Special events

Cumbria Tourism Awards 2015 Winners

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Top award for Windermere outstanding hotel assistant

Countless guests at Windermere’s Cedar Manor Hotel have lavished praise on general  assistant Patricia Torre for her kindness, efficiency and humour.

Now Patricia has been recognised with the region’s highest honour at the Cumbria Tourism Awards. She has won the Sheila Hensman Award for Outstanding Customer Service, only three years after arriving from Santander in Spain knowing only a few words of English.

Patricia, 22, who comes from Santander, has worked at the Cedar Manor for two years where she is regarded as a treasured member of staff, general assistant and waitress.

 “Patricia is a real treasure,” said hotel owner Caroline Kaye. “She is singled out by so many of our guests for her kindness, thoughtfulness and her cheerful smile day and night. We are absolutely thrilled for her that she has won this award and that her efforts have been officially recognised.”

The award ceremony at Kendal’s Castle Green Hotel learned that Patricia plays a pivotal role in maintaining the high standards of service at the Cedar Manor, going above and beyond the call of duty in her attentiveness to visitors, and also in helping her peers and the managers.

“Her professionalism is matched with a sense of humour, remarkable for someone who knew little English three years ago,” said Caroline Kaye.

Caroline and her husband Jonathan were at the ceremony to see Patricia pick up her prize, along with her sister Alejandra Torre who had flown in from Spain for the occasion.

Jonathan Kaye said that from a timid start, Patricia now had an excellent command of English, but is also delighted to talk to Spanish guests in their native language.

“She has grown in confidence. Initially she was anxious about dealing with telephone enquiries, but now she’s a great communicator, capable of attending to anything, including welcoming guests in reception. She anticipates customers’ needs, stepping in even before they ask, understanding what might be required.”

He said that Patricia was especially attentive with guests who are elderly or disabled, always patient and kind.

Patricia, who recently passed written exams in English and Maths with very high marks, 89% & 100% respectively, was assessed in the hotel restaurant by Kendal college teacher Dean Boydell as part of her Hospitality & Catering NVQ and apprentice qualification.

Mr Boydell said : “Patricia consistently delivers excellent customer service. Having observed her in action over the past 18 months she has grown in confidence and skill. Patricia adapts her customer service skills to each guest, has a natural balance of friendly professional service and anticipates her customers’ needs. She has excellent knowledge of her organisation, local area and products and is able to give advice and suggestions, which adds to her customers' experience.”

The Outstanding Customer Service Award is made in memory of Sheila Hensman who was a former Chairman and President of Cumbria Tourism. She believed that the customer had to come first and always encouraged those she met to remember and act of this. The award is intended to encourage those in the industry to strive for the very best in customer service.

The Cedar Manor has the highest TripAdvisor ratings in the area, and Patricia has been highlighted in many reports. She was described by one guest as “the best hotel staff member we have ever come across”.

 

 

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Cumbria Tourism Awards 2015

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A place in the finals for treasure Patricia

Cedar Manor’s Spanish treasure is heading for the finals of a customer service award.

Patricia Torre, 22,  from Santander in Spain, came to work at the Hotel two years ago, a year after coming to England. She’s now a treasured member of staff – general assistant and waitress – and she’s singled out by countless visitors for her kindness and sense of humour.

Now she has been shortlisted for the Cumbria Tourism customer service award, and the hotel’s owners, Caroline and Jonathan Kaye, are thrilled.

“Patricia is a real treasure,” said Caroline. “She is singled out by so many of our guests for her kindness, thoughtfulness and her cheerful smile day and night.”

Caroline said that from a timid start, Patricia now has an excellent command of English, but is also delighted to talk to Spanish guests in their native language.

“She has grown in confidence. Initially she was anxious about dealing with telephone enquiries, but now she’s a great communicator, capable of attending to anything, including welcoming guests in reception. She anticipates customers’ needs, stepping in even before they ask, understanding what might be required.”

Caroline said that Patricia was especially attentive with guests who are elderly or disabled, always patient and kind. “She has helped with our charity fundraising efforts, often giving her own time to work on days like charity tea parties and annual Christmas fair.”

Patricia, who recently passed written exams in English and Maths with very high marks, 89% & 100% respectively, was assessed in the hotel restaurant by Kendal college teacher Dean Boydell as part of her Hospitality & Catering NVQ and apprentice qualification.

Mr Boydell said: “Patricia consistently delivers excellent customer service. Having observed her in action over the past 18 months she has grown in confidence and skill. Patricia adapts her customer service skills to each guest, has a natural balance of friendly professional service and anticipates her customers’ needs. She has excellent knowledge of her organisation, local area and products and is able to give advice and suggestions, which adds to her customers' experience.”

The Cedar Manor, currently in the running for best small hotel in England, has the highest TripAdvisor ratings in the area, and Patricia has been highlighted in many reports. She was described by one guest as “the best hotel staff member we have ever come across”.

Another wrote: “But the true treat of Cedar Manor is its people. Patricia is truly a delight, with a fabulous future ahead of her, as she has a real flair with people.”

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Latest blog from Mrs Valjean, a northwest based theatre reviewer

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Celebrities warmly but discreetly welcome

It must be really hard going on holiday when you’re famous. I know a woman who stalked Dr Who (can’t remember which one) around St Ives, and  while it’s socially unacceptable to take out your autograph book at Rick Stein’s in Padstow – it happens.

It’s surely happened to you somewhere. That chap on the next table – isn’t he the double of that guy who was in Emmerdale…. No, please, let him finish his dinner in peace.

We had an encounter on short break in the Lake District at a place so sumptuous and yet so discreet that it almost seems like an affront to name the place, let alone the still-elegant former star with whom we shared a bottle of Prosecco on the patio. He will remain incognito, we promise, but it would be a terrible pity not to boast about the Cedar Manor.

Ooops! There, I’ve said it, and the secret is out. Though to be fair, this elegant country house at Windermere in the Lake District is actually the best small hotel in Cumbria, and in the top ten in the whole country, so it’s not a very well-kept secret at all. But genuinely small – just ten rooms – and only for the discerning.

We’ve been a few times, to get away from it all, and have found some rather delightful fellow guests doing likewise. No one ever makes a fuss here about the famous, whichever alphabetical celebrity list they might be on. Everyone is treated like – not royalty, because that would suggest deference – a star, perhaps, though our hosts are never star-struck. Just friendly and welcoming and very entertaining.

You can, of course, ignore them and your fellow guests and the whole world, by booking the Coach House, a detached two-storey suite where you can watch movies in the bath and have your meals delivered to your own private dining room. The same food that everyone has in the restaurant, though, cooked by a chef called Roger who keeps a low profile and a high regard for his craft.

We’ve stayed in several rooms, named after the mountains you can see from the windows. We’ve climbed some of those on our visits, or just trotted up nearby Orrest Head for a view across England’s biggest lake, but we’ve also done absolutely nothing, in style. We’ve done nothing in the garden, sitting under the famous Cedar tree that gives the hotel its name. And we’ve done nothing in the lounge, under a chandelier made of recycled gin bottles. Not any old gin, of course, but Bombay Sapphire. The place has won lots of awards, not least for design.

We really want to tell the world about this place, but we want to keep it to ourselves as well. Perhaps I’ll write this review but leave you to find the website yourself? Is that half way to discretion?

The Cedar Manor Hotel and Restaurant, Windermere

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Backgammon Championships 2015

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Success across the board at the Cedar Manor

The game that’s played at pavement cafes across the Mediterranean and in the most exclusive of London clubs is now played regularly at Windermere’s Cedar Manor Hotel.

The monthly backgammon sessions have become a popular fixture since they were introduced by owner Jonathan Kaye.

They were started following the success of an annual backgammon championship staged at the hotel, part of the British Isles Backgammon Association Backgammon Tour and Grand Prix. This is now organised each spring by Jonathan, a keen player himself.

He would roll the dice during his time living in London, where for 10 years he managed the exclusive Chelsea nightclub, Raffles, frequented by celebrities and royalty.

“It’s a fascinating game, not difficult to learn, and knock-out tournaments like our annual event can be staged in one day,” said Jonathan.

“We have some real enthusiasts now, from experts to absolute beginners, coming each month. It is not difficult to learn. Our nine-year-old daughter Elizabeth picked it up very quickly.”

The winner of this year’s Lake District backgammon champion was Edinburgh-based science researcher Samantha Wilkinson. She took the title this spring after a thrilling final against financier Barry Teece, also from Edinburgh. Last year’s winner Graeme Turner from Newcastle was knocked out in the first round by Grasmere Gingerbread owner Andrew Hunter. Andrew’s 11 year old son Monty, playing in his first big tournament, was defeated by Ambleside chef Robert Shaw.

Jonathan said: “We have some really thrilling games here. It proves that backgammon is growing in popularity. We’d like to see it played in cafes and bars across the Lakes, as happens elsewhere in Europe.”

Backgammon is one of the oldest board games for two players. The playing pieces are moved according to the roll of dice, and a player wins by removing all of his pieces from the board before his opponent. Excavations have revealed that the game was played around 3,000 BC in Persia (Iran) and it was played in various forms by the ancient Romans, and subsequently throughout Europe. The first world championship was held in Las Vegas in 1967, and later moved to Monte Carlo for many years. The game is also played extensively online.

The next meeting of the monthly club is Tuesday 28th June

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June's charity winner

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It’s great to have a night away from it all at a lovely hotel like ours, and we’ll soon be welcoming June Ormerod. She won first prize in our charity raffle. But she won’t have to travel far. In fact, June lives right here in Windermere!

She picked the winning ticket at our afternoon tea party to help raise funds for Lupus UK, the charity which is researching the causes of – and trying to find cures for – this rare and unpleasant condition.

Our guests at the tea party, and another at Windermere school, raised well over £1600 and we are very grateful to them all.

The second prize-winner is Jacqui Douglas, one of the mothers from the Windermere Prep School, who will soon be tucking into a box of local homemade chocolates from Shap. Our congratulations to you both.

Cedar Manor is the Best Hotel

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We are thrilled to announce that we are now officially the best small hotel in Cumbria. Cedar Manor won the title at the Cumbria Tourism awards ceremony in Kendal attended by representatives from all accommodation providers and tourist attractions.

The judges were looking for a hotel that could “demonstrate impeccable standards of accommodation and service”. Tick. They wanted to see that “customer care will be of paramount importance”. Tick. They wanted to see investment in staff training, the impact of the business on the environment, and links with the local community. Tick.

They clearly loved the style of our hotel, designed by the award-winning Alison Tordoff from Fidget Designs, and the high quality furniture made specially for us by Lakeland Fells Furniture in Windermere. The judges “mystery guests” must have enjoyed the meals in our exciting restaurant. And they were impressed by all the comments from our lovely guests whose kind words are keeping us at the top of the Trip Advisor charts.

But there will be no resting on our laurels. We now go forward to represent Cumbria in the North-West and then national awards, and we want to keep on developing Cedar Manor as the welcoming hotel that so many of you are appreciating. Here’s our trophy, presented by Haydn Spedding from the sponsors of this award, Colliers International, the commercial real estate experts.

Running for charity

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If you notice Caroline setting off for a training run while you are staying with us, it’s for a very good cause.

She’s got a place in this September’s Great North Run and, having started running only two years ago, is now fund-raising for the charity Lupus UK. She’s being assisted by parents and friends of Windermere Prep School who are holding a charity coffee morning for the same cause.

Lupus is a rare and complex condition which attacks the body’s immune system, and Caroline’s 21 year old daughter Natalie is a sufferer. She was diagnosed when she was 15, but it had taken two years to identify from when she first showed symptoms.

Natalie is a beauty advisor and make-up artist for Estee Lauder at Selfridges in London. Her younger sister Elizabeth, 8, sometimes seen helping around the hotel, is playing her part by helping Caroline’s training efforts – she goes alongside on her bicycle when mum goes for a run.

Caroline started running after joining a “boot camp” at Windermere School. As a Londoner who fell in love with the Lakes, she now loves training in our fantastic landscape.

Caroline can be sponsored at Just Giving

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