Following Robin Hutson's latest visit to the Tudor Farmhouse, the "big, new idea", as he puts it, is to "really go large on the concept of local provenance". The concept began with co-owner Hari Fell's idea of starting a kitchen garden, and the theme has now spread to the drinks offer.
Hutson says: "We're having a real focus on local produce and provenance and it's going to run as a thread throughout the hotel. There are some very interesting local beverages including beer, cider, perry and wine that they're going to use much more in the hotel."
They're also going to create a cocktail using local produce and are looking at everything they source down to the jam on the breakfast table to make sure it's relevant.
Hutson adds: "It opens up all sorts of things, and Hari can blog on the website about sourcing and visits to local vineyards. It's a really nice local hook to what they do."
Following on from Colin Fell's visit to Terra Vina, the wine list has now been rewritten and the quality of wines offered improved. However, Colin adds: "Our pricing has remained very competitive so we are offering much better choice at great value for money."
He is also in the process of organising a wine evening which will be hosted by Fingal Rock, a Burgundy specialist from Monmouth who specialises in finding great wines direct from smaller producers and has been helping the Fells to add some top-end bins to their list. Hutson adds: "The Fells have had considerable success in improving cost control of food and have added £12,000 to bottom line, so they've decided to do the same thing with drinks, including a proper monthly stock take."
Clearwell, Gloucestershire GL16 8JS 01594 833046http://www.tudorfarmhousehotel.co.uk" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">www.tudorfarmhousehotel.co.uk
FIRST CHOICE COFFEE ON THE TUDOR FARMHOUSE HOTEL
The Tudor Farmhouse Hotel previously offered its customers just filter coffee, but since Aimee Hughes installed the Tiger machine a couple of months ago, coffee sales have increased by 25%, just through lunch and dinner sales.
"I put this growth down to variety. I'm much more likely to order a cappuccino rather than a black coffee and the same is true of our customers," says co-owner Hari Fell.
Hughes comments, "This is a fantastic first step and over the next few months, we'll be looking at maximising coffee sales. Speciality coffee menus will be introduced to each of the hotel bedrooms to communicate the offer and encourage sales outside meal times and a coffee and cake deal will be added to create additional selling opportunities.
"Choosing the right coffee equipment for your operation can be daunting but we've worked with our partners, as we do with all our customers, to make sure we've installed equipment that's suited to the style of their operation. The Tudor Farmhouse hotel has an automatic Tiger machine, which delivers freshly brewed coffee at the touch of a button, meaning that any member of staff, whatever the time of day or night, can serve a cup of coffee.
"At the WildWood, the Victoria Arduino Leva requires a bit more interaction from the staff but provides the theatre that the customer has come to expect from the promotional work that has been done around the offer. Our automatic and semi-automatic Black&White equipment is designed for high volume outlets and would suit a large hotel of 50 or more rooms."
The Fells made the most of the recent heatwave by embracing mentor Robin Hutson's "no rules" ethos and allowing guests to choose to eat outside in the grounds if they preferred.
They've also made some other changes to simplify things for guests including reducing the number of room categories to Attic, Barn, Garden or Character rooms and suites.
Rates have also been streamlined into weekend and weekday rates, as opposed to the old high/low season tariffs. Colin explains: "It was really a process of simplification for customers and ourselves."
The PR drive is also beginning to bear fruit, and there are numerous press visits booked and a couple of pieces have already appeared in print. The couple are also taking up Hutson's advice of "pressing the flesh", which Colin adds, "they are doing with gusto."
Hari is cautiously optimistic about her new blog: "I'm on my second blog now! So far, so good, but I am considering buying a Dummies Guide to Blogging." You can read it on the Tudor Farmhouse website.
Although bookings still remain sluggish over the summer period, the Fells have recognised that people are booking later.