Luxury For ALL The Family at The Four Seasons Hampshire

Sixteen years ago in a “previous life”, I found myself “living the dream” spending a 3 night business trip at the stunning Four Seasons Hotel on the beautiful island of Nevis in the West Indies.

Nevis

That was my first introduction to the incredible Four Seasons experience and one I’ll never forget.

Fast forward to today and I am now very fortunate to have the Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire as one of my top clients! Not quite the same tropical sandy setting but equally as stunning and possibly even more beautiful, set in spectacular English countryside in a quiet village called Dogmersfield just off the M3 near Fleet.

The hotel is a majestic 300 year old Georgian Manor Estate set in 500 acres that boasts visits by both Henry VI and Henry VIII.  Providing the ultimate in luxury it is, as you would expect, a popular destination for those seeking a special few days away from the rat race.

Four Seasons General

The hotel particularly stands out for me as I have rarely found a venue of this stature that welcomes families with small children so warmly. As a parent who likes to treat myself to the finer things in life every so often, I have become very frustrated over the last 10 years trying to find pubs, restaurants and hotels that offer luxury and opulence whilst still welcoming families with open arms. The Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire has quite simply nailed it!

Allow me to introduce you to “Kids for All Seasons”.

The hotel offers this exclusive “club” for their shorter guests!  On arrival, each child receives a personal invitation to participate in the fun packed Kids For All Seasons activity schedule, the hotel’s meticulously organised children’s programme.

“It’s definitely true that happy children make happy parents, so we aim to please the whole family by keeping the children entertained with a full range of activities to suit even the most discerning little guests!” Sam Kirby, Concierge.

The Kids for All Seasons Cottage is a wonderfully vibrant play zone set in it’s own charming building in the grounds, a short stroll from the main hotel. KFAS Inside

It is complimentary and available to all little guests aged 3 to 10 years. Under 3s are also welcomed when accompanied by a parent/guardian. Over 10s have their own games room upstairs with pool table, table tennis and wii station!

It is an Aladdin’s cave for the little ones. Run by the very lovely Nicole and a team of brilliant helpers (who the children all adore) the facility offers a wealth of toys; never-ending arts and crafts as well as films and video games.

Nicole Arts and Crafts

Even the children’s toilet is totally cool!!!

Taps

We have been providing our professional team of top class face painters to the hotel for 3 years now and love every booking.   As well as enjoying working with Nicole in the cottage we have also joined the wider team for family days, Halloween Parties; Christmas and New Year celebrations and of course their annual Terry Fox Fun Run raising funds for Cancer Research.

“Fascinating Faces is always a hit with our Kids for All Seasons and the school holidays wouldn’t be the same without Claire’s team’s colourful creations”

Sam Kirby, Concierge

Last Spring they also opened a brand new equestrian centre on site that offers “own a pony days” and riding lessons for children as well as a petting zoo during peak periods. The hotel also boasts a magical outdoor playground beside the cottage with a climbing wall, a rope bridge, covered slide and swings.

Outdoor Fun

Also recently opened, is the Highwire Adventure experience – check out this awesome video.

In summary, the Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire is a quintessentially English Utopia for families – there is so much more on offer than what I have managed to cover today – you can read more in this lovely review by a recent guest

http://familyholidays.fourseasons.com/family-holidays-hampshire-uk/

or better still book your family in now!!

http://www.fourseasons.com/hampshire/

(February half term, the Easter break and May Bank Holiday weekends are key dates coming up on the calendar so book soon if you’d like to experience this wonderful hotel and all it has to offer.)

The next dates you can find Fascinating Faces there working our magic with our paint and glitter are Saturday 14th and Saturday 21st February from 1.30pm – 4.30pm.

Fascinating Faces

And it’s not just for little kids either … big kids can have fun too!

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Friday Favourites ….. VENUES and VIEWS!

I’ve worked in a plethora of venues over the years – from tired, damp church halls and remote corners of wet, muddy, windy fields in the middle of nowhere 542386_4174060235955_1769070261_nto plush function rooms of five-star deluxe hotels and conference suites in top executive corporate offices in the City – they all have their own individual charm!

IMG_2109My trusted kit has been dragged on trains, across car parks and fields; squeezed in and out of lifts and heaved up a myriad of staircases – and my poor back and shoulders have taken the brunt of it!

As the years go by, my back gets weaker and I get wiser; my kit gets gradually smaller and smaller but I know I can still do better!  One day I hope to start a trend in “monochrome facepainting parties” … just think “painty friends” ….  a Grimas cake white, a Wolfe black and white and a bag full of sponges, three brushes, some glitter, a mirror and I’d be all set!!!

Over the last few months I’ve started keeping a photographic diary of my painting locations!  For all the jobs I moan about, I get twice as many that are just idyllic and I find myself in settings that make me very grateful for the business I’m in.

Each photo, as always, tells a story!  So here’s a glimpse of my favourites to date.  As always, in no particular order!

The first was a set up on the edge of the River Thames in the grounds of a beautiful mansion.  The party itself was being held on a riverboat moored up beside the house and the interior of the boat itself even resembled something out of Surrey Life Magazine!    I was set up in the boathouse on the river bank overlooking this wonderful view! 

River Thames

It was just me, the booze table and an amazing buffet spread!   The PA who had organised the party had so much planned and the guests were in for a fantastic event.   Unfortunately, half way through the afternoon, the Heavens opened and the pelting rain set in for the rest of the day.  The band rushed all their equipment into the boathouse in a panic and I dragged my set up further and further into a corner!  Before I knew it, the band and I were squashed up together at one end and all the sodden party guests filled the rest of the space!  It turned out to be a rather intimate afternoon!

One of my favourite bookings was a weekly Sunday carvery at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel in Guildford, sadly now ended but hoping they’ll have me back one day soon.   Every Sunday I’d rock up at their glamorous foyer and wheel my kit through to their beautiful restaurant.  The staff were so welcoming and I always felt like part of their team.  My view at this job was very decadent –

Radisson Hotel

– a stunning restaurant, with a very grown up feel but one that welcomes children!  Not bad eh?

A great place to work, however, if I turned 90 degrees to my right the view that presented itself was positively torturous ….

IMG_3095

My mouth watered and my stomach positively growled through every minute of the 2 hour booking each week!  They spoiled me on a couple of occasions and plated up a delicious roast for me to enjoy after I finished!  Yum!   Their restaurant, the Scoff and Banter, still offers a great choice for breakfasts or brunches to three course business lunches, weekend roasts and indulgent afternoon teas.   Definitely worth a visit, even without the face painting!

Jubilee weekend in 2012 brought one of my wettest, windiest but memorable jobs to date!!  I found myself set up in a vast expanse of field, surrounded by acres of more fields, under a flimsy gazebo with no sides and then the rain came down!

I found two little helpers to cart my kit across the soggy grass …

Jubilee

… but as you can see the field was rather lacking in guests as they were still quaffing champagne and canapés at their street party 500 yards away!

So I twiddled my thumbs for half an hour and admired the view ….

DSC06842

… eventually everyone started to ramble up the hill to the party area and I got ready with my red, white and blue!    Once again, as is the British weather’s want, the Heavens opened and the rain was lashing into the gazebo horizontally.  Fortunately, I had my wonderful assistant with me (my Mum!) and also some family members who were camping nearby who surrounded me with golf umbrellas and the show went on!!!  As you can imagine the paint didn’t last long once exposed to the elements and there were a few bedraggled Union Jack faces wandering around all afternoon!

My fourth favourite has to be one of my old haunts in my twenties, The Black Swan  in Ockham.  A fabulous pub in a stunning setting – I highly recommend it any time of the year, but especially on a warm summer’s afternoon.

Black Swan

Take your family for a walk in the beautiful Surrey Hills followed by a lazy, leisurely Sunday lunch in their cosy, welcoming restaurant or partaking in their mouth-watering barbecue in the idyllic beer garden.  I’ve already featured this pub in another blog so you can read more about it here.

And last but by no means least … the totally fabulous Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire!

FPO_HAM_185

We are proud to be the preferred suppliers for this luxurious, glamorous hotel and have been working with them for the last couple of years.   Unlike many other elegant top class hotels in the UK, the Four Seasons welcomes families with young children with open arms.

Bank holiday weekends and special holidays are especially magical as they put on the Kids for All Seasons programme with an activity itinerary that fills a small brochure!  Parties, craft activities, pony riding, bike rides, treasure hunts, movies and of course face painting plus much more!   Rose Cottage, in the grounds of the Hotel, is a haven for small children; staffed by a wonderfully caring team, there are toys and games galore to keep the kids occupied whilst Mum and Dad enjoy a few hours peace indulging in treatments in the hotel’s opulent spa!   As I write, they have just been awarded the Real Critics Guide Award for ‘Real Outstanding Country Retreat’ 2013 and check out this fabulous review on Conde Nast Traveller!  Watch this space for an up-coming article specifically dedicated to this wonderful hotel.  And maybe one day I’ll find a weekend spare to actually book in and indulge with my own daughter!!!

So there you have it …. sure beats commuting to a stuffy office every day!

Where’s the best place you’ve ever worked?