Our readers spend a great deal of time planning holidays for groups. If you’re feeling a bit lazy, an easy option is to take them to a Warner Leisure hotel – you can park up the coach and leave your clients in good hands for a very relaxing break
How often do you stay in a hotel and really feel like you’re on holiday?
It can be difficult if at the breakfast table you’re surrounded by businesspeople making harried phone calls before rushing off, or slightly stressed-looking young families trying to keep their children under control.
What you want is a place where everyone’s truly relaxed, even the staff, and that’s exactly what you find at a Warner Leisure hotel.
For one who’s not used to the Warner way of doing things, it can be a little confusing at first – but once you’re into the swing of it, it’s harder to imagine a more relaxing holiday.
It’s harder to imagine a more group-friendly holiday, either.
We were privileged to stay at Nidd Hall near Harrogate, a simply beautiful country home, rumoured to be where King Edward VIII met Wallis Simpson.
Forget National Trust and English Heritage – if you want a taste of what being a wealthy Edwardian was like, try a Historic Suite at Nidd Hall. The experience starts when you turn off the main road and follow the long drive up to the house, excitement building as you catch a glimpse of the ivy-covered Hall through the trees for the first time.
Check-in for groups is quick and easy, followed by a trip to the restaurant to be shown our table for the duration of the stay.
Then it's up to the room – the historic suites are located in the main building, and ours takes prime position overlooking the lovely grounds. The well-appointed, well-proportioned bedroom is complemented by a separate lounge and large bathroom, sympathetically decorated.
Plans for 2017
There's absolutely nothing wrong with how the room looks, but even so, Warner is staying ahead of the curve by investing greatly in its historic suites in 2017, with multi-million-pound refurbishments across the group.
Nidd Hall is closing this month to allow for the refurbishment of 20 rooms in the historic part of the building, and the creation of three brand new historic suites, using space in the main part of the house that was previously used for other purposes.
Meanwhile, customers in standard rooms will also find their offering improved. New for 2017, Signature packages will allow guests to opt for complimentary robes, upgraded toiletries, wine and snacks in their room, and a choice of pillows.
At the same time, the Historic offer will be improved, including fresh milk for your in-room tea – especially important here in Yorkshire.
Public areas aren’t being neglected: An extension means a larger restaurant will open in spring 2017, creating more space for every diner. Above the restaurant, the Late Lounge is being modified and remodelled to create a more pleasant space for those guests who want to sit in the bar area away from the noise of the entertainment, but still feel they’re in the thick of it.
All these changes come directly from the feedback of Warner’s guests. “Our guest feedback always highlights three things – great accommodation, fantastic dining and great entertainment,” says Tim Snowden, Nidd Hall’s General Manager. “Our MDs have a five-year plan of investing in and focusing on those three things.”
As Tim points out, taking into account the array of activities on offer, a Warner break offers exceptional value for money.
The fact that there is never any need to go out to find food or things to do is one of the things that makes the break so relaxing, and it's the same element that should make booking a Warner break so easy for GTOs.
We availed ourselves of the leisure club facilities – including pool, spa pool and sauna; the rifle practice sessions; and the fantastic live entertainment. Our break was during Warner’s ‘Turkey & Tinsel’ season, meaning our arrival was on ‘Christmas Eve’ on Tuesday, and we enjoyed ‘Christmas Day’ on Wednesday before leaving on Thursday on ‘Boxing Day’.
Crackers and gifts at the dinner table; festive decoration everywhere; and evening entertainment including Christmas cabaret, party games and live music from the fantastic Jon Moses, of ITV Superstar fame. The cheerful staff don santa hats and call “Merry Christmas” to you. It’s a bit silly, but it’s amazing how quickly you get swept up in the atmosphere. You’re on holiday. Yes, it’s Christmas in November. And it feels good.
Other inclusive activities are archery, guided walks around the grounds, coach excursions to nearby Harrogate, York and Ripon (with a small surcharge), and even a ‘beach’ in the grounds for sunbathing in finer weather.
“When you break the price of a Warner break down into breakfast, dinner, entertainment and activities, the room works out to about £10-15 a night,” says Tim. “It’s incredibly good value.
“The demand is very high here, and that demand allows us to put on so much more in terms of value for money. Any other hotel chain would cut their hand off for our occupancy levels.”
That’s certainly reflected in the atmosphere at Nidd Hall, whether in the restaurant for breakfast or chatting to other guests on a guided tour of the grounds. The hotel is full up – but it doesn’t feel crowded. You can have a swim in an almost-empty pool, or an almost one-to-one rifle practice session; there’s so much to do that the place just swallows up its guests.
A vital market
Coach groups are a vital market for Warner. In 2016 198 coach operators brought 1,600 coaches to its 13 hotels and villages across the UK. They carried 60,000 customers – an average of 38 per coach – translating to £11.7m of sales. This is one business that truly appreciates the value of group visitors and organisers, and rewards them accordingly.
“A typical coach or group guest would not experience anything different from your experience,” Martyn Stagg, National Coach Sales Manager tells us. “Unlike some other hotels, we do not differ the menu or rooms: Effectively your experience was exactly the same as our 60,000 coach guests this year.”
“Coach groups in particular are a huge part of what we do,” says Tim. “It’s important that we keep that relationship with operators going forward because it's a big part of how we attract our guests. There is such strong value in coaches for us.”
- Call the coach sales team on 01442 281682 or visit www.warnercoach.uk