Nina’s new blog is now part of the Hotel TerraVina website and we are currently changing it over. Therefore, we would be delighted if you would read Nina’s latest blog at:
At the moment it will look a little different than usual, however this is only a temporary measure so please bear with us as we complete the transition!
Thank you for visiting the blog!
With Christmas now much nearer and the countdown soon to begin, the TerraVina team have been excitedly mentioning decorating the halls with boughs of holly, Tra La La La La etc…… however, whilst I personally love the excitement of decorating and making the hotel look lovely for the festive season, I don’t enjoy the commercialism of it all and I try to resist decorating too early and I boycott tinsel all together. However, that said, I have actually already Christmas decorated the hotel’s public rooms twice over this year, once in August and then again in October for two different photo shoots, so by the time I actually unpack the baubles for a third time this year, the excitement of unwrapping them all will have waned slightly.
This year, inadvertently, I have caused enormous controversy amongst the team. Following two years of Christmas tree disasters…. One year all the needles fell off the tree after only a week of being in situ and the replacement tree (which should have been at least 6ft) arrived at just over 3ft nothing… we had to build a leaning tower of wine boxes to elevate it to a respectable height and then last year, I “adopted” a tree (again it was supposed to be tall, bushy and lovely, but was instead no taller than me- 5ft, and not very impressive if I’m being completely honest- the tree not me!) which arrived rooted in a pot, with feeding and watering instructions. I delegated the watering to Pearl, our fantastic “breakfast gem” and she did a brilliant job of covering herself in pine needles every morning until the tree was completely bald by New Year’s Eve. Thus the tree was sent back to be replanted in the forest but it looked very sad and sorrowful- unsurprisingly the company I adopted it from have not contacted me this year to ask if I would like to borrow it again.
So…… and this is where the rift has been caused, I bravely decided to go against tradition and have unreal trees this year, but thinking it would be better to be upfront and proud of the fact- in fact make a statement about them, I have ordered white ones (but I actually wanted bright orange or lime green but wasn’t able to source either colour)… however the teams’ reaction has been mixed. Some people (Pearl) are relieved as she has been let off watering duties, but others, (Laura, our head sommelier) are very unimpressed and instead of feeling like Mummy Christmas I have been cast as Ebenezer Scrooge instead!
However, I am up for the challenge and I am determined to convince all those in the team who are unhappy with white Christmas trees that they can look just as beautiful if decorated well… in fact my new mantra is that it is much better that the real trees stay in the forest and that the ones we have will last for years and are as eco friendly as a fake tree can be…. The jury’s out on if I will win this particular contretemps, but either way the hotel will be decorated by the 2nd week of December and will twinkle and shine in all its usual TerraVina Christmas glory…… thankfully the Secret Santa draw is being organized by the team, what a relief as that’s some controversy I can avoid!
Quick update, since writing this particular blog and it being posted 2 days later, the white trees have arrived and they are lovely….. in fact even Laura is warming to the theme- Result!
Enjoy the Christmas countdown as much as we do. Till next week
This week we have been filming for the TerraVina TV series which will be properly launched in mid January…… we have decided to create a piece of chilled out music, specially composed for us, to accompany the series, which will become the TerraVina signature tune. Clive Watkiss is the composer extraordinaire, he is a very talented musician, composer and all round music maestro who teaches Romané (our son) piano, with great patience it has to be said! Clive will hopefully be composing a couple of different pieces and then we will ask your opinion as to which you prefer and which you all think suits TerraVina’s image best. The current music on the promo blog is equally lovely, in fact it is a Chopin piece, brilliantly played by Alistair Cameron, but we have had some comments that whilst people liked the music it wasn’t the right chilled out, contemporary style of TerraVina, hence a new piece being written as we speak.
As a fellow hotelier recently pointed out, 2010 has certainly been a fantastic year for us. Gerard has won many accolades and recognition for all of his achievements and we are so proud of Laura and Laurent who both recently became Master Sommeliers… another first for TerraVina with us being the only hotel in the UK to have three Master Sommeliers in situ. I have blogged in the past about Gerard’s triumph as a mentor and these further exam successes for two more of his protégées just goes to prove what a fantastic mentor he is…. I have always thought he was special, but this re-affirms the fact that he is indeed very talented at bringing out the best in people and motivating them to personal success.
As a female hotelier and one who has loved working in the hospitality business for the many years that I have, (dare I say over 22 years!!), it is always great to read of other hoteliers success and so it was with tremendous pleasure that Gerard and I read of Andrew Stembridge’s super award of Hotelier of the Year. Andrew is the MD of Chewton Glen Hotel. Chewton Glen is where I started my “proper” hotel career, where I met Gerard, our ex business partner and friend Robin Hutson and where we met two inspiring people Martin and Brigitte Skan who have both been tremendous mentors to Gerard and I throughout our careers. Chewton Glen is a very special place and has the accolade of having nurtured no less than FOUR Hoteliers of the Year…… Martin Skan himself, Robin Hutson, Peter Crome and now Andrew Stembridge… what a roll call of success and I personally am very proud to have been associated with not only the hotel but the people who make it so special- I am the hotelier that I am today because of all that I learned at Chetwon Glen, from the Skans and from Robin all those years ago, it was the most amazing tutorage which I have always greatly appreciated.
Thus well done Laura, Laurent, Andrew and Gerard for being so inspired, inspiring and Bravo on your greatly deserved successes.
We’d just to let you know that we have been celebrating some further fantastic news here at TerraVina…..Both Laura and Laurent, our two fantastic sommeliers have both been successful in passing their Master Sommelier examinations on Friday and Saturday last week.
We are especially proud of them as it is a very hard exam to pass and out of a total of 14 candidates only three were successful. Not only that, but Laurent gained all three parts of the exam, at the very first attempt, which is not the “norm”, as often candidates take one or two attempts to gain all parts of the exam. Thus he has been awarded the Grand Siecle Cup for his results. Laura is only the second ever British, female sommelier since the Court’s creation way back in 1969. Along with all of this, TerraVina is also unique as being the only establishment in the country to have three Master Sommeliers in situ.
Here at TerraVina we are thrilled with both Laura and Laurent’s fantastic achievements but it must be said that this is yet further success to Gerard also, as have both been trained and nurtured by him and this proves yet again that he is a mentor “extraordinaire”.
More details later on as usual but we wanted to share the news with you!
Journalistic scam is scuppered at Hotel TerraVina, with the help of a national magazine and some great detective work by the hotel’s extended team!
If there’s one thing guaranteed to make me really angry it is people who pretend to be what they are not and when they come to stay in the hotel and purport to be a journalist and then behave spectacularly badly, well that really makes me furious!
It has happened only rarely that we have had cause to suspect such fraudulent behaviour, but with the years of experience we have as hoteliers, we can usually smell a rat. On a recent Sunday evening, the team were subjected to scenes of the most obnoxious, rude and appalling behaviour. Unfortunately Gerard and I were not at the hotel as Gerard was in China attending as a guest speaker at the Asian Sommelier summit and I was at home revising for exams…. No not me, (I don’t do study, as I hate exams!) but I was helping Romané revise for his exams and so was not here on Sunday evening, to manage the situation or “protect” the team. However, Sophie, Laura, Ken and the team did handle it as well as they could and Suzi and I dealt with the rest the next morning.
Apparently, as the Sunday evening wore on and the person in question drank more and more, it became very obvious that she was not a journalist as her behaviour was so dreadful. I personally don’t know any journalists who proposition staff, (be they male or female) in exchange for their bill to be “wiped clean” and nor have I met any journalists who question the staff on their salaries, rant and rave at them, state they hate everything about the place and then ask them to be their friend and go out for a drink and at the same time continue to drink themselves silly whilst on an assignment- but the most breathtaking bit of all was that even when I challenged her the next morning, she was still trying to convince everyone that she was working for a very prestigious, very well known and popular up market magazine, even though I told her that I had been in contact with the editor and the NUJ (National Union of Journalists) and he/they knew nothing of her. Now if you are going to try such a scam at least do so cleverly; behave in a professional manner, know the name of the magazine’s editor and check out after your stay. In some places you might well get to have the bill comp’d off, or a discount or what ever it is you are trying to gain. This badly attempted scam was well and truly blown when the credit card was declined, she had no business card, didn’t know who the magazine’s editor was and so of course was unable to do anything more than beat a hasty retreat, once we had insisted on payment by another means.
The whole incident left the team bruised and dazed (it was much more unpleasant than I have written as it’s too distasteful to write about frankly) and I was left spitting feathers at their behaviour in our hotel, the stupidity of her and the cheek to try to pull off such a scam…… There is no excuse for abusive, aggressive behaviour and as such the team would have been quite in their rights to have thrown the imposters out, but inexperience and being too polite to challenge guests meant that they allowed them to stay – if Gerard and I had been here they would have been given short shift and been told to leave, but as it was they got to enjoy a night of Egyptian linen and a great bed. Of course I let the magazine know and the National Union of Journalists and the local Hoteliers Association, so hopefully they won’t be trying that particular scam again in a hurry! My blood pressure was raised skywards for the rest of the day and everyone kept clear of me as I was liable to explode at any moment- I’m still furious even as I write this at the audacity and sheer cheek of them- not to try the scam, but to pull it off so badly- I would have hoped for a more professional caliber of scammer frankly!
Regulars readers of my blog… I’m flattered that you are still reading regularly- Thank you, will remember that about 6 weeks ago I mentioned that we were launching another new concept for Hotel TerraVina and that is, TerraVina TV. I’m not sure about the technicalities of it all, except to say that it will be a short series of glimpses into life at TerraVina, shown on You Tube.
The promo filming is now “in the can” as they say in film circles and has been edited and polished ready for its red carpet debut…… it would be great to receive some feedback, so please do feel free to leave a comment and any thoughts- we are not aiming to break box office viewing figures, but it will be fun for all the team to be involved in the filming of future episodes which is taking place in mid November, ready for airing straight after Christmas in the dim and distant month of January.
Sit back with a glass of wine and enjoy!
Don’t forget to leave us your comments about the clip and tell us what you think and what you would like to see in the series that would really be of interest to you… we have planned such snippets as Laurent making cocktails, Laura and Gerard chatting about being sommeliers, Alan and Neil in a cooking demo and a meet the team piece….. with a few more surprises besides- we think it will be an interesting and fun glimpse behind the scenes and we hope you enjoy watching as much as we are enjoying filming.
Update on Trophies, recently arrived at TerraVina, following on from Gerard’s championship win in Chile in April
When Gerard won the ASI World Championship in Chile in April 2010…he was photographed widely with two magnificent trophies. However, on departure from Chile we had to leave the trophies behind, as we didn’t have sufficient luggage capacity, the volcanic ash crisis had erupted and we subsequently were unsure of how easily we would reach the UK, (not easily at all as it transpired!) and so it was that we bid the trophies farewell and wondered if we would ever see them again….. a month or so later we had word that they had been safely shipped back to France and were back at Moet et Chandon.
On Monday, despite French blockades, petrol shortages and strikes, (ohhhhh the French!!! I can safely say that as I’m married to a Frenchman) we finally received the trophies here at TerraVina – the Moet et Chandon team had bravely and doggedly battled their way through all of the transport problems to bring them to us and in just reward, to enjoy a long awaited celebratory dinner with the most sublime Champagnes, courtesy of Moet et Chandon, delicious food, a charming photographer and a sprinkling of journalists to add to the ambience.
Thank you Jean, Benoit, Stanislas and Martyn- from both the French and UK Moet Team, for organizing such an enjoyable celebration. Thank you too to the journalists who shared the evening with us- a good time was had by all.
Alan, our head chef proposed an exceptional menu of dishes which matched and flattered the Champagnes to perfection and Laura, our head sommelier extraordinaire served the Champagnes with great flair and aplomb – thank you both for helping to make the evening such a memorable one… For Gerard and I, it felt as if we were reliving the excitement of the competition win all over again and I know that Gerard is thrilled to have the trophies here at TerraVina, proudly on display in the open cellar, within the restaurant, for all to see and admire.
Bravo Gerard, you certainly deserve to enjoy your success and we are all thrilled, very proud and have great admiration for all that you have achieved.
p.s Here is the menu and the wines that we enjoyed…. Delicious!
The Grand Moet & Chandon Dinner
To Celebrate Gerard Basset Winning ASI Best Sommelier of the World 2010
Monday 18th of October 2010
At Hotel TerraVina
Champagne Moet & Chandon Imperial Brut NV (Served in Magnum)
Ceviche of Scallops and Langoustine, Peach and Earl Grey Jelly, Pink Grape Fruit Emulsion
Champagne Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage 2002
Hot Smoked Wild Salmon, Fennel Cream and Tempura of Young Fennel, Pernod and Black Pepper Foam
Champagne Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage Collection 1992
Seared Fillet of Beef, Tortllini of Pumpkin, Parmesan Crusted Cep, Crispy Sage and Truffle Jus
Champagne Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage Collection 1975
(Served in Magnum)
Orange Scented of Black Figs, Honey and Rosemary Ice Cream
Champagne Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage Rosé 2002
Coffee and Petits Fours