Special events

Backgammon in the Lake District


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.


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


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


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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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


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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A face-lift for a Gorgeous Room


As our guests know, we have just ten rooms here, and all of them are very distinctive and differently designed. Though all are equally luxurious.

We never sit back, though, and assume that a well-loved room will look as good next season. We’ve been working our way through the hotel on a continuing programme of decoration and refurbishment, and these last few weeks we’ve had the builders into one of our own favourites.

Favourite? Well, the Windermere Room is named after our local lake. Yes, England’s biggest and most popular lake, but it’s “ours”, it’s just a few minutes’ walk from the hotel, and you can see it from some of our windows.

The Windermere is one of our larger rooms, and is in the older part of the building. We think it was originally the master bedroom of the house, with some stained glass and a window seat looking down on the front lawn and out towards the magnificent Cedar Tree that gives its name to the hotel.

The builders are an entertaining bunch, working for local firm Tony Dixon Builders. They’ve even been posting photos of their lunches and snacks on social media when they’ve had leftovers from our haute-cuisine kitchen. No wonder they enjoy working here.

We believe in supporting local businesses and the local economy. Our furniture is all hand-crafted at Lakeland Fells just down the road at the other end of the town. And of course all our designing is done by the inspired and talented Alison Tordoff at Fidget Design who never fails to come up with something new and exciting.

We hope you’ll be impressed. Browse a few photos of how Windermere is looking or check out ALL our rooms. We know you’ll find one that you love.

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Cedar Manor Wins Cumbria in Bloom


Here at the Cedar Manor our garden is dominated by the magnificent tree after which the building was named.

Underneath its branches we’ve created a lovely patio seating area, edged by a lawn which we do our best to keep in perfect condition.

The rest of the garden isn’t big, but we know that small can be beautiful, and we are very proud indeed to accept another award, from the Cumbria In Bloom organisation.

Caroline, and our gardener Kate Wright, have been working very hard over the last few years, and in 2015 we were highly commended. Last year we shared the honours with the Lakeside Hotel, but at last, this year we are outright winners of the Jackie Sanderson Trophy for the best hotel garden.

Caroline says of Kate: “She has done all the work, and has spent years preparing our gardens to reach this standard. We work on the designs together, and it’s such a rewarding thing to do.”

Cumbria in Bloom is a charitable organisation whose aim is the promotion, improvement and understanding of horticulture, floriculture and environmental issues for the benefit of the inhabitants of Cumbria. It is part of RHS Britain in Bloom scheme.

More than 100 entries were received in the various categories including the town, villages, tourism business, schools and hotels competitions.

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Jonathan's turn for a Run!


Jonathan takes on the running challenge

A Windermere hotelier has taken up a charity running challenge after his wife raised thousands of pounds doing the London Marathon.

Jonathan Kaye of the award-winning Cedar Manor Hotel is to take part in the Great North Run next month to help the Rosemere Cancer Foundation.

Rosemere is the hotel’s chosen charity of the year, and Jonathan and his wife Caroline have already raised some money for them with a raffle. Caroline has run two London Marathons for charity in recent years, which inspired Jonathan to start training seriously, after a series of injuries.

He completed the Langdale Christmas Pudding 10k in 52 minutes, and managed to continue training injury-free, running his first half marathon, the Coniston trail race, in June in 2.09.

Caroline has raised money for the Calvert Trust and Lupus UK with her marathon efforts. “I wanted to see if I could run a big race,” said Jonathan. “Caroline is a serious runner and has been training for years, but I’ve just been running for the fun of it till now – and getting some injuries along the way.

“But I’ve had a good summer, helped by my personal trainer Helen Westmoreland-Nicholson, and now it’s my turn to make the starting line.”

The Rosemere Cancer Foundation funds local cancer research, supporting world class cancer treatment throughout Lancashire and South Cumbria. They work in partnership with local clinical staff to achieve the best possible care for cancer patients in the region wherever they are treated.

Said Caroline:  “Jonathan has been really supportive when I’ve been running for charity so I’m really pleased that it’s his turn now.”

If you want to help, you donate here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jonathankaye1968

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Photography Competition - last chance


Be bold, be different, Windermere photographers are urged


Photographers are being challenged to try for different angles as a competition deadline at Windermere is extended.

The most unusual photograph of Windermere is being sought by one of the leading hotels in the Lake District. The Cedar Manor Hotel, which is a few minutes’ walk from the shore of England’s largest lake, launched a competition to find the best shot from the most distinctive angle.

And while owners Jonathan and Caroline Kaye have received many classy entries, they say that only a few meet the “unusual” request.

“Both online and in magazines we see so many shots of the Langdale Pikes across the head of the lake, for example. We want to see something different, unusual, quirky,” said Jonathan.

“We have our own favourite views, from the top of Orrest Head, a small but perfectly formed hill not far from our hotel. We think that by extending the deadline we will get some entries from summer holidaymakers.”

He added: “Maybe get into the water or onto the water with your camera?”

The idea for a competition came when they couple noticed that the most recent lake-view photos on their own website were actually of Wastwater and Coniston, not their own local lake, just half a mile from the hotel. Some of the rooms have views of the fells across the lake.

Entries should be submitted digitally to [email protected]  with the entry form available here https://www.cedarmanor.co.uk/cedar-manor-photo-competition. The revised closing date is August 30 27.

The prize is a two-night midweek stay for two people, out of season, subject to availability.

Jonathan said that it would be interesting to see pictures of the lake taken on dull or misty days. “Not that we have many of those,” he said.

The Cedar Manor is a luxury boutique hotel and restaurant which has won a string of awards in recent years, including best small hotel in Cumbria, and recently the Best Hotel in the UK in the boutique hotel awards.

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