Late Availability

After a really busy Whitsun, we have some cottage availability now on very competitive terms – why not pick some good weather forecasts and come and stay for a week or a few days? For example, our biggest cottage can sleep eight (plus one) and is only £875 the week and that’s all inclusive of everything! A couple can come away for a week for only £525! As a special offer to readers too, I am willing to give you an extra 20% discount for any bookings which start in the next week – owzat! Just mention this eshot when booking – full payment is needed up front of course. Meantime, enjoy this picture of Lee Bay, our closest bay at just under three miles, from last Saturday.

Special Summer Party – Saturday 20 August 7.15 for 7.30pm

We are having a mid-summer bash! So, come and join us and let’s see if we can have a really successful mid-season celebration!

On 20 August we are organising a special, higher quality barbeque. You are all and we hope to host the event outside, using our new ‘pavilion’ for entertainment. Yes, there will also be live musical entertainment throughout the evening as well!

If the weather is against us, or if you should feel the cold or the music interrupts gentle conversation, we can always retire inside and so that is no problem. The bar will be open, the wine list available and indeed, you can even stay-over if you wish to relax and enjoy the facilities or not worry about a drive home. The music is yet to be finalised but is likely to include classical background upon arrival, a nice singer mid-way through and a rather more modern band later in the evening.

The price is £25 a head and includes a contribution towards the music, delicious canapés upon arrival, a lovely range of ‘proper’ grilled food (including vegetarian options though numbers for that would be appreciated please) and a sweet. I should hope that with the right recipe, it will be an evening to remember.

Tickets are on sale now and as numbers are likely to be limited, please do not delay booking yours.

Dress code will be smart casual. Looking forward to seeing you soon!

I should add that we have a bus stop right at the top of our Lane on the A361 and buses run pretty late. We are a third-of-a-mile down the Lane. So, that could provide a cheap and convenient transport to members and I suspect a few of you qualify for a Bus Pass too… :-)

Woolacombe and District Magazine

I am pleased to commend the latest edition of Woolacombe and Mortehoe Voice to you – a fine magazine available here:-

News Again!

I made the Guardian last week… participating in a debate on the European Referendum of all things and being noted by a journalist (Daniel Boffey, the Observer’s Policy Editor) who was in the area at the time. The context here is of course this pretty little North Devon village of Appledore mentioned!

So the French have caught-up with Well, I hope they have – and indeed that we shall follow! A chunky tax charge of this online travel agency is being pursued – and all success to the French authorities in creating precedent for other internet companies to be caught for their fair dues and not a pittance – or nothing at all despite operating in the countries where they have made their billions.

Review ET AL – Trip Advisor

We really do have some wonderful people coming to stay with us and it is a pleasure to meet them. The vast majority of our guests is delightful but it seems the nature of this business is that for one reason or another, there are more and more people who believe they have a right to expect more than you are offering or/and at the price which is advertised – or indeed that if they have made a mistake with their reservation in terms of what they expected or wanted, that they are entitled to complain and I suppose at the heart of it is some form of financial incentive to them not to ‘blackmail’ the establishment as a consequence.

All of us in the trade suffer – I was chatting to a leading local hotelier the other week and he was sharing his latest issue of having to eject a wedding lady who was rather the worse for wear with drink and he suffered a hail of verbal abuse and complaints… yes, it really does happen.

There is also a growing list of those types of people who perceive they are aficionados of the hospitality trade. They believe they have a duty to inspect and adjudge critically each and every establishment they visit and of course to destroy it on ‘TripAdvisor’ by use of vindictive vitriol which they implant from the cosy comfort of their home where the delightful people relish writing their embellished recollections of their stay – more often of not the purpose for their stay in the first place! They may be accustomed to plastique modernism and leave a 1:5 review for a characterful old property as it is not ‘new’. Or as we enjoyed the other day, a ‘Terrible’ rating from someone who has never set foot in the property and with whom no-one here has ever seen nor spoken. I mean, is that fair? Yes, of course opportunity on these review sites exists but the comment is in smaller font and the search facilities enables browsers to check by category and it still impacts rankings on those wonderful sites.

The other week we had a Restaurant guest couple. I wasn’t here but it was noted to me afterwards that they were trouble even before they had sat down – the young chef could sense there would be issues. Of course they enjoyed their fare and the plates were licked clean but there was a complaint about the wine (which I tried upon my return and it was fine) and whilst we shall say quietly, in an intimidating way they left. When we returned the next day, we rang to try to apologise that their experience was not as they should have wished and to discuss the matter but curiously their mobile telephone failed to pick-up and they didn’t respond to messages left. Then of course, the TripAdvisor review appeared and so rather than a conciliatory discussion we had anticipated, it is like a red rag to a bull. I failed to note that they left without paying anything like the fair sum for their meal and drinks (which I am sure a sensible chat would have excused) so after a week of rudeness in ignoring us, a call to the home telephone elicited a reply and a ‘partner’ was clearly not too happy with her ‘partner’s behaviour. An email appeared almost without delay and lo! After various exchanges and silly comments from the man, a reflection of the position resulted in the outstanding balance credited to our Bank account and hopefully some lessons learnt. These are the sort of people for whom we need a ‘Customer TripAdvisor’ and to show photographs and names and give our reviews of their behaviour for the trade to consider before accepting them as customers. After all, we don’t give permission for TripAdvisor so when they go into a public place they are giving their permission for their profiles to be used just like we have no choice eh!

I am reminded of a local much-travelled and dined wise sage’s comments that establishments exist to try to help guests enjoy themselves. They are not there to anger or disappoint you but really, if that is your attitude, you had best not go out. If you expect perfection to your expectations in all respects, then you will never fail to be disappointed. That’s no excuse for poor service or fare, don’t get me wrong but if you have an attitude of relaxed expectation of an enjoyable time, you may well find that hey, you actually enjoy yourself much more.

We do see all types and sometimes you wonder what sort of lives certain people live if their priority is rushing home to leave the nasty review on beloved ‘TripAdvisor’. We had the retired hoteliers (well that is what they said) but they were some of the most demanding and difficult guests we have ever had whereas logic would say they understood the pressures of the job and would be more accommodating (but of course I expect their place was perfect all the time and for everyone…). Trouble is, you then look at their relationship and you think to yourself you can work-out why they take things out on ‘others’ sadly. It doesn’t please us to note in an odd TripAdvisor response that the complainant looked like they sucked lemons for a pastime! Ouch – that’s another reason why I’d clearly fail the test in ‘hospitality management bible for dealing with difficult people’.

As I say though, we meet some great people and their comments are repeated on these eshots and on the website. Unfortunately, it is a human trait that a good time doesn’t usually result in a review on the TripAdvisor site however encouraged but the nasty person makes sure they find time to do so of course. The figures could even be as many as 100:1 – happy customers v unhappy ones leaving a comment, possibly even 1000:1 in fact. That’s what makes TripAdvisor such an inequitable medium and why it should be regulated in some form. I recall a wedding last year here which went really well in every respect and the two Mums left lovely comments but guess what - not a single comment from any of the other 150 or so guests. This isn’t a complaint or opportunity for embarrassment for any of them but just stating a fact.

So, I have decided that it is time to try to see if I can ‘go viral’ as I did so successfully with a comment rubbishing the Government’s financial projections on BBC Question time on 21 April with some replies to the nasty and negative reviews on TripAdvisor. Well, all our happy customers and us know we’re a great place to dine and stay so what do we have to lose eh! Give me a little while to compose myself and then enjoy some unbelievable entertainment on our TripAdvisor site.All of us in the trade suffer – I was chatting to a leading local hotelier the other week and he was sharing his latest issue of having to eject a wedding lady who was rather the worse for wear with drink and he suffered a hail of verbal abuse and complaints… yes, it really does happen.

Business Breakfast at Trimstone Manor Country House Hotel

Thursdays, 7.15am, we discuss business topics. Open to all and only £9, please ring 01271 862841 or email. Those in business or retired are welcome for business themed breakfasts including learning and counselling. It’s VAT and Tax deductible.  We finish at 9.00am, to ensure your day isn’t interrupted.

If you exercise fifteen minutes every day by the year end you will feel healthier and fitter. If you invest your time in the Business Breakfast, by the end of the year your business will be stronger too, with improved sales, efficiency and costs saved. Why not try – but beware, its habit forming! If you are a Hotel guest, you can attend without extra charge! I mean, apart from sleeping, what else are you doing at 7.15am on a Thursday!

Our very best wishes

Philip & Helen Milton