Meet our new Bodelwyddan Castle Lounge Singer – Vaughan Kennedy

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Vaughan Kennedy is the latest addition to the Bodelwyddan Castle entertainment line-up and is blessed with the rare gift of being a naturally talented concert pianist, songwriter and composer as well as an accomplished lyricist and popular singer.

Coming from a family background of the theatre and theatrical management, the art of entertainment has always been the forte in Vaughan’s busy commercial and musical life.

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During the evening with Vaughan, you will be treated to a delightful selection ranging from Matt Monro, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Andy Williams, Harry Connick Jr and Michael Bublé right up to Robbie Williams, Barry Manilow, Elton John and Stevie Wonder, to name but a few. He will also take your requests throughout his performances.

Amongst his many personal accomplishments, Vaughan won the BBC ‘Children In Need’ Fame Academy Experience, performing one of his own compositions ‘Let’s Take A Chance Again’ with the Scottish Symphony Orchestra in Glasgow.

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In his production capacity at Grosvenor Theatrical Productions, Vaughan has been directly involved in the staging of events such as the opening and launch of Jazz FM (London) and numerous military tattoos, as well as shows and concerts for top international and West End Musical stars, including Manilow, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Ball, Kerry Ellis, Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson and renowned Jazz legends such as Count Basie and Ella Fitzgerald.

Vaughan performs from 7.30pm in the Bodelwyddan Castle Mulberry Lounge and a visit is strongly advised as we are sure you will love his gentle approach and his beautiful music.

Love Blossoms at Gunton Hall

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A chance meeting that has found friendship, companionship and love.

At Warner, we love to hear stories of our hotels being a foundation for new friendships.  But at Gunton, a meeting, that traditionally wouldn’t have taken place, provided the meet cute for two guests.

It was July last year when Michael, a regular guest at Gunton Hall, decided on a whim to extend his normal weekend stay for four more days. As holiday-makers checked out and new ones checked in, he stayed on, hoping for a few more days of holiday bliss. This is when Jean, another regular, started her holiday.

On a sunny summer afternoon, Jean, who hadn’t realised her friend had slipped into the bar, was watching a slideshow in reception chattering away to herself. Just at this moment Michael, found poor Jean talking to a non-existent friend and politely pointed out “I think your friend has popped into the bar!” Jean thanked Michael, and slipped away. Later that evening before watching the evening show, Jean when walking out of Gunton’s Cabaret Bar, bumped straight into Michael! Laughing about their two unusual meetings, they sat down and chatted the whole night away – missing all the entertainment but enjoying each other’s company.

As the holiday came to a close, Michael waved goodbye to Jean but made her promise to keep in touch. Beginning with postcards and then Christmas cards, Michael and Jean kept in contact and decide to meet in January on a break back at Gunton. When Jean’s travelling companion had to leave early, Michael stepped in! Offering to take care of her and bring her home, Jean stayed on and had a wonderful time enjoying her break with Michael.

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Michael, ever the gentleman, ensured flowers were waiting when Jean got home. More flowers arrived on Valentines in February and in March, they decided to have another holiday at Warners. This one was to be truly special! Whilst indulging in a little retail therapy, Michael got down on one knee and popped the question to Jean! She happily said yes and found the perfect ring to cement their love!

Why Gunton Hall? They both say the same – they feel the staff at Gunton are an extension of their own family. From the arrival with Martyn the porter who always greets Jean with a smile – even in the pouring rain to Anna the entertainment manager and the hard work she puts into making everyone’s break so special. Jean, having mobility and medical issues, always feels cared for and catered to on site. They both know that once they arrive on site, all their troubles are behind them at their home from home.

As we at Warner, eagerly await a wedding date, Jean and Michael have been inundated with offers of bridesmaids, ushers and page boys from their family at Gunton Hall, all wanting to be part of the couple’s big day!

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Small Activities Make a BIG Difference…


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At this time of year our wish lists are longer than usual; lose half a stone, walk 5000 steps a day, get more sleep, eat healthier etc. But these resolutions don’t usually last longer than a week. So our Leisure Team here at Norton Grange are sharing their top 10 tips to make 2015 your healthiest year yet with just some small lifestyle adjustments:

  1. Check with your doctor: If you have any existing health conditions or you’ve been inactive for a long time, you should to consult your GP before you start to do any form of exercise or change your diet in any way.
  2. Walking: It’s underrated as a form of exercise but walking is ideal for people of all ages and fitness levels who want to be more active. The easiest way to walk more is to make walking a habit; think of ways to include walking into your daily routine.
  3. Muscle strengthening activities: simple tasks like carrying or moving heavy loads such as groceries. Activities that involve stepping and jumping or even heavy gardening, such as digging or shoveling can help to maintain the integrity of your bones, and improve your balance, coordination, and mobility. In addition, strength training can help reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic diseases including arthritis.
  4. Breaking up long periods of sitting: this applies to everyone as too much sitting has now been recognised as a risk factor for ill health. Taking an active break from sitting every 30 minutes is highly recommended.
  5. Maintaining a healthy bodyweight: as we get older, it is common for our appetite to get smaller and we may not feel like eating. If you are underweight and your appetite has decreased, it’s still important to get all the energy and nutrients that your body needs.
  6. Water: to stay healthy, it’s important to replace the fluid we lose throughout the day. Drinking between 1.6 and 2 litres a day will keep you hydrated.
  7. Improving your balance and co-ordination: this can help prevent falls and stumbles through aerobic activities such as Why not participate in our daily Do You Warner Dance workshops?
  8. Diet: making healthy food swaps such as switching from whole milk to semi-skimmed or skimmed; replacing white breads with whole grain varieties and using your grill when cooking meat instead of a frying pan can add up to make a large overall difference to your diet.
  9. Limit your alcohol intake: recent reports are recommending the reduction of the average alcohol intake for people over 65. In part, this is due to physical changes as the body ages that make alcohol harder deal with. The current recommended alcohol limits are a maximum of four units a day for men and three units for women.
  10. Stay Positive! The next time you’re feeling down, stressed or anxious, get off the sofa and participate in something active, because you’ll not only feel more confident, energized, and calm — you’ll be a healthier and happier person for life.

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Top 10 Gardening Tips for Autumn

We’d like to introduce you to Sue-Marie, our new Head of Grounds & Maintenance at Bodelwyddan Castle. Sue-Marie joined the Warner team just 6 weeks ago and has already made a big impression by introducing some all year round colour to the T.H Mawson four seasons garden originally built in 1910!

Sue-Marie has worked in the horticultural industry for 19 years on a range of large private estates and historic house gardens.

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Sue-Marie mentions that “In the short time I have been here, I walk around the castle site and it never ceases to amaze me how exciting and beautiful a day at this office can be.”

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We are extremely pleased to have Sue-Marie on board and as a treat for our blog subscribers she shares with us her top 10 gardening tips for Autumn!

Top Ten Autumn Tips

  1. Get the best from your Winter bedding containers by including fresh compost and plenty of slow release fertilizer.
  2. Include as many colours and foliage textures as you like to your pots and baskets so even when the weather is grim you’ll still have some colour.
  3. Collect those pesky leaves and pop in a loin bag, leave for the Winter, by Spring you will have some rich leaves to add to your borders.
  4. Sit back and enjoy some Autumn sunshine with its blaze of rich Brown, Reds and Yellows in our Autumn garden.
  5. Scarify the lawns to prevent thatch build up.
  6. Plant bulbs for Spring colour now but if your garden is susceptible to squirrels then roll your bulbs in chilli powder before planting as it masks the smell of the fresh bulbs which are tasty treats to them
  7. Sterilize and clean your bird feeders before putting out with lush treats for the little garden beauties.
  8. Bring in tender plants such as Dahlia, and Begonias. If they require storage over Winter then remove soil and dust with Sulphur powder and for extra cut fungal properties pop them in vermiculite.
  9. Clean all Summer baskets, pots etc. With outdoor disinfectant. Wash your greenhouse windows. Nooks and crannies too. Helpful hint to get rid of the Green algae between paynes of glass soak with disinfectant and scrap the algae with a plastic plant label for a clean finish every time.
  10. Sit down after you’ve completed 1-9 and just enjoy the garden in its splendour.

The Royal British Legion Tea Dance Event – Littlecote House Hotel

To help launch The Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal 2014 and to celebrate Warner raising a huge £300,000 for this deserving cause we hosted a traditional tea dance and cheque handover ceremony in the Long Gallery at Littlecote House Hotel.

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Every element of the day went down an absolute storm with our guests who told us continually what a great time they were having!

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The day kicked off with afternoon tea in the Long Gallery and what a cream tea it was! The chefs and waiting team really did us proud with a fantastic selection of sandwiches, scones and the most delicious petit fours! It was then time for the dancing, with our guests hitting the dance floor in true Warner style as soon as the music started!

Led by the fabulous Dan Kent and the Littlecote Entertainment team the guests then waved their flags, clapped their hands and sung at the top of their voices during the 1940’s sing-a-long! Despite song sheets being provided the guests knew every word to old favourites such as We’ll meet again and Wish me luck (as you wave me goodbye), but really came into their own during the finale sing off! With half the group singing Pack up your troubles and the other half It’s a long way to Tipperary, the guests battled it to be the best (and loudest) team! The winners were definitely too close to call but a great time was had by all!

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We would like to say thank you to Bianca and Amy from The Royal British Legion that got stuck in making tea and chatting to the guests throughout the event….absolute stars! Lastly we would like to thank all our guests that attended who dug deep and donated to this fantastic cause on the day!

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It’s National Desserts Day…..Hurrah!

Here at Warner there’s nothing we like better to round of our dinner than a scrumptious dessert! Toffee pudding, roly polys and souffle’s….we love them all!

In celebration of National Desserts Day (any excuse!) we want to give you all a sneak peek into our fantastic new desserts menu that will offer not one, not two, not even three….but a whopping 15 desserts EVERY evening! Oh we do spoil you!

Tempting Treats will offer a mixture of hot and cold dishes with everything from exciting new desserts like the Belgian chocolate and caramel bomb….designed to tickle the taste buds to our old favourite the humble crumble….

Fancy trying something new?! How about a peanut butter cheesecake or even a rather boozy chocolate and Pernod terrine? Yet for those with less of a sweet tooth…never fear the trusty cheeseboard is still on the menu!

Looking forward to hearing what you all think!

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Exclusive Interview with Russell Watson

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The fabulous Russell Watson has been confirmed for a further three dates at Warner Leisure Hotels around the UK in 2015! To celebrate we grabbed some time with Russell to find out a bit more about this incredible singer….

What’s your earliest memory?

Falling into a rose bush at Mum and Dad’s when I was 2 years old – needlessness to say, I don’t go near unattended rose bushes anymore!

When did you first know you had a talent?

From when I used to sing in my bedroom to myself, along to the likes of Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, The Beatles and Sir Cliff Richard. I thought everyone was able to emulate famous voices, I assumed everyone could do impersonations. I then discovered later in life that it wasn’t normal and I had a gift.

Tell us about working in a factory making nuts and bolt

It was the single most mind numbing job devised for a human being. I struggled to concentrate on anything for more than 3 seconds. The clue was in the name of the company, ‘Sabre Repetition’. I used to take my guitar with me on night shifts. At 3am, dinner time, I’d play and sing tunes to the lads.

What has been your favourite gig of all time?

That’s a difficult one to answer; I’ve some done some amazing things. Opening the Common Wealth Games in 2002 was pretty good, singing for the Pope was amazing and singing for the President is right up there too! If my hand was forced, I would have to say singing in the Vatican.

Favourite song of all time?

It changes with time; it depends on how I’m feeling. From the fans point of you it would be ‘Nessun Dorma’.

If you could duet with anyone, who would it be?

Whitney Houston. That would have been amazing.

How was it winning 4 Classical Brit Awards?

They were really proud moments. Each one felt equally rewarding and special.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you? 

Don’t take life for granted. You’re alive, living and breathing. There’re a lot of people out there who’re a lot worse off than you. Enjoy the gifts you have been given.

Why do you like to perform at Warner?

The proximity of the venues. You’re right on top of the audience. I probably enjoy the Warner gigs more than the bigger venues! With smaller venues you get a better connection with the audience, and I’m all about the connection.

What draws you to gig at Warner time and time again?

I love the intimacy of the Warner shows. I can be completely spontaneous and take requests; I would not be able to do this in front of an orchestra.

You are a patron of many charities, what does this mean to you?

Since my illness [Russell overcame two near-fatal brain tumours] my charity work has become much more meaningful. I’ve a stronger affinity with how it affects people’s lives.

 So, what’s next for you?

I’ve just finished touring hard, 20 odd dates around the UK. Ticket sales were so good, we are going to do another 15 dates this Christmas!

What would your superpower be? 

 Flight!  I’d love to fly – I’m fascinated by birds. We’ve a huge bird table with fruit and seeds on it to attract them. I’d love to be up there and have that endless feeling of being able to jump off a cliff.

So, what kind of bird would you be?

An Eagle . . . as opposed to a Sparrow.

Tell us a secret

I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone again next year at Sinah Warren!

What’s happening on Instagram?

Here at Warner, we love updating our guests on what is happening at our 13 different locations. We set up an Instagram account back in Summer 2014, and have since been uploading pictures daily. We love to show off what is new and exciting and as well as documenting the daily life of the hotels. Here is a selection of pictures from our Instagram account that we think capture Warner Leisure Hotels, in their best light!

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A beautiful September evening on the Isle of Wight! This picture was taken by our team at Norton Grange Coastal Village who met a couple of our guests whilst on an evening stroll. The couple commented that Norton Grange may as well be in Greece – it is just that beautiful!

Below you can see a photo taken at Littlecote House Hotel in Berkshire. This picture shows one of our guests, Mr Hooper from Surrey, enjoying a spot of archery – just one of the many activities on offer at our locations.

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Gunton Swimming

Gunton Hall’s swimming pool, pictured above, is the largest one in all of the Warner locations. It is an indoor, heated pool so perfect for a relaxing swim!

At Warner we pride ourselves on our top quality entertainment. Uploaded to Instagram in August is a picture, below, of our truly amazing entertainment team at Alvaston Hall Hotel in Cheshire. Teams at every location work extremely hard every evening to produce shows of a wide variety – from Welcome Party Shows to snippets of musicals from the West End and performances with music from the 50s, 60s and 70s!

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Holme Lacy

Our hotels are always hand-picked with care. We love to offer locations to our guests that are beautiful to look at, as you can see from the pictures of Holme Lacy House Hotel in Herefordshire (above) and Cricket St Thomas Hotel, Somerset (below).

Some of our hotels are steeped in history; Holme Lacy boasts a royal past with links to King Charles I, William Pitt the Elder and Queen Victoria’s daughter Princess Beatrice who marked a memorable visit by planting a tree. Whilst Cricket St Thomas, built in c1820, was acquired by Alexander Hood, who was to assume second-in-command of the Channel fleet during the Napoleonic Wars.

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Thoresby beach

You never know what you are going to find at our locations across England and Wales. At our property in Nottinghamshire, Thoresby Hall Hotel, has recently added a beach to their country location! Seven lorry loads of Norfolk sand, deck chairs and a beach hut were drafted in to give guests at Thoresby an authentic seaside feeling.

At Norton Grange Coastal Village, our brand new herb garden is full of all different types of plants. The latest addition is our curry plants, growing in popularity, which are sweet, spicy and flowery all at once!

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Lakeside outside
We put a lot of effort into the aesthetics of our hotels at Warner, as you can see from the above picture of the outside area of Lakeside Coastal Village, Hayling Island. Outdoor seating areas are perfect for sunny days and you can even enjoy a game of giant checkers! Our plants and gardens are well-looked after at all of our locations, with a dedicated team helping to make sure the surrounding areas are beautiful.

Photos are uploaded daily to our Instagram account, which you can access here. Whether it’s to see the newest additions to our team members, sneak peeks at our delicious food, a brand new activity on offer or just to see how beautiful our locations are, make sure you follow us so you can be kept updated on the activities at all of our sites!

Warner Teams go to Dizzying Heights for the Royal British Legion

As a proud supporter of the Royal British Legion, here at Warner Leisure Hotels we encourage our teams to get involved in as many fundraising activities as possible….and haven’t they done us proud?! In the last two months alone our fabulous teams from Warner Hotels around the UK have raised a huge £5736 for this very deserving cause, a fantastic achievement for all those involved!

The challenges so far have definitely had an ‘at height’ theme to them with the Team from Nidd Hall kicking things off by climbing Mt. Olympus – the highest mountain in Cyprus which stands a whopping 1,952 metres tall! Despite a severe snow storm hampering their efforts forcing them to retreat on their first try; they battled on to reach the summit on the second day of their trek.

 

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Next up to face an incredible mountain trek was the dedicated team from Bembridge Coast who climbed not one, not two, but three mountains in under 24 hours (23 hours and 58 minutes to be precise!) Again not all went to plan with the team having to take a 50 mile detour between Ben Nevis and Scafell Pike due to the closure of a main road. But they kept on pushing finally running the last 2 miles to finish the 3-peaks challenge within the time limit reaching the summit of Snowdon with just 2 minutes to spare…..amazing effort!

 

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Last but by no means least we have team Bodelwyddan Castle who flew through the welsh countryside on the highest zipwire in Europe! Harnessed it in to what can only be described as a bright red cocoon the team sped down the wire at speeds of up to 100mph…what a ride! The team loved every minute of their high-flying challenge and are geared up for the next feat!

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It goes without saying that our teams really pushed themselves out of their comfort zones to complete these challenges, but it was the support of all the people that kindly donated to the cause that really made these adventures worthwhile!

So on behalf of Warner Leisure Hotels we’d like to say a huge thank you to all those that donated!

But the question is….what challenge is next?!

Calling all Gardeners! Win a break at one of our fantastic Coastal Villages!

Here at Warner we take great pride in maintaining the gorgeous gardens at our 13 UK properties enlisting the help of a fantastic team of extremely talented gardeners to ensure our gardens are kept pristine for our guests enjoyment!

We also know that many of our you; are fabulous guests, are green fingered yourselves producing beautifully designed gardens, and we want to see them!

Calling all gardeners! We are offering you the chance to win a fantastic midweek break at one of our lovely coastal villages!

To be in with a chance of winning this great prize simply submit a photograph of your creatively decorated garden to be in with a chance of winning!

Please find details of how to enter here:

http://www.warnerleisurehotels.co.uk/introductory-offers/fb-comp.aspx

We can’t wait to see your very own gorgeous gardens!