Archive for Polraen Country House – Page 3

Looe Wedding Fayre at Polraen Country House Cornwall October 8th

Calling all brides and grooms planning a wedding in Cornwall – keep your diary free for Saturday October 8th to attend a wedding fayre at Polraen Country House, Looe in South East Cornwall.    We have been chosen by Kernow Wedding Belles as the venue for their first wedding fayre!  The burgeoning business is destined to change the face of the wedding preparation market so if you want your day to be special, personal, intimate or different,  you’ll want to attend this wedding fayre with a difference.

The aim of the family-friendly Looe company is to provide a platform for small, independent companies, so that they can showcase their services and wares at a series of intimate and exclusive wedding fayres across the region, housed in some of the most attractive venues imaginable.

The wedding fayre at Polraen Country House,  Sandplace,  near Looe, will take place 10.30 am to 4.30 pm on Saturday, October 8.  In a peaceful location in the beautiful Looe Valley, 2 miles north of the historic fishing port of Looe in South East Cornwall, our family run 18th century country house hotel is no stranger to weddings.  So it’s a wonderful endorsement and accolade that this local company, with expertise in the wedding business, has recognised  the unique combination of location and facilities, including the award winning garden, excellent food and service that we offer.  They describe our venue as  “both beautiful and elegant.  Reputedly built as a coaching inn around 1740, it remained part of the nearby Morval Estate until becoming the family home of Peter Bessell, Liberal MP for South East Cornwall in the 1960s.  It was later converted into a small hotel and has since undergone considerable refurbishment which complements its natural Cornish country house charm .”  Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Kernow Wedding Belles plan “to stage a wedding fayre offering a wealth of taste and style, backed by the hospitality and business acumen gleaned from the proprietors’ combined years of employment experience.”  The Belles are the Looe-based mother and daughters team of Stephanie Hawkins, mum to Jodie and recently wed Carrie-Ann Richardson, and all of them have a successful background in the wedding industry. “Response to Looe Wedding Belles’ first fayre has been fantastic with at least five new businesses exhibiting to the market for the first time.”

Exhibitiors will include Cake Makers, Photographers, Jewellers, Car Hire, Bridal wear, Florists, a Travel Company & a whole host of professionals who will be demonstrating their particular expertise in the industry. Free entry & complimentary drink on arrival.

For further details, please contact Jodie on 01503 265448 or Carrie- Ann on 07875 266 220 or 07551 008 677 respectively.

Directions/How to find us

Looe Making Waves Music Festival and South East Cornwall Walking Festival

The South East Cornwall Walking Festival 17-25 September and Looe’s Making Waves Music Festival 23-25 September. What a great week to visit Looe! You’ll find yourself spoilt for choice with a great selection of guided walks covering the East and West Looe River Valleys, the Looe Valley in AutumnTamar, Bodmin Moor, and the South West Coast Path.

Then you can change from walking boots to dancing shoes to head down to any of the 3 sound stages over the weekend of 23, 24 and 25 September where the focus will be on different music styles in a fantastic music festival ‘Making Waves’ with headline acts including Adrian Edmondson and the Bad Shepherds and Roy Wood and his Rock n Roll Band. 

Making Waves Music Festival in Looe – the staged venues:

  • West Looe Quay marquee with a Cornish traditional feel
  • The Rose Garden Marquee, East Looe with an easy listening ambiance
  • The Beach and Seafront with an al fresco rock, pop, punk vibe.

Music will be concentrated during the day on the 3 soundstages then local pubs, restaurants and cafes will take over in the evening to maximise the benefits to the local economy.  Workshops, street entertainment and dance performances will add to the festival atmosphere.

And it’s very affordable!  A weekend ticket is £40 for all venues if your’e over 18, while 14-17 age group pay only £10 and accompanied under 14s go FREE.  Saturday only tickets are £25. The weekend kicks off on Friday with a ‘giant pasty’ procession from East Looe to West Looe where everyone is invited to ‘make some noise’ to welcome the pasty followed by a Noz Lowen on West Looe Quay from around 5pm (traditional Cornish dance). So if you haven’t got your tickets yet, click on the Making Waves Festival logo above and get online to book! After Wednesday, tickets will be sent via text to your phone. You can also get them from the Looe Tourist Information Centre (tel 01503 262072) or on the gate.

If you need accommodation, at Polraen, Check Availability for 2 and 3 night breaks until end September.

See you there!

Tripadvisor reviews – Six Top Tips to Bear in Mind

A newspaper article in today’s Daily Mail (July 11th 2011) ‘Hotels ‘bribe guests for online reviews’ compels me to add a comment.  And to give some advice to those seeking to use tripadvisor in order to find a good hotel or bed and breakfast/guest house.

Firstly, I consider tripadvisor to be a useful tool for enabling guests to give objective and honest feedback and for it to be shared with fellow travellers. At Polraen, we have encouraged feedback via tripadvisor for a couple of years now, by displaying a tripadvisor stand close to our visitors book and in a simple email to our guests, thank them for their stay and provide a link to the review page, assuring them “What you write is totally up to you.”  We offer no incentives. Which is why there is some cause for concern that the system is being abused by some hoteliers, and sadly by a Cornwall hotel. I’m glad that tripadvisor reviews of Polraen Country House Hotel are overwhelmingly positive BUT…….. stories like today’s will regretfully undermine the perceived impartiality of the tripadvisor site. So for those seeking to use tripadvisor as a source of information to help make the right decision on where to book, here are some points to bear in mind.

Tripadvisor Reviews – Six Top Tips

  1. Be sceptical of any establishment which has 5 star reviews – exclusively!  The saying ‘You can’t please all of the people all of the time is true’. So if there is nothing negative at all under a rave review listing, consider that only ‘safe’ guests (or friends) are being invited to submit reviews.
  2. Don’t be put off by the odd negative review about a place you like the look of. Read several reviews to understand the trend over time.  And for a poor review, always read the management response if there is one, giving the ‘other side of the story’. If however, no management responses are shown against poor reviews, consider that this reflects a complacent attitude by the hotel management – ie not taking the time to respond to a guest complaint. 
  3. Remember, some guests can be ‘bad guests’ with malicious intent who set about finding fault.  If a guest makes the initial mistake in booking a hotel not suited to their needs, a complaint will frequently result  but…..Is this the fault of the hotel or the guest? If a guest expects to use a gift voucher on a Sat night in peak season for a one night stay, and can’t, so submits a negative review out of frustration, tripadvisor still accept this as a customer service experience, yet the rating might only reflect the misunderstanding of terms and conditions/frustration/disappointment and not necessarily the hotel’s customer service performance during the phone enquiry.
  4. Note that sometimes, tripadvisor gets it wrong and unfairly upholds a bad review (disputed by the hotel owner) because the tripadvisor ‘dispute’ email is limited to 200 characters which occasionally does not permit a proper understanding of the issue. (We had an experience of this ourselves when a guest posted a picture almost 2 years after their stay, posting it as NEW! when it was in fact 20 months old since when our bathrooms had been refurbished! It took nearly 6 weeks to get the misleading and defamatory photo taken down.) 
  5. Don’t let the rather offputting privacy policy dissuade you from submitting a review.  One of our guests recently drafted an excellent review * but declined to submit it, as they were concerned for their privacy when confronted by a lengthy opt-in policy regarding Facebook sign in.   I raised the issue via the tripadvisor forum, and received this explanation.  ‘There is no requirement to sign on through FaceBook. It is an option. And there is no requirement to share your reviews. You can say No.  TripAdvisor has options to: (a) disconnect completely from FaceBook if you had at some point connected; (b) disable instant personalization.’  Other advice also highlighted that it is incumbent upon Facebookers to review their own privacy settings on Facebook to control the level of access which others have to their Facebook posts etc. (My own view?  When tripadvisor is seeking to have access to your profle information and to access your friends information,  I certainly have sympathy with my guest who was concerned “about potentially being bombarded with their adverts, or subjecting  my family to the same.” From a marketing perspective, if something appears off putting and intrusive and therefore acts as an obstacle to travellers undertaking the desired outcome (ie submitting a review) then I would argue that the onus is on the marketing gurus at tripadvisor to consider this. I have found that it has only been the relatively recent development of the Facebook sign in option that has escalated the issue – as the level of text dedicated to the opt in approval prior to submitting a review has become overcomplicated and lengthy – a potential turn off to our guests.  I will be monitoring how comfortable our guests feel about this going forward.)
  6. Remember, regardless of how attractive the incentive is, don’t accept a bribe! However well dressed up it is! And consider reporting any establishment which, in your opinion, is coercing you to submit a biased review. 

Businesses like Polraen over the last couple of years have contributed hugely to building tripadvisors community of travellers by encouraging the practice of posting reviews.  Regretfully, it does seem that the independent review site appears a little ‘less independent’ now tripadvisor is charging for business listings to feature contact details and special offers, earning revenue from selling third party ad space to online booking agencies and sadly being manipulated by some accommodation owners in this way.

*And here is the review about Polraen that never got posted: ”

“This is a great little Hotel with very friendly owners who go out of their way to make their guests welcome. Our room was small but very comfortable and spotlessly clean. The free Wi-fi was useful. The food is locally sourced and beautifully cooked by Martin. The menu is varied, the food well presented and everything was delicious. Gill is queen of the raspberry pavlovas!

The setting is very peaceful, with a lovely garden and ample parking. We found it convenient for exploring with and without the car. There are many exciting places of interest within a reasonable distance. We visited Eden, Tintagel, Heligan and more. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Polraen and we would love to go again.”

Looe business earning ‘green’ credentials as an eco friendly hotel in Cornwall

I’m really excited that we have a member of staff attending a Green Foundation Course at the Eden Project. The course is designed to help businesses in Cornwall prepare for the coming changes in legislation regarding climate change.  At Polraen Country House, we strive to be increasingly environmentally friendly as conservation and concern for our environment have always been key considerations for us in running our family business over the last 11 years. We’ve gradually incorporated policies from recycling and housekeeping routines to careful selection of cleaning products and toiletries, from double glazing our windows to insulating our roof, replacing our freezers and boiler and changing all our light bulbs in order to lower our carbon footprint. Our efforts to date have been recognised by receiving a ‘Green Acorn Award’ from the South East Cornwall Tourism Association.

But now, we have a staff member totally inspired and full of enthusiasm to ensure that we focus on some new initiatives to further improve our ‘green’ credentials. We’ve nick named her ‘the eco warrior’. Sometime in the not too distant future, I feel that solar powered hot water and photo voltaic generation will be a reality for us together with extended composting and even closer scrutiny of the ingredients in our cleaning products and food miles on our menu!! And our volunteer work with the Cornwall Wildlife Trust in promoting and helping to run marine activities on behalf of the Looe Voluntary Marine Conservation Area is part of the bigger picture – along with encouraging our guests to take the bus or train into Looe rather than their car.

Thought for the Day:

Rome wasn’t built in a day (!) and we are only a little micro business but if we focus on one project at a time, eating away at our carbon footprint in bite size chunks, the sum of the whole is greater than we could ever imagine. Together, we can all make a difference…………..

Network Rail abandon plans for mast at Sandplace Station

Network Rail removing the Equipment Cabin at Sandplace Station

After 2 months of campaigning, Sandplace residents finally met with senior representatives from Network Rail on Thursday 31 March regarding the controversial proposed installation of a 25 metre mast and large equipment cabin at Sandplace Station on the Looe Valley Line. Residents had taken their arguments to MP Sheryl Murray, raised questions to Parliament, the Department for Transport, the Office of Rail Regulatioin, the Rail Safety Standards Board and Cornwall Council arguing that the site was inappropriate due to road safety issues created by the equipment cabin and proposed mast and the significant visual impact of the communications infrastructure, spoiling the hamlet of Sandplace designated an ‘Area of Great Landscape Value’.

Senior Representatives of Network Rail, after inspecting the site, decided to immediately remove the cabin and abandon plans to site the 25 metre mast at Sandplace Station. They have now conceded that the location was inappropriate, acknowledging both the road safety issue and the detrimental impact on the hamlet of Sandplace and the heritage appearance of Sandplace Station. The unique topography of the Looe Valley presents key challenges for Network Rail in maintaining clear radio frequency along its meandering contours for the purposes of installing their GSMR communications system. The system has been mandated by UK legislation for all passenger routes, in spite of the EU directive naming the Looe Valley Line as an exception under Interoperability legislation. After rejecting the use of alternative communications technologies put forward by residents, it was accepted that the only viable resolution was to install smaller masts in more concealed locations to significantly reduce visual impact.

Network Rail are now re evaluating their alternative site locations for smaller masts and will also be pioneering the use of much smaller equipment cabins on the Looe Valley Line in order to alleviate the concerns of all local residents in the area. In accordance with their Permitted Developments Rights, they will notify Cornwall Council Planning of the new sites and have given an undertaking to consult with any potentially affected parties. We are pleased Network Rail is now working with us to arrive at an outcome acceptable to all local residents. “

It was a case of “Now you see it – Now you don’t!’ – a Network Rail ground crew arrived the following day, early on Friday morning (April Fool’s Day!) to remove the equipment cabin. The ground crew commented that this is the first time they were aware of such a step being undertaken by Network Rail during the GSMR project.

After much heart ache and anxiety, the residents of Sandplace are relieved to have achieved a successful outcome, demonstrating a clear example of localism and the community in action.

Steam trains on the Looe Valley Line in September

Victorian Railway Fayre at Polraen in the Looe ValleySteam trains return to the Looe Valley Line on 19th and 26th September, commemorating 150 years of the Looe Branch Line and the 175th Anniversary of the Great Western Railway. We’re thrilled to have chance to see them passing Polraen Country House four times each Sunday. It will be the first time since 1961 that steam trains have travelled on the line between Liskeard and Looe .

The Looe Valley Explorer trains will feature steam locomotive GWR designed Hawksworth Pannier Tank No. 9466 hauling in one direction and a classic  1960’s English electric Type 3 (Class 37)  diesel in the other. The four departures on the two consecutive Sundays 19th and 26th September, will leave Liskeard at 10.50, 12.55, 14.55 and 17.10 stopping at Looe for approximately 10 minutes. Return tickets are £25 each with further details available from Vintage Trains including booking information. 

Victorian GirlsCelebrations to mark the 150th Anniversary of the Looe Valley Line will also be centred around the weekend of 11 and 12 September when a variety of events get underway with a Victorian fare, organized walks, a real ale trail and much, much more. It reminds me fondly of the time about 7 or 8 years ago when we held a Victorian Fayre in our garden to celebrate one of the railway centenary events.

If you are looking for accommodation, B&B rates at Polraen are from £82 per room per night.

A Wonderful Wedding near Looe

Polraen Conservatory - wedding receptionLast Saturday 3rd July, the wedding reception held at Polraen Country House show-cased the magical wedding venue we have here in the Looe Valley.

The afternoon garden party for 40 guests was followed by an early evening barbecue for 75. “A reception that was relaxed, fun, and with a country house informality” is what the bride and groom wanted. They had arranged for Plymouth’s top indie band ‘Joker’ to provide the live entertainment and they were absolutely brilliant, playing cover versions of Oasis through to the Kings of Leon and Kasabian. There was also a ‘Rodeo Bull’ ride to keep the children happy, although a few of the adults entered the spirit of things and had a go.

The garden looked fantastic, the sun shone, the conservatory was transformed into a beautiful wedding room decked out with  flowers and cotton bunting. The finger food buffet included pixie cornish pasties, and a Cornish cheese board with plenty of choice for vegetarians. This was followed by a meat eaters feast featuring Cornish reared meat including  sirloin steaks, chicken thighs, and butchers sausages, complimented with a flavour from the sea – delicious king prawn skewers.

Wedding Reception at Polraen Country House LooeWedding Buffet at PolraenJust in case of rain, the bride and groom had erected a small marquee over the patio interconnecting with the conservatory, but there was no need…… the odd grey cloud passed over and the sun shone into the evening as the live band played on – we felt as if we were enjoying our own mini Glastonbury!

Wedding Buffet at Polraen LooeIn fact the band were dead impressed with our venue as there is a natural stage in the garden on the raised terrace above the flower beds, the acoustics in the valley were amazing and access via a separate drive in the garden allowed the entertainment to unload and set up their equipment without any inconvenience or hassle.

Hopefully we’ll have similar weather in two weeks time when we are hosting a 50th Birthday party………..

National Powerboat Racing in Looe May 2010

National Powerboat Racing Championships Looe

National Powerboat Racing Championships Looe

Looe is once again the venue for the National Powerboat Racing Championships this coming weekend May 8 and 9.  An amazing array of classes compete in Looe Bay just off the harbour mouth. There’s great viewing from either East Looe Beach or better still, from West Looe around at Hannafore.  

At Polraen Country House, we can offer guests free parking for a boat and trailer (please advise when booking your room).We are boat owners ourselves and find it a very easy 5 minute drive from the hotel at Sandplace along the Looe Valley into town to launch from the public slipway in the Millpool Car Park in West Looe. Very few hotels or bed and breakfast places can offer accommodation with onsite parking for a boat in Looe. So if you’re still looking for a place to stay, we have just one double ensuite room left this weekend – if you want to book it and bring your boat so you can watch the powerboat racing from the water, you can have off road parking in a quiet location for free enjoying – ‘a Grand Prix like atmosphere at a fraction of the cost’.

New Website for Polraen Country House Hotel

Polraen Country House Hotel has a new website!

Gill and Martin in the Polraen Country House barWelcome and thank you for visiting our new website.

February 18th marked our 10th anniversary of living here in Looe and we felt it was high time to revamp our website so here it is, the new website complete with our first blog – ever!

We wanted the new website to reflect the many improvements we’ve undertaken here at the hotel over the last 10 years. If you’ve stayed with us before but not recently, you’ll see that we now have a wonderful conservatory, the garden has been landscaped and the bedrooms have been upgraded. The new facilities not only offer a more spacious experience for our hotel guests but we are also receiviing many requests for weddings, and functions with such a lovely garden as a backdrop. Read More→