I am sitting on the train on the way back from a great visit to two of my client sites. Well, I am not sitting on the train just now. I was sitting on the train while I was writing this. I am sure you made the distinction; I am only making certain you were aware.
Today, (see above) I was lucky enough to tour the properties of Limewood Hotel and Whitley Ridge. They are nestled in the New Forest, just the other side of Southampton. If you get off at Brockenhurst, just ask the cabbie at the station to take you there. He knows right where they both are. Limewood is a brand-new, five-star, uber-awesome* property with a kitchen run by Alex Aitkens and the nicest staff. Also, I am not sure if is the company uniform, but jeans tucked into tall, brown, leather boots and a cropped, brown blazer seemed to be the order of the day. And it was working for the ones I saw, let me tell you.
Limewood is the epitome of relaxed elegance. Deep, cushy sofas that swallowed your bum, placed in just the right spots around the common rooms. Multiple fireplaces were softly smoldering away, filling the whole place with the warm scent of wood smoke, sage and flowers. Although I think the flowers were doing their own thing and just got roped in. The meeting room I was in for most of the day was professional without being stodgy with a massive flat screen for me to plug into and (GET THIS!) free wifi. Let me back up and say that again. Free Wi-Fi. The last time I was in a hotel that had free Wi-Fi, the signal strength was only rivaled by the water pressure in the shower. Which was a lot below "great". This was AMAZING!
Lest it sound like I was only at one place today, at the end of the meeting, I hung out with the lovely Lora from Whitley Ridge. She and I share a love of great food, great wine and brown liquor. As I told her, we are going to get along great. Lora is the GM of Whitley Ridge and she gave me a lift to her property that is just down the road from Limewood. It is actually closer to the Brockenhurst station. She drives a hot little MR2 that she zips around on the twisty, country roads. Exhilarating, not scary, there is a difference. Whitley is in the middle of some changes from What it Was to what it is Going to Be. The main areas of the property have been renovated and the rooms have been updated. Lora has a larger vision she is working on and we are going to get there.
Whitley really is its own place, relaxed to be certain, but in a very different way to her sister property. Whitley sources its food locally. Not local as in, “I bought this from the Tesco in town”. If you order eggs for breakfast, they will have been from the chickens that live on property. The coq au vin will be as well (The cockerel gave his all for the dish.) Veggies are coming from the garden out back and the menu gets tweaked every few days based on what they have on. They don’t get everything from the property, but it all comes from nearby. When you go, order the pork dish and then ask what the name of the pig was. I bet you James will know. It will have come from the farmer up the road and butchered by another local. Your salad will have been grown on site and picked by one of the staff. The Mother's Day Menu looks amazing.
*You try stringing three hyphenated adjectives together; I know Uber-Awesome is redundant.
**Oh, and thanks to the properties for letting me steal images off of the sites.