Monday, 22 August 2011

Buy a wedding...on Ebay??

We are now going to share with you the challenge we set ourselves that came about all because of the Royal Engagement....

As we are a busy hotel, people tend to book rooms, conferences and weddings quite a way in advance, and on the 28th & 29th April 2011 we had a large conference booked in....until the Royal
Household announced that Prince William and Catherine Middleton were to be married on the 29th April 2011 and this would be a public holiday! Unsuprisingly the phone rang and the conference got pushed back to a later date so the companies staff could make the most of it and we were left with an empty function room and some empty bedrooms. Not wanting to have an empty hotel and being far enough away to think up a plan, we decided to take a chance and auction our own Royal Wedding Reception on Ebay. We got a package together, all singing all dancing with arrival drinks, a three course dinner and wine for 50 people, a drink to toast during the speaches, an evening buffet and disco and accommodation for the bride and groom for the evening. The auction would run from Friday to Sunday and the lucky bidders would get to have their wedding on the same day as Great Britains modern royal couple.

We opened the auction four weeks before the date and by the 4th day we had 27 people watching the item, with couples ringing in asking questions and popping in to have a look around and get a feel for the venue and the fantastic day that could soon be theirs.
As the auction came to a close, the bidding started and the wedding (worth over £4000) went for the bargain price of £1999.
We were over the moon, the wedding had sold, the idea had worked and a wonderful couple, Selina & Tim had just booked themselves a wedding! When we asked them, what had made them bid on the wedding, we discovered they had met online themselves several years ago. They had discussed marriage but nothing had ever really materialised and so when they heard about the auction via the local papers it seemed to make sense. “A new kitchen or get married....??” asked Tim. “Lets get married!” said Selina, and the rest as they say, is history.

After a few meetings and adding the personnal touches that the happy couple required to make the day their own we were ready to go.

The day itself was a beautiful dry day, the bride looked stunning and the groom had a grin like the cat who got the cream. The venue sparkled and the party went on into the small hours of the morning.

Safe to say a lovely day was had by all and just goes to show, sometimes you really can grab a 5 star bargain on Ebay, so keep your eyes open, you neve know what you might find!

Monday, 8 August 2011

The war of the Rosettes

Now its no surprise that everyone, when given the chance loves to go out to dinner, whether it be to your local Indian restaurant or to a top rated restaurant like the Fat Duck owned by Heston Blumenthal. It does of course depend on what kind of occasion, how much you can afford and what you like to eat when you do venture out. If you like to splash out occasionally, restaurants with rosettes tend to be the ones people head towards, but do you really understand how they work, how they are awarded and how much work the restaurants have to put in to gain them?

The rosette system has been established for a long time and recognises successful cooking at different levels across the UK. When an inspector visits the hotel or restaurant it is their chance to get a snap shot whereby the entire meal, including ancillary items (when served) is assessed. Around 10% of restaurants nationwide are of a standard worthy of one rosette and above. This is indeed a massive achievement, and something not to be underestimated.

Restaurants with one or two rosettes gain these through achieving standards that stand out in their local area. Good quality ingredients are selected, food is prepared with care, understanding and great precision should be apparent in the cooking process.

Restaurants with three and four rosettes are gained when all of the above is finely tuned, seasoning and the judgement of flavour combinations will be consistently excellent. They also combine appreciation of culinary traditions with a passionate desire to explore and improve. These virtues are then supported by intuitive service and a well chosen wine list.

A five star rating is extremely rare, and is the pinnacle, where cooking compares with the best in the world. These restaurants have set standards which others aspire to, yet very few achieve.

So now you understand how they work, all that's left is to try a few when the occasion arises!

If you aren't too worried about the awards though, there are still so many restaurants out there waiting to be discovered. A lot of them can be found hidden in hotels and down side streets. Don't ever be afraid to book a table and give them a go. You will be surprised and perhaps even delighted at what you find!