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November update: The Tudor Farmhouse – Christmas

26 November 2009
November update: The Tudor Farmhouse – Christmas

The Tudor Farmhouse doesn't do much in the way of Christmas parties, as the layout of the hotel doesn't lend itself to entertaining. However, December is always a relatively busy month as they benefit from the weddings taking place at the Castle next door.

Hari says: "Despite the recession, etc, we haven't done anything differently this year - apart from the fact that we are not advertising in local papers. In the past it has always been a waste of money as it's very expensive and doesn't seem to bring in many bookings. We tend to do small groups looking for good food."

They'll be putting their Christmas party menus online in the next few days, and they've already taken part in the Forest Food Fair to increase their local profile. They've also printed leaflets with details of their festive offers.

The hotel shuts from Christmas Eve to 27 December to give the staff a break, and bookings for New Year's Eve are already looking good.

"New Year's Eve bookings in the restaurant are up on last year - with most of them being from the Monmouth area, which is a market we have been keen to crack," Hari says.

They do insist on a minimum of a two-night stay over New Year, as previously the hotel had been filled up with wedding guests who used the bedrooms but not the restaurant - leaving the Fells with a virtually empty restaurant on New Year's Eve.

"This year we've priced the deal so that people will eat dinner with us and not just have B&B," Hari explains.

While both Hari and Colin will be working on New Year, the workload is balanced for other staff so that they all get a break. They also have a staff party on the first or second Sunday in January and plan to give vouchers as gifts to each member of the team as a thank-you for all their hard work.

Hari says: "Christmas for us isn't especially different from any other month - apart from the fact that we actually close for three days."

Mentor Robin Hutson applauds the Fells for the self-awareness they apply to the business. "As ever, they are aware of the issues, their marketplace and their position in it," he says. "I agree with their strategy of not trying to force a big old Christmas because the size and scale of the business makes it difficult to do anything other than a nice quiet Christmas.

NOVEMBER UPDATE

Recession, what recession? October proved to be the second-busiest month ever for Tudor Farmhouse and the bookings for November and December are extremely strong. The hotel has also been awarded a Taste of the West silver award in recognition of its use of local produce.

Colin has added a few more "top end" wines and Hari has started selling some Tudor Farmhouse related items, including a range based around the hotel's cats Wallace and Gromit. "The cats now feature on our do not disturb signs and we have door stops and paper weights, too. I will be selling them at our village Christmas shopping night in aid of the local school," Hari says.

In keeping with the charitable nature of Christmas, over the next month the whole team is getting behind Operation Christmas Child - where each department fills a shoebox for a child. "Colin and I are doing this, too, and we're all having great fun doing it. We will make this an annual event from now on, so many thanks to Kath - one of our chefs - for the idea," Hari says.

Hutson added: "Given their limited resources they do very well to keep up with that amount of marketing activity. It's not like they've got a marketing department or a team of people doing it for them, so it's all on top of their shifts and day-to-day work."

Looking to the new year, the Fells are planning refurbishments of some bathrooms during January and Hari's mum has also been busy making new throws for the rooms, which they are slowly updating.

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