Extra Appeal for Dogs!
Our Mews bedrooms are ideal for guest staying with their dog and we now also welcome clean dogs on leads in the Main Hall bar as well as the Spa Brasserie. Headlam Hall is a great place to enjoy a short break with your four-legged friend with some lovely walks from the door step.
Restoration & refurbishment work completed
We are pleased to report that the major renovation of the Main Hall has been completed on schedule and we are delighted with the results and have had some fabulous feedback to date.
The work has covered just about every single room in the whole hall across all three floors with new carpets, decor, curtains, furnishings, bathroom suites, plumbing system and more. All of our period antique pieces have been retained though not necessarily in the same place and the design has been very much about classic understated country house elegance.
The work has been carried out by skilled local tradesmen and where possible we have used local suppliers.
Green Tourism Award
Headlam Hall has received a 'Silver' grading following a recent assessment by Green Tourism. We are very pleased with this award but will be doing what we can to work towards gold in the future.
It is a challenge to make a 17th century grade 2 building perfectly 'green' but we are carrying out significant investments to move in the right direction. Over the next few months our refurbishment programme will include a new more efficient water system, improved insullation and more energy efficient lighting. This is on top of work all ready carried out in recent months in the Coach House Suite.
Our policy of locally sourcing our food also helps our rating as this not only ensures fresh, traceable produce but also reduces travel miles. We currently re-cycle all cardboard and bottles and will belooking at better waste management in the near future.
New Coach House Suite Opens
The newly styled Coach House Suite at Headlam Hall is now open. This includes our main ballroom, the Stable Lounge, Coach Room Bar, Gallery, Snooker Room and there are also 9 bedrooms in this building and all have been subject to a major refurbishment.
The ballroom has always been a beautiful room so we have just given it a refresh with clean and simple design so that it can be individualised for your own event. The colour wash lighting around the room can be set as normal warm white or any colour of your choice to create the look to suit the occasion. We now have three stunning chandeliers, two of which are antiques from a French chateau!
We have created optional openings between the ballroom and the Stable Lounge so that these two rooms can better link together if required and the entrance lobby has been enlarged with a panelled wall and a more contemporary feel to the toilet facilities. The Gallery which can be used in conjunction with the ballroom or as a meeting room has also been given a more sophisticated look as has the snooker room.
Winter Restoration & Refurbishment
We are undertaking significant investment in Headlam Hall this winter and the main part of this work will be taking place between 11th January and 5th February 2016.
Golf Club Championship
This annual championship was held in glorious sunshine on Sunday 6th September. The men's champion was Gerald Wardle with Olly Shepherd (course greenkeeper!) and Kevin Taylor tied in second place.
The ladies champion was Marion Robinson who beat Catherine Dods after a very tense sudden-death play-off hole having both scored the same over the 18 holes. Congratulations to all!
Headlam Hall goes French!
We are pleased to have been accepted as a new member of the Chateaux & Hotels Collection, the first UK member outside of London.
The brand brings together more than 500 establishments in 16 countries, the majority based in France and Italy. Presided over by Alain Ducasse since 1999, the Châteaux & Hôtels Collection promotes independent hotels and restaurants founded upon diversity and authenticity to offer guests real charm under the brand signature “Le charme, le vrai".
2015 Christmas Brochure Now Available
We have just launched our 2015 Christmas brochure for those of you looking to plan ahead. It includes dates for our new 'Snow-ball' party nights in December and information on other events including our fantastic New Year's Eve Ball.
You can view the dowload be clicking here or request for a hard copy to be posted out.
Wedding Exhibition at Headlam Hall
Our annual wedding exhibition will take place on Sunday 29th March between 2 pm and 5 pm.
This will be a great opportunity to see the fabulous setting at Headlam, speak to members of our team about holding your wedding with us and also to meet a number of our key wedding suppliers such as photographers, florists, wedding car hire companies etc.
Entry is free of charge.
New Wedding Magazine
We have printed our first in-house wedding magazine which includes some great photos and information on holding your special day at Headlam Hall. The publication also features a number of our trusted suppliers with tips and trends in wedding fashion.
The magazine is available from us by request or can be downloaded by clicking here.
Golf Course Award
We are delighted that to have been awarded 'England's Golf Range Mark' accreditation for our coaching and practice facilites. Furthermore, we are the only facility in Durham to hold this award.
Our 10 bay covered driving range, practice chipping area and putting green give resident PGA Professional, Steve Carpenter, the perfect place to provide coaching to all levels and ages of golfer. Have a look at the 'golf perfect gift' if you are looking for a present for the golfer in your life!
Wedding Prices & Information for 2015 Now Available
Our 2015 weddings & banqueting menus and events brochure can now be viewed and downloaded on our website - click here. This gives you all the details with regard to holding your reception at Headlam Hall and for 2015 we have introduced discounted facility hire for off-peak periods along with a new "Intimate Wedding Package" for smaller receptions in the Drawing Room.
For all weddings from 2015 onwards we will also be offering a complimentary 1st wedding anniversary night at Headlam Hall for couples holding their reception with us. A great opportunity to come back and relive the memories a year later!
Headlam Golf Club Championship
The annual club championship competition took place on Sunday 7th September with results as follows:
Men's Champion: Kevin Taylor (score of 76)
Ladies Champion: Jane May (score of 85)
Congratulations to the winners and well done to all who took part.
Wedding Open Afternoon
Sunday 21st September, 3pm - 6pm.
Looking for a wedding venue? A great opportunity to come along and see the delightful Edwardian Suite set for a wedding reception and to talk with a member of our wedding event team. You can also enjoy a walk around our beautiful gardens. Please note that there are no exhibitors at this event.
The north of England is well known for its open countryside, pretty villages, friendly locals and the odd flat cap. I think most people have heard of the Lake District (Beatrix Potter), the Peak District (Peak Practice), the Yorkshire Dales (James Herriot) and the Northumberland coast (Harry Potter). But what about the spots in between those well-known destinations that have not had the publicity that popular TV and film provides?
Well just to the north of the Yorkshire Dales lies my part of the world, Teesdale in County Durham. This quiet and picturesque dale is by no means a high profile place despite some rather impressive claims to fame (keep reading to find out!). As the name suggests, it is based around the banks of the river Tees which in its lower course runs out to sea via the industrial town of Middlesbrough and the steel clad banks of Teesport, the third largest port in the country. Follow this river inland, thirty or so miles west and the contrast could not be more marked.
As the river runs from its middle to upper course you find yourself in the sparsely populated area of Teesdale with pretty little villages (such as Headlam!), open countryside and an economy driven by agriculture, tourism and a GSK plant in the dales capital town of Barnard Castle. ‘Barny’, as it is locally known, is a charming market town built around the 12th century castle, now a ruin but still an impressive attraction run by English Heritage. The town is also home to Bowes Museum which is a remarkable building that you would probably expect to see in northern France rather than northern England. Have a look for yourself and you will see exactly what I mean! This excellent museum has had significant investment in recent years and houses internationally renowned collections making it a great way to spend a rainy day.
Beyond Barnard Castle you are into idyllic dales countryside with picture-postcard villages like Romaldkirk, the setting for our own charming 18th century inn, the Rose & Crown, which stands next to a Saxon church known locally as ‘the Cathedral of the Dales’. A few miles further up the river Tees you will find the first of the ‘claims to fame’ that I mentioned earlier. High Force is where the river Tees drops some seventy feet making this the tallest waterfall in England. It is an impressive sight at any time but visit after some heavy rainfall and the thunderous roar of the water is fabulous to experience as you can walk right to its base from the nearby car park. I should also mention Low Force, just a couple of miles below its ‘High’ sibling. This series of waterfalls and rapids would itself be the main attraction on many a river.
Another few miles up and we are really heading into the wilds of Upper Teesdale. Here we have those vast open spaces and dramatic landscapes (thanks to the effects of glaciation) that make you wonder about the bigger picture of life. I suppose it is the feeling of insignificance as you stand in such places that prompt these thoughts. Widdybank is probably my favourite place to visit along the Tees. This really is a stunning environment and as such is a designated Natural Nature Reserve, North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a European Geopark! Apart from the scenery you will find the extremely rare arctic-alpine flora, a remnant of the ice age and some very rare birds such as Golden Plover, Ring Ouzel and Black Grouse. As you follow the challenging path that heads up this section of the river you pass through an eerie yet beautiful steep sided corridor of rock before arriving at the spectacle of Cauldron Snout. We passed England’s tallest waterfall a few miles down-river but now it is time for England’s longest waterfall at some six hundred feet of roaring water, speeding over the dolerite steps of the Whin Sill, just below the dam of Cow Green reservoir. You can walk, or I should say ‘scramble’ up the side of the fall which requires a degree of agility and care but is well worth the effort.
Teesdale really is an undiscovered haven and as such is a very quiet corner of northern England in which you can truly escape. Have a look for yourself but don’t tell too many people!
St Teresa's Hospice
Headlam Hall is delighted to officially adopt St Teresa's Hospice as its nominated charity. Through its customers, Headlam Hall has supported this Darlington based charity for a number of years through events such as the annual 'In-Between Ball' and various golf competitions.
For more information on St Teresa's Hospice visit http://www.darlingtonhospice.org.uk/
The photo shows Victoria Ashley (left), Director of Clinical Services at St Teresa's and Angela Lowe (right), Manager of Headlam Spa.
Fancy a Spot of Fly Fishing?
Headlam Hall have teamed up with Olly Shepherd of Mount St. John Sporting to provide guided fly fishing on the nearby scenic stretches of the river Tees. Olly is also a fully qualified instructor for people of all ages and abilities. If you have never even touched a fishing rod before then fear not, Olly will guide you every step of the way to ensure that you have an enjoyable experience.
Either half days or full days are available to book and you will be collected from the hotel with the river just 5 minutes away! This really is a great way to spend some time in the peaceful surroundings of the countryside and the river Tees is regarded as one of the best fly fishing rivers in the country. For more information including rates click here.
Spa Terrace Improvements
Guests of the spa can now enjoy the outdoor terrace area whatever the weather thanks to a new electrically retractable awning.
This means that come the winter months we can give you a nice blanket to lie outside and enjoy the fresh air whilst sheltering from the rain. Perfect after a treatment or stint in the sauna!
My Review of Tripadvisor
Tripadvisor... good advice or a very bad thing? A few hoteliers that I talk to say that they think Tripadvisor (TA) is great. They may genuinely believe that or perhaps they think that to say anything else would be construed as sour grapes. Most say it is becoming the biggest irritant in their business. If all reviews were genuine, balanced and sensibly written then it would be a useful tool. In reality it is not and is bad on many levels; for the hotelier, for the customer and for the industry in the longer run. I used to think that it had a positive role to play in the travel and tourism sector but now I don’t and here are my reasons why.
Un-regulated and untraceable... TA will say that all reviews are checked before being published. Really? I have never heard of a hotelier being contacted by TA to see if the person actually stayed or if the facts of the review are correct before publishing, no matter how damaging the content. What happens is just about anything is published for millions to view until someone from that establishment raises a concern. That takes 2-3 days and normally gets a reply to say that you can make a management response to put the record straight. There are two major problems here a) 2-3 days have passed and numerous people have read the review and possibly been given an incorrect impression that may lead to loss of business and b) the headline and rating of the review remains in place which, let’s face it, is what most of us look at along with the first couple of lines. Once TA give their ‘judgement’ on a review you can’t even respond back to them to further argue your case as it is a non-reply email address that they work from and the channel for objecting to a review in their management area of the website can only be used once. As far as I know it is impossible to contact them by telephone so no course for appeal in this court!
Bad news makes better reading... We are all guilty of this one. If something is good we might tell a couple of people. If something is bad then the whole world needs to know. You can have a hundred happy customers at a hotel or restaurant and not one feels the need to go on TA to advertise their enjoyable experience. Someone unfortunately has a bad experience and they have a fury that must be vented. What this means is that in order to get plenty of positive reviews and offset this aspect of human nature, businesses encourage happy customers to give a TA review. For TA this is brilliant because the very people that suffer because of them are now promoting them! If a business does not take an active position of promoting TA to its happy customers then it is at risk of only the unhappy ones making a review thus giving an unbalanced and inaccurate picture of that establishment. The other sad thing that might be happening is that people may be suffering problems during a stay at a hotel and waiting until they get home to write a scathing review. Hang on... the best thing to do is to speak to a manager there and then and get the issue resolved. There are many occasions when an issue can be simply and quickly rectified by a good manager so that your stay does not have to be a write off.
A tool for extortion... Unfortunately, like in most walks of life, there are dishonest people out to get what they can with no regard for others. If there has been a genuine mistake and a short-coming in the guest’s experience then there could indeed be a case for some compensation in the form of a discount or even the offer of a free stay. The problem is, however, that I know from both our own experience and that of other hotels that some people set out for a discount by using the threat of bad reviews on TA when the justification is just not there. I have even heard recently about a guest threatening a hotel with multiple bad reviews as it is very easy for one individual to setup numerous TA identities and post with purely malicious intent. Anonymity is just asking for abuse of the system...
Why are reviews anonymous? If you have something to say about a hotel or restaurant that is accurate and justified then why does your name not appear next to your words rather than an untraceable and irrelevant username? Surely the easiest way to ensure that reviews are not made up either by unscrupulous operators looking to falsely boost their ratings or equally unscrupulous competitors looking to bring down their rivals is to have a clearly traceable review. It has been well documented in the press that TA is so badly regulated that it is not only simple to make up a persona to leave a review but it is equally simple to make up a business that does not even exist! TA will no doubt say that this problem has been addressed and checks are now conducted on new businesses which may well be the case but what about all of the years that they operated before this problem was identified for them? This approach of ‘shutting the stable door once the horse has bolted’ is unacceptable but as with most things internet related regulation is next to non-existent. There are even companies on the internet who charge for adding good reviews with prices dependent upon whether you want the review to appear from a ‘new reviewer’ or a ‘top contributor’. Have a search for “real tripadvisor reviews” and see what you find.
Not just a review site... TA have recently begun to show their hand. As with most websites, banner advertising is good revenue and rates are driven by the number of visitors to the site. Nothing new here and any website needs some income in order to operate. In recent years they have started something called a ‘Business Listing’. This basically adds your own website link to your entry on TA. A few years ago when they started to try and sell this product to hotels we were being offered it for circa £700 a year which is a significant advertising expenditure for an independent hotel. We did not see its value at that level and I doubt many other businesses did either. A few weeks ago we received the latest rate for the ‘Business Listing’.......£5,500! (that is five and a half thousand in case you think I have missed a decimal point.) I will not print my reaction. So where are they going with this? If I take a Business Listing I wonder if it gives me an improved channel of communication with TA. Does it oil wheels? Will the hotel paying nothing get the same treatment regarding an objection to an unfair review as a hotel paying thousands of pounds a year? It does'nt stop there either. Next up is 'Tripconnect' which really just confirms to me that TA is an online travel agent that has had a very complex, drawn out and clever strategy to establish its position within the industry.
You are in it whether you like it or not... With most things in life you have the choice of participation. If you don’t like it then don’t do it. Not the case with TA. It is not possible for a hotel or restaurant to opt out of the site and I just do not see the justification in denying this right of choice, especially now that they are selling a service in the form of Business Listings. If TA was a regulated and fair review site then it would probably only be places that continually received bad reviews and did not address customer feedback that would choose to opt out but they should have that choice. The trouble is that this is not the case. The whole concept is a serious threat to the true nature of independent business and the ability, if so desired, to do things your own way.
We are a family run business with two hotels – both have been awarded the TA certificate of excellence and have a 4.5 out of 5 overall rating. We get some great comments from our customers on the site which are warmly received by the team but we get even more great comments and valuable feedback from people at check-out, on their bedroom comment cards or in an email a few days later. Listening to feedback, both good and bad is an important part of running a successful hotel but if they are on a public forum it should be a fair and regulated one.
Chef's Tasting Menu Experience
For a dining experience with a difference this is well worth consideration....
Head Chef, David Hunter, will liase with the party leader over dietary requirements but beyond that the 10 course tasting menu is a surprise to unveil itself on the night!
You will be dining in a private room with the chefs themselves serving your food along with a little explanation on what they have put on the plate.
The cost is £50 per person and party sizes of 6 - 10 diners are catered for. This experience is only available on selected nights and by prior arrangement so please call (01325) 730238 for details.
New look Stable Lounge
We have just completed the refurbishment of the Stable Lounge with a completely new glazed frontage, new carpet and sliding doors opening onto the extended terrace. Located next to the Edwardian Suite this delightful room is perfect for reception drinks for wedding receptions and dinner dances. It can also be booked for afternoon tea parties and used for informal meetings.
Headlam Herald 2014 edition 1 out now!
Our first Headlam Herald newsletter has just been printed and includes information on what is happening at Headlam and in Teesdale over the coming months.
If you would like a copy posting out just drop us an email with your address or alternatively it can be viewed on the 'downloads' page of our website.
Sauna & Steam Refurbishment
We have just had our steam room, sauna and drench shower refurbished to ensure that our facilities remain in first class condition.
This comes just a month after replacing our 3 treadmills in the gym with the latest models from Technogym.
What type of hotel is Headlam Hall?
A very good one is what we strive to be but what one person wants from a hotel is different to the next person. There are a number of ways to measure a hotel these days. Ratings and accolades from established organisations such as the AA have been about for many years. The number of stars tells you how extensive the facilities and services are but you need to check the rating category. A 4 star Hotel is very different to a 4 star Restaurant with Rooms or 4 star Guest Accommodation.
We also have a number of well established guides, both online and a few still in print. These often give an indication as to the type of hotel as each guide tends to have its own niche in the market; country house hotels, boutique hotels, budget hotels, quirky hotels etc.. Participation in the majority of guides carries a significant cost for a hotel to be included so that can raise questions of integrity but at the same time a guide knows that if it wants to stand the test of time it has to provide its reader with useful and accurate information.
Next up we have the online review sites. There is no doubt that they can provide some interesting and sometimes amusing reading but they are all to be taken with a pinch of salt. They say that if you read ten reviews and take the average one then you should get a picture of what a place is like. There will always be the odd ‘very poor’ when either things have genuinely gone wrong or the author is just one of life’s miseries. Most of us can ‘read between the lines’ in such cases!
So getting back to the question in the title, Headlam Hall is an authentic family owned and run country house hotel that is predominantly traditional in its style but with contemporary touches in some of the bedrooms, the Orangery and the Spa. We have quite a range in styles in our bedrooms from some in the main hall offering classic manor house decor and antique furnishings to others in the spa, coach house and mews that have newly made furniture, neutral colours and contemporary artwork. There are some common factors in all bedrooms such as the facilities on offer and smart, modern bathrooms. If you expect a hotel bedroom to have perfectly flat walls, pristine modern furniture and the latest in interior design trends then a room in the main hall is not going to be your bag. If you appreciate antiquity, character and charm in your accommodation then it may well be what you are looking for.
Being a family owned and run business a high standard of service is of paramount importance as we are dependent on repeat business and word of mouth. The local team of staff are encouraged to provide professional yet friendly service to create a relaxing and enjoyable atmosphere for our guests. There is no pomp and ceremony or looking down noses if a guest makes an unusual wine selection, just service with a smile.
It really is hard to pigeon-hole Headlam Hall as it is an evolution of 30 years work by my family. We started out as farmers who had a hotel and at some point became hoteliers who also farm. Not sure when the pendulum swung but it seems to have done so in its own time. The Hall was never created in a particular fashion but rather developed over the years which is a very different thing to a hotel that was created in one go from scratch. The big advantage of that is rather than the whole hotel suddenly becoming tired and in need of refurbishment it happens in dribs and drabs making it an easier job to keep on top of, which is something we are always committed to do.
Headlam to partner NRM Locomotion for historic event
Headlam Hall has been appointed the prize draw and accommodation partner for the National Railway Museums 'Great Goodbye' at Locomotion Shildon in February 2014. This event sees the historic final gathering of all 6 A4 locomotives.
See http://www.nrm.org.uk/planavisit/events/mallard75.aspx for details of the event.
HHGC Club Championship
Our annual club championship took place on 8th September and was well contended under fair conditions.
The result was a mirror of last years competition with Phil Urwin taking the men's title and Jane May winning the ladies. Well done to them both for back to back wins!
A Career in Hospitality
by Thomas Robinson
Despite the well publicised rising unemployment levels in the UK, especially amongst the young, we still find it a challenge to recruit good people who are committed to high standards and a career in the industry. For a lot of people, the hospitality industry in our country is seen as stop-gap employment where as in France, for example, it is a respected career path.
There is no doubt that the standards in both the accommodation and food elements of hospitality have improved hugely in the last 20 years. I honestly believe that the UK has as good an offer as anywhere in the world when it comes to great places to stay and/or eat. Obviously there are still poor standards and badly run operations but that will always happen in any country.
Along with improved standards the career opportunities and salaries have grown too making this a fantastic sector in which to work. If you are a 'people person' then the customer interaction will be right up your street but if you prefer to stay behind the scenes then there are plenty of opportunities in that area as well, most notably the kitchens. The profile of 'the Chef' has grown massively in recent years with an huge media interest whether it be TV shows, restaurant critics or cook books. There is no doubt that it requires hard work but also a genuine passion if you want to excel. Our Head Chef spends most of his holidays travelling to famous restaurants around Europe!
The standards and presentation in sending a CV for a job are still very important in my opinion and I dismay at some of the applications we have recieved in recent years. Letters written on a torn out page of a note-pad, emails written in all lower case with no punctuation and spelling that is dizasturus! This from people wanting to work in an area like reception as well. Qualifications are, of course, important and for some positions an absolute requirement but here are some of the key things I would look for when considering an application:
- A well presented application.
- A genuine enthusiam to work in a particular place/industry.
- Evidence of having worked at previous places for a reasonable period of time (as opposed to changing jobs every few months).
- The ability to work at a new role and not to throw the towel in at the first obstacle (closely related to point 3).
Finding the right candidates is also difficult and expensive for a business with recruitment agencies charging 10-15% of the annual salary to the employer (so you can see that you will be at a serious disadvantage if it is between you and a candidate who has applied directly for the same job!).
Best thing to do if you are looking for work? Contact the business directly with a well presented application that includes a decent product knowledge of the place and what it is about - do some research. Even if there is not a vacancy at that time I would always hold on to a good CV in case something came up.
We always look to promote from within and most of our senior managers have worked through the ranks to where they are today. We realise that a good team of staff is the most important factor in the successful operation of our business and I believe that working for an independent company as opposed to a large group allows you to play a more pivotal role in what happens.
Relish North East & Yorkshire
Headlam Hall head chef, Dave Hunter, was once again invited to submit a recipe for this cook book featuring the regions top chefs. The photograph shows Dave at the launch with Rose & Crown head chef, Henny Crosland, who was also featured.
Dave's recipes include a panfried fillet of halibut with smoked aubergine, confit chicken wing, baked heritage carrots, brown shrimps and chicken jus as a starter and a s a main course a panfried loin of venison with textures of shallot, fondant potato, wilted wild garlic and a venison jus.
The book is available to buy at the hotel for £20.
Four Rosettes in Teesdale....???
Four Rosettes in Teesdale . . . . ???
Well, across two establishments both owned by the Robinson family!
The proprietors and all the staff of both Headlam Hall and the Rose and Crown were delighted that both hotel’s restaurants have been awarded 2 AA rosettes for the quality of their food - and within 2 weeks of each other!
When we took over the Rose and Crown, just before Christmas, the restaurant currently had two rosettes so it was all about maintaining the high standard, something which new Head Chef, Henrietta Crosland, managed to do on her first week in charge of the R&C kitchen. It was a real baptism of fire for her! The front house team also secured the 3 red star accolade following the inspection which is another fine achievement.
Over at Headlam Hall HQ, Head Chef David Hunter and his brigade have been working on developing new ideas and cooking techniques. David was passionate about raising the bar with innovative recipes, local produce and specialist equipment with a target of progressing from the one rosette, held for a number of years, to two rosettes. The kitchen team’s hard work paid off and the award was secured, much to the relief of David who had known for 10 days that the accolade had been achieved up the road at Romaldkirk.
The dining rooms at Headlam are renowned for dinner parties and celebrations for birthdays, anniversaries and family gatherings. Along with our residents and restaurant diners, this makes maintaining such high standards in the kitchen and
restaurant a challenging undertaking. The Headlam kitchen team are often
catering for over 100 diners on a busy night. So with sheer determination and
hard work we hit bull’s-eye! Headlam Hall received its two rosettes.
So well done to the whole team, you deserve it! Let’s hope for a promising future ahead.
2 AA Rosettes
Congratulations to our Head Chef, David Hunter, along with his team in the kitchen for picking up the 2 AA rosette award for their food. Well done to the restaurant team as well.
Headlam Spa included in Europe top 10!
We are delighted to have been included as 'one of the top 10 spa hotels in Europe' from Tripadvisor. This unexpected accolade puts us in some very glamorous company of spa hotels across top European destinations such as Austria, Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Switzerland.
The foundations of a good spa experience come from a dedicated team and a fabulous setting which we certainly have here in Teesdale!
New & Improved Guest WiFi System
We have just completed the installation of a new guest WiFi system at Headlam Hall. This new setup gives a better coverage across all bedrooms and meeting rooms as well as providing a faster service.
We hope that both our business and leisure customers will enjoy the benfits of this investment - stay at Headlam, stay connected!
Top 'Taste Durham' award for Headlam again!
We were delighted to be awarded the Taste Durham Highest Quality Assured and the Local Champion award at a presentation event in Durham on 28th January. The award was presented by celebrity Chef, Martin Blunos, to our own Head Chef, David Hunter (photographed on the left).
This is the top accolade available in these awards which are judged from a mystery visit looking at food quality, venue, service and the promotion of local produce. Well done to the whole team!
By Andrew Glendenning - Hotel Manager and Wedding Co-ordinator at Headlam Hall
So 2012 has been quite a patriotic year for us Brits. First we had the Queens Diamond Jubilee with a calendar of events that took place and a spectacular concert to finalise. We also had the Olympics. Some had predicted London 2012 would be an embarrassing and chaotic two weeks. Brand GB would be horribly undermined and the country’s reputation would be damaged for decades. As it turned out, we not only massively exceeded expectations in the sports arenas but also won universal plaudits for hosting a brilliant games.
So what a reflection in the wedding world. Supermodel Kate Moss and the rocker guitarist from the Kills, Jaime Hince, got married in July. Vintage was certainly on the cards here. From the dress designed by John Galliano to the half a million pound festival inspired reception. This saw celebrities attend from around the globe to celebrate the occasion.
So whether it was bunting at your receptions, afternoon tea instead of the traditional sit down meal, English country garden, there certainly was a British invasion influenced by this year’s events. So as we look to 2013 will there be any
changes or trends..
There are always so called “experts” in every field that tout the next big thing in their industry – and the events industry is no different. In a quick search for wedding trends for 2013, some say small weddings were the new trend. I also found large weddings were the new trend. Vintage was officially out but some “experts” so it’s here to stay. I basically saw that the next big trend of 2013 ended up being whatever that particular expert liked at the moment.
Trends are determined in a number of ways – one being the clothes that we wear. A lot of trends are lead by the fashion industry. Every season fashion buffs everywhere wait for the latest runway collections to be released and these clothes often set the tone of the season. The colours, styles and themes of the various
pieces often make their way into the wedding world. Realistically the experts can only follow trends and then predict what they think will happen next. I believe that it is principally the brides who ultimately decide what the current trends are.
Some couples I have spoken to are continuing with similar trends seen this year, for example, the sweet shop. Let’s take our favourite sweets and turn a table into a little sweetie shop, bags, glass jars and humbugs. The twist for 2013 is taking it one step further. Scales to weigh a “quarter” of your favourite sweets placed in bags that have been personolised with the couple’s name.
Vintage has been talked about so many times along with the shabby chic look. Try channelling Downton Abbeys Edwardian style for ideas. From the dress to the finer details I am expecting to see a lot of different styles of vintage next year here at Headlam.
The trends will be similar next year as they worked well with a few changes here and there to reflect a personal sense of style. Wedding receptions will reflect the bride and grooms personal tastes and personalities as well as drawing inspiration from all walks of life.
Headlam branches out up the dale!
We have recently purchased the Rose & Crown at Romaldkirk, a delightful 12 bedroom coaching inn in this picturesque village just 15 miles up the dale from Headlam. It has enjoyed an excellent reputation over the years and shares many core values with Headlam such as great accommodation, locally sourced food, friendly staff and a charming building so we felt it would be a very nice addition to our hospitality operation. See http://www.rose-and-crown.co.uk/ for details
Have You Got The Bottle?
An article on red wine, by Iain Andrew of Bon Coeuer Fine Wines
Blink and you may have missed it ….missed what you might ask? SUMMER!! The seasons change, and when they do, so does the wine we drink, unless of course you happen to live in Arizona where your concept of winter is totally non-existent in comparison to what we endure here in the North of England.
With the clocks changing, the leaves turning, a nip in the air and the first bonfire smoke drifting in on the breeze, its time to grab wax jacket, scarf and hat, stride out for a bracing walk in our glorious countryside with the wonderful incentive of returning to a hearty winter casserole or perhaps beef bourguignon, all washed down with a glass or two of a hearty robust red.
Generally wines with warming qualities are either from hotter climates and feature generous ripe flavours, or from grape varieties that are inherently spicy, such as Shiraz.
Shiraz, also known as Syrah when it is found in cooler climates, is one of my favourite red grape varieties. It usually has a gorgeous smoky streak running through it, a dollop of spice, and works brilliantly with roast red meats and steak, and also works wonderfully with duck. Aussie Shiraz is always a good safe bet here.
Bordeaux reds are usually a blend of three different grape varieties, namely Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. This holy trinity creates some of the worlds greatest wines and depending on where in Bordeaux the wine is produced, it will have a different ratio of these grapes. Whether it’s a rich and ripe scented Medoc, or a smooth plumy St Emilion, this region produces rich, warming wines that beg to be imbibed on a frosty winter’s night. More tannic wines, ( generally younger wines ) will work better with food , a big bold stew would be perfect , while older vintages will simply need an open fire and good company.
South America is a world away from Bordeaux both in terms of style and price, however, they are now consistently producing some excellent everyday drinking wines; Cabernet, Merlot and Pinot Noir all prominent grape varieties and firmly established in our mindset and thought selection. One varietal that is slowly emerging and becoming increasingly more popular is Carmenere, Chiles’ very own signature grape. This luscious rich red disappeared from European vineyards in the mid-19th century and reappeared among Chile’s Merlot vines a hundred years later.
Chocked full of dark berried fruits and spice, with a hint of tobacco and dark chocolate that flows smoothly onto a lingering finish, with smooth well-rounded tannins, this is a very pleasing, easy drinking varietal perfect with red meats and stews.
As the author of this current feature, and until Thomas the Editor says otherwise, I couldn’t possibly leave this current feature without a brief note to my own personal indulgence and favourite wine for winter and it comes from Mendoza in Argentina!
Aside from being famous for such icons as Maradona, Eva Peron and corned beef, Argentina is now the fifth largest wine producer in the world today making some seriously good award winning wines with global recognition. Malbec Kaiken Reserva has a wonderfully expressive nose of mature red fruits and chocolate, integrated harmoniously with the subtle oak and is a very approachable velvety wine with excellent structure and abundant, mature silky tannins…the only thing that I could possibly add…..bring on the beef!
Bon Coeur Fine Wines
Things to do in the area
Local attractions and events this winter, by Martin Evans (The Tourism Business)
For those who are looking for a destination for a winter getaway or day out this year, Teesdale and the wider County Durham area certainly fits the bill. Of course, many guests at Headlam Hall want nothing more than fine food, lovely grounds and the chance to relax in the Spa or play a round of golf. But for those who do want to venture further afield, there’s something different to do every day, from bustling market towns to amazing visitor attractions. Here are some of our “winter favourites”.
The Bowes Museum continues to surpass expectations, and this winter has some excellent exhibitions and events. This amazing French Chateau is known by some as “the Versailles of the north” and houses probably the greatest private collection of fine and decorative arts in the north of England, including works by artists such as Canaletto, El Greco, Courbet and Turner. Until 25th November, the Museum plays host to the exhibition “Josephine Bowes & the Costumier”, in which internationally celebrated theatrical and historical costumier Luca Costigliolo has recreated, in front of visitors to the Museum, and ball gown worn by the Museum’s founder, Josephine Bowes.
Running from the beginning of October to 6th January is the exhibition “Feast your Eyes: The Fashion of Food in Art”. This exhibition is a celebration of five centuries of fashion in food and drink throughout Europe, and includes loans from galleries across Britain. Food and drink are also on the menu at the Museum’s popular Christmas Festival, taking place on 15th and 16th December, and with over 5,000 visitors expected to enjoy the magical atmosphere and over 100 stalls selling the best in local food and crafts. Not only is Santa expected, but his reindeer are also expected to make an appearance, and there will be festive music from local bands and choirs.
The Bowes Museum is, of course, located in perhaps our finest local market town, Barnard Castle. Famed for its “speciality shopping” and farmers markets on the first Saturday of every month, “Barney” is home to English Heritage’s Castle itself, home to the Balliol family, and whose 14th century great hall, three-storey keep and circular round tower overlook the river Tees and inspired the great Sir Walter Scott. Unsuccessfully besieged by the Scots in 1216, the castle was confiscated when John de Balliol, briefly King of Scotland, was deposed by Edward I. Throughout the winter, the Castle can be visited at weekends, from 10.00am to 4.00pm.
The Castle was partly dismantled in 1630 to furnish materials for Sir Henry Vane’s new Raby Castle, now also one of Teesdale’s top visitor attractions, and, although not open generally through the winter, Raby Castle is the venue for a lovely Christmas shop with one of the largest selections of Christmas trees to buy in the area, from early November until Christmas week.
A little further, but still within striking distance of Headlam Hall is Locomotion, the “northern outpost” of the National Railway Museum, located at Shildon. Locomotion was the first national museum to be built in the North East, and opened in 2004. It is sited at Shildon, the home of the first ever steam hauled passenger train which operated during the opening ceremony of the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1825. Part of the Science Museum and an outpost of York’s National Railway Museum, Locomotion is now home to over 70 vehicles from the National Collection. And continuing the railway theme is Darlington’s Head of Steam Railway Museum, featuring a restored 1842 passenger station on the original route of the world’s first steam-worked public railway, and also one of the most famous trains in history - Stephenson’s Locomotion.
So, there really are lots of other reasons to enjoy a relaxing Autumn or Winter Break or meal out at Headlam Hall over the coming months. You may want to enjoy a Christmas Shopping trip with a difference, a visit to Darlington’s Christingle market, or time at the January Sales in Darlington, Durham City or at the Metrocentre. Or take in a show, or the pantomime, at Darlington Civic Theatre. And, of course, not too far away are Richmond, the lovely Dales market town which is home to the Georgian Theatre Royal and a host of other attractions.
Autumn & Winter in Teesdale
Stay at Headlam for some winter walking, by Thomas Robinson
Autumn is my favourite season - the colours of the countryside are stunning, especially the Virginia Creeper on the east side of the Hall and I always like the return of fresh mornings and cool evenings which give you an excuse to light the fire once again. As for the winter months we never know what we are going to get. It could just as easily be a foot of snow as a mild sunny day! We may not have had the best of summers weather-wise (to put it lightly) but the frequent summer rain has certainly kept the gardens and golf course looking lovely and green. As Alfred Wainwright once said “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”. I think anyone involved with farming might disagree with that!
I have always enjoyed long walks in the countryside and have done so in many stunning places including the Lake District, Snowdonia and the Alps. You often overlook what is under your nose so in recent months I have made an effort to explore more of the walks on my doorstep here in Teesdale and my conclusion has been; why didn’t I do this years ago? The river Tees, particularly from just down the road at Piercebridge up to Couldron Snout in the North Pennines (area of outstanding beauty) must be one of the most picturesque rivers anywhere. Unspoilt countryside, historic stone bridges, pretty villages, fast flowing rapids and breath-taking waterfalls (including High Force, England’s highest) all make this a walker’s paradise. I also hear that it is one of the best wild fishing rivers in the country and highly rated for canoeing and kayaking.
We offer some great short break packages in the autumn and winter months, details of which can be found on our website. Hopefully there will be plenty of opportunities to enjoy our local walking in some winter sun but failing that and in the event that you do not have suitable clothing or the inclination for walking in adverse weather there is always the tranquillity of our spa in which to hibernate for the day!
Reception Team in Hotel Cateys Final
Congratulations to our hotel reception team who have been shortlisted as finalists in the 2012 Hotel Cateys Front House Team of the Year. Just to be in this final group of four for this prestigious national awards is an acheivement and hopefully we can go one better at the awards ceremony in London next month.
Seasonal Recipe Spotted Dick By Dave Hunter, Head Chef
Spotted dick is a British steamed suet pudding containing dried fruit commonly served with custard. Try as a lighter alternative to Christmas pudding.
Ingredients (makes 1)
225g self raising flour
105g fresh white breadcrumbs
135g prepared suet mix
110g caster sugar
Finely grated rind and juice of one lemon
Finely grated rind and juice of one orange
45g cup raisins
45g cup semi dried sour cherries
45g cup currants
45g cup golden sultanas
45g tablespoons dried blueberries
2 tablespoons mixed peel
½ cup (175g) golden syrup, plus extra to serve
1 Grease and line the base of a 5 cupcapacity pudding basin. Sift flour into a large bowl and mix with breadcrumbs, suet mix and sugar. Combine dried fruits and mixed peel in a separate bowl and add 1 cup to flour mixture, reserving remaining fruit. Add lemon and orange rind and juices and mix to combine.
2 Whisk together eggs and milk in a separate bowl or jug. Pour into dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
3 Pour fruit into base of prepared basin and pour over golden syrup. Spoon pudding mixture into basin. Make a pleat in centre of a sheet of baking paper and a sheet of foil, to allow for expansion during steaming. Cover basin with paper, then foil and secure with kitchen string. Alternately, use the pudding lid to seal.
4 Place an upturned heatproof saucer in base of a large saucepan as a trivet. Place pudding basin on trivet. Pour enough water into pan to come halfway up side of basin. Cover. Bring to boil on high heat. Reduce heat to low. Steam, covered, for 2 hrs, until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove basin from pan and cool for 15 mins. Enjoy!
The Case for Classic Cars by Roger Tyrell, The Classic Car Workshop
A take on what makes classic car ownership special
Modern cars are very efficient but are lacking in character although two models have become big sellers through their manufacturers cashing in on the appeal of their classic ancestors of the nineteen fifties. These are the current Volkswagen ‘Beetle’ and the new Fiat 500
that clothe modern components from the Golf and Panda in a retro styled body shell.
It seems essential for TV detectives to have a classic car. Morse has his Jaguar, Bergerac a Triumph Roadster, Colombo a Peugeot 403,Magnum a Ferrari and Inspector Lynley a Bristol 409; all of them add character to the character so what is the appeal of a classic car?
The original classic cars were designed and built by numerous individual motor companies each incorporating their own sometimes quirky ideas and the cars were readily identified by the shape of their radiators and distinctive styling. Famous British makes such as Austin, Singer, Riley, Morris, Triumph, Wolseley, Sunbeam, Rover all date back to the early twentieth century but they have been swallowed up by giant international corporations and their names have disappeared. Cars of today are created for world markets, designed by computers and built by robots so perhaps nostalgia for a time when cars had more personality is part of the attraction of a classic car? There is also the social side of ownership.
'Morse has his Jaguar, Bergerac a Triumph Roadster'
A classic car can transport you back to a golden age of motoring and opens up a social calendar of events ranging from local fetes and road runs to international events, rallies and classic race meetings. Every weekend throughout the summer there will be an event within reach and many of these encourage owners to dress in period with their car. The premier example of this is the Goodwood Revival meeting in September with a similar event at Croft Circuit near Darlington over the first weekend in August. All of these events provide an opportunity to leave the stresses of the modern world behind and experience the sights and sounds of classic cars and fashion as it was in the forties, fifties and sixties.
With a stagnant property market and poor equity returns classic cars can also make financial sense from an investment point of view especially at a time when interest rates are extremely low. For many, owning a classic car can set the pulse racing in a way that a portfolio of shares cannot but buying wisely is absolutely vital; in terms of history, condition, originality and provenance buy the best you can afford.
Looking after your investment is paramount. If your share certificate gets tatty it doesn’t lose value but scratches, dents or rust on your car will detract from the value. Other than perhaps wedding hire, film and TV work there is no income from a classic car to offset the cost of maintenance and running repairs but there are specialist companies who can help with such work. This need not be expensive as compared to a modern car a classic is entirely mechanical and free from electronics making them easier to repair. Furthermore a well-maintained classic is likely to appreciate in value over the longer term so what’s stopping you?
Director: The Classic Car Workshop Ltd, Dalton on Tees, Darlington
The Classic Car Workshop is located near Croft Circuit and looks after Headlam Hall's E-type (photographed opposite). The E-type is available for hire during summer months as part of our two night classic car break, details of which can be found at www.headlamhall.co.uk/classic-carbreaks.asp
A Word from our Golf Pro
Steven Carpenter, PGA Professional, talks about the course and gives some tips.
Headlam Hall Golf Course continues to go from strength to strength and this year was no exception with the arrival of three well placed bunkers on the 2nd and 9th holes to make the course more challenging. The unseasonable summer weather also played its part but even this did not deter the golfers from playing and there was always a good turn-out for the Saturday morning competitions come rain or sunshine.
The driving range has taken on a new look with new distance markers and balls. The driving range at Headlam is over 300 yards long so a great place to practice your driver. The golf course and driving range continues to attract new members and visitors to the club, who often remark on the excellent facilities at Headlam.
The standard of golf being played at Headlam is also constantly improving as recent competition results have shown. This year the golfing trips I arranged have also proven popular and more are planned for the future. Playing on different courses helps to improve and develop one’s game and enables the members to have a fun social day out.
This year Headlam Hall Golf Course became an approved Durham County Golf Partnership Academy Centre. I have been coaching for the DCGP which consists of talented juniors from clubs all over Durham as well as coaching the Durham county girls. The teaching philosophy is constantly adapting but its core philosophy remains the same, that being, that no two golfers are the same therefore each lesson is always tailored to the individual. It is important to understand what the golfer is capable of in terms of flexibility and also at what standard he or she is at before any advice can be administered.
Golf Coaching Tips
- Turn the shoulders freely on the backswing to create a wider arc for more power in your long game
- It is important in the short game to keep the left hand leading as you strike the ball to prevent a scooping action.
- When putting not to look up until the stroke is finished.
- To make sure your game continues to improve take advantage of the winter golf lesson offers.
Winter swing check - 60 minutes, £25.00 The perfect golf gift voucher continues to prove popular and with Christmas coming ever nearer this could be the present you are looking for - consists of three 30 minute lessons and 1 hour on the golf course, £68.00.
To swing a golf club correctly the golf club grips need to be in good order. Winter offer - Regrips from £4.50 each grip. Golf shop contact tel 01325 732113 for all enquiries.
Steven has been the PGA Professional at Headlam since the course opened in 2004. Having spent a number of years teaching in both the UK and Germany he is a very experienced and highly regarded coach. As well as offering tuition he also runs the golf shop at Headlam which stocks a range of clothing, equipment and accessories.
HHGC Club Championship Results
It was our annual club championship competition on Sunday 16th September with 30 golfers entered.
Men's Champion: Phil Urwin (72 shots)
Ladies Champion: Jane May (89 shots)
HHGC Hurley Cup Results
Sunday 10th June saw the 8th anniversary competition for the Hurley Cup. Conditions were damp but with very little wind and a field of 47 golfers. There was a two-way tie for 1st place and it went to a five hole count back to determine the victor!
1st: Ken Pybus, 2nd: Ann Robinson
Longest Drive (Men): Philip Urwin, (Ladies): Cath Dods
Nearest the Pin: M Shaw
The afternoon 'Texas Scramble' team event was won by Richard Skinner, Arlene Skinner, Ric Holmes & Paula Holmes.
View our Summer Newsletter online
If you have not managed to pick up a copy of the 'Headlam Herald' you can now view it online at http://www.headlamhall.co.uk/downloads/HeadlamSummerNews20124Web.pdf
It includes articles on summer wine, local attractions, the history behind the hotel and a seasonal recipe plus other offers and events at Headlam over the summer period.
Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence Award
We are pleased to have received a 2012 Certificate of Excellence from the review website, Tripadvisor.
Headlam Spa wins Spa of the Year Award!
Headlam Spa has won the Thalgo Excellence Awards UK Spa of the Year 2012. The presentation was at York Racecourse where Clare Metcalfe, Elaine Riley and Natalie Labarre proudly received the award on behalf of the whole team.
New Mobile Version of Website
We have now added a mobile version of our website which should make it better to view the site from your mobile phone. The decision was made to add this when we saw from our stats that over 20% of our website visitors where using a mobile device!
The mobile version should automatically be selected when you visit our site via your mobile but there is still the option to view our regular desktop site if you prefer.
Taste Durham Award
We are delighted to have received the Taste Durham Highest Quality Assured & Local Champion Award 2012. This is the highest accolade in this nationally recognised award scheme which is judged by a 'mystery diner' from Quality in Tourism.
Congratulations to the kitchen and restaurant service team as both elements play a part in the judging. This is the 3rd consequetive year that we have acheived the top rating.
HHGC Golf Academy
Headlam Hall Golf Course has been made an Approved County Academy Traing Centre under club PGA Pro, Steven Carpenter.
Steven has an excellent reputation for golf tuition of all ages but has acheived particular credit for his junior coaching abilities.
Relish North East Cook Book
The Relish North East cook book was launched on 9th May and includes recipes from the regions top chefs, including our own Head Chef, David Hunter. This beautifully presented book includes an introduction by Terry Laybourne and recipes from two of the BBC Master Chef Professionals finalists from last year.
It is available to purchase from the hotel or spa and is a great celebration of the regions talented chefs and superb local produce.
Headlam Wins Regional Breakfast Competition
We are delighted to have been awarded the accolade of 'Best Breakfast in Teesdale' in the Love Food North Pennine Dales Breakfast Competition 2011.
This independently judged competition looked at the overall breakfast experience including food quality, service and a commitment to local produce.
We use organic dairy produce from Acorn Dairies near Darlington, free range eggs from Kingfisher Farm at Barningham and our sausages, bacon and black pudding comes from our local butcher F Simpson & Son of Cockfield.
Headlam Hall Awarded 4 Stars!
After operating for the past 30 years as a 3 star hotel we are delighted to have been awarded 4 stars by the AA and Enjoy England (The official tourism authority for England).
Many aspects of the hotel have been to a 4 star standard for a number of years but over the past 12 months we have invested in meeting the final requirements.
It is not the stars that make a good hotel but the real guest experience, however, it is a sign of the standard of facilities that have been developed at Headlam over the years and it makes us Teesdale's first 4 star hotel!
Headlam wakes up to a Breakfast Award!
We are pleased to have won an Enjoy England Breakfast Award following a recent inspection. The award has only been won by 17% of hotels inspected in the Enjoy England scheme and recognises a high standard of breakfast service and well prepared, quality food.
Headlam Wins Gold!
We are delighted to have won the Gold Award for the North East England Small Hotel of the Year 2009. This award was independently judged and included on overnight stay by a mystery guest so is a great one to win.
This is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our staff and is an even greater honour in light of the competition in this category. We will not, however, be resting on our laurels but will use this award as an impetus to further enhance what we offer our customers.