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Being Dependably Independent..!

Plymouth Plymouth Plymouth, Devon
 

In a world full of choices and when everything feels possible; what is it that we really want..?

There is one thing for certain; Plymouth is a city destination like no other. Thousands of holiday makers, business travellers and guests visit our ocean city each year. Each choosing (for varying reasons) the best place for them to lay their sleepy heads.

In the UK, according to figures from STR, almost 40% of the hotel rooms are independent whereas more than 60% of hotel properties are chain hotels.

Plymouth has a good number of hotels and accommodation providers to choose from, both chains and independents. Yet, if with all this choice you are still struggling to decide where will be your home whilst visiting our spectacular city, let us perhaps help with a little insight into why we love being Plymouth’s largest, independent hotel.

We know that in and around the city there are some fantastic chain hotels. For some travellers this is exactly what they are looking for. Knowing that having stayed and enjoyed their time in one hotel in say Manchester, they can expect the exact same experience here in Plymouth. As independent hotels, we have the autonomy and creative freedom to offer our guests originality over uniformity, which for some is an important difference.

When it comes to cost, hotels are governed more by seasonality and city events rather than simply independent Vs chain. Rates per night in most cities vary only mildly. This is in some cases due to the increase in the supply chain, with a huge investment being made in new developments. Competition dictates your rates. Both independent and chains alike are feeling the current struggle to strengthen their direct bookings, and what really helps independent hotels is that they can give more value and incentives to their guests. This is due to there being no rules imposed from the top, no strict framework included in any agreements. So by booking direct with many independent hotels, you are getting much more but for less.

A big topic of conversation for many of our Managers is the differences managing within an independent hotel verses that of a chain. You would imagine it could be easier to manage within a chain hotel, for everything you have to do is following strict patterns, with access to stronger commercial tools and assets. Yet what we love more than anything here at the New Continental Hotel is the autonomy we have to ensure we take each guests experience as an individual, making it personal, bespoke and with a warm family welcome.

The strategy and management plan within a chain hotel is very often the same, regardless of their location. Independent hotels are different – which means managing such a hotel can requires much more discipline, creativity and lots of innovative thinking! We truly believe that our guests appreciate the effort invested in creating an original strategy, with the small touches making a big difference. 

With corporate and business travellers, many are attracted to the larger hotel chains with the loyalty schemes and national corporate partnerships. It’s much harder for an independent hotel, yet what we are so proud of  is the amount of loyal guests, guests that have been staying with us for 20 years in some cases!

We stand tall and proud as an independent hotel. Supporting our staff, community and guests to have the very best experiences in Plymouth. We have worked hard to create a brand that is professional, friendly and unique. When all of these elements are together in harmony, a coherent image of the hotel is born, be that for a chain or an independent hotel.

The independent hotel market in Europe has a massive impact in terms of employment, tourism and contribution to local economies. It can be easy to feel like a lesser hotel when compared to the big chains, but for us, what’s truly important is that no matter which hotel a guests chooses, they have a warm welcome, to a fabulous city and make memories that last a lifetime.

Who knows what the ongoing deadlock on Brexit negotiations will unfold, but one thing we do know, we will carry on regardless!

Posted in Hotel's and Tourism, New Continental Hotel, Plymouth, Staff Have Their Say |

Wedding Wise | Real Weddings …


Real Weddings at the New Continental Hotel…

Maisie and Christopher Pennington

We love sharing with you our thoughts on wedding history, trends and etiquette but what better way to share with you what it’s like to have a New Continental Hotel wedding than by giving some feedback and advice from a real New Continental Hotel wedding couple? We are excited to recap on one of our stunning August weddings:

On Saturday the 4th August 2018, the New Continental Hotel had the pleasure of hosting a beautiful Wedding Reception for a lovely couple- Maisie and Christopher Pennington. The couple have been together for 4 years after being matched together by their best friends. Chris proposed to Maisie at the location of their first ever date – Smeaton’s Tower Lighthouse on Plymouth Hoe. The proposal was farcical due to the downpour of rain but romantic none the less and the couple wasted no time in beginning wedding planning the very next day!

On the day of their wedding, after a lovely ceremony at St. Edwards Church in Eggbuckland, (a beautiful Church that has hosted many special family occasions for Chris) guests arrived to our Roma Bar area to enjoy welcome drinks whilst eagerly awaiting the arrival of the newlyweds. The couple chose to have their reception at the New Continental Hotel due to its beautiful interior and the grandeur of the outside of the building since having been recently decorated.

Elegant floral arrangements by Honey B Florists welcomed guests into our Athena Room for the wedding breakfast as well as a beautiful backdrop behind the top table and alternate chair sashes in shades of mint and dusty pink provided by the wonderful Charlie Partridge at Interior Motives. The couple wanted to add a lot of personal homemade touches to their wedding, and did so by including a table plan that had knitted donuts on a shabby sheek picture frame, a handmade sweet stand, photo booth, tent for the children to hide away and play in and a handmade volks wagon card box made by the bride to match the transport that the couple arrived in on the day.

Guests were then greeted by the sights and smells of our delicious food. One of the benefits with booking a Wedding Reception at the New Continental Hotel is the amazing food prepared in-house. Guests had chosen from a menu choice of Homemade Pate with apple cider chutney, Ham Hock, Smoked Cheddar Terrine, Twice Cooked Belly Pork, Confit of Duck Leg plus Chilli and Garlic Rubbed Flat Mushrooms followed by either a Classic Lemon Tart with pistachio crème or a White Chocolate & Raspberry Cheesecake accompanied by Raspberry sorbet – We can’t even begin to imagine how they made a decision between these two delectable Dessert options! Guests raved about the quality of the food and menu whilst the couple themselves dined on a specially prepared vegan banquet including a fruit platter followed by a wellington main and poached pear for dessert which the couple kindly suggested was“amazing and incredible! Outstanding vegan food and better than a lot of vegan food we’ve had elsewhere!”

Once the speeches were made and the cake was cut, the evening celebrations were in full force with music provided by resident DJ, Steve at A Plus Entertainment. A surprise was in stall for the guests as the first dance approached. Maisie and Christopher had secretly been devising and rehearsing their first dance for months to the theme from Disney’s; Beauty and the Beast. None of the guests were aware of the couple’s great efforts to dance a properly choreographed routine with the help and assistance of Melissa from The Dance Shed and their hard work really paid off as it was a greatly received, memorable first dance indeed!

A mixed buffet including a variety of vegan options provided much needed and scrummy refuelling for all the dancing and celebrating that took place throughout the night before the exhausted but happy couple slipped away to enjoy a well earned rest in the hotels Deluxe Four Poster bedroom before jetting away to their Honeymoon in Amsterdam for a lovely city break and exciting new start to married life together.

Following on from their wonderful wedding day, we asked Maisie and Christopher if they could offer any advice to our future couple’s getting married at the New Continental Hotel and this is what they had to say;

“Don’t panic, even if something goes wrong you won’t care because you’ll be too happy that you’re married. Our photographer actually had to leave early due to illness but at that stage we didn’t mind – nothing could have dampened our spirits! We couldn’t fault the New Continental Hotel at all. Everything was perfect and the staff made the day run smoothly without stress. Simon was amazing and Katie was perfect in the planning up to the big day. Everyone should be very proud of themselves. They put a very anxious couple at ease! “

From all the staff at the New Continental Hotel, we wish both Maisie and Christopher a long, happy life together as husband and wife and thank them for allowing us to help be a part of their very special day. Browse their spectacular photos from Sarah Heart at Cornish Heart Photography and the New Continental Hotel to see for yourself!







Posted in Hotel's and Tourism, New Continental Hotel, Plymouth, Staff Have Their Say, Wedding |

CLUB CONTINENTAL DRAW…



Gyms in Plymouth Gyms in Plymouth



REFER A FRIEND AND YOU COULD WIN A 1 ONE YEAR’S MEMBERSHIP!


When any member ‘Refers a Friend’ we’ll enter you into a prize draw and you could be the lucky one to have your next year’s 1 Year Fully Inclusive Membership totally FREE!

It can be hard to find the motivation, but even harder to find the right gym! With our ‘Refer a Friend’ offer, members of Club Continental can offer their friends a free insight into our city centre gym community for FREE – PLUS you will automatically get entered into a prize draw to win a free 1 Year Fully Inclusive Membership.

Here are our TOP TIPS ‘Refer a Friend’ for your chance to win:

  • Shout about Club Continental – share a picture, check in to the Club or leave a review and tell all your friends!
  • For every friend that signs up, your name gets entered in our prize draw
  • Every 6 months a winner will be announced (first prize draw will take place December 2018)


Don’t forget – the more friends that sign up the more your name is entered in our prize draw! You’ve got to be in it to win it!!!



T&C’s: For every referral each member makes, the members name will be entered into the prize draw. In the first 6 month period Club Continental require a minimum of 20 new members to be referred in order for the prize draw to take place. Don’t worry though – if this number is not reached your name will just automatically roll over in to the next prize draw.




Posted in Club Continental, Events, Hotel's and Tourism, New Continental Hotel, Plymouth |

Wedding Wise | Fun Wedding Trivia …




Wedding wise | Fun Wedding Trivia..!

Nowadays, no two weddings are ever the same (which we love at the New Continental Hotel!) however we are all familiar with some long standing wedding traditions and customs but do we know where they stem from and how they came to be? Here is a fun guide about different wedding cultures and customs from around the world that may explain to you how some of today’s long standing traditions came to be and might just make you rethink about what you wish to include on your own wedding day;

Weddings Around the world |

  • In English tradition, Wednesday is considered the “best day” to marry, although Monday is for wealth and Tuesday is for health. (Saturday is the unluckiest wedding day, according to English folklore. Funny—as it’s the most popular day of the week to marry!)
  • In many cultures around the world—including Celtic, Hindu and Egyptian weddings—the hands of a bride and groom are literally tied together to demonstrate the couple’s commitment to each other and their new bond as a married couple (giving us the popular phrase “tying the knot”).
  • For good luck, Egyptian women pinch the bride on her wedding day. Ouch!
  • Middle Eastern brides paint henna on their hands and feet to protect themselves from the evil eye.
  • Throwing confetti over the bride and groom originates from Italy.
  • Peas are thrown at Czech newlyweds instead of rice.
  • A Swedish bride puts a silver coin from her father and a gold coin from her mother in each shoe to ensure that she’ll never do without.
  • In Holland, a pine tree is planted outside the newlywed’s home as a symbol of fertility and luck.
  • In Egypt, the bride’s family traditionally does all the cooking for a week after the wedding, so the couple can relax.
  • In Greece, they have a ‘money dance’. It starts off with the couple dancing with a handkerchief and then one by one their guest’s pin money to them – Forget gravy boats and toasters! The Greeks give the stuff you really want to take home.
  • Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve are the two busiest “marriage” days in Las Vegas—elopement central!
  • In South Africa, the parents of both bride and groom traditionally carried fire from their own fireplace (hearths) to light a new fire in the newlywed’s fireplace.
  • In Japan, white was always the colour of choice for bridal ensembles—long before Queen Victoria popularised it in the Western world. (Queen Victoria started the Western world’s white wedding dress trend in 1840—before then, brides simply wore their best dress.)

Wedding History |

  • Much of the traditional wedding ceremony as we know it is based on Ancient Roman customs, when marriages were arranged so the tradition of being given away symbolises the act of the father quite literally handing the bride over to a new owner! Usually, the bride was given away in exchange for a price of dowry.
  • In the 17th century there were two cakes – a bride’s cake and a groom’s cake. The groom’s cake was dark in colour because the white of the bride’s version was not considered masculine enough.
  • Queen Victoria’s wedding cake weighed a whopping 300 pounds.
  • European nobility started the trend of wedding favours in the 16th century by handing out cubes or small boxes of sugar – an expensive and rare delicacy at the time.
  • The honeymoon originates from when a man would capture his bride! The couple would hide from the bride’s parents before marrying and remaining hidden for a further cycle of the moon after the wedding, celebrating their union together by dinking honey wine.
  • Princess Victoria established the tradition of playing Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus” during her wedding processional in 1858.
  • One of history’s earliest engagement rings was given to Princess Mary, daughter of Henry VIII. She was two-years-old at the time!!
  • Wedding toasts are believed to stem from ancient times when wars raged between neighbours. Many would attempt a truce by marrying off the children of their leaders, during the celebratory feast, the bride’s father would drink from a communal pitcher to display to his guests that it was not poisoned.
  • Stag parties were first held by ancient Spartan soldiers, who kissed their bachelor day’s goodbye with a raucous party.
  • The tradition of having bridesmaids started in Roman times when brides would have 10 witnesses dressed identically to them. The idea being that the bridesmaids would act as decoys to evil spirits trying to harm the bride. They also served as extra protection should a rejected suitor try to kidnap her on the way to the wedding.
  • The flower in the groom’s buttonhole goes back to the days when a knight would wear his ladies colours to display his love.
  • Having a Best is a tradition from Anglo-Saxon England. Then, the groom would take along his most trusted and strongest friend (his ‘best’ man) to help him fight any resistance from the bride’s family.
  • The bride stands to the groom’s left during a Christian ceremony, because in bygone days the groom needed his right hand free to fight off other suitors.
  • Each tier of the wedding cake has its own significance; the bottom tier is for eating at the ceremony and the middle tier for distributing after the event and in the 19th Century, the top tier was saved until the first child’s christening – an event which often followed quite soon after the wedding. As the traditional recipe is a fruit cake, which has a long shelf life, it was quite safe to tuck into a slice for a few years after the big day
  • About 70 percent of all brides sport the traditional diamond on the fourth finger of their left hand.
  • Snake rings dotted with ruby eyes were popular wedding bands in Victorian England—the coils winding into a circle symbolised eternity.

Wedding Culture |

  • The “something blue” in a bridal ensemble symbolises purity, fidelity and love.
  • The tradition of a wedding cake comes from ancient Rome, where revellers broke a loaf of bread over a bride’s head for fertility’s sake.
  • The bride throws her bouquet backwards over her shoulder for the group of unmarried girls to catch as its believed the girl who catches it will be the next to marry.
  • Before paper confetti, people threw flowers, petals or grains of rice at the happy couple to bestow prosperity and fertility.
  • The traditional haul of five sugar coated almonds as wedding favours are to represent health, wealth, happiness, fertility and a long life.
  • A pearl engagement ring is said to be bad luck because its shape echoes that of a tear.
  • The groom carries the bride across the threshold to bravely protect her from evil spirits lurking below
  • Rain on your wedding day is actually considered good luck, according to Hindu tradition.
  • The custom of tiered cakes emerged from a game where the bride and groom attempted to kiss over an ever-higher cake without knocking it over.A successful kiss – without the cakes tumbling down – meant a happy marriage.
  • Aquamarine represents marital harmony and is said to ensure a long, happy marriage.
  • Ancient Greeks and Romans thought the veil protected the bride from evil spirits. Brides have worn veils ever since.

Many of us feel comfortable doing ‘what is expected’ when it comes to wedding traditions – if it’s what our parents and grandparents did, it makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside to carry on those same traditions that have been around for hundreds of years but if it’s not for you, well it’s your wedding so you can pick and choose what elements suits you for your own unique and special day! With our fun guide, you’ll hopefully now know exactly what each part of your own big day symbolises and why these traditions are carried out.

 

 

Posted in History, Hotel's and Tourism, New Continental Hotel, Plymouth, Staff Have Their Say, Wedding |

Five Minutes With…

Our favourite five minute interviews with Plymouth’ finest…

Plymouth, Devon


Each week, the New Continental Hotel will hold five-minute interviews, allowing these hospitality gurus to prove that this sector really is the perfect place to be…

Today we sit back, we kick off our shoes and we get down to ‘business’! 

Name: Nikki
Position: Human Resources & Accounts Manager

How long have you worked in the Tourism & Hospitality Sector?
I have been working within the sector for 30 years!

How does it feel being part of the New Continental Hotel Family?
It’s really nice to know that you are working for a company that cares so much about their staff and the experience of their guests. It’s a small team, smaller than anyone ever expects, but we are all always ready to help, step in and support each other. We may be small, but together we are mighty!

There are lots of changes planned for Plymouth in the gear up to 2020, how might this affect you and your department?
What has always been so good about working for an independent company is that you can organically shift and reshape to ensure you are always robust and fit for purpose. The development and regeneration within the city shows our guests a true sense of pride in Plymouth and that is an amazing thing to be part of.

Tell us about a day in your life?
Every day is different, one day someone might come in to talk about something exciting that is happening in their department; and another day it may be that someone needs a shoulder to cry on because they are having a bad day. Mix that with my day to day accounts role, processing and balancing figures – and all I can say is that not any one day is ever the same!

You have a unique role – can you tell us a little about it?
It’s shaped into what it is today over the years. As the Human Resources Manager I provide support & guidance to the team across all spectrum’s of the HR function, while managing & developing our staff alongside the HODs (Heads Of Departments). The role assists in the development and delivery of human resource projects within the hotel and Club Continental as well as plans and tactics that improve overall Organisational capability and performance. Then, my Finance & Accounts part of the role is helping the Finance Director to ensure robust and effective forecasting, reporting and management of income and expenditure.

Sounds like a lot of work! What would you say is the most rewarding part of your role?
From a HR point of view there really is nothing more rewarding than watching a member of staff achieve what they have been striving for. Watching departments grow and seeing staff propel themselves and advance in what they do through training, mentoring and support.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I hope still here, doing what I enjoy for a family I really enjoy working for, within a sector that has always been ‘my’ sector!

What advice would you give anyone looking to get into our sector?
GO FOR IT! Yes, the hours can be long but there are so many opportunities – including 9-5 jobs!

There is a myth that comes with the hospitality sector – yes there are some roles that are more ‘unsociable’ than others – but many times you get paid to BE sociable!

Seeing happy guests, being part of holiday memories and working within a team that is so supportive makes everything worth it. Hospitality is by far the best sector to be involved in – I love it.

I would also recommend seeing the difference between independent and chain settings. They really vary and some people feel more at home with the uniformity and structure of a chain, whilst others like the autonomy and creativity of an independent.




Posted in Hotel's and Tourism, New Continental Hotel, Plymouth, Staff Have Their Say, Work Experience |

Five Minutes With…

Our favourite five minute interviews with Plymouth’s finest…



Each week, the New Continental Hotel will hold five-minute interviews, allowing these hospitality gurus to prove that this sector really is the perfect place to be.

So, settle comfortably as we delve into our first  five-minute interview with our Club Continental Manager…

Name: Adam Position: Manager of Club Continental

How long have you worked in the Tourism & Hospitality Sector?
I have worked within the Leisure, Tourism & Hospitality sector for over 22 years.

How does it feel being part of the New Continental Hotel Family?
To be absolutely honest, it’s like a second home for me. It feels like one big happy family and I am truly proud to be part of it.
There are lots of changes planned for Plymouth in the gear up to 2020, how might this affect you and your department? Plymouth is a beautiful city and it is fantastic to watch its growth over the years. There are interesting times ahead, especially with all the redevelopments going on. Hopefully with all the plans I have in place for Club Continental we can successfully continue to grow and strengthen our brand whilst ensuring all of our members continue to benefit from the club and the city alike.

Tell us about a day in your life?
A typical day consists of: Up at 5am On PT days I will have my first client (s) at 6am, then steady throughout the day, combining that with coaching and running Club Continental. I always make time for my own training sessions too!

What does running Club Continental look like?
I am responsibility for personal health, safety and welfare of staff, members and guests. As well as the overall management of Club Continental; for all aspects of the business as well as its future growth. Although part of the New Continental Hotel, we have a separate budget and different methods of working. The sector is one of few that are able to straddle the changes in trends to ensure we are always relevant, so keeping my finger on global trends and what’s hot and not within my practise is really important. Our clients at Club Continental and members have very different demands, desires and needs, so I work hard to make sure we are fit for purpose for everyone.

It’s a busy job, with a huge amount of challenges but with that also comes some really exciting opportunities. I see the Health & Fitness sector growing exponentially in coming years’; I really believe it is on-track to become a vehicle that reconnects people and creates community, so there’s a lot of potential and huge gains to be made. It’s an exciting time.

What’s the most rewarding/enjoyable part of your job?
Helping people develop and achieve their goals. I think I am also most proud of the community we have built within the Club. The way that my staff empower the members and guests to make dramatic life changes and achieve their own body and fitness goals. My team and I have built a strong business over the years and I honestly put that down to the fact we all really care. I know with their hard work, passion and commitment Club Continental will go from strength to strength. My team are also what makes my job so enjoyable. They all individually work hard to achieve their own goals and always bring with them an amazing energy. They all really champion the Club ethos.
I’m so proud of the community we’ve built.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I will carry on doing what I am doing, helping build the Club and continue to run AD Fitness & Performance.

What advice would you give anyone looking to get into our sector?
If you work hard and stay focused you can do anything. This is a great sector to be in if your natural aptitudes are geared towards health and fitness, we basically share our knowledge & passion with people, in a setting that feels like home! There are outstanding people joining our industry, all passionate about what they do. I love the different styles and influences they bring with them, my advice would always be do what you love.  From YouTube Vloggers to Instagram Masters – use what you know as your point of difference and don’t let anyone tell you you can’t.

If you can, experience Uni!  Keep your values and invest in the right people – we’re lucky enough to have staff that have been here for years and that is because they really look after our guests and members and really care about them. That’s not just a line, they genuinely care.



Posted in Club Continental, Events, Hotel's and Tourism, New Continental Hotel, Plymouth, Staff Have Their Say |

Why Apprenticeships Matter To Us…



What is a hotel without passion..?
What is a holiday without exceptional service..?
What is the future without engaged, empowered and enabled young people..?

Paul Doidge, Executive Chef for the New Continental Group explains why he is an ambassador and advocate for anything that gives young people a springboard that connects them to a future in hospitality…

The government initiative to fund three million apprentice places by 2020 has had a mixed response, and after the first year we take a look at the benefits attached to apprenticeships for the New Continental Hotel, Plymouth.

As a family business, we feel that our duty isn’t only to ensuring our guests have the very best experiences, but also that are staff are appreciated, empowered and enabled as well as knowing their value and unlocking their potential.

Apprenticeships are excellent for upskilling staff while also recruiting and retaining top, young talent. Recent research has shown that 70% of apprentices stay with their employers once completing their qualification. For us, apprenticeships aren’t just about the value they offer the apprentice, but also the business and sector as a whole. Having an apprenticeship programme is one of the best ways of having a more motivated, passionate and satisfied workforce.

What’s more, it ensures growth in our sector and a future that is bursting with energy and enthusiasm with young people passionate about a profession within hospitality. Although great strides have been taken within our sector over the last 20 years, with many other amazing companies, like us, championing the industry, recruiting new talent and tackling the somewhat negative perception of working within the industry still has leaps and jumps to make.

For us, as an independent hotel, what apprentices do is help decrease the skills gap but also change the narrative over time on the positives and many benefits that can we reaped from working within our sector. As the new levy moves boldly into its second year we look back at the levy and forward to how there is still no doubt that incubating the next generation to attract, retain and develop new shining lights that will help brighten all of our futures is the way forward.

Like many changes, understanding them sometimes feels like you need a post doctorate to wade your way through the facts and figures, but in essence the levy itself requires all companies with a pay bill of more than £3m to contribute 0.5% of their payroll costs to the scheme, which they then claim back for training. This amount is then topped up by 10% from the government. Businesses with pay bills below £3m don’t pay into the fund but they still have access to government subsidies of 90% of the cost of the apprenticeship, with the employers co-paying the additional 10%. A year in and many are now asking for the Apprenticeship Levy transfer fund cap to be expanded from 10% to 50% to help support SMEs, which make up of 90% of the hospitality industry.  

Although definitely not pretending to be experts in the field, we have had apprentices for many years and are pleased and encouraged that we are seeing apprentices lead on to successful, long-term careers in hospitality. Additionally, the numbers doing higher level apprenticeships has also increased. There is no doubt that those businesses open to this real and purposeful way of working really benefit, and spending just a little of time getting to know the right apprenticeship provider, who are the experts, will bring you many benefits.

Taking what they learn in the classroom environment and applying it in a real and purposeful way in the ‘world’ of hospitality offers all parties more relevant and rigorous training and qualifications. The future within our sector cannot be depicted only by bricks and mortar as we strive for 5*, but by passion, enthusiasm and young people who understand their value and who are inspired to turn their passions into a profession that matters.

 






Posted in Hotel's and Tourism, New Continental Hotel, Plymouth, Staff Have Their Say, Work Experience |

Habits In Hospitality | Secrets Revealed..!

 

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In this blog, we pull down the sheets and reveal ALL the secrets that could save you POUNDS!

We may all be aware of the four seasons (even if the good old British weather doesn’t always comply!) but what about the three hospitality ones!?

Perhaps not all of us are so aware of the cost saving travel we could unearth if we got to know the habits of hospitality!

There’s a lot to be said for UK travel – we live in the most amazing country in the entire world. Ok, we may not get all the vitamin D we need from sun exposure, but even on grey days, the UK is still pretty amazing.

Here at the New Continental Hotel, we may be biased; but Devon, in particular Plymouth, is truly breathtaking and to ensure as many people, regardless of their budget, get to experience a little sea, city and moor in their life, we are sharing our Industry Secrets!

Seasons in hospitality are depicted in three terms; Peak, Shoulder and Off.

Peak Season (or High Season) is basically when the destination that you have chosen is at its most popular – it boils down to simple supply and demand! However, this can sometimes change! You see Peak Season can be set by many factors; weather, events, activities and more. More often than not it’s also set by the school term-times too. As an independent hotel we NEVER set our prices by school holidays; by graduation, Firework Championships and Ocean City Sounds yes, but school holidays, no!

Here in Plymouth, the New Continental Hotels Peak Season is predominantly May – September.

TOP TIP #1 | If you are choosing Plymouth as your holiday destination, a really great place to start your planning is on the Visit Plymouth website. Look at the events that are scheduled; they do advance scheduling so all the way to a big year for Plymouth which is 2020. Make sure you also like destination pages on social media, that way you get instant updates and news without sharing your data and receiving too many unwanted emails!

Shoulder Season (or Mid Season) is the time between the Peak and Low Seasons. Prices here are literally an average between Peak and Low. Normally this season is when you can negotiate great rates by contacting the hotels directly or via their own PMS (the hotels own reservation system - property management system on their websites)

Here in Plymouth, the New Continental Hotels Shoulder months are predominantly March (depending on Easter), April and October.

TOP TIP #2 | By booking directly, a hotel will not pay any commission, so you will often find a direct booking the cheapest place to book a hotel room. Hotels may not be able to discount the rate given, but they can add value. Hotel currency is a great place to start, most hotels like to give you this as it means that your spend will stay in their hotel. Hotel currency is often a voucher to spend in their restaurant or bar or on treatments if they have a spa.

Upgrades in the Shoulder months are also more tangible as occupancy is lower, so they have more flexibility with their availability. Perhaps an upgrade to a Superior Room from a standard or Parking included in your rate. Bare in mind that hotels tend to only do this for longer stays, over three nights, but well worth a conversation!

Off Season (or Low Season) is when the prices are the very lowest you will find. It’s when hotels are predominantly running at a low occupancy, so have less staff working which is reflected in the pricing structure. This is when you can really grab yourself a bargain!

Here in Plymouth, the New Continental Hotels Off Season is predominantly November – February.

Top Tip #3 | Besides paying less, visitors who come to a tourist spot like Plymouth during the off-season will enjoy less crowding, and a more laid-back atmosphere. But there are things you need to keep in mind and plan around. Whilst off-season travel is great for the purse-strings, it’s really important to remember that this could mean a change in opening hours, menus and transport links such as ferry’s. If there is a certain attraction or museum that you want to visit, call them first before booking your accommodation and check when (or if) they are open.

Also be mindful that heavily populated tourist areas, like Plymouth, use the off-season months for renovations, so could be closed or planning to change their opening hours to accommodate any facelifts or nip and tucks!

NOTE | During the off-seasons, you will find the most amazing bargains; three nights for two, free breakfasts and overall just crazy low prices. But hotels that are in holiday destinations will be running on fewer staff, so it’s important to know that by not paying for bells and whistles, you may find an extra few minutes wait for a Porter to carry your bags or less waiting staff at Breakfast. Hotels sometimes will only offer their non-refundable rates during this time too, these can save you around £10-£15 per night, but it does mean that there is no chance of a refund should you not be able to make your booking.

So, a quick recap…

o    Off Season discounts on beds, food and more WILL save you pounds!

o    No matter what the season, booking your accommodation directly will give you the best rate.

o    Destinations in the UK are not so much governed by the weather, so most UK breaks will have plenty to do and see even if the heavens open! But planning is essential so you don’t get disappointed during your stay with a change in opening times.

o    Travelling in the shoulder and off seasons means that you do not have to have everything booked in advance. There are always hotel rooms available almost anywhere in the country. So if you just fell in love with a place or meet awesome like-minded travellers, you can go with the flow and your plans can be flexible. Or if you simply choose to stay an extra night – all that’s stopping you is you!

o    Travelling in the off season months gives you a real chance of getting tickets or reservations that might otherwise prove impossible during peak season without pre-booking months in advance.

o    Plymouth celebrates its winter seasons with a bunch of pretty awesome small festivals and events and community markets – and there is a lot going on in spring and autumn as well. So if the “lack of major Plymouth events” was a bother to you, be reassured, you won’t get bored in the shoulder and off season months in Plymouth!

If you are looking at staying in Britain’s Ocean City at any time, call us, we would love to welcome you to our beautiful city.

New Continental Hotel | Millbay Road | Plymouth | PL1 3LD

Tel | 01752 276798 Email | reservations@newcontinental.co.uk Web | www.newcontinental.co.uk

Posted in History, Hotel's and Tourism, New Continental Hotel, Plymouth |

Wedding Wise | Meet The DJ…

 

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A Meeting with Our Resident DJ

Being a DJ is about more than choosing great songs – it requires technical know-how, high-quality equipment and a person who can read a crowd and sustain the party atmosphere. Depending on the type of wedding you are having, a DJ can be a great option for your entertainment requirements. A DJ can provide a cost effective solution as opposed to live entertainment. Not only is hiring a DJ considerably cheaper, they can also cater to a wider variety of music styles, tastes and genres than a band or other musicians. If you do choose to go with a DJ, you will find that hiring a professional and reliable DJ for your wedding can prove to be a very difficult task. With quite a large number of companies to choose from and a majority of those agencies being online, it can be very tricky to detect which DJ entertainment companies are legitimate, professional and trustworthy. That’s why, at the New Continental Hotel, we have our very own Resident DJ, Steve Calvert from A Plus Entertainments. Steve kindly met up with me to discuss what it means to be the New Continental Hotels Resident DJ and here’s what he had to say;

How long have you been a DJ and how long have you been running A Plus Entertainments?

I’ve been a DJ for 32 years and running A Plus Entertainments since 2008 (I ran SC Leisure before that but rebranded myself)

What made you decide to become a DJ?

I’ve always had a fascination with music. I would go through my mother’s record collection as a young boy and was always making mix tapes. When I was 14, I started working with a friend that was a DJ at a campsite and began learning the ropes from there.

How Much Wedding experience do you have?

Well over 20 years working specifically at weddings in various locations- pubs, hotels and other venues up and down the country.

How long have you been Resident DJ at the New Continental Hotel?

I’ve been Resident DJ at the New Continental Hotel for about 5 years now. I had worked at the hotel doing odd functions here and there but was approached by Simon Hawke (Hotel Deputy Manager) as he was familiar with my work and felt I stood out from other DJ sets as being of a high standard and was clearly passionate as well as reliable. He’d received much praise from those that had hired me for their events and offered me the residency post.  

What does it mean to be a resident DJ and how does it benefit the couple getting married?

Exclusively working with one person who knows the New Continental Hotel extremely well, including the staff and function rooms, so it’s an easy and quick set up and I offer exclusively cheaper rates to the New Continental Hotel’s clients.

Are you PAT certified and why is this important?

Yes, plus I have public liability insurance, which covers myself and guests for everyone’s piece of mind. All venues should have their own; but a DJ should also have it in their own right. PAT testing stands for Portable Appliance Testing and it means all electrical equipment has been checked in the last year and a DJ should have a certificate to prove that too. A DJ should be able to email you and your venue a copy on request, and I highly recommend that no matter who you use, you do ask.

Do you offer a written contract?

Yes, this is for peace of mind for all parties concerned so that if anything unexpected should happen, everyone knows where they stand and what they are agreeing to. If nothing else – it offers clients reassurance which is really important in my mind.

Can couples meet you to discuss their wedding?

Of course they can.  Normally everything can be sorted via emails, which can be less hassle for some couples who have different shift patterns and schedules,  but I’m more than happy to meet up with couples to ease any anxiety they may have or talk though any wishes or concerns. It’s really important you like the DJ you are booking as they will be a big part of your day and everyone’s memories, and people can sometimes be very different when you meet them face to face.

What equipment do you carry and do you have back up?

I always have back up equipment, so if there was to be any technical hitches it doesn’t let you down. A good quality sound system is essential! To name but a few main pieces of equipment I tend to use-

LED lighting and effects, Modern/clean sounding speakers, Digital controllers, laptop And I have other lighting effects etc available to suite the function

You are really reasonably priced in comparison to many other DJ’s, should people be price-led when choosing a DJ?

There are many factors that drive prices, and the price point for DJs can vary hugely. But it’s worth remember that its not always based on the quality of equipment or the level of experience a DJ has; take me as an example, I have good quality equipment and years and years of experience,l  however I choose to keep my prices as low as possible. It’s a passion as much as a job for me – so I want to be accessible to everyone. Plus, as a DJ you are in a really privileged position, you are part of a wedding or celebration and have a unique view of the event, and you form parts of many peoples happy memories – sounds corny but to a good DJ, that really means something. 

When do you arrive to set up?

In the morning (if that’s possible) which takes just over an hour or so to set up smoothly – this is another benefit to knowing the layout of all the function rooms at the New Continental Hotel, as  I know where everything is and the layouts, cable length requirements and the acoustics in all the rooms, so, if for any reason I can’t get into the room in the morning, the process of setting up is very quick with minimal disruption.

Can you explain the process once a couple has booked with you for their wedding?

I  send out a contract for the couple to check, sign and return. I  then contact them closer to the event for final details, specific song choices or  if any other entertainment such as bands have been booked. If other entertainment has been booked, I then make contact with them so that we can collaborate over timings, equipment and performance space required.

Where payment is concerned, I can take it on the day, just to make things easier – especially when so much else requires payment on booking with weddings!

You’re playing to a mixed crowd. What music do you have?

Everything! That way there is always something for everyone to keep all guests happy. I hold one of the largest mobile music collections in the South West!

To round things up, if you were to simply summarise what couples should look for when hiring a DJ for their wedding, what would it be?

Certification and experience! Very often, once they have checked availability with a DJ, the very next question is  “how much are you?” I understand this is really important, but so too is the experience that the couple and their guests will have, think about asking for their certification and also look for recommendations. Most venues will have either a resident DJ or recommended providers, that’s always a good starting point. 

Out of interest, what are the most frequently asked questions from wedding couples?

What kind of music do you play? This one gets asked a lot and I can play any music to suit the event and the atmosphere on the night. I never carry around only one genre of music for any one type of event.

Do you have speakers? This one always makes me chuckle, although there are also a lot of people claiming to be DJ’s who don’t have any of the correct equipment – just their laptop. I always think that if it really was that simple,  to be a professional DJ, then everyone would want to and would be doing it!  With great DJs its not just the equipment though, t’s about gauging your guests, the type of function and atmosphere on the day as well as having the necessary equipment of course! I always want to create the cleanest sounds and lighting to help create the perfect environment for that event.

If you could offer one piece of advice to a couple regarding music for their wedding day, what would it be?

It’s the couple’s big day so as long as they are happy and getting what they want I’ve then done my job correctly. I’m there to guide them, but it has to be what they want, it’s their day ultimately.  A good DJ will be able to read the guests and blend different musical styles and genres together, so it is always a good idea to discuss what music you want to hear.

Many couples now send out song requests with their invites for each of their guests- how does this affect your job?

It gives me a great guideline of a playlist for the night, and gives me an idea of the type of music in general that people want to hear to tailor my set accordingly. I will always do my best to play requests as long as they are within the realms of what the couple is happy with. If they have specifically requested certain songs not to be played I am mindful of this– it is their day and they are the most important decision makers.

What do you enjoy most about your job and being part of the New Continental Hotel’s Weddings?

I love music, so selfishly, being able to turn my passion into a profession is unbelievable, but combine this with getting the opportunity to meet lots of different people on a regular basis and being part of such personal events is just amazing.  After a good event I leave buzzing with a great feeling and sense of pride that “I did that” when I know people have had a great time and enjoyed what I do. I guess that why I’ve been doing it for such a long time!

END | 

Even working in the world of weddings as I do, I found that really interesting and I really hope you did too. I guess its not until you have been a guest at a wedding reception and heard the chorus of Bruno Mars’ ‘Marry Me’  on repeat for 20 minutes that you can really begin to appreciate the unique skill that a bona fide wedding DJs brings to a party! 

If you want to talk further about anything ‘wedding’ – please do get in touch – we would love to hear from you. 

Posted in Events, Hotel's and Tourism, New Continental Hotel, Plymouth, Staff Have Their Say, Wedding |

Football, Beer & Air-Con…

where to stay in plymouth


Even if you hate football; it has been a truly exciting FIFA season that’s for sure!

Germany, the defending champion, booted out, penalties that keep you on the edge of your seat and now the final rounds of the 2018 World Cup are here, and England have made it through to the quarter finals for the first time since 2006!

They will be facing Sweden tomorrow at 3pm and the game will be screened in our Roma Bar, with beer and air-con to calm the nerves and cool those sweaty palms!

Nestled on the corner of Millbay Road; the New Continental Hotel may be striking in stature but so many of us think that it only welcomes travelling guests to the city – but no! The hotel is open to local guests looking for that holiday feel on their doorstep! A product of sophisticated design and well-planned development, the Roma Bar is open from 5.30pm every day – and tomorrow earlier to make sure we can all watch the footy!
Posted in Events, Hotel's and Tourism, New Continental Hotel, Plymouth |