years ago the best man was there and chosen in case for whatever reason the groom couldn’t make it. The best man would then marry the bride instead!

Bridesmaids were dressed in pretty dresses and followed the bride or walked in front of the bride to ward off and confuse bad spirits.

The new traditional 3 tier wedding cake is based on the unusual shape of the spire of Saint Brides Church in London, but originally the wedding cake was lots of little wheat cakes that were broken over the brides head to bestow luck and fertility.

The throwing of confetti is an ancient fertility rite. Handfuls of grain or nuts were traditionally thrown because they are “life-giving” seeds. In some European countries, eggs are thrown instead.

It was thought unlucky for a woman to marry a man whose surname began with the same letter as hers. The sentiment was summarised in the following rhyme: “To change the name and not the letter, Is to change for the worst and not for the better”

The term "honeymoon" originates from the times when a man captured his bride. The couple would hide from the bride's parents before marrying. The couple would remain in hiding for a further cycle of the moon after the wedding. During this period they drank honey wine.

However regardless of the traditions you choose to follow or not, you can be sure they date back many years, and will continue to be part of weddings in the future!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Planning a wedding?

Whether you are a couple recently engaged and looking for ideas for your big day or you are a wedding supplier and want to be able to get in front of your target market, wedding fayres are a great way to do both.

Wedding fayres for you, the bride and groom will be very helpful. There is so much information available to you through magazines and the internet now that you will have some quite clear ideas as to what you want for your day (even if you don't realize it at the moment!)  Yet these don't always give you the comfort you might need when buying something that is for such a special occasion. You can't handle and see very well the quality of the stationary or the photo album.  You can't taste the cake or see the detail clearly.  You can't really touch the wedding dress to get a sense of the quality of the material.  You can't hear the piper or the harpist playing to be sure they are just what you are looking for. A wedding fayre however can give you all of this.  You can meet the owners of the companies or the performers in person.  You can see, touch, taste and hear all the things you might have been looking for to help you decide if they are right for you.  You can use a wedding fayre to get all your questions answered by the professionals, to gain tips on keeping costs down and to discover the latest trends.

As a supplier you ought to consider attending wedding fayres to make sure you are getting your product or service in front of the people who really need it.  Get to know these couples and show them what you can do, why you are the best person to help them plan their day and how you can solve any problems they might have. Share your experience and expertise with them and help them through the jungle that is planning a wedding.

Wedding fayres for venues are important. In our case it gives us a chance to show you the hotel set up for a wedding, (civil ceremony room, bar, dinning room and your dance floor) as sometimes it's difficult to imagine, especially as certain rooms might be used for other events during the week.  We can build upon those relationships we already have with suppliers, and most importantly of all, we can give couples advice and help them create their dream day in their ideal venue.

We first tried our hand at planing a wedding fayre back in 2006 with our sister hotel, the Burlington in Folkestone.  We had to work out how many suppliers we could fit in, make sure we had at least one exhibitor from every sector, ensure there was enough room for visitors to walk around, have plenty of staff on duty to help couples and answer questions, arrange all the goody bags, book all the advertising, and the rest!

On the actual day we had around 20 exhibitors attending, show casing everything from balloons to stationary, photography to chair covers and wedding dresses to cakes.  The function room was laid up for a wedding breakfast, the ceremony room was laid as it would be on the day and our DJ was there playing some great tunes.

We did a huge amount of  promotional activity, so with this along with the help of the exhibitors, word spread about the fayre and we had a fantastic turn out.  All the exhibitors took at least a booking or two away with them, with various leads to follow up on.  We offered couples added extras if they booked on the day (for instance 10% off their total bill) so everyone found themselves in a win win situation and the feedback was positive with couples and suppliers asking about the next one.  Off the back of this event and its success, it made sense that we went ahead and planned some more.

5 years on and all three of the Castlewood Hotels have wedding fayres twice a year (Spring and Autumn) with the most recent being ours!  We had some great suppliers in the room and met with some really lovely couples, all very excited about getting married and all of which loved our new refurbishment we are happy to say!

Wedding fayres aren't easy to organise, and at all times when planning we try to make sure we are providing what the couples are looking for and hopefully taking some of the stress away by bringing some fabulous services into the room for them to meet. People want to take their time when walking around, they want to chat and perhaps even sit down with a drink to talk it over, so we provide areas for this and hope to make the experience enjoyable for all involved.

Whatever your reason for needing to find a wedding supplier wedding fayres are a great way of doing just that in a no-pressure situation.  If you're planning your wedding, look out for wedding fayres in your local area, go along and have a look around, there are some bargains to be had at them.  If you are a wedding supplier and want to try your hand at exhibiting, have a look around your local venues, give them a call and see if they have space for you.

We are already looking to arrange the next ones, perhaps with a twist.

In the mean time the Burlington's wedding fayre is happening this Friday from 4 – 9pm in Folkestone, not your normal Sunday fayre.  The Best Western Abbots Barton in Canterbury is having theirs on Sunday the 30th October from 11 - 4pm.  This time not in a marquee but in the Old House and the Cathedral perhaps we will see you there.

Either way....Happy planning!

Monday, 12 September 2011

Big Bad Bug!

Ah bed bugs, horrible aren't they...makes me itchy just thinking about them, and yet they are about and having them is not a reflection on cleanliness or how well sanitised your home is, once they are in, they’re in!

You may have heard in the press recently about a case surrounding two ladies who stayed at a hotel in London and suffered with mass beg bug bites during the night, meaning they had to go to hospital due to the swelling and itching caused from the bites.  A horrible experience, and it turns out they weren't alone.  The hotel in question has had several such cases with previous customers.  Something that would put you off going back until they can confirm the infestation has been dealt with and they are clear of the problem.

The issue with such an infestation is that it's very difficult to get rid of them. You may be exposed to them elsewhere and bring them home with you, to your own beds, and they bread at such an extraordinary rate you will soon experience the unpleasant problems in your own home.

They are a notoriously complex problem to deal with and experience is essential to get rid of them in a safe, efficient and rapid way.  Everywhere in the world is experiencing an increase in bed bug infestation currently, so should you have come across such an issue, chances are you won’t be the only one.

You will find that places with a high turnover of visitors tend to be the most affected like hotels, motels, B&B's, Hostels, dormitories and prisons to name a few.  According to research, bed bugs tend to be picked up mainly through travelling.  Large infestations are found on aircraft, ships, trains buses and offices and they normally travel with you on your clothing, cases etc. travelling with you to your next destination.  A common misconception is that bedbugs are a result of unclean surroundings like a guest room that hasn’t been serviced properly but you’ll find cases in hotels everywhere, from 1 to 5 stars and even those with the highest scores for their cleanliness.  They thrive on movement and activity, so in a busy hotel that regularly has guests checking in and out it’s very likely that they will eventually be subjected to this sort of infestation. 

We had a case at our sister hotel in Canterbury some time ago.  The BEST WESTERN Abbots Barton Hotel has always had very high scores for cleanliness and our housekeeping manager there is a very competent lady that has been with us for many years now.  She treats the place with a lot of pride as if it were her home.  When she found out about the bugs she was devastated and almost in tears thinking that she had failed on cleanliness in some way.  Whilst it had nothing to do with her or her team, I think that the reaction was testament to just how seriously she takes her role.  Luckily the hotel caught it pretty early on and called in their pest control company who used a pesticide bomb in the infected guest room, closing it off for days to ensure that nobody went in.  Without movement the bugs couldn’t spread or live so they were soon in the clear again, albeit at the expense of having the room out of order for a number of nights at a very busy hotel. 

Rentokil reported the number of bedbug call outs had gone up by 24% in December. There is even a sniffer dog that has been trained to find the critters and hotels in Britain have been using him!

So what are the tell-tale signs? Look out for blood spots/smears on bed sheets and in the seams of furniture and upholstery. 
How do you avoid them? Don't allow clutter to build up where you sleep and don't take in second hand beds or mattresses.  Wash bedding in a hot wash, bedbugs can't survive these.
What if I have them? Call a pest control service straight away!

Don't fear though, they may well bite, you might suffer with itching but they cannot pass disease.


Night night, sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite....

Thursday, 25 August 2011

'Tis the Season to be Jolly......

So we all know Christmas happens in December and tradition shows some homes and businesses put their decorations up on the 1st, and others two weeks before the big day. Any talk of Christmas before this point seems to get a touchy response.

Most people you mention the “C” word to before December will give you a role of the eyes followed by some kind of comment along the lines of “Oh no, not yet, please, it's far to early!” as if Christmas coming is a bad thing.

Now I'm quite an excitable person and the one thing that can never come around too soon is Christmas. It's a great time of year, catching up with family, friends, eating loads of tasty food, drinking lots of good drinks and watching people unwrap gifts. I love that bit the most, in fact we have competitions to see who's wrapped gifts look the best at our house!

So why the negative response when talking about it in August? More than likely it's because everyone dreads the last minute rush to do everything, and knows it would be ideal to get it done sooner, but time is short and people are busy. This however is exactly why planing in advance for the season is key. You need to know how much you have to spend on gifts, food and nights out, on office parties and other festive activities. This helps spread the cost out over a few months instead of having all that expense coming out of one pay packet. You can bet your life however that if you're starting to think about it in October/November, us businesses have been thinking about it a whole lot longer. This is so we have everything ready for you when the time comes for the usual rush.

Businesses have to plan in advance, we have no choice. Supermarkets have to get their orders in for decorations, festive foods, etc. Printers have to print cards, wrapping paper, etc to ensure it's ready to be sent out to all who need it.

Hotels are much the same, we have prices and entertainment organised and booked by March. We have the head chefs working on Christmas menus in the Spring, and we have the information approved and sent to the printers as early as May/June! I will start talking about it at networking events in August and September.... The websites will have the information on around the same time.

Why you ask? Well it's simple. If we don't start to get you thinking about it, when you eventually do come to think about booking your office party in early November, the key dates will already be taken. Chances are your first choice of Friday or Saturday nights will be full. Big firms book their parties a year in advance, to ensure they get the date they want and sometimes by doing this they get a better deal, and you can be sure, they will get the key dates if they can.

Christmas is coming, we may have Halloween and Guy Fawkes in between, but the farmers are already feeding up those Turkeys and Geese. The Brussel Sprouts are starting to come into season and the Christmas trees are being watered and pruned to ensure they look great, and are ready for you to take home and decorate.

You can't ignore it, so.... if you go away for Christmas be it for a four day break, or just for the traditional Christmas lunch, book it sooner rather than later to avoid disappointment. If you are in charge of organising the office party, get onto it in the next few weeks, and start looking for your venue. Whether it's us or some where else, don't leave it too late, get it booked and enjoy the Christmas period for a change. :)

Wednesday, 10 August 2011


This fantastic event arrives tomorrow here in Eastbourne, and it is set to be an amazing four days.

For those of you who are coming along for this free event, have a great time. For those of you who aren't, this is what you will be missing!

The very first Eastbourne Airbourne took place back in 1993, and was based around a long relationship with the Red Arrows display team.
The event now runs annually over a period of four days and is proclaimed to be the biggest seafront air show in the world, drawing over 500,000 visitors to the South Coast.

This year there is a bumper programme of fast jets, helicopters, free-fall parachute teams, warbirds and historical aircraft, along with the famous Red Arrows.

You may well be wondering when you can catch the Red Arrows? Well you can see them on Friday at 7pm, Saturday at 1.30pm and Sunday at 11.45am.

You will also see, over the course of the 4 days, a Battle of Britain Fly Over, a Belgian F-16, The Blades, the Breitling Wingwalkers, an RAF Hawk, RAF King Air, the Royal Navy Black Cats, the Royal Navy Raiders, RV8TORS, a Spitfire, Silence Twister, Tigers Parachute Team, RAF Tornado, RAF Tucan, RAF Tutor, Hurricane, the Kitty Hawk and many more.

There are also plenty of attractions on the ground to keep you and the children entertained and if you just want to relax and enjoy the atmosphere, then sit yourself on the beach and soak up some of the delighful Eastbourne Sun. They don't call us the Sunshine Coast for nothing!

If you think the entertainment will end when dusk arrives think again. There is a big band night planned, concerts will be taking place at the Bandstand and of course the big finale, an amazing firework display on Sunday night.

Come and stay for a day, an evening or a long weekend. We have a BBQ running for the four days, so feel free to join us, sit out on our verandah and watch the displays whilst sipping on a refreshing drink and enjoying a bite to eat. We would be delighted to spend these few days in your company!

Monday, 1 August 2011

The Battle of the Stars

What images come to mind when someone tells you, that you are booked to stay in a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 star rated hotel?

Do you imagine the 1 & 2 star hotels are dark, unclean, not refurbished and offers poor service and food? Do you imagine the 5 star can provide you bright, big, spacious rooms that are well furnished, with perfect service, gourmet food and a chocolate on your pillow?
Do you feel that hotels without a star rating are not even worth considering?
Do you even understand the star rating system?

Perhaps another question to ask is, what is important to you when booking a hotel? Is it the location, the room size, how well furnished it is, or is it actually just a room to sleep in? People use the word quality, they want quality, so what does that mean?

The general idea behind a star rating is this. The more stars, the higher the overall level of quality you can expect to find. However all properties have to meet an extensive list of minimum standards before they are even considered for a rating.

Some hotels choose not to participate in the rating system, it can be quite costly, yet actually the absence of a rating does not indicate poor quality of amenities or service.

When it comes to trying to work your way through the hotel star rating system, it can be quite complicated. Star ratings vary from global region to global region, country to country and occasionally within countries. Within Europe, hotel stars are assigned if properties have leisure facilities and lifts, not always on when the last refurbishment was done and its current state.

The UK star rating system dates back to 1912, when Automobile Association's Secretary, Stenson Cooke hit on the idea, and the 3 star classification system was born. Today in Great Britain, the AA works on a 5 star system and after years of confusing tourists and Britons, a standardised system was launched in 2007.

Cost comes into where you can afford to stay. If you are on a tight budget and need somewhere for less than £70 a night, you might consider the likes of a 2 star or lesser rated properties, perhaps if you can afford a little more you will find yourself looking at 3 & 4 star hotels. If you are the lucky ones who can afford the 5 star and deluxe hotels, you are in for a treat, but don't bank all your expectations on those shiny gold stars next to the hotel name, sometimes they disappoint and you are left wondering how they got it.

Bathroom size, a night porter, 24 hour hot room service, bed size and more all come into it. Sometimes you might surprise yourself and stay in a 3 star hotel that can offer you 5 star furnishings, and service, but because the bathrooms can't be increased in size they can't benefit from the higher rating. If you think a nice fluffy towel and slippers will guarantee a perfect stay, it might, but don't always bank on it.

Many hotels nowadays are starting to move away from the star ratings, especially branded hotels such as Holiday Inns. They feel that the brand projects and guarantees what the customer can expect better than the star rating system. You may well find in the future, less and less hotels opt for a star rating for this exact reason.

Baring all the above in mind, try not to disregard a hotel purely because it lacks a pool, or because it is only rated 2 or 3 stars, or even if it doesn’t have a brand above the door. Brands certainly offer consistency so that a room in one branded UK hotel looks identical to a room in one of their Tokyo hotels, however some might argue that this also results in a lack of character compared to unbranded hotels that are unique in their own right. If you’re adamant that you want to stick to a brand though, my suggestion would be to choose one like Best Western, who don’t own any of their hotels. All Best Western hotels are independently owned, so you can feel safe in the knowledge that you will experience consistency in the standards you would expect from the brand, whilst still having the unique experience that comes from a country house retreat or even a castle!

Who said you can’t have your cake and eat it too ;o)

Monday, 11 July 2011

Eastbourne & Best Western York House Hotel...Our Journey...

Come with me on a journey to learn about Eastbourne and the hotel, after all it's always best to start a story at the very beginning...

Eastbourne....The Sunshine Coast....Located in between Brighton and Hastings. A resort and conference centre at the eastern edge of the chalk South Downs alongside the high cliff at Beachy Head.

Flint mines and other stone age artefacts have been found in the surrounding countryside, and there are Roman remains buried beneath the town, such as a Roman bath and section of pavement between the present pier and the redoubt fortress and a Roman villa near the entrance to the pier. An Anglo-Saxon charter, circa 963AD, describes a landing stage and stream at Bourne.
Following the Norman Conquest, the Hundred, of what is now Eastbourne, was held by Robert, Count of Mortain, William the Conqueror's half brother. The Doomsday Book lists 28 plough lands, a church, a watermill, fisheries and salt pans.

In 1315-16 a charter for a weekly market was granted to Bartholomew de Badlesmere. This increased his status as Lord of the Manor and improved local industry.

During the middle ages the town was visited by King Henry I and in 1324 by Edward II. Evidence of Eastbournes medieval past can be seen in the 14th Century Church of St Mary's and the manor house called Bourne Place. In the mid-sixteenth century the house was home to the Burton Family who acquired much of the land on which the present town stands. This manor house is owned by the Duke of Devonshire and was extensively remodelled in the early Georgian era when it was renamed Compton Place. It is one of the three Grade 1 listed buildings in the town.
In 1752, a dissertation by Doctor Richard Russell extolled the medicinal benefits of the seaside. His views were of considerable benefit to the south coast and in due course, Eastbourne became known as “The Empress of Watering Places”.
Eastbournes earliest claim as a seaside resort came about following a summer holiday by four of King George III children in 1780.

On the 14th May 1849 the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway arrived to scenes of great jubilation. With the arrival of the railway, the towns growth accelerated. Cavendish, now the 7th Duke of Devonshire, hired Henry Currey in 1859 to lay out a plan for what was essentially an entire new town – a resort built “for gentlemen by gentlemen”. The town grew rapidly from a population of less than 4,000 in 1851 to nearly 35,000 by 1891.

This period of growth and elegant development continued for several decades. A royal visit by George V and Queen Mary in March 1935 is commemorated by a plaque on chalet number 2 at Holywell.

In 1793, following a survey of coastal defences in the southeast, approval was given for the positioning of infantry and artillery to defend the bay between Beachy Head and Hastings from attack by the French. 14 Martello Towers were constructed along the western shore of Pevensey Bay, continuing as far as Tower 73, the Wish Tower at Eastbourne. Several of these towers survive today. The Wish Tower is an important feature of the town's seafront, and part of Tower 68 forms the basement of a house on St. Antony's Hill.

Bringing you right up to date, in the 1990's a plan was developed in the area known as the Crumbles, a shingle bank on the coast to the east of the town centre. This area is now known as Sovereign Harbour containing a marina, shops, housing and luxury apartments.
Continued growth in other parts of the town and the turning of the central marshland into farmland and nature reserves has helped turn Eastbourne into what it is today.

The Best Western York House has been running as a hotel as far back as the early 1800's. The Sangiuseppe family acquired the hotel in 2006 and have since been updating the hotel. A full refurbishment of the hotels public areas was finally completed at the end of 2010 with 40 of the 83 bedrooms fully refurbished at the beginning of 2011 and the rest undergoing their transformation. Two of our Honeymoon Suites are also having a full makeover. They will be spacious, have beautiful views out across the beach, and will add that extra touch of luxury to your stay.
The hotel is located on Royal Parade, a short walk from the Pier, with amazing sea views and the longest out door Verandah in Eastbourne. The restaurant menu is seasonal, serving locally and ethically sourced produce where possible. Our Verandah Bar has been completely modernised, a great place to sit with friends and enjoy a cold drink and a delicious snack.

What plans lay ahead for the York House? Well, there’s been talks of possibly adding a Spa & Detox Clinic and updating our indoor swimming pool, along with adding a patio leading out from our modern Crumbles Suite which would be a great feature for weddings which are becoming very popular. Whether you are looking to organise a private event, take a client for a business meeting, unwind with friends and family or even if you are just in the area, make sure you visit us, stay for a drink, some lunch or even the whole weekend.

Your comfort is our pleasure....