Special events

Sustainable Tourism in the Lake District

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It’s our world, it’s our responsibility to look after it.

That’s always been our philosophy, and we know that as hoteliers we are in a strong position to set a good example.

That’s why we invited a group of travel writers to join us here to look at some of the issues around sustainable tourism.

It was just serendipity that, one week before the event, we were awarded the Sustainable Hotel of the Year title at the Hotel Cateys - the Oscars of the hospitality world. So we had a very smart new trophy to show our guests.

It was also serendipity that our forum coincided with the opening of the UN summit on climate change in Katowice, Poland, so we were able to keep tabs on THEIR debates…and hope that, via social media, they were aware of what we were doing.

We invited Gill Haigh, the managing director of Cumbria Tourism, to talk about how the Lake District is working towards moving visitors around the area – and to the area – more sustainably. The figures are encouraging; more visitors are making fewer car journeys around the Lakes.

She was joined by Sarah Swindley of the Lake District Foundation, the charity which looks after the environment, and helps fix the fells, through visitor-giving programmes. Here at the Cedar Manor we’ve raised more than £15,000 towards this in recent years.

The bigger picture was painted by Andrea Nicholas of Green Tourism UK who talked about how businesses generally CAN change to operate in a greener way, and that travel decisions in the UK ARE getting greener.

The keynote presentations came from two of our local activists who really are DOING something to try and save the environment.

Ashley Cooper is the award-winning photographer who spent 13 years travelling around the entire world documenting the impact of climate change. His book, Global Warming Images, doesn’t warn us what might happen if we don’t act soon. It shows, graphically and brutally, what HAS ALREADY happened. Deforestation, homes and even islands lost to flooding, the melting of the ice fields, Ashley has seen them all and photographed them all, and his images shocked our audience of hardened travel writers and academics.

But he does point to those actions – big and small – which are having an impact. Our Walney off-shore windfarm, for example, the world’s largest; and the solar panels on his own roof at home. Along with his own favourite, the world’s first solar-powered crematorium in India! And he tackles the myths about renewable energy: “For every pound the world's governments spend on subsidising renewable energy, they spend six pounds on fossil fuels."

Our other keynote speaker was Kate Rawles, known as Carbon Cycle Kate, the adventurer who has just travelled the length of South America on her home-made bamboo bicycle: “The world’s first home grown bike”.  Kate’s travels are not self indulgent. She travels frugally, and while enjoying her adventures, she was studying the impact of the loss of biodiversity, and believes that if we all go out there and have adventures in wild places, we will understand all the better why change is essential.

And her journeys have a low carbon impact; she travelled by freight ship, before beginning her epic cycle ride. Our current relationship with nature and biodiversity is completely dysfunctional, says Kate. “Pollution, mining and intensive agriculture all have a deeply harmful effects in nature. The Inca at Macchu Picchu valued seeds more highly than gold.”

Our guests, influential travel writers, bloggers and academics who were with us to hear all this, spent the rest of the evening taking the conversation further.

The next day they tested our local sustainable transport: a ride on the Mountain Goat bus, and a sail with Windermere Lake Cruises. All just on our doorstep.

At Cedar Manor we will help you find your way about on foot and by public transport.  We know where to hire electric bikes too.  We will publish another blog soon telling you about our Green journey and how we can all do our bit to help.

We all have to DO something. We will keep on reminding you all. It’s a wonderful, beautiful world, and no one else will take care of it for us.

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The Best Pre-Christmas Festivities in the Lake District

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Let there be light

The best pre-Christmas festivities in the Lake District

The Winter Droving is a magical festival in Penrith that celebrates all things rural, traditional and fun. The event highlight is a torch lit procession through the town featuring fire, lanterns, masquerade and music and mayhem.

The event is a celebration of Penrith and its age old role as the market place for the local area, a place where for centuries livestock and produce has been brought for sale. There’s live music and street performers across five stages, a vintage funfair, the local food and craft market, and a Dog Fancy Dress Competition.

The Winter Droving ends with the spectacular torch and lantern procession. Want to be part of it?  Register to carry a fire torch (over 16 year olds only) or wear a mask and join in the procession. http://www.winterdroving.uk/

A day-long festival bringing light into the winter darkness, with Christmas cruises across the head of Windermere, the arrival of Father Christmas to switch on the town’s lights, and a huge parade, at dusk, when hundreds of home-made Chinese paper lanterns are carried through the town centre.

Tickets for the cruises are ONLY available from F.W.Tyson (The Mephisto Shop), Market Place Ambleside, but can be ordered by post. From noon there are stalls and music in the Market Cross and Market Place areas of the town. Mince pies and mulled wine are on sale.

The lantern parade assembles near the White Platts mini-golf centre at the foot of Compston Road at 4pm. The festival ends with a firework display in Rothay Park at 5.30.

http://www.amblesidechristmaslights.co.uk/

The centre of Ulverston is no place for Ebeneezer Scrooge when the entire market town goes back to the Dickensian era for a weekend of joy and generosity. Along with the town’s cosy cafes and pubs, independent shops and the Christmas lights switch on, there’s the chance to get dressed up in Victoria costume, ride a Victorian Helter- Skelter, and listen to a brass band playing carols. Street food stalls sell roast chestnuts and there’s a hog roast. Lots of free entertainment and music, and there might be an appearance by Queen Victoria and Mr Bumble as well as Father Christmas.

http://www.ulverstoncouncil.org.uk/events/month.php?month=11

The entire centre of this small village is taken over for one of the best Christmas fairs in the country, with stalls all along the village streets and indoor markets as well. Lots of crafts and gifts, and a big emphasis on locally-produced street food and drink; with a mini beer festival in village pubs. There’s also a lantern parade, live music and streets performances, including circus acts, and of course Santa is in his grotto. https://www.facebook.com/hawksheadchristmasfair/

Family entertainment in and around the town centre, with Victorian costumes, a nativity scene, the arrival or Santa and Mrs Claus in a reindeer-drawn sleigh, a children’s fun fair, live music and dance performances.  Lots of charity stalls selling a selection of Christmas homemade crafts, produce, festive food and drink.  The day ends with a traditional carol service. https://www.keswick.org/whats-on/festivals/keswick-victorian-fayre

Formerly known as Windermere Christmas Market, this is a family friendly event on the streets of the town with market stalls, crafts and gifts, street food, singers and performers. There will be snow cannons, Santa’s Grotto, live music and a shuttle bus provided for the event running from Windermere Lake Cruises Pier 1 in Bowness.

http://windermerechristmas.co.uk/

  1. Penrith Winter Droving, Saturday October 27.
  2. Ambleside lights and lantern parade, Saturday November 17.
  3. Ulverston Dickensian Festival, Saturday and Sunday, November 24/25
  4. Hawkshead village Christmas fair, Saturday and Sunday Dec 1/ 2
  5. Keswick Victorian Fayre, Sunday  December 2.
  6. Windermere Christmas Celebration Saturday and Sunday December 8/9.
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How to celebrate zero waste week

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We all know that it’s just not sustainable any longer to be a throwaway society, and here in the Lakes we’re especially aware of the need to look after our precious and very beautiful environment.

That’s why we will be celebrating Zero Waste Week, (September 3-7),  a grassroots campaign raising awareness of the environmental impact of waste and empowering participants to reduce waste.

It’s been happening for ten years, thanks to the efforts of Rachelle Strauss, founder of MyZeroWaste.com and ZeroWasteWeek.co.uk. Both are leading websites for helping householders and business reduce landfill waste.

We are passionate here about recycling and other green initiatives, and you might recall that we were awarded with the accolade of best small hotel, national and international, for our sustainable efforts, by the Considerate Hoteliers organisation. We know it’s possible to run a luxury hotel on environmentally-friendly principles.

So you, our guests, might be interested to know what goes on behind the scenes here when we are planning for your visits. You’ll know that we ask you to switch off lights that you’re not using, and you will see in your room that we provide fresh Lake District water in our own glass bottles.

You might also notice that all plastic bottles have gone, and plastic straws too.  Paper, biodegradable  straws are now being used, and we reprocess our water bottles using the Eco Pure Water filter system, which reduces recycling waste too.

Our currently waste to landfill is approximately 33% of what is collected weekly.  We’re constantly reducing this by composting food waste in our hot-bin, so food waste - which is already minimal - should take this figure down by another 5%. We no longer use centrefeed paper in the kitchen for cleaning; all chefs are now using J cloths and tea towels which we wash in house.

As we are a small hotel with just 10 rooms and 22 covers in the restaurant we are able to manage food waste very effectively.  Our team of chefs prepare food freshly for diners, and portion sizes are monitored very carefully so that we see minimal “scrapings” coming back on the plate from guests.

We do have to nag at our food suppliers, though,  and ask them very firmly to consider how they package what they deliver to us. Our environmental considerations should be theirs as well.

But there’s one area close to Caroline’s heart particularly. She loves clothes. And there seems to be always another occasion on the horizon when she MUST have a new dress (it’s your fault we keeping winning awards, and need to go to glitzy award ceremonies!) So now she’s thinking carefully about what to do with her old clothes. Charity shops locally come top of the list, along with dress agencies.

And if you have clothes you no longer want or need, then it is possible to recycle them without contributing to the millions of tonnes of fabrics that end up in landfill. Many charities organise kerbside recycling, so you’re helping them as well as having a clear out. And if you sell old clothes on ebay, remember you can always nominate to contribute a percentage of your fee to a named charity.

It’s just a question of changing habits. We might not manage it perfectly, but with determination we can make zero waste week a real success – every week.

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Taking Direct Action

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Taking direct action

We know that our guests like the personal touch here at Cedar Manor. You tell us so, and sometimes the comments you make have us blushing with pride.

Sometimes it’s just the little things, like this from recent visitors: There was the warmest welcome from Jonathan walking us through the Coach House Suite and then from Caroline who, after realising my wife was having trouble with her voice,  made up a herbal tea for her before the evening meal and again at breakfast the following morning.

Then there’s the little personal touches which all our guests appreciate: The chocolates and personal letter of greeting were a lovely touch.

You regularly mention the helpfulness of our staff team, and Jonathan’s local knowledge which helps you make the most of your visit to the Lakes.

So we want you to appreciate the personal touch right from the very start of your holiday planning, by booking directly with us, rather than through an online travel agent.

We know that these sites are very useful for general research. As travel expert and writer Simon Calder, “the man who pays his way” says on his website http://www.simoncalder.co.uk/

“Twenty-first-century travellers are privileged to be able to see much of the world in greater safety and at a lower cost than any previous generation. The travel industry provides more choice and better value than ever.”

Yes, more choice than ever indeed. And while third-party booking sites can be a useful starting point for researching what hotels are available in certain destinations and at what price points, that's the extent to which they should be used. Reserving directly with a hotel is the safest and best bet for reasons ranging from receiving special treatment to direct recourse should something go wrong.

So please, before you go ahead and book online, just pick up the phone and give us a call. If you’ve been before, you’ll know how approachable we are. If you’ve not, just check some of the comments on Tripadvisor. Comments such as:  From the first moment we arrived it was obvious that this hotel was run by the owners with passion and pride. This is sadly so rare in today’s hotel business nothing was too much trouble for them.

And even more specifically: We had to change our plans and Jonathan and Caroline were so helpful and accommodating. We booked direct with the hotel and got the best deal with the flexibility to change.

All the travel experts will now advise that the best room, rate, service and stay come right from booking with the hotel directly. There’s the issue of accountability: when the reservation relationship is between the guest and the hotel only, it's clean and easy because there are only two parties involved: the customer and the business. When a third party booking site gets involved is when things can get messy.

Things don’t get messy here, because we have just ten rooms, including our Coach House suite, and we always know who’s staying where. It’s a general principle which you should take on board for booking all your holidays, but as we said before, particularly here. We will welcome your call, we can talk you through the best times to come, the room that might suit you best, and we will certainly give you a better deal than booking through an OTA.

Try it…we know that you will be convinced. And as a recent guest said: We do prefer smaller boutique hotels and this one certainly delivered. Don't change a thing, it's perfect!

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Backgammon in the Lake District

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Champion Graeme takes the honours in Lakes backgammon final

Newcastle’s Graeme Turner took the honours in the fifth annual Lake District Backgammon Championship at Windermere’s Cedar Manor Hotel.

Turner became the first two time champion after beating Newcastle’s Martin Barkwill (also from Newcastle) 7-1 in the final.  He was also the winner of the inaugural contest in 2014.

The Lakes event is staged by the Cedar Manor Hotel, with the backing of the UK Backgammon Federation and the British Isles Backgammon Association. It brought together 16 of the most experienced and award-winning players from across the UK.

One of the world’s oldest board games, combining skill and chance, backgammon is played in cafés across the Mediterranean and in the most exclusive of London clubs, with world championships staged in exotic locations.

The championship is organised by Cedar Manor owner Jonathan Kaye whose dream is to see backgammon established as part of the café culture of the Lake District, and he hosts a regular local backgammon club.

“We are now recognised as one of the major tournaments on the UK calendar,” he said.

“But while we attract the top players, we also welcome people of all abilities at our regular monthly club event. We will be very pleased to hear from any local players who want to take part.”

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Read all about it.

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As Oscar Wilde reminded us, there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.

Most of our guests do their talking these days on social media, and we are more than happy that they are talking about us, and being very kind indeed.

Occasionally, though, it’s good to be noticed by the traditional media, the journalists who are often experts in their field and whose judgement is based on broad experience.

We were excited to host the Sky News anchor Kay Burley who came to stay when she was reliving childhood memories of the Lake District. She and her family had an action packed visit in spite of the weather and she wrote a very positive feature for the Daily Mail http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-5340087/Kay-Burley-rediscovers-magnificent-Lake-District.html

Her visit followed that of globe-trotting travel writer Anthea Gerrie who writes for the highly influential website TripReporter, a site exclusively for award-winning professional travel writers. Anthea stayed here on her way to Kentucky to do some whisky-tasting, but fell for the Lakeland gin in our bar, and also fell in love with our food.

She wrote: “A chilled horseradish and cucumber gazpacho with a dollop of super-fresh crab salad was one of the best dishes this reviewer has tasted anywhere in the world this year.”

You can read her full report here: https://tripreporter.co.uk/cedar-manor/

Thanks to the longevity of online journalism, we’re still getting visitors here who read the Daily Telegraph article by Stephen McClarence a couple of years ago. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/europe/united-kingdom/england/cumbria/lake-district/hotels/cedar-manor-hotel---restaurant/ He called the Cedar Manor “unostentatiously luxurious” and paid us some very nice compliments: “The Kayes live at Cedar Manor themselves and are engagingly hands-on, welcoming guests with easy good humour. They're full of helpful suggestions about places to visit and are backed by friendly, attentive staff.”

Regional magazines come here regularly. Cumbria Life columnist Steven Doherty, a chef and restaurant consultant, said we were “doing something truly special” when we were awarded one of the industry’s top accolades, the AA’s Red Star Inspectors’ Choice.

And Mike Glover, writing in Lancashire Life, said that Cedar Manor is “the perfect combination for a couple who crave total escape from the pressures of the 21st century, without surrendering any of its most indulgent luxuries and comforts.” The man sure has a way with words!

We also loved reading about ourselves in a report by the Charming Small Hotels organisation, http://www.charmingsmallhotels.co.uk/britain-and-ireland-lake-district-and-region/p315916-cedar-manor.html

So it’s been a good start to 2018; we picked up a lovely trophy at the Cumbria Family Business Awards for best small leisure and tourism business. So that’s what the experts think. Now YOU have to come and see for yourselves.

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Cumbria Family Business Awards

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It’s always gratifying to win awards, to be recognised by our guests, or by the industry leaders – or both – for the efforts we make to ensure our guests have the best possible experience.

But there’s something rather special about our most recent accolade – best small hotel in the Cumbria Family Business awards.

Many businesses here in Cumbria are family run, and at the star-studded presentation night at The Garden of Eden we found ourselves surrounded by colleagues in hospitality, by some of our suppliers, and by other crucial businesses who keep the wheels turning for us all.

We were surprised and delighted to win. We’re just a small “family” unit, after all…..just Caroline and I, with some significant behind the scenes assistance from my parents. (We always hope that the younger generation will want to join in and eventually take over, but one is currently living and working away, and the other is an aspiring actress!)

But there’s a genuine family atmosphere here at Cedar Manor, as our guests will confirm. We are a family which welcomes visitors into our family home, which we have created into the most luxurious small hotel in the entire Lake District. We want guests to come here for a total escape, luxury holiday or break but at the same time to feel comfortable and “at home”. So we treat them with the care and respect accorded to our own family. We’re particularly proud of the attention to detail in our customer service which is regularly singled out for comment by our guests. This is also our home, so we can make the warmth of welcome a genuine one. The same applies to all our staff who become very much a part of the “family” here.

And as our guests know, we apply family values, a warm family welcome, without losing any of the professionalism which tourists to the area expect and deserve. So next time you come to stay, have a look at our latest trophy. In a lovely example of serendipity, it’s a glass piece, made by the fantastic artist Jo Vincent, who also created the chandelier in our welcome lounge.

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I'm dreaming of a White Easter

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I’m dreaming of a white Easter….

There’s something very divisive about snow. You either love the white stuff, or you hate it.

Here in the Lakes, we’re surrounded by adventurers who long for the big freeze. They want snow, in big quantities, that thaws a bit then freezes again, repeatedly, for the best climbing conditions.

Or they want the added piquancy of walking or running over territory once-familiar that changes beyond all recognition when the snow falls.

Then there are others who’d rather hibernate until the spring. Only this time, we got the worst of the winter on the first day of spring.

It has been a rather long winter here in the Lakes, for sure. We even had a heavy snowfall just a couple of days after Christmas, which is relatively unusual. The seasons seem to be changing, with milder autumns and mild early-winter, with the coldest temperatures hitting in February.

What’s certain is that there’s nothing you can do about it! Going with the flow, taking to sledges or even skis, is the wiser option – unless you really would prefer to curl up in front of the fire with a book or a boxed set.

We do have the best of all worlds here at Cedar Manor. Our garden has looked like a winter wonderland, as this photo shows, but the road outside was kept open through all the “bad” weather. Guests could get here, and could then choose to head out for adventures…or stay cosy inside.

Not so lucky were friends in the north of Cumbria who were house-bound for several days, in the villages around Fellside, South Stainmore and Alston. In fact, the Royal Marines had to fly in by helicopter on a mercy mission, taking food, fuel, medicines and electrical heating appliances as many residents were said to be burning furniture to keep warm.

We’re going to run a poll on social media to find out how many of you like to see snow. But I don’t think there’ll be many dreaming of a white Easter.

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Backgammon

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The annual Lake District backgammon championship will be staged in April at Windermere’s Cedar Manor Hotel. And the contest has attracted some of the UK’s top players who have already signed up to play.

The Lakes event is being staged for the fifth time, with the backing of the UK Backgammon Federation and the British Isles Backgammon Association.

One of the world’s oldest board games, combining skill and chance, backgammon is played in cafés across the Mediterranean and in the most exclusive of London clubs, with world championships staged in exotic locations.

Last year the contest attracted 16 top players from around Britain. The winner was Bradford’s Steve Lee who claimed victory after a final 7-3 win over Pol Lapidakis from Newcastle.

The championship is organised by Cedar Manor owner Jonathan Kaye who learned to play backgammon when he was manager of Raffles nightclub in London. His dream is to see backgammon established as part of the café culture of the Lake District, as it is in Mediterranean countries, and he hosts a regular local backgammon club.

“We are now recognised as one of the major tournaments on the UK calendar,” he said.

“But while we attract the top players, we also welcome people of all abilities. We’ve had some great surprise results in the past, and we will be very pleased to hear from any local players who want to take part.”

The winner gets a cash prize and a voucher to stay at the hotel.

Anyone interested in taking part should ring 015394 43192. The championship will be held on Sunday April 8.

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Aim high: the best new year resolutions

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So how many did you keep THIS year? Resolutions, that is. Did you aim too high or did you just lose enthusiasm …by mid January?

Well the new year is THE time to do it, and so we want to inspire you, challenge you, and maybe even meet you along the way in 2018. Here’s our ten (yes, ten. Somebody will be ticking them off).

1: Go greener still. We were very moved by our neighbour Ashley Cooper’s book, Images from a Warming Planet, and though we’re very proud of our sustainable credentials, we can all do better. Take a look at his website Global Warming Images; we aim to recycle even more.

2: Shop locally. Again, this is something we do regularly, but there’s no excuses here now that we have amazing Christmas markets in Windermere, the monthly Farmers’ Market in Grasmere, and so much terrific local produce available. Our favourite? Cowmire Hall Damson Gin.

3: Run off all the calories after eating and drinking Cumbria’s finest. Jonathan would love to beat his personal best (2:09) at the Coniston half marathon, and after saying “never again” Caroline’s thinking about another full marathon.

4: Slow down occasionally and walk with our eyes open. You can miss so much of the local landscape if you rush… and if you do the same, favourite routes. We aim to seek out some different places, inspired by David Banning’s fascinating book An A-Z of Cumbria and the Lake District on Film. From Swallows and Amazons to Star Wars, you can seek out some 60 different locations. (Are you still counting, Caroline?)

5: On the subject of film, we must make sure we watch the most controversial movie of the new year…Peter Rabbit! We love James Corden but what will Beatrix Potter fans think? We’ll see it at Zeffirellis and maybe call in at one of their free live jazz sessions. 

6: We will definitely get to the theatre more in 2018. Our amazing Theatre by the Lake in Keswick had a stunning year, and we can’t wait for the new season, especiall Olivier-nominated actress Elizabeth Mansfield in the one-woman Hymn to Love, a homage to Edith Piaf. And they’ve already announced next year’s Christmas show: Beauty and the Beast

7: And we will definitely support our local Old Laundry Theatre. This one looks a winner: award-winning comedy theatre company New Old Friends have a touring production of Crimes Under the Sun (Friday 9 & Saturday 10 March). It’s a riotous comedy thriller, directed by James Farrell (39 Steps, West End Associate Director), inspired by Agatha Christie’s Evil Under the Sun.  If you’re staying with us, ask about an early dinner before the theatre. 

8: Did someone say dinner? We have an amazing chef here and the new year promises some exciting new recipes. Only we’re keeping them under wraps for now; you’ll have to book a table to find out just how good they are.

9: A short escape from the Lakes? Jonathan is desperate to return to the higher mountain ranges and maybe, if Caroline gives him time off he will get to Morocco for a weeks trekking in the Atlas Mountains summiting Toubkal, the highest mountain in North Africa.

10: And inspired by the Lakes…Caroline wants to get to her art classes again more regularly. There’s some lovely work by local artists here at Cedar Manor. Call in and have a look.

And above all, have a very happy new year!

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