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An Interesting Reflection on 2020 so far from Anne Way

An Interesting Reflection on 2020 so far from Anne Way
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Some mutterings from Anne Way

The fact that this strange lockdown has coincided with the life changing decision that we made and led to us selling our two much loved hotels in South Devon earlier this year, makes life for me now seem even more dramatically different on a day to day basis than I ever  could have imagined!

After 37 years of considering the Royal Castle and the team there  as so personal to us as a family it was a great wrench to let go and an emotional time for us especially  to know that it will never be privately owned again in this very  corporate world that we all now live in.  We moved in and lived there for a while with our 2 children when Tim was 3 years and Becca only 6 months old before we eventually moved into a house in Dartmouth which was a challenging but happy time!   I also have my own very personal  feelings about the Royal Seven Stars at Totnes as it has played a huge part of my our own life – I and my family lived locally and I had worked there in the early 1970s as a teenage receptionist and Nigel and I had been fortunate to own it from 2005.  It had become very sad and neglected  and over the years we had lovingly restored its fortunes and importantly it was our favourite venue for all our major family gatherings – both celebratory and sad – parents and children and other family  birthday parties and anniversaries etc – the ballroom feeling on those occasions felt like our own personal family space!   The sadness of leaving behind life at Dartmouth and Totnes was of course combined with the excitement of being able to look forward and plan on spending more time, energy and resources into developing our fabulous properties and teams in Dunster and Porlock Weir.

However, the eventual timing of this transition was amazing (does Nigel have a direct line to Mystic Meg?)  and the  pain of all this disruption in February has since been overshadowed by a sense of relief that we now suddenly have fewer responsibilities and worries than we would have been faced with.  With this unprecedented crisis of lockdown nobody really has any answers at the moment but it seems that there will be lots of problems that bars and restaurants will still be facing once everything is lifted.  We will all have to think of ways of implementing effective social distancing measures and deal with the ongoing fears of customers and staff even after the government allows reopening.

At The Luttrell Arms and The Porlock Weir I think we are very fortunate to be situated in rural areas where we will be in a much better position to offer people plenty of open spaces and clean air  both inside and out rather than in busy urban town centre locations where there is no expectation of ‘getting away from it all’ – our intention at Porlock Weir has always been to use the remote location as an ideal backdrop for peaceful relaxation and perhaps some introduction to mindfulness and wellbeing practices – walking, yoga, painting classes, canoeing  etc being more important at times than socialising and shopping!

At the Luttrell Arms we are already established as a relatively peaceful location where guests are always encouraged to relax either by a roaring log fire in winter or in the sunny garden in summer or enjoy being indulged with a massage or facial in the luxury of the  health and beauty studio.   Regular long standing customers and friends of the ‘Lutts’ enjoy the quiet rather sleepy  village atmosphere that Dunster enjoys for most of the year and the wild beauty and open spaces of  Exmoor that surround us at Dunster and Porlock.

It is frustrating at the moment not to be able to be getting on with our plans – I can’t remember ever spending so much time at home – I haven’t driven my car for over 4 weeks now which is historic for me as I have spent the last few years regularly on the road between South Devon and West Somerset!  The weather has been really hot some days and the garden at home has never had so much attention.  We are very lucky that Becca and Greg and our 2 year old granddaughter Georgia were already staying with us here when the lockdown was imposed as they were in the midst of moving house and everything suddenly stopped mid move.  We are all together and this makes us feel very privileged when so many of our friends have not seen their families for several weeks now and missed out on Mother’s Day and Easter family gatherings.

Every day tends to feel very much the same and so to try and retain some structure to the week we are having a proper Sunday lunch every and cooking for some neighbours who are alone which makes it more worthwhile –  its takes absolutely ages to prepare the meal and clear up afterwards and so this takes up most of the day – probably because as hoteliers we have always been used to serving customers rather than doing all the background work – Nigel had his first Easter Sunday off for 40 years he tells me!  There are arguments about timings and cooking procedures and results are variable sometimes and no help in the house now I realise how much time consuming work is entailed in cooking a family meal. I realise now why everyone enjoys going out to eat in hotels like ours for major meals like Sunday lunch!  On a Sunday night I find myself looking forward even more to the hotels reopening and getting Barrie and Miguel and their teams back in the hotel kitchens.

What our guests say...

Happy Hotel

I rarely feel compelled to give reviews, but this hotel is worth one. It occupies a charming old building of great character with a good garden. In keeping with its age, it has stairs but no lift. The bedrooms are clean, bright and with good modern accommodation. The dining room is very attractive, and the restaurant menu is excellent. The staff are competent, friendly and helpful. It is a happy hotel...
Mr Fletcher

Helpful Staff

Great hotel and location. The food was very good particularly the breakfast. The staff were very helpful especially when we had to amend the booking. Dunster castle was within walking distance and along with the mill is worth a visit....

A perfect lunch

We stayed here earlier in the year and returned just for lunch today.We weren’t disappointed. My wife had the roast beef and I chose the seafood chowder. Though quite different both of these meals were delicious.A beautiful location, friendly service and great food! What more could you ask for?...

Terrific hotel, great gardens

Loved this hotel. Lots of nooks and crannies. Nice welcoming bar, would be very nice in the winter if imagine, because there is a grand, big fire place. Garden is beautiful, great to relax in on a summer day. Highly recommend although a Little expensive, but worth it for a treat....

Quirky in the right sense

Lovely clean room and bathroom. Super public rooms and spaces with fires. Quirky in the right sense and not as a euphemism for inconvenient. Great location for walking and touring. Wonderful food both breakfasts and evening meals. We felt thoroughly pampered...
Sarah P

The hotel is a gem

My wife and I booked in for a birthday trip in November. Dunster is a charming small town / village destination with a great castle. We stayed for two nights with dinner on one night and afternoon tea on the second. The hotel is a gem, with lovely old bars and lounges plus a main bar very popular with the locals-four real ales and a selection of ciders and lagers. Staff were excellent. Dinner was ...
Peter T

Pulled out all of the stops

My Partner and I had a really great stay with the dog. Nothing was too much trouble for the staff. They really pulled out all of the stops to ensure a carefree stay with the dog. We found the whole set up and inclusive treatment for dog owners to extremely well done and a real home from home with all the old world charm of a historic building in a historic and idyllic country setting. We will definitely...
Andrew W

The staff really go the extra mile

We’ve been staying here on and off for over 18 years and it just keeps getting better. Fantastic location for Exmoor, the west Somerset coast and Dunster. The staff really go the extra mile and are superb, the rooms are original and comfortable and the food is good. Lots of different public rooms to explore and relax in, two bars both with open log fires plus lots of character plus lovely gardens...
James F

Amazing staff

My wife and I stayed two nights recently here with our young son to attend a wedding in the village...the hotel was very busy throughout the weekend due to the annual music festival, and yet all the hotel staff went out of their way to make us feel so welcome....

Our favourite hotel

We had such a lovely time at this hotel. 2nd visit and we shall definitely return. Everything is just so. Hotel rooms, service, staff is just lovely and food delicious. We couldn't fault it at all. The main bar area just makes you feel like you want to spend the rest of your day sitting by the fireplace sipping on your drink and reading the paper. Our favourite hotel and we would highly recommend ...
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