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Hello and welcome to the Warner Leisure Hotel’s blog!

Warner and its guests have a wonderful story to share with you. This blog is somewhere for you to share your memories with us! A story that takes you on a journey of discovery at our 13 locations, lets you know how to make your break that extra bit special and keeps you in the loop with brand new things coming up for Warner.

Warner provides short breaks just for grown-ups. Over the coming weeks and months I’ll be taking you behind the scenes at Warner, sharing lots of details about our team, the food made with love, and care and the character in every location.

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The Warner Culinary Showcase

Showcase

Held in Unilever’s test kitchen at their Head Office over two days, Warner chefs took part in Warner’s version of Masterchef and were asked to enter three categories;

1) A la Carte Breakfast/Dinner Item

One complete item for both breakfast and dinner service, teams were asked to present either a starter, main, or pudding.

2) Reinvented Salad Bar

A minimum of 5 salads, one salad to be a mixed green salad with assorted accompaniments and dressings.

3) Enhanced Carvery or Chef Action Station for Severy

A re-imagination of what Warner’s current carvery looks like today, including meats, sauce(s), and accompanying side dishes. It was requested that the Chef Action Station must contain a chef cooking – think pasta station, fish station.

Each Hotel team had a time slot to present their entries to the judging panel, consisting of Warner Leadership Team member’s and other selected business leaders, including the Vice President of the Craft Guild of Chefs. The scoring criteria that teams were judged on were; creativity, presentation, flavour, cooking technique and feasibility – can the dishes be replicated within Warner Hotels and cater for over 400 guests.

On the first day, Nidd Hall, Thoresby Hall, Bodelwyddan Castle were first to present followed by Alvaston Hall, Gunton Hall and Corton. The food delivered was of a very high standard and fulfilled the given brief, Corton even brought along their own Tandoori cooker! A range of food was produced, from an epic pork belly in coconut sauce to a seafood trolley! The creative juices were flowing and the judges were suitably impressed.

On the second day, Cricket St Thomas, Littlecote House and Holme Lacy presented in the morning. Again, a high standard of food was delivered; a highlight was an Aussie style BBQ with BBQed pork loin and sweetcorn along with new potatoes drenched in a can of Fosters!

Sinah Warren, Bembridge Coast and Norton Grange we the final heat to compete. Dishes included sushi and a beef ramen – something a little different but gloriously yummy!

After much deliberation, the winners are as follows;

Best A la Carte Breakfast/Dinner item – Nidd Hall‘s breakfast ham & cheese toastie

Best Reinvented Salad Bar – Alvaston Hall’s Italian antipasti concept  

Best Enhanced Carvery or Chef Action Station for Severy – Corton’s curry bar

Overall winner – Holme Lacy

A very successful showcase was had by all.

Moving forward, we hope to see inspiration taken from the showcase throughout all Warner dining experiences.

 

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Glorious Gardens at Warner!

Norton

Here at Warner, we pride ourselves on our glorious gardens created by our Grounds Team. On a recent site visit to Norton Grange on the Isle of Wight, our Brand Manager, Duncan discovered a lovely water feature created by our Grounds Team.

After clearing out previously discarded equipment piled up ‘behind the scenes’ at the hotel, the team put together a fun little self-watering feature.

Over time the foliage will fill in and uplighting will be added which will again, be recycled to create that element of theatre that we love!

Our hotels are located in picturesque settings and offer a range of different views. From Littlecote’s 113 acres of landscaped gardens and rolling parklands to Bembridge’s Spanish Gardens, our manicured gardens are special and we think a real delight, especially now we are in the throes of the (slightly unpredictable) British Summer.

Even though it’s within walking distance of the beach, Gunton Hall is surrounded by 55 acres of woodland, gardens, a picturesque lake and pitch and putt course, great for the armature golfers out there!

Or if leisurely immersing yourself in beautiful courtyards, where you’ll find craft shops, the Military Museum and a garden centre conveniently set in the grounds, Thoresby Hall may be perfect for you.

Fancy exploring further? At Holme Lacy Hotel, our new Garden walks, could see you join a 1/2 mile amble ramble or a 1 mile tricky trail exploring the 160 acres of gardens. We also have our ‘Walk a Mile with Warner’ each morning which is sure to boost your appetite in time for lunch.

The Grotto Garden at Bodelwyddan Castle is also not one to miss. Built around 20 years ago by a previous Head Gardener. It is a Japanese Style garden with a small interesting Grotto that you can walk through with a little waterfall flowing over the top into the pond area. The garden includes a couple of small bridges and some interesting planting. The garden was re-designed a few years ago by Chelsea flower show winner Kate Gould, but was actually planted by our gardening team at Cricket St Thomas.

Please see below for the awards that our glorious gardens have won:

  • Nidd Hall – Yorkshire Rose Large Hotel Award – Gold and Category Winner and Yorkshire Rose Discretionary Conversation and Wildlife Award
  • Alvaston Hall – Won Best Commercial Premises in Wistason in Bloom – Gold Award
  •  Thoresby Hall – Britain in Bloom Competition Winners – Silver Gilt
  •  Bembridge Coast – Isle of Wight in Bloom Best Hotel and Accommodation – 2nd Place

We hope you enjoy our gardens as much as we do!

P.S. A real Warner tip – don’t miss the incredible white dear that tend to roam Bodelwyddan Castle’s grounds!

Hotel group launches first ever adult only ice cream van where you need ID to be served

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Warner Leisure Hotels launches The Ice Cream Bar serving intoxicating treats including ‘IcePA’, ‘Jäger Bombes’ and Bacon & Bourbon chasers

exclusively for grown ups

Thursday 14 July 2016: UK hotel group Warner Leisure Hotels has launched an adult only ice cream van, dubbed as a ‘bar on wheels’, which is travelling around the country this summer serving an array of boozy ice creams exclusively for adults. The hotel group, just for grown-ups, has also sent a doorman with the van to make sure customers are old enough to be served a beer infused Mr.Whippy in a pork scratching cone or an Ice Cream Jäger Bombe.

The bespoke menu of intoxicating iced treats was created by New Forest Ice Cream for the grown-ups of the UK needing a sweet treat. The menu includes:

  • IcePA – A Beer Mr.Whippy poured out of a classic bar pump into a pork scratching cone.
  • The ‘Jäger Bombe’ – a grown up twist on the classic Ice Cream Bombe! Jäger ice cream in the middle, covered in a layer of energy drink flavoured ice cream.
  • Bacon and Bourbon – Bacon flavoured ice cream with a crispy bacon garnish and shot of bourbon to chase.
  • Vodka Martini – Vodka sorbet with olive flavoured hundreds and thousands.
  • Tequila Sorbet – Tequila flavoured sorbet served in a martini glass with a rim of salt.

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The Ice Cream Bar was devised after new research from Warner found that the over fifties are still very much young at heart. Respondents’ top three favourite childhood holiday memories were being at the seaside (75%), having ice cream (53%) and going to fun fairs (43%). The ice cream menu was inspired further by the research, which saw that men over 45 would choose beer as their top tipple (33%) resulting in the IcePA, and women would go for a cocktail (15%), helping the Tequila Sorbet and Vodka Martini make the cut.

Mat Finch, Marketing Director at Warner Leisure Hotels comments: “Our guests may predominately be over 50, but they love a bit of mischievous fun. After the huge success of Anti-aGin (the first ever anti-ageing gin launched in April) we wanted to keep the fun going, and The Ice Cream Bar is ready to do just that.

“The van has already visited four hotels and people have been queuing up to try the adult friendly flavours. Our guests were giddy with delight trying all of the different ice creams… you may think Jäger is a ‘young’ drink, but our Bombes were devoured within minutes! We can’t wait to visit the rest of the hotels and give the country a gloriously grown up summer.”

Tim Elliott (pictured), 54 from Preston, who was one of the first customers to try The Ice Cream Bar, commented:  “Because I’m a Lancashire lad, the IcePA was definitely my favourite. I love a pint, and I love ice cream… so the two combined was right up my street. The addition of the pork scratching cone was brilliant, and after the initial shock… it actually complimented the flavour really well. Well done Warner!”

Katie Isles, 50 from Birmingham, another customer to try the ice cream, commented: “I think the Warner Ice Cream Bar is a great idea. I love ice cream, but the usual vans you see always reminds me of screaming children and sticky surfaces, so the fact this one is adults only with fun and playful flavours is perfect for my friends and me!”

To see where the Ice Cream Bar will be stopping this summer and to try the ice cream for FREE, keep an eye on the Warner Leisure Hotels Facebook and Twitter pages where the next stop will be announced each morning using the hashtag #GrownUpIceCream.

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Warner Leisure Hotels Marks Fundraising Achievement

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Representatives from Warner Leisure Hotels and The Royal British Legion visited Legion-run Battle Back Centre last month to mark the fundraising milestone of £588,567. Teams from Warner and The Royal British Legion presented the cheque to Chris Joynson, Recovery Operations Manager of The Battle Back Centre.

The money raised will help to provide sports and adventurous activities for wounded, sick and injured Service personnel. The activity at the Battle Back Centre, which is part of the MoD’s Defence Recovery Capability programme, promotes self-confidence and improves motivation to aid recovery. The Centre exists to help people achieve their best possible recovery and either return to Service duty or to make a smooth transition to civilian life.

From running the London Marathon, hosting afternoon teas, and holding charity car washes, the grand total of £588,567 was raised by our brilliant team and guests in aid of the Royal British Legion.

During the visit, Neil Harrison, a veteran and former beneficiary of The Battle Back Centre, discussed how his time at Battle Back was a real turning point in his life. It not only greatly improved his quality of life, but also helped his family, who had been so worried about what he had been going through.

Everyone here at Warner is delighted to have raised over half a million pounds for such a good cause. We would like to thank all of the teams and guests for their generosity and input, as without this the great achievement wouldn’t have happened.

For more details on the corporate partnership between Warner Leisure Hotels and The Royal British Legion, visit here.

Get to know our very own Mr. Blobby…

Paul

We are very pleased to announce that Paul Ludlow is our newly appointed Entertainment and Experience Manager at Norton Grange Coastal Village. Since he arrived, we’ve been getting to know him and uncovering all of his hidden secrets. So this is your chance to get to know a little about our Entertainments Manager!

Let us take you back to his youth…

Paul’s family exposed him to the showbiz legends such as; Johnny Mathis, Tom Jones and Frank Sinatra. Paul’s Grandfather was a valued musician and ventriloquist in his day and his Father was a Tom Jones impersonator.  It is clear that Paul’s love for performing was inspired by his family and their love for the Golden Age singers. This steered Paul to study Musical Theatre in Lowestoft, it was here Paul took singing lessons. Paul’s singing teacher taught him the ‘Bel canto’ technique of singing (an Italian, operatic, open throat way to sing which is known to provide clarity, quality and longevity in sound). This technique of singing influenced Paul to sing Mario Lanza, The three Tenors, Sinatra, and Elvis too.

After gaining experience and qualifications in performing arts, Paul pursued a variety of performing careers which included working as a; Redcoat at Butlins, performing a tribute to the music of Robbie Williams in Cyprus and teaching GCSE & A-Level Drama and Media Studies. Paul also played the rehearsal role of the much-loved character Mr. Blobby, from the Noel Edmunds House Party.

Paul and partner Rebecca Christian (band singer at Norton Grange) auditioned at a showcase and were noticed by a producer who places shows in Scarborough Spa Theatre, which is where they worked for 5 years. It was here that Paul worked with well respected artists such as; Jimmy Tarbuck, Stu Francis, and Jimmy Cricket. Throughout the 5 years in Scarborough, Paul starred as Jack and the King, in ‘Jack and The Beanstalk’ and the lead in ‘Aladdin’.

It was after these roles that Paul felt he wanted a role to reflect him and his current time in life. This has led him to us at Norton Grange where he was interviewed and auditioned for Entertainment and Experience Manager.

Paul is currently enjoying supporting and leading his talented team whom he shares his skills from his years within the Entertainment Industry with. Paul, together with his team, work hard to provide a varied programme of events. This includes; an active daytime program, livelier evenings and enhancing the Warner Team Shows to ensure each guest experience an evening full of fun and laughter.

Paul has also been looking at the timing of evening activities and entertainment to allow guests to enjoy dinner without the need to rush into our Mariners Ballroom.  Our guests can also expect to see better use of the Waterfront lounge, enhanced summer terrace parties with fun sporting activities. Guests can also experience a variety of late night entertainment too.

You can look forward to seeing Paul perform his late night Cabaret sets in the Waterfront Lounge, where you hear him sing.

We hope you have enjoyed getting to know our latest addition to our Entertainments Team and we hope that you will visit Norton Grange in the near future to meet him yourself.

Head on down to Thoresby Hall to bath in the ‘Fountain of Youth’ swimming pool with its amazing anti-ageing capabilities!

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An incredible discovery has been made at our Thoresby Hall Hotel, causing hundreds of people to flock to the swimming pool due to the fascinating anti-ageing properties it holds. The game-changing news comes after a member of our site team noticed customers were exiting the pool with smoother skin, less wrinkles and an air of youthfulness to them.

We spoke to Cindy Baker, one of the housekeeping team at Thoresby Hall, and she told us: “At first I thought I was dreaming. I was mopping the pool side when I saw a guest in her mid-fifties entering the pool. Twenty minutes later she came out looking about 20 years younger! Her wrinkles were almost non-existent – I couldn’t believe my eyes.”

Our mystified management team tested the swimming pool water, and made the astonishing discovery that the water had extremely high levels of Retinol in it, a derivative of antioxidant vitamin A. The team is bemused as to its origin, but aren’t complaining, as hundreds of people are booking to stay at the hotel so they can enjoy a dip in what’s being dubbed ‘The Fountain of Youth’.

Thoresby Hall is taking significantly more bookings as a result of the discovery, though some rooms are still available to youth seekers.

Sarah Brown, 58, at Thoresby Hall’s swimming pool:

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Hampshire Cheat Sheet [INFOGRAPHIC]

Situated on the southern coast of England, Hampshire is one of the best places to visit in the UK. With so much to see and do, it’s a popular area with locals and tourists alike. In fact, there’s so much on offer that you’ll find it difficult to squeeze everything into just the one trip. So whether this is your first visit to Hampshire or you’re a regular to the area, we’ve created a cheat sheet to help you tailor your trip to your tastes. From top areas to explore to spectacular gardens and historic houses, as well as local walks and hidden gems, there’s something for everyone.

Discover Hampshire

From retail therapy to award-winning restaurants and stunning countryside, Hampshire really does cater to all tastes. Put your explorer head on and take a trip to Emsworth for a wide selection of local walks. The South Downs offers numerous walking and cycling trails if you want to get lost in the countryside for the day, while New Forest boasts ancient woodland and spectacular heather-coated heaths. Whether you’re looking for a gentle stroll or a day-long hike, you’ll find all this and more in New Forest.

Annual events

Foodies will feel right at home in Hampshire as there’s not only a wide variety of delicious local produce to try, but there are also many food and drink events not to be missed. The Southampton German Beer Festival takes place in May and promises a fabulous night out with all the atmosphere of a traditional German beer festival. Boasting live oompah bands, sizzling sausages and huge steins of ale, it’s a night to remember. The Cheese & Chilli Festival is held in July and offers you a taste explosion of many different cheeses and chilli, along with cooking demonstrations from top chefs. If sport is more your thing, come along to the National Watersports Festival on Hayling Island in September. Featuring three days of windsurfing and paddle boarding, it’s open to people of all ages and experience levels. Go on, try out your skills and impress the crowds!

National Trust and historic houses

Step back in time and marvel at the splendour of Hampshire’s many National Trust properties and historic houses and gardens. Tudor House and Garden is known as Southampton’s most significant historic building, steeped in 800 years of history. Tour the house to learn how each of the rooms looked throughout history and enjoy a cream tea afterwards in the café which looks out onto the spectacular garden. The award-winning Sir Harold Hillier Gardens are famous throughout the county and boast 180 acres of changing seasonal displays to enjoy.

Best kept secrets

Hampshire is home to so many wonderful hidden gems, among which include Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth, the premium retail outlet of the south. Indulge in a spot of retail therapy in more than 90 outlet stores, with discounts of up to 60 per cent. When you’re all shopped out, there’s a choice of more than 30 bars, coffee shops and restaurants in which to relax and have a bite to eat. If cars interest you, head to Beaulieu National Motor Museum to see a fantastic display of history’s greatest cars, including those featured on Top Gear and in the James Bond films.

Local walks

If you’d rather explore the area on foot, there are many local walks to enjoy. From gentle strolls along the harbour to longer trail walks, there’s something for everyone. The Billy Trail takes you along the west coast of Hayling Island for five miles while there are stunning views of the Isle of Wight from the Queen Elizabeth Country Park route.

For more information about what to do in Hampshire, check out our cheat sheet infographic. Book a stay at our Lakeside Coastal Village or Sinah Warren Hotel (on Hayling Island) to explore Hampshire for yourself.

Warner Leisure Hotels - Hampshire Cheat Sheet

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<img src=”https://warnerleisurehotelsblog.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/warner-leisure-hotels-hampshire-cheat-sheet.jpg” width=”440″>
<p>Hampshire Cheat Sheet– An infographic by the team at <a href=”https://blog.warnerleisurehotels.co.uk/“>Warner Leisure Hotels</a></p>

Walking with Warner

Isle of Wight Walking Festival 2013

Ahh, beautiful spring walks… aren’t they a dream? Are you partial to a short ramble in the likes of the serene, sleepy Somerset village of Kingsdon? Or you might prefer to make your way over nine miles of luscious English landscape, where you’ll be treated to dramatic views over Nidderdale from Guise Cliff. Whatever you fancy, at Warner, we have it all.

Warner is all about choice and the walks surrounding our locations are no different. Steeped in history, the walking routes have so much to offer you or your party. The beauty of wandering around a Warner Hotel is that we have worked hard with our partners at various tourist boards to ensure our suggested routes can be embarked on by all Warner guests!

The Isle of Wight is a unique area with a range of jaunts that can be boosted by the islands’ mini microclimate. As one of the most southerly parts of the UK, the Isle of Wight offers a milder climate than most other areas in the UK. Further to the perk of T-shirt weather, the island offers a unique geological landscape which caters for some beautiful landscapes with just about every soil and rock type in the south of England in evidence – great for a holiday snap! It’s almost essential to take a gentle stroll along some of island’s quietest lanes whilst sampling the charming coastal views and unique wildlife. And just think of that thirst-quenching tipple at the end…

If woodland is more your style, then Thoresby Hall may float your boat. With walks that allow guests to enjoy a gentle 6 mile walk through woods and across heathland to uncover inspiring views over a lake and a chapel, Thoresby Hall could be just the break that you’re after.

If you’re seeking a slightly tougher challenge whilst staying with us then Nidd Hall may be best for you. Tackling an 11 mile route to the summit of Yorkshire’s second highest dale, Ingleborough, will reward you with the stunning scenery of the gorge of Trow Gill and Gaping Gill as well as the famous Ribblehead Viaduct on the Settle – Carlisle railway line.

Or why not join in in the festival fun at this year’s Suffolk Walking Festival running throughout the spring? This year is Suffolk’s Year of Walking and Warner’s Corton Coastal Village and Gunton Hall could be the perfect venues to put your feet up after striding across the terrain.

Take a look at our Country and Coastal walks page and see if you’re tempted to tackle walking with Warner!

Warner Leisure Hotels is voted the UK’s favourite!

Travel Weekly Globe Travel Awards 2016.Travel Weekly Globe Travel Awards 2016. Photo by Steve Dunlop.

We are very proud to announce that we won not one, but two, awards at the prestigious Globe Travel Awards 2016. Our wins were for Favourite UK Operator and Best UK Hotel Chain.

The awards, hosted by Dame Edna Everage and presented by television personality Piers Morgan, were held on Thursday 14 January 2016 at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London to celebrate the travel industry.

The Favourite UK Operator award is voted for by readers of the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Mail Online making our award even more special as it was voted for by our guests. We were up against major hotel chains for the Best UK Hotel Chain but the UK travel agents who judged the category thought we were the most deserving of the honour

Piers Morgan presented the awards to our Sales & Marketing Director, Mat Finch, who added:

“We are thrilled to be so highly recognised in the travel industry with these awards and would like to thank our guests who voted for us as well as our site staff who work hard to deliver impeccable service and create a memorable experience to every guest.”

Travel Weekly Globe Travel Awards 2016.Best UK Hotel Chain. Sponsor Covermore Insurance. Warner Leisure Hotels. Dame Edna Everage. Warner Leisure Hotels. Lucy Huxley, Travel Weekly. Travel Weekly Globe Travel Awards 2016. Photo by Steve Dunlop.

Somerset Cheat Sheet [INFOGRAPHIC]

Somerset is one of our favourite areas of the UK – with so much to see and do, and not forgetting the wide range of delicious local food and drink, visitors to the area are spoiled for choice. In fact, you’ll probably need to return again and again to see even half of what’s available. Whether it’s your first time in Somerset or you’re a regular here, we’ve compiled a cheat sheet to help you easily discover its hidden gems. From top areas of interest to stunning gardens, best kept secrets to not-to-be-missed annual events, there’s something to suit all tastes.

Explore Somerset

Somerset is comprised of many bustling areas, all offering plenty to tourists and residents alike. So whether you fancy a relaxing spa day in Bath, a spot of retail therapy in Taunton or a day exploring the countryside in Glastonbury, there’s something for everyone. Be sure to pay a visit to Cheddar, home to Cheddar Gorge where the famous cheese is still matured today. Fancy a daytrip to the seaside? Then head to Weston-Super-Mare for traditional seaside fun.

Events not-to-be-missed

There’s always something going on in Somerset so if you’re in the area, be sure to consult our list of annual events. From the Yeovil Beer Festival in April to Glastonbury Festival in June; Taunton Flower Show in August to the Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival every November, finding a new event is easy.

Glorious gardens

The green-fingered among you will appreciate the many spectacular gardens of Somerset. From the official Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) partner garden, The Walled Gardens of Cannington, in Bridgwater to the historic gardens of Hestercombe in Taunton, Somerset gardens are truly a sight to behold.

Where to eat

With so many local delicacies to try, knowing where to eat can be tricky – but it doesn’t have to be. Book a table at any of our recommended restaurants and be assured of top-quality, award-winning food every time. Whether you’re looking to romance a loved one or simply want a bite to eat en-route to somewhere, we’ve got you covered.

Best kept secrets

Take a trip to the Perry’s Cider orchard and factory to learn all about how this popular Somerset drink is made – don’t forget to buy a few bottles before you leave. If you’re a fan of shopping, head to Clarks Village Factory Outlet Store to save money on well-known brands including Lakeland, M&S, and of course Clarks. Fans of the TV series Broadchurch will love a visit to the seaside village of West Bay – see how much you recognise from the show.

For more information about what’s on offer in Somerset, check out our cheat sheet infographic below. If Somerset appeals to you, why not book a stay at our Cricket St. Thomas Hotel and explore the area for yourself.

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<img src=”https://warnerleisurehotelsblog.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/warner-leisure-hotels-somerset-cheat-sheet.jpg” width=”440″>
<p>Somerset Cheat Sheet– An infographic by the team at <a href=”https://blog.warnerleisurehotels.co.uk/“>Warner Leisure Hotels</a></p>