Thursday, 8 December 2011

Count down to Christmas

Only a few more days to go! The Cloud Hotel has been really busy with pre-Christmas lunches and dinners and thank goodness the snow has stayed away this year although I do have sympathy for Scotland who have really been suffering with bad weather. The Christmas decorations are really lovely thanks to Mike Dacombe of Inspiration in New Milton, he always does a fabulous job and this year is no exception.

In between running a busy hotel and finding time for my family I have attended some very inspirational and enjoyable events hence the delay in writing this Blog! In November I was invited to attend the 'everywoman of Influence Dinner' at the Landmark Hotel in London. The dinner was to provide the attendees the opportunity to hear what it takes to build a successful business and to create an environment where people will want to work. We listened to three inspiring speakers who had all succeeded in their own fields.  Larry Hirst CBE, until his retirement from IBM in 2010 was chairman of IBM Europe.  Kate Burns Senior Vice President, Sales and Operations, AOL Europe and Christina Vaughan Founder and CEO of Image Source. All three had a different story to tell and I left the event having had fun and with new ideas for my own business. Anyone who knows me will know how much I love these events and how much I learn from listening to successful people.

The following day I was at the Savoy Hotel in London at the Three Butterflies Lunch to raise money for Womankind Worldwide. This charity is an international women's human rights charity working to help women transform their lives in Africa, Asia and Latin America. How humble I felt when I heard some of the stories of the women who have helped these women.

I had the pleasure of speaking to the West Country Embroiderer's at Brockenhurst Village Hall on Saturday afternoon before attending Jen's 60th birthday party at Le Blaireau that evening. Jen is a member of the Wessex Women's Network and has raised thousands of pounds for Naomi House Children's Hospice  over the years by organising fantastic Themed Balls that we all enjoyed. What a fabulous party it was, I could have danced all night but luckily I didn't because my dancing legs are not as fit as they used to be and I had to work the next day as usual.

The annual Christmas dinner in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support was held at The Cloud Hotel on Saturday December 11th and raised £1,700-00. The event was well attended and we all enjoyed the Highcliffe Junior Choir singing Christmas carols at the start of the evening. The Cloud Hotel has raised over £30,000-00 over the past 25 years thanks to the support of the local community.

The Wessex Women's Network Christmas Dinner will be held on Thursday December 15th at the Cloud Hotel. Jason Noble singer/songwriter will be entertaining us with his latest single 'Be Mine This Christmas'. It is available to pre order on line from I hope to see as many of you as possible at what should be a fun evening and will be the last meeting of the year.

Christmas is a time we give gifts to our family and friends but sometimes as Zig Ziglar said

'You Never Know When a Kind Act Or One Word Of Encouragement Can Change A Life Forever'

I'll leave you with that thought and wish you all a very happy Christmas and a New Year filled with love, happiness, fun and success.


Sunday, 20 November 2011

Only 5 weeks to Christmas

I returned from my holiday in Tenerife relaxed and tanned just in time to attend the Wessex Women's Network meeting on Tuesday November 15th and to hear Jus Hobbs give us a talk and demonstration on how to become fit and slim with kettlebells, how pleased I was that I didn't miss it. Jus inspired us all so much that we can't wait to try it for ourselves but decided to wait until after Christmas because we will probably need to exercise even more after having indulged in all the Christmas food and drink! If you would like information about Jus and the kettlebells visit

I think it is really important to take time away from your business, it gives you a chance to step back and look at your business with fresh eyes. I always read loads of books while I'm away and return to my business not only refreshed but with a list of new ideas! You would be amazed how your staff can cope and run the business when you are not there. By giving them responsibility their confidence grows and they discover they have talents they thought only other people have. A win win situation -- you get a holiday and their self esteem grows.

With only 5 weeks to go until Christmas the pressure is on for some of us ladies to create a happy family occasion as well as try and run a successful business. Needless to say we are able to do just that with our juggling skills but that's not to say we are usually exhausted after all the celebrations and I actually look forward to a quiet January.

The Christmas meeting for the Wessex Women's Network is on Thursday 15th December. Jason Noble a singer and songwriter will be entertaining us and you will be-able to purchase his latest single Be Mine This Christmas. Jason is registered blind and this single is raising money for the Royal National Institute of Blind People. For more information visit or and search for Jason Noble/Be Mine This Christmas. I hope to have a full house for this event so book early so as not to be disappointed.

If you are looking for ideas for Christmas can I suggest you put 'How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be' By Jack Canfield on your Christmas list. A great motivational book and I read it for the third time while I was on holiday.

Finally a quote from Lou Holtz

'If you are bored with life, if you don't get up every morning with a burning desire to do things -- you don't have enough goals'

Thankfully I've never been bored in my life!


Saturday, 29 October 2011

Women in Politics

It was a full house on Wednesday October 26th to hear Christina Dykes talk to us about women in politics and what an interesting and inspiring evening it turned out to be. Women are still under represented in Parliament and on the Boards of Directors and an interesting discussion developed amongst the women about trying to succeed in a chosen career and be a Mother, wife and often a carer for elderly parents. I don't know what the answer is but I do know that at no other time in history has so much been expected of women and maybe we only have ourselves to blame? I have been looking after my 6 year old granddaughter this week [it's half term!] as well as trying to run a busy hotel and I have found it exhausting. Christina was a charming person and passionate about helping women and men to reach their full potential, I asked her to take some of our comments back to Parliament as well as a copy of my book 'Delighting Your Customers" after all we are all customers to members of Parliament as it's our tax money that pays their wages.

I had a wonderful evening at The Mayflower Theatre last Saturday when I attended the English National Ballet's performance to Gershwin's music. If any of you have the opportunity to go and see it do go, not only was it entertaining but the standard of ballet was wonderful with such young talent. I could hardly sit in my seat I enjoyed it so much.

The clocks go back at the end of October signalling that the dark evenings and winter is on the way although at the time of writing this it is very mild for the time of year. The wonderful Autumn colours of the trees can be seen in certain parts of the New Forest but there is still more to come, I always think that the best time to see the autumn colours is the first week of November.

I was a Judge for the Nat West everywoman awards recently. This is my 6th year of judging these awards and I never fail to be amazed at the courage and talent that the finalists have. It is always a difficult job choosing winners but even the finalists will get publicity so it is always worth going in for awards to promote your business. The rewards can be very profitable. The finalists will be announced on November 4th and the winners announced at the Award Ceremony on Wednesday December 7th 2011 at The Dorchester Hotel London. For further information of the Award ceremony and to buy tickets for this prestigious event visit

The next Wessex Women's Network meeting is on Tuesday November 15th. Jus Hobbs is a personal trainer and will be advising us on how to keep fit using kettle bells. It's always very important to look after yourself and sometimes we are so busy looking after everyone else we are inclined to neglect ourselves.

Remember to always be yourself as everyone else is taken.


Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Inspectors Choice 2 AA Red Stars!

It was with great pride that I received the AA Inspectors Choice 2 Red Stars on behalf of myself and my staff at the AA Hospitality Awards at the London Hilton Hotel Park Lane on Monday 30th September. To quote "This is the AA's supreme accolade used to recognise hotels that stand out as the very best, regardless of size or style." After 35 years at the Cloud Hotel I consider this to be my reward for perseverance and hard work. Of course I couldn't have achieved this accolade without the support, hard work and loyalty of my staff, many of whom have been at the Cloud for several years. I think perseverance is a key to success and I hope some of you will succeed by doing the same. It takes a long time and a lot of hard work to become an overnight success!

The Biggest Coffee Morning held at The Cloud Hotel on Friday 30th September in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support raised £520-00. The weather was glorious and most people sat and enjoyed their coffee and  the chef's scrumptious chocolate brownies in the garden soaking up the warm sunshine. Many thanks to all who came and supported us.

This Indian summer has been a bonus and I hope some of you have been able to take advantage of the sunshine before winter sets in. My customers have loved being able to get out into The New Forest and enjoy this wonderful weather.

The next Wessex Women's Network meeting is on Wednesday October 26th 6-30pm when Christine Dyke will be speaking about women in politics. I hope I have the pleasure of welcoming you to what promises to be an interesting and enjoyable evening. Karl Jones of KN Design has designed a new web site for the Wessex Women, please let me have your feedback and any thoughts you may have not only about the website but also the meetings.

The National Everywoman Conference to be held in London on Tuesday November 1st is an event, in my opinion not to be missed. It provides the ideal opportunity for female entrepreneurs to meet other successful women and to hear how they have started their businesses from scratch and turned them into successful businesses. I have learnt so much from attending these conferences as well as having a great time and meeting some inspirational women. I always come away buzzing with enthusiasm. This years theme is The Art of Business you can find more information at

Autumn is on the way and soon the New Forest will be full of colour and we will be lighting the log fires!

Warm wishes


Monday, 19 September 2011

Delighting Your Customers

When I was first approached by Lisa Carden of A & C Black Publishers to write 'Delighting Your Customers' I nearly turned down the opportunity as I didn't think I had the talent to write a book. English was my worst subject at school and as my children will tell you, I don't know many long words! But I realised that I am always telling people to never turn down an opportunity and I was about to do just that so in a wild moment I signed the contract and was committed to write 40,000 words in just five months. It was very hard work but when I saw the book on the shelf at Waterstones in Oxford Street I was so excited that I just wanted to tell everyone in the shop that I had written it. Now four years later the revised Edition is out today and I'm hoping to write another book soon. Never underestimate your talents because you will never know what you are capable of unless you try and persevere.

On Wednesday September 14th I attended the Autumn meeting of the Financial Mail Women's Forum at Fredericks Restaurant in Islington. Unfortunately Jennie Agutter who was booked to be the speaker wasn't able to make it due to her filming schedule and Deborah Hollamby who was to stand in for her was taken ill so there was no speaker but it gave the members an opportunity to network and promote their businesses or events. I met two very nice girls from Bloomberg Bank who were attending the event for the first time and enjoyed talking to them.

Afterwards I dashed home because the Wessex Women were meeting at the Cloud Hotel on that evening and as the Hotel is still fully booked I was needed to help in the restaurant. I wasn't able to listen to Lord Ian Strathcarron's talk but I heard alot of laughter coming from the room and I had some excellent feedback about his presentation from the members who I understand thoroughly enjoyed it. Here is Karen Guttridge's account of his talk.
Following in the footsteps of Mark Twain, Lord Strathcarron proposed "The Moral Regeneration of the Human Race." To draw an analogy from medicine- when a healthy person undergoes vaccination they receive small amounts of the disease-producing microbe thereby ensuring that they do not fall victim to the disease ever again. So perhaps in the same way, we may refer ourselves immune to the 7 deadly sins [wrath, greed, sloth, pride, gluttony, envy and lust] by permitting ourselves to dabble with 'just a little' of each one! It is hoped that our memory of the negative experience [ such as shame] gained by such indulgence will be enough to discourage any further sinning!
Eventually we will be sin free!  My mind boggles and as Karen says "Where's the fun in that?"

It's been a very busy week for me and on Thursday I had the pleasure of attending the pilot of a new competition -The UK Business Speaker of the Year. Motivational speaking is a subject I am very interested in and it is becoming an important part of business. The idea is to create an event that will bring the UK's top business speakers to Bournemouth and make people aware of the the brilliant conference facilities in Bournemouth. The final was held in the Ocean Theatre, Pavilion Dance, there were 8 finalists and I was disappointed to see only one woman amongst them. However it was a very interesting and entertaining evening and was sponsored by RT Media a local branding communications agency that has become very successful since it started in 2002. If anyone is interested in developing their voice for public speaking I can recommend an excellent teacher at the Winchester Voice Studio. Her name is Amanda Smallbone for further information you can contact Amanda at

The next Wessex Women's Network meeting is on Oct 26th when Christine Dyke will be talking about women in politics, I look forward to welcoming you to this event.

I often recommend a book and this time I thought I would like to recommend 'Delighting Your Customers' by Avril Owton MBE published by Bloomsbury. Delivering excellent customer service without breaking the bank. Every one of us can make a difference to the customer's experience in our company often by being just kind and caring.

'Customers don't always care how much you know until they know how much you care'

Take care


Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Back to School.

With the school holidays over I'm sure the majority of you are pleased to see the children go back to school! For many of us trying to juggle children or grandchildren with our careers is always challenging. However I hope you were able to enjoy quality time with your families. I spent two glorious weeks in Tenerife with some of my family and came back to work totally relaxed and recharged ready for the challenges that face me daily.

September is one of my favourite months, there is a certain calm about it however the Cloud Hotel is still very busy in September as the more mature customers come to enjoy a break when the children have gone back to school and before winter sets in. Although the evenings are drawing in the days can be warm and sunny if we are lucky!

I have a busy month ahead of me with networking events and Award Ceremonies to attend. The next Wessex Women's Network event is on Wednesday September 14th when Lord Ian Strathcarron will be our speaker. The title of his talk The Moral Regeneration of the Human Race a sideways look at morals! Apparently a very amusing speaker so I look forward to welcoming you to the event. There is always an opportunity for you to promote your business or charity event during the evening as well as network with the other members.

The revised edition of my book Delighting Your Customers [delivering excellent customer service without breaking the bank] published by Bloomsbury is to be released on September 19th. It is packed with essential advice and is aimed at small business owners who want to help their businesses reach their full potential. It can be pre-ordered from Amazon. I hope anyone who buys it will find it useful and enjoy it.

Talking of books I am reading Alan Sugar's autobiography at the moment and what a fascinating story it is.  Like so many successful people he did not go to university and hasn't got a degree but has always found a way to make money even as a young lad. At a time when so many of our young people are starting university I do wonder if some of them would do better to go into the workforce and use their entrepreneurial skills and talents. Not one of the Dragons on Dragons Den have a degree!

Finally. 'There are those who think they can and those who think they can't. Funnily enough they are both right.'  Henry Ford

I suggest you think you can, you achieve more that way.

Till the next time


Wednesday, 3 August 2011

An Undercover Agent?

The subject of the talk for the Wessex Women's Network meeting on Tuesday evening was ' An Undercover Agent' and the ladies arrived thinking they were going to hear stories from a spy! How surprised they were when the speaker Hazel Wilson announced she was a corsetiere and was going to talk to us about corsets and bras! However Hazel's talk was very interesting as well as entertaining and what a fun night it turned out to be with so much laughter. [Hazel has a fantastic figure!] But there is always a serious side to our meetings when members are given the opportunity to give a short presentation about their business or any events, including charity events, they may be organising. Jan and I have witnessed members grow not only their business but also their confidence and it has given me personally great pleasure to be part of it. Sharing experiences with like minded women helps encourage women to reach their full potential in their business life and their personal life.

Many of the members of the Wessex Women's Network are Mothers and the meetings give us the opportunity to share our family problems with each other and to realise we are not alone! Being a Mum is often more stressful than running a large business and it is important for us Mums to be-able to have some fun and let our hair down too, whatever our age!
It's the school holidays at the moment and that is always a stressful time for Mums trying to keep the children occupied and I smiled to myself today when I asked my eldest daughter how are things she replied "we're trying to work our way through the school holidays" Probably the sentiment of a lot of Mums.

On July 17th a Charity Cream Tea was held at the Cloud Hotel as part of the Hampshire Food Festival  and a grand total of £811-00 was raised that was shared between Naomi House Hospice and Beaulieu Countryside Education Trust. Our next charity event will be the 'World's Biggest Coffee Morning' to be held at the Cloud Hotel on Friday September 30th in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. Please put it in your diary because everyone is welcome, we hope to raise a lot of money.

The following day I had the pleasure of being interviewed on Radio Solent by Katie Martin about running a bed and breakfast. However as in most of my interviews Katie was more interested in my career as a Tiller Girl but as they say all publicity is good and I have learnt never to say no to any opportunities that are offered to me that will promote my business. A lesson to be learnt by all businesswomen.

The next Wessex Women's meeting is on Wednesday September 14th when author Lord Ian Strathcarron talks about the The Moral Regeneration of The Human Race. The mind boggles?

I hope you are all enjoying the summer months and having some time to unwind, relax and maybe read. Have any of you read Jonathan Livingstone Seagull by Richard Bach? If you haven't may I suggest you do because it is a brilliant book and can be read in a day. I just love it and it helped to change my life in times of despair. It taught me life is for living.

"Everyday brings a chance for you to draw in a breath, kick off your shoes and dance" Oprah Winfrey. 

And how I love to dance!


Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Dancing in the Rain

If you read my previous Blog and have seen the final quote 'Life's not about waiting for the storms to pass it's about dancing in the rain' little did I realise when I wrote it that we would be dancing in the rain and have been for too long. I think we are all waiting for the storms to pass so we can enjoy some sunshine and get out into the fresh air. So many events have been spoilt by the weather this month including the Isle of Wight Festival, the Test Match at The Rose Bowl, Ascot  and  all the school fetes and local events that so much work goes into to make the day a success. I have often wondered where the expression 'Flaming June' came from because June is often a very unsettled month, you only have to think about how many times the matches at Wimbledon have been interrupted because of rain and the weather isn't looking too promising for this coming week either!

However we must always look on the bright side of life and the weather cannot take away the companionship of family, friends and work colleagues. I attended the Annual Award Lunch of the Women in Banking and Finance at the Dorchester Hotel recently and over the years that I have been attending the event I have made friends with some inspirational women who are in the profession. The room is always buzzing with women of all ages who are trying to achieve and be recognised for their talent in finance, not always easy in a profession still dominated by men!

I have been invited to be a judge at the 'NatWest everywomen awards' again and I would encourage you to either nominate yourself or to nominate an inspirational woman that you feel should be recognised for her success. This is a prestigious award and the award ceremony is held at the Dorchester Hotel on December 7th.You can find details of how to enter at

I am looking forward to welcoming you to the next Wessex Women's event on Wednesday June 29th when Ron Taylor will be talking about the 'Spice of Life'. By then I hope we won't be still dancing in the rain but will be-able to enjoy some time together in our secluded garden before listening to Ron.

I am pleased to say that I am moving into the twenty first century and as well as having a Face Book page on the Cloud Hotel web page I have joined Twitter and am learning to Tweet so I need some followers!



Let's hope the sun comes out soon


Thursday, 2 June 2011

Looking Forward to Summer

I can't believe it is a month since William and Catherine were married, where has this month gone? I haven't even had time to write a Blog. I suppose it's far better to be busy than have time on your hands and I'm delighted how busy the hotel is but I'm still trying to find that work life balance everyone is talking about. Please let me know if any of you have managed it and how! Like most busy women I am trying to balance a business and enjoy my family, the grandchildren grow up so fast that it is important to try and spend some quality time with them.

On Tuesday May 24th the Wessex Women met at The Cloud Hotel expecting to hear Katherine Elizabeth to speak on her career as a Milliner. We waited and waited for her to arrive but when there was no sign of her by 7-30pm and we hadn't received a message we decided to network and enjoy dinner. We still don't know why she didn't come as we haven't been able to contact her? Luckily this is the first time a speaker has let us down and it turned out to be a very enjoyable evening with the ladies sharing some of their personal stories and having fun.

On May 11th I joined some of my staff to take part in the Midnight Ramble to Hurst Castle [and back!] to raise funds for Oakhaven Hospice in Lymington. Two of my daughters also came with me and we had a thoroughly enjoyable time although my legs ached the next morning. It's not the length of the walk that makes it hard going but the pebbles you have to walk on. However with my Nordic walking training with Karen Guttridge over the past few months I managed to finish the walk in good time this year. The Marine Cafe at Keyhaven did a great job providing everyone with refreshments on their return as well as a fun atmosphere with music and entertainers.

Last Thursday I attended a lunch and 'An Audience with Craig Revel Harwood' at The Christchurch Harbour Hotel. Having been a dancer myself I was keen to hear his story and what an inspirational story it is! He was very honest as well as amusing and I loved listening to how he started life as a chef when he left school in Australia to his career as a Drag Queen and how he is now one of the leading choreographers in this country. He also shared some amusing stories about Strictly Come Dancing where he is one of the most honest judges and as far as I'm concerned the best. If you want to know more about Craig's rise to fame buy his book 'All Balls and Glitter' but beware you do need to be broad minded. I personally can't wait to read it.

We are taking bookings for the New Forest Charity Cream Tea to be held at The Cloud Hotel on Sunday 17th July The price is £5-95 and all proceeds will be divided between Naomi House and the Countryside Education Trust at Beaulieu. Linzi Luker of Linzi's of Lymington will be providing the scones. This is an annual event and if you would like to come and support us and book a table please call The Cloud Hotel on 01590 622165.

The next Wessex Women's meeting is on Wednesday 29th June when we will have the pleasure of welcoming Ron Taylor on 'The Spice of Life'. He will be talking about the history of the herb and spice trade. I hope I will have the pleasure of welcoming you to the evening event although I know some of you will probably be on holiday then. If the weather is good we will be-able to have our drinks in the garden before enjoying dinner together.

I hope you are all having the opportunity to enjoy this lovely weather but whatever the weather is like remember ----

'Life's not about waiting for the storms to pass
 It's about learning to dance in the rain.   Vivian Greene

Until next time!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

The Monarchy, Love and Marriage

What a wonderful and happy day April 29th was not only for William and Catherine but also the Nation. I sat glued to the television and I must admit I had a tear in my eye as Catherine walked down the aisle to marry her Prince, she looked quite beautiful. It really was a fairytale wedding that we all dream of! Two days before the wedding the Wessex Women gathered to hear Jake Simpkin give a talk on the Monarchy. It seemed a good time for us to learn about some of the history of the Monarchy and he gave a most interesting and entertaining presentation.

We have enjoyed such lovely weather this Spring and the New Forest is awash with colour. The bluebells are out and the gorse gives the New Forest a glow with its golden yellow flowers. I went on my Nordic walk with Karen yesterday and we heard the cuckoo in the woods heralding that Spring is really here. Exbury Gardens are in full bloom now too and well worth a visit.
'An award winning hat designer for any occassion' is the subject of the next Wessex Women's Network meeting on Tuesday May 24th.  Katherine Elizabeth is a London based award winning hat designer. Having seen some of the hats worn by the guests at the Royal wedding I am interested to hear her comments on some of them and to hear how she creates her hats and who for!

I am reading another good book that I would like to recommend to you. Apparently 'anything is possible if you dare to ask' according to Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. As women, we seem to find it difficult to ask for what we want. The 'Aladdin Factor' will teach you simple techniques to overcome the fear of asking for what you want. I recommend  that you read it.

Finally 'You Never Really Lose Until You Quit Trying'   Mike Dikta

I look  forward  to seeing you on May 24th


Thursday, 21 April 2011

Everyone Needs a Holiday

Everyone needs a holiday to refresh their body and mind, to be-able to relax and have a break from the routine of everyday life.  I have just returned from a lovely relaxing holiday in Cyprus, The hotel was excellent and the weather warm and sunny so I am now refreshed and ready to do everything I can to help my customers relax, unwind and enjoy the beautiful surroundings of the New Forest National Park. I understand that the weather was lovely while I was away and the Cloud Hotel was fully booked but I'm in the lucky position of having excellent staff who I know continue to give the caring and excellent customer service that is expected of them. I think it's really important to have a break from your business and have the confidence to leave your staff to take responsibility sometimes. They will actually enjoy the fact that you trust them and will grow in confidence. It gives you the opportunity to reflect on your business and often return with new ideas. It's a win win situation.

Easter is here and the New Forest National park is coming to life with the fresh green shoots appearing on the trees and the yellow gorse bringing a mass of colour to the area. I spotted a baby donkey in the forest yesterday but I'm still waiting to see my first foal of the year.

The next Wessex Women's Network meeting is on Wednesday 27th April when Jake Simpkin will be giving us a talk on The Monarchy which ties in rather well with The Royal Wedding that takes place two days later.

While I am on holiday I always take the opportunity to read inspirational books to improve my business skills. While I was in Cyprus I read 'The Power of Focus' by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Les Hewitt. It was given to me by Karen Guttridge of Slimfocus. Karen is a member and regular attendee of Wessex Women's Network and knows all the best books to read. I can thoroughly recommend it, I couldn't put it down and have come back from my holiday inspired and motivated once again!

I hope you are able to enjoy this wonderful weather and I wish you all a happy, peaceful and relaxing Easter.

Finally. Consistency and persistence are the key to success. Never give up because success might just be around the corner. Winners never quit and quitters never win.


Saturday, 2 April 2011

The Top 100 Most Influential Women in Hospitality, Travel, Leisure and Tourism

Avril Owton MBE voted one of the Top 100 Most Influential Women in Hospitality, Leisure, Travel and Tourism 2011

On Thursday March 31st I attended the Women 1st Top 100 Most Influential Women in Hospitality, Leisure, Travel and Tourism and Shine Awards at the fabulous newly refurbished Savoy Hotel in London. Women 1st was launched in 2009 by Cherie Blair and is an initiative from People 1st, the sector skills council for hospitality, leisure travel and tourism to address the lack of women being represented in senior positions. Since its launch it has provided opportunities for over 400 women to undertake tailored development training and to provide mentoring to support them in their career. The event was attended by 250 people and was all about celebrating the success and achievement of women in the industry and launching the inaugural Top 100 Most Influential Women in Hospitality, Leisure,Travel and Tourism and recognising the impact and influence women have throughout the industry. The champagne reception gave us all a chance to chat and catch up with friends and colleagues. The atmosphere was electric and everyone was buzzing with excitement not knowing who were going to be on the list or win the Shine awards. Dinner was served in the River Room and we all waited with baited breath to hear the results.One by one the names and photos of the Top 100 women appeared on the big screen and I can't tell you how excited and thrilled I was when I saw my name and realised I had been voted one of The Top 100 Most Influential Women in Hospitality along with Delia Smith, Nigella Lawson, Prue Leith and many others. It is such an honour to be recognised amongst so many high profile women. There was only one thing for it but to have more champagne! Following a delicious 3 course dinner the Shine Awards were presented. The event was compared by Gaby Roslin, one of the country's most popular television presenters who was most entertaining and very natural. You can see all the results including the winners of the Shine Awards celebrating outstanding achievements by women on
It was a great night full of inspirational women and I will continue to try and motivate young women to reach their full potential. Don't forget to follow everywoman's Modern Muse website.

The Cloud Hotel is now on Face Book and you can keep up to date with all the news, events and special offers. I'm desperately trying to get as good as my young grandchildren on the computer, I have a long way to go but with the help of Karl Jones of KN Media Limited I am improving my skills.

I always say that business is like dance and you can never stand still so I accepted an invitation from Emma James from Tasty Marketing and Stephen Burge of BH1 Promotions to attend a workshop about Lumpy Mail!  Lumpy Mail is an American idea and quite fascinating and if any of you are interested in finding out about it look at and contact Emma or Stephen for more information I think you will find it very interesting.

I hope to see some of you at the next Wessex Women's Network meeting on April 27th when we are having a talk about the monarchy by Jake Simpkin two days before the Royal Wedding. Even if the monarchy doesn't interest you it gives you an opportunity to meet like minded women to share ideas and have fun over dinner. Spring is here and with the lighter evenings on the way I hope I will see some of you who do not like driving in the dark during the winter months.

One of my favourite proverbs is

Just as the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.

The snail only reached where he was going through sheer perseverance!

Never give up!


Friday, 25 March 2011

Staying Positive A Secret Recipe

Staying positive was the theme for Kiki Maurey's talk to The Wessex Women on Tuesday March 22nd and it was a full house. Thirty four ladies gathered at The Cloud Hotel to hear Kiki's secret recipe of how to stay positive something we all need to do in these times of recession, wars and tsunamis. However I still believe we have plenty to be grateful for in this country and after listening to Kiki I think many of us felt inspired and motivated to move forward with our lives and love what we do. Maybe I'm one of the lucky ones but I do enjoy what I do and love the challenges that life throws at me every day. [Well most days!] Kiki lives in the New Forest National Park and we met at one of everywoman's conferences in London. We are also both members of Modern Muse. Kiki is a Professional Effectiveness Coach, Trainer and Speaker and her details can be found on
The beautiful Spring weather should make us all feel happier and lift our spirits. I hope you have had the chance to get out into the fresh air and enjoy it. I love Spring in The New Forest and I feel very spoilt living in such a beautiful location where I can just step outside my hotel and Nordic Walk with Karen Guttridge in the open forest. The gardens are full of daffodils and almond blossom the green shoots are beginning to appear on the trees. The clocks go forward an hour on March 27th and we will be-able to enjoy lighter evenings, a sign that summer is not far away.

I thought it was time for me to get into the 21st Century and The Cloud Hotel is now on Facebook so look out for news of events and special offers that we will be posting on our page.

Mother's Day Sunday lunch on April 3rd at The Cloud Hotel is fully booked now but you can still bring your Mother out for a special Mothering Sunday Tea, however you do need to book.

I very seldom see television but I was determined to see the three programmes of The English National Ballet 'Agony or Ecstasy' on BBC4. I lived every moment of it as I was trained to be a ballet dancer and have experienced the agony and ecstasy that every dancer feels. Ballet is still one of my passions and although my dancing career took me into the Variety Theatre I am convinced that the training I received has given me the discipline, stamina and drive I have needed in my business life.

The next meeting of The Wessex Women's Network is on Wednesday April 27th when Jake Simpkin is giving a talk on the Monarchy. With the Royal Wedding only two days away it should be very topical as well as interesting.

Please look at my Cloud Hotel Blog to catch up with my other news.

Remember the snail only gets to where he wants to be by sheer perseverance!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Life in the Media

It was an absolute pleasure to welcome Ian Murray, Editor of the Southampton Evening Echo, to speak to the Wessex Women's Network on Tuesday February 22nd. His talk about his career and the insight into life in the media was not only very interesting but also very entertaining. He has a great sense of humour which is something you probably need when dealing with the media.Although the numbers for the meeting were down this month probably because we had overlooked that it was half term, we all had a very enjoyable evening with lots of laughter. Ian is very approachable and encouraged us to send in any Press Releases of events or stories that may be of interest to him. Surprisingly it is better to send it hard copy to the paper than by email as they receive so many emails, you have a better chance of having your Press Release noticed if it is in hard copy.

Many of us are either Mums or Grandmothers and are trying to entertain the children this week as it is half term. I am no exception as I have 5 Grandchildren and this week is primarily devoted to them. I hadn't been able to get my video player to work for some time but Ellie who is 6 soon got it working with no effort!

Talking of Mums we will be celebrating Mothering Sunday on April 3rd so if any of you are thinking of spoiling your Mother on Mothering Sunday, lunch at The Cloud Hotel is getting very busy so you do need to book early. Alternatively to show how much you appreciate your Mum and the care and love she gives you treat her to one of our special afternoon teas and to make it extra special add a glass of champagne. Booking is necessary as we expect to be very busy.

One of the charities I support is Naomi House children's hospice in Sutton Scotney near Winchester. It has been caring for terminally ill and life-limited children since 1997. It costs around £5 million a year to run both Naomi House and Jacksplace, the new hospice for teenagers and young people who have outgrown the facilities at Naomi House. With less than 10% coming from the government they rely heavily on the support of the community. Jennifer Nutburn is a member of The Wessex Women's Network and has raised thousands of pounds for Naomi House and brought to our attention the LK. Bennett Spring Fashion Show and Dinner to be held at the De Vere Grand Harbour Hotel in Southampton on Friday March 18th in aid of Naomi House. Tickets are £45-00 available from Claire Harrington at Naomi House 01962 843513.

The next Wessex Women's meeting is on March 22nd and the speaker is Kiki Maurey 'Staying Positive -a Secret Recipe'. Kiki has been described by Barclays as 'One of the best keynote speaker/facilitaters in the country' and I can vouch for that as I attended Kiki's workshop at the 'everywoman' conference last November. She was inspirational and I loved listening to her, she convinced us all we certainly need to have a positive attitude if we want to succeed.

Awards are not only a great marketing tool for businesses and individuals but also a way of recognising the hard work and effort that business people have put into making their business a success. Women in particular need this recognition and encouragement and I would like to inform you of the Dorset Business Women Awards 2011 to be held at The Langtry Manor Hotel in Bournemouth. The award was set up to celebrate the achievement of women in business in the Dorset area. I realise that this is short notice as all entries must be in by March 7th but if you have a business in Dorset and would like to enter this year's awards details of all the categories are on the website and it's still not too late.

Spring will soon be here, we can look forward to the lighter evenings and the opportunity to enjoy what life throws at us. Business is tough at the moment but if you want to succeed in business you have to go that extra mile.There is less competition there!

Life doesn't require that we be the best-only that we try our best. H. Jackson Brown Jr


Sunday, 20 February 2011

Forecasting your future

My head was buzzing with ideas after listening to David Smith's inspirational presentation on forecasting the future at The Wow Company Networking evening at The Winchester Hotel. David Smith is a futurologist and Chief Executive of GFF- a strategic futures research organisation. He is a passionate believer that we are not victims of what the future might hold if we prepare ourselves in advance. He shared his insight on the key trends that will shape the future of small businesses and it was a rare opportunity to listen to one of the world's leading experts on the subject. I found it mind blowing! David is running a half day workshop 'What's Next?'on March 17th at the Winchester Hotel and if anyone is interested in attending this event you can contact David on 01372 210941 or I am hoping to go to this workshop myself as I find David so inspirational and I believe business is like dance, you can never stand still.
The Wow Company is a firm of proactive Accountants offering an innovative approach to Accountancy, Financial Planning and Business Advice. They are passionate about helping businesses grow whatever the market conditions  and they run several excellent networking events a year of which I usually try to attend. For more information
Love was in the air at The Cloud Hotel on February 14th and it was a full house for lunch in the Encore Restaurant on Valentine's Day for 'The Young at Heart' proving you are never too old for Love and Romance. The evening celebrations started with champagne and canapes followed by a four course candlelit dinner. It is often said that Valentine's day is just another way for businesses to make money but I believe it is an opportunity for couples to spend some quality time together. Showing our love for each other can often be overlooked in the busy world we live in.

Finally I love quotes because for me they provide daily inspiration.

Our Greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.- Thomas Edison

Remember quitters never win and winners never quit!


Friday, 11 February 2011

Inspiring young girls to succeed

I have just returned from the Careers Fayre for Year 9 at Avonbourne School for Girls in Bournemouth. The aim of the event was to provide the girls in Year 9 an opportunity to meet local FE/HE providers and businesses to discuss career opportunities. I am not only passionate about encouraging young girls and women to meet their full potential but also to encourage them to have a career in hospitality, travel and tourism so this was an opportunity for me to promote the industry to them. It is a large,vibrant and growing industry that needs a skilled and motivated workforce and it is full of potential especially for young women. I provided them with useful websites to research that would give them more information about opportunities available to them. It was a long day and very challenging as trying to keep the attention of 14 year olds is not easy. However I hope I managed to inspire a few girls to consider hospitality as a career. It was surprising how many of them thought of hospitality as just 'cooking'.
As you know I believe in working hard and playing hard and I spent a very enjoyable evening last week at a ladies event organised by Scottalls BMW dealers in Chandlers Ford. It was the idea of one of their young female staff and one hundred ladies attended much to their surprise, they didn't expect such a good response. The champagne flowed [I was sensible enough to get a taxi] and there were stalls with ladies shoes, lovely clothes, cards and chocolates that we could buy and all owned by ladies.  Congratulations Scottalls on a very relaxing and fun evening and for not even trying to sell us a car!
I had another enjoyable evening last Saturday at The Mayflower Theatre in Southampton when I took my eldest daughter and two grandsons to see 'Footloose'. What a fabulous show, I could hardly sit in my seat the dancing was so exciting and energetic and there was so much young talent in the show. Shows like 'Footloose' really lift your spirits and are better than any tonic, I almost danced home.
The next Wessex Women's Network evening is on Tuesday February 22nd when we have the pleasure of welcoming Ian Murray as our guest speaker to talk about 'Life in the Media'. Ian is the Editor of the Southern Evening Echo and I'm sure we will have some interesting questions to ask him about the responsibility of the media.
Although the media continues to report doom and gloom I still believe there are business opportunities out there and a recession can give you the opportunity to take stock, refocus and embrace change in your business enabling you to survive a recession and often come out of it stronger. Use the downturn in the economy to your advantage. It has been a slow start to business this year but I am already beginning to see those green shoots appearing and I don't mean the snowdrops and crocus. Spring will soon be here and we will enjoy lighter evenings bringing hope and optimism with them.
Love is on the menu on Monday 14th February Valentine's Day. I love to see our Restaurant full for our 'Young at Heart' Valentine's lunch, it proves that you are never the wrong age to be romantic.
I hope you all find some love on Monday and all year.

Remember 'We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give' Winston Churchill'


Tuesday, 1 February 2011

A New Year and New Opportunities

It was a pleasure to welcome back 24 Wessex Women to the January meeting after a break of several weeks due to Christmas and New Year and what fun we had! Maureen Broughton, front of house Guide at Beaulieu and Breda Nichols a Guide at Palace House gave us an entertaining and interesting presentation of 'A Maid's Eye View' of life at Beaulieu. They arrived in costume and we were all fascinated to hear the history of the Montagu family. Maureen had only come out of hospital that day so we really appreciated her coming to talk to us. She has my philosophy of life 'If you're standing up and breathing you're on!' Many thanks Maureen and I hope you are feeling better.

The Cloud Hotel always closes after Christmas for refurbishment and general maintenance. We re-opened for business on Friday January 14th. To me business is like dance you can never stand still and this year the lounges and reception area were given a new look. Whilst the hotel was closed I took the opportunity to have a holiday with my eldest daughter Amanda and we cruised round the Caribbean Islands. We had a wonderful time and alot of fun. I really believe it is important to take a break from your business and to give yourself quality time with your family. I always return from my holidays refreshed and with new ideas. Anton Mosimann was the celebrity chef on board the Silver Cloud and what a delightful man he is unlike some of the celebrity chefs we see on television these days, his food is also delicious.

No sooner had I returned from my holiday when I was on my way to London to stay at the newly refurbished Savoy Hotel in London for the 18th Master Innholders General Managers Annual Conference. The theme was 'Creating an Explosive Force in Hospitality' The hospitality industry is still male dominated and so was the conference but I go to the conference most years to listen and to learn. However I felt like 'exploding' when a photographer asked me to stand to one side as he only wanted to photograph the men! Luckily for him I'm mature and experienced enough not to re-act but I wonder how a younger woman would have re-acted as they are trying to encourage more women into hospitality! The Savoy re-opened on the tenth day of the tenth month in the year of 2010 after having been closed for three years. It's first guest was Stephen Fry who checked in at 10-00am. My room was stunning and the bed to die for but there was no mirror where you plug in the hairdryer so I couldn't see to dry my hair, it must have been designed by a man!

Speaking of encouraging women into the hospitality industry I am delighted to report that Lucy Whittington has been accepted by The Ritz Hotel in London to do two weeks work experience. Lucy has been a part time member of staff for five years and is the daughter of Mandie who has worked at the Cloud Hotel for 18 years! They are both valued members of staff and we are very proud of Lucy for being offered this opportunity against, as I understand it, some stiff competition.

It was stiff competition at the HRS Hotel Excellence Awards that I attended on January 26th at the Millbrook Towers in London. What fantastic views of London we enjoyed from the 29th floor whilst sipping our champagne!The finalists for the different categories came from as far away as the North of Scotland down to Bournemouth in the South and were represented by the large chain hotels and the smaller family hotels. I always enjoy these events. it gives me an opportunity to catch up with friends, discuss the future of the hospitality industry and recognise the talent that is emerging amongst the competition. It keeps me on my toes.

Burns Supper is always a very popular event at The Cloud Hotel and this year was no exception with fifty four people attending to have fun, good food and wine concluding the evening with Scottish Country Dancing. It was another great night with Harry Macfadyen who piped in the Guests and then the Haggis! It is the ninth year we have had the pleasure of welcoming Harry to our Burns Supper, it wouldn't be the same without him. The Burns Supper in 2012 will be held at The Cloud Hotel on Saturday January 28th and I suggest you book early as it is a very  popular event and we have bookings for it already.

I can't believe it's February already and it won't be long before the green shoots of Spring will be appearing in our gardens. I'm a great believer in positive thinking because I truly believe that positive people create positive results. In spite of all the doom and gloom reported in the media I believe there are opportunities out there and a downturn in the economy can be used to your advantage. This is an opportunity for you to look at your business, take stock, refocus and embrace change. If you have been made redundant this is an opportunity for you to create the business you have always wanted start. From a crisis does come an opportunity so make sure you take it.I did and I'm pleased I did,

The next Wessex Women's Network event is on Tuesday 22nd February when Ian Murray Editor of the Evening Echo will talk about 'Life in the Media' hopefully with some positive thoughts.

Don't forget to remind your loved ones that it is Valentine's Day on February 14th, [they usually need reminding] and get them to treat you to a romantic dinner at The Cloud Hotel.

Finally 'You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to leave the shore'