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)