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  • 20 March 2015

    Greenhouse Launch Night

    Caption: Ben Mayou (GM), Mayor Tom Clare and wife Alyson and Tim Rumney (MD)

    Following the completion of our £250,000 refurbishment, over 100 people including The Mayor of Kendal, Councilor Tom Clare, gathered at the Hotel last week to mark the launch of the new look two AA Rosette awarded Greenhouse Restaurant.

    Guests were treated to a champagne reception and a tasting menu of canapés, from executive chef Justin Woods, which showcased his passion for local produce and elements of the restaurant’s new menu. Music duo, The Notes, provided entertainment in an evening where guests could enjoy the newly designed restaurant and bar.

    ‘We have received wonderful feedback about the new look restaurant and want to thank everyone who joined us to celebrate the official reopening.’’ said Hotel general manager Ben Mayou

    He added: ‘The refurbishment gave us the perfect opportunity to gather together the regular diners and local businesses that support The Greenhouse and the Hotel throughout the year for a celebration. The restaurant is also proving a big hit with Hotel guests and conference delegates, and will enable us to continue to attract visitors and food lovers to the area.’

    The restaurant layout has been redefined to create a larger bar area with banquette seating and feature log burner and uses a colour scheme that has been inspired by the local Lake District landscape. The lounge is colourful and dramatic with bright sofas and a domed roof light. The centre of the restaurant has been subtly divided into two areas by adding lighting features to the ceiling, and a more intimate dining space has been helped by a new ambient lighting scheme.

    The Greenhouse features a 5 course tasting menu, alongside an individually priced selection of sharing dishes and a daily changing menu. All are based around the excellent seasonal, local produce available our doorstep.

  • We picked up two awards at the BEST WESTERN Annual Members Conference at Celtic Manor Resort last month, taking home both the Fan Favourite Hotel and Large BEST WESTERN Hotel Experience of the Year Awards.

    The Fan Favourite Hotel is a new award this year and is decided by contacting 10,000 Best Western Rewards customers and asking them to nominate their favourite hotel.

    ‘The really great thing about this award is that it is decided by customers and therefore directly related to the service and hospitality that we provide.’ said hotel managing director Tim Rumney.

    The Large BEST WESTERN Hotel Experience of the Year Award is decided by measuring all the quality survey scores undertaken by the hotels, to see which hotel above 50 bedrooms comes out top. Wel achieved the highest overall rating in the group’s British hotel network of 279 hotels.

    Tim Rumney added: ‘I was hugely proud to accept these awards with the hotel’s general manager, Ben Mayou. There are many exceptional hotels in Best Western and to gain these awards puts the Hotel at the top of Best Western in Britain, and more widely secures our reputation as one of the top hotels in the North West.’

  • 06 January 2015

    New Year, new refurbishment

    Well we start 2015 with a major refurbishment for the second time in two years!  This time it's the turn of our Greenhouse Restaurant which we can only do at this time of year.  

    MD Tim initially started the ball rolling with new carpets, curtains and furniture for the restaurant only, but we're now going for a complete overall of the bar and lounge too!

    So a new drinking and dining experience should be with us by 30th January.  Naturally we'll keep you updated on the progress but as we're being bricked up I might need to be a little sneaky!

    More photos are on our facebook page

  • Naturally as a chef, I love the seasons. When the nights start to draw in and the afternoons start to turn a bit chilly, my mind starts to think about warmer, more comforting food. I start to think about some excellent locally shot game from Grizedale, some great shellfish from the West coast of Cumbria and I also look to the hedgerows for blackberries, elderberries, pears and if you’re super lucky maybe the odd quince here and there.

    I’ve lived in Cumbria for 11 years, having been born in Essex and spent most of my working life in basement kitchens of hotels in London, it was a bit of a shock to move to such an amazing county. A county that still surprises me for its rich agricultural heritage, its fantastic people and probably most importantly it’s natural larder. Local produce in London didn’t really exist although they are some incredible food pioneers in London and the Home counties; it has nothing on this corner of the British Isles.

    I live in Kirkby Stephen, a small farming town sitting close to the North Yorkshire and Durham borders. Both my two girls attend the local primary school and both are very lucky to have a circle of friends that include many children of farmers, cousins of farmers, grandchildren of farmers and so on. Life in a small farming town revolves around the seasons, particularly the life of a sheep farmer. Tupping, lambing, shearing are things the children talk about as well as One Direction, Jessie J and boys!

    It wasn’t until we moved to Kirkby Stephen that I really recognised the whole local food movement and how it affects the local economy. It had never really occurred to me previously that the price I pay for my lamb in my kitchen affects the livelihood of a farming family in my local area. At its most simple it’s a direct link between field and kitchen.

    I also love using game in autumn and we get some great wood pigeon and venison from John Stott at Cartmel Valley Game Supplies. I’ve known John ever since I arrived in Cumbria and he provides an incredible array of local game. He also has a fantastic smokehouse but that’s another story! Wood pigeon is something that we use as a starter, quickly cooked, served pink and works well with some love sharp blackberries, some smooth Jerusalem artichoke puree, peppery watercress and a rich red wine sauce. Don’t bother using the legs from the pigeon, just the breast meat.

    Venison is my favourite meat, low in fat, high in taste, although it can be an expensive meat; I always try to match some expensive loin with some cheaper cuts to make it more affordable. We tend to buy whole saddles of venison, then butcher it ourselves, keeping all the trimmings to make some venison mince and cleaning and trimming the loins. With chefs (and customers) becoming more sophisticated in our cooking and eating, we use a water bath to cook some of our cuts of meat. This involves vacuum packing our portions of food, in this case venison, cooking at a fairly low, but food safe temperature, then a final cooking in butter. Cooking at low temperature doesn’t damage the muscle structure of the meat, producing a better eating experience. It also produces a very even cooking that you can’t achieve with conventional oven cooking.

    With my venison mince I would make a little venison cottage pie, a great wholesome dish on its own, but served as a garnish, it works fantastically well. Roots and tubers are coming into their best, so to eat with the venison I would serve some roasted baby beetroots, a celeriac puree, some buttered curly kale. For a little fruity richness, some lovely caramelised quince pieces. Serve the venison loin cooked pink, a miniature cottage pie and finish with a red wine sauce spiked with a little cracked black pepper.

    Download Justin's Recipes

    Roast venison loin, cottage pie, beetroots, celeriac, quinces and black pepper

    Roasted wood pigeon with blackberries, Jerusalem artichokes and watercress

  • 02 July 2014

    Direct is Best

    Caption: Our Reception Teams love it when you book direct!

    I am old enough to remember telex machines, rack rates and even paper booking sheets to record rooms booked and length of stay, but love it or loath it the internet is definitely here to stay and like many other areas it has revolutionised the hotel industry.


    In many ways the internet has given hotels the opportunity to become more efficient and customer focused but it has also brought with it significant challenges.  One of the challenges is the rise of the OTA (Online Travel Agent) and the cost to hotels of doing business through these booking channels.


    Many guests now choose to book through an OTA - Booking.com, Laterooms or Expedia for instance. I can understand why…they have state of art websites which are very easy to use, meta search facilities so that you can compare prices for different hotels and the advertising and marketing spend that they have at their disposal means that their brand is well known and they are high up on any search that you make on the internet.


    However, as a business we limit the Online Travel Agents that we work with and we would always encourage our customers to book direct where we think that you will get the best experience, after all it is our hotel. Booking direct means we can allocate the most suitable room, talk with confidence about our dining options and explain about all the exciting things there are to do in the area.


    We have two fantastic websites which are suitable for any device from desk top to tablet and mobile. They are packed with lots of information on the hotel and if you prefer to book on-line we have a quick and easy booking experience that takes the reservation straight into our system.


    Whether it is calling the hotel direct or booking on our website we know our product better than anyone and we have a team that want to ensure you receive the best Castle Green or Pinewood experience.


    What guests generally also do not know is how much OTA’s charge hotels in commission. It may surprise you that the commission costs on each booking start at 15% and go as high as 30% depending upon the OTA. This means that for a £100 accommodation booking via Booking.com we will pay £18 before the VAT is taken off.
    But why should the guest care about that? The rate will be no higher than booking direct (that is one of the conditions of the contract) and the terms and conditions are comparable.


    Well, I think it matters because those costs need to be absorbed by the business which means less money to spend on other things – refurbishment or payroll for instance. We still make sure in our hotels that we provide value for money and always aim to exceed the customer’s expectation but costs of this significance have an impact.


    We also encourage customers to book through Best Western where the costs are lower and the profits of the organisation go back into marketing and services for the benefit of the Member hotels and customers.


    Of course, anyway that you choose to book we would like to welcome you to the BEST WESTERN PLUS Castle Green and Pinewood Hotels but we believe that direct is best because we can tailor the booking to your requirements and use the money we save in commission to invest back into the business.


    Why don’t you give it a go?


    www.castlegreen.co.uk
    www.pinewood-hotel.co.uk

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