Warner Leisure Hotels Marks Fundraising Achievement

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…

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

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

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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<p>Somerset Cheat Sheet– An infographic by the team at <a href=”https://blog.warnerleisurehotels.co.uk/“>Warner Leisure Hotels</a></p>

North Wessex Downs Cheat Sheet [INFOGRAPHIC]

With the spectacular North Wessex Downs right on your doorstep, our Littlecote House Hotel is the perfect base from which to discover this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Whether you’re new to the area or you’re a regular guest at our hotel, there’s so much to see and do, you’ll find yourself spoiled for choice. Looking for something different to do on your next trip? We’ve compiled the North Wessex Downs cheat sheet, packed with information about the top 10 areas, must-see National Trust properties and historic houses, haunted areas, best kept secrets and annual events.

The North Wessex Downs Cheat Sheet

 

Get out and explore

With so many stunning areas to discover, you may find yourself coming back again and again just to see them all. For awe-inspiring architecture, head to Marlborough, Andover and Oxford. If you’re a fan of sports, Lambourn is a famous horse racing village, while Newbury plays host to the prestigious Hennessy Gold Cup. Or maybe you want to indulge in a spot of retail therapy? Then head over to Hungerford where there are antique shops a plenty.

Walk back in time

In addition to its spectacular natural beauty, the North Wessex Downs is also home to a large selection of National Trust properties and historic houses, just waiting to be explored. Steeped in history and culture, some of these properties date back as far as the 1500s such as Avebury Manor built on the site of a former priory. Others you may recognise from popular television shows such as Downton Abbey, parts of which were filmed at Basildon Park and Highclere Castle.

Between you and us…

Can you keep a secret? We’ve uncovered some of the area’s hidden gems if you want to head off the beaten track. For guests staying at Littlecote House Hotel, discovering the Orpheus Mosaic is a must. Dating back to Roman times, it’s situated in the hotel grounds. Have you spotted one of the eight chalk white horses on the hillside of Wiltshire? They make impressive photo opportunities.

Haunted North Wessex

If you’re a fan of the supernatural, you may just spot one or two ghosts during your visit. Our Littlecote House Hotel is home to 32 ghosts. Take a trip to Avebury Manor and look up into the south window where you may see the ghost of the former owner, Sir John Stawell. Walk through Savernake Forest and see if you see the ghost of a headless woman, riding on a horse through the forest.

While you’re here…

With so much going on, there’s always an event happening in the North Wessex Downs. If you’re visiting in July, be sure to head to the Marlborough Jazz Festival which plays host to many international jazz artists. Sports fans will not want to miss the Hennessy Gold Cup which takes place in November.

For more information about Littlecote House Hotel and the North Wessex Downs, get in touch and book your stay today.

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<img src=”https://warnerleisurehotelsblog.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/warnerhotels_nwd_infograph_v2.jpg?” width=”680″><p>North Wessex Downs Cheat Sheet– An infographic by the team at <a href=”https://blog.warnerleisurehotels.co.uk/“>Warner Leisure Hotels</a></p>

The Music of Bond [INFOGRAPHIC]

WarnerLeisure_TheMusicOfBond

Daniel Craig returned to cinema screens as the iconic and world-famous spy James Bond in new film ‘Spectre’ last week. If you haven’t already seen it, you’re in for a real edge-of-your-seat treat – and if you have, you’ve probably already booked tickets to see it again!

To celebrate the release of the latest 007 film, Warner Leisure Hotels is playing host to The Music of Bond – an entire night’s show devoted to the theme tunes of all of your favourite Bond films, brought to you by The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra and special guest vocalists. Sit back, relax and enjoy incredible live performances featuring music from ‘Diamonds Are Forever’, ‘Goldeneye’, ‘Casino Royale’ and many more. Bond lovers are not going to want to miss this.

But before you start humming along to your favourite Bond tunes, here are 15 little-known stories behind them. Get together with a friend and test each other to see how many you know.

  1. Sam Smith is the first British male solo artist to record a Bond theme tune since Tom Jones’ 1965 ‘Thunderball’.
  1. The James Bond theme tune was originally intended to be used on stage, in musical ‘A House for Mr. Biswas’. When it wasn’t used, composer Monty Norman added electric guitars to make it into the Bond theme we know today.
  1. The first Bond song to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 was Duran Duran’s ‘A View to a Kill’ in 1985.
  1. Two Shirley Bassey songs feature in the Top 10 list of most popular James Bond themes: ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ and ‘Goldfinger’.
  1. Madonna’s 2002 Bond theme ‘Die Another Day’ reached spot #8 in the UK Top 10 list. Since then, ‘Skyfall’ by Adele (#2), and Sam Smith’s ‘Writing’s on the Wall’ (the first Bond #1) are the only other Bond songs to make the list.
  1. Adele recorded ‘Skyfall’ with a 77-piece orchestra.
  1. ‘Writing’s on the Wall’ is the 24th James Bond theme tune.
  1. Madonna was the only Bond theme singer to be given a cameo role in the film, playing fencing instructor Verity in 2002’s ‘Die Another Day’.
  1. Bono and The Edge co-wrote the 1995 ‘Golden Eye’ theme tune, sung by Tina Turner.
  1. Weird Al Yankovic wrote a parody to Paul McCartney’s ‘Live and Let Die’ called ‘Chicken Pot Pie’.
  1. ‘Live and Let Die’ is the only Bond song to feature a kazoo.
  1. Johnny Cash wrote a track for the 1965 Bond film ‘Thunderball’ but it was rejected in favour of John Barry’s song.
  1. Tom Jones fainted in the recording studio while singing ‘Thunderball’ after having to hold the final syllable for too long.
  1. Kate Bush was originally asked to write and sing the theme tune for ‘Moonraker’ but she declined so Shirley Bassey took her place.
  1. The Beach Boys’ song ‘Pet Sounds’ was originally titled ‘Run James Run’ in the hopes of becoming a Bond theme tune.

If you loved these facts, check out our ultimate guide to The Music of Bond infographic, which features everything you need to know about James Bond film music, from the iconic James Bond Theme in Dr No, to the latest Sam Smith hit ‘Writing’s On The Wall’.

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.