Friday, 27 November 2009

SOS - Save our Sign 2

Surprise, surprise....our sign is approved unconditionally at the council meeting on the 20 November 2009. The Conservation Officer raises no concerns and the Conservation Area Advisory Group raised no objections to the application.

The delegation report recommends approval and concludes “The sign is considered to be appropriate in scale, form and position for this listed building, and given its commercial nature, it could be described as restrained”


Sunday, 25 October 2009

SOS - Save Our Sign

The saga of our hotel sign continues and it has now been over a year since the council decided to object to our hotel signage....this is regardless of the fact that the sign is exactly the same size as the original and in exactly the same place as the one that advertised our predecessor.

The Planning Enforcement Officer suggested that council would prefer 18 individual letters to be drilled into our front wall so that passers by might catch a glimpse of the sills (and the drainpipe) which lies underneath.

The Conservation Officer preferred two small signs in order to identify the hotel as two buildings – so ‘da Vinci’ on one side and ‘eastbourne’ on the other....I dismissed his suggestion as aesthetically unacceptable.

Then the new Conservation Officer suggested we remove the word ‘eastbourne’ since it was obvious that it was Eastbourne....I am surprised to learn that we are now being discouraged from using the town’s name in our signage.

We received a curt letter from the Planning Support Services requesting further information including detailed scale drawings, three copies of an Ordnance Survey plan, a Design and Access statement and a Waste Management Plan – you could not make this up.

So I have decided enough is enough and resubmitted plans based on the exact same sign that we already have in place. It seems that the worse that can happen is that the whole lot is rejected and by the time I have exhausted a few appeals, I shall have enough money to buy a new sign.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Reception desk

We were a bit surprised to find that our lack of a reception desk was something that our guests might miss. I have spent many an hour queuing at desks and find the wait frustrating and unnecessary.

Our preference is to welcome our guests by inviting them to sit them down in the lounge. Then we can register them in the comfort of our own chairs and serve them tea/coffee as needed. We also save money by not having staff standing all day behind a desk doing very little.

Departure is just as easy since we print all our bills out beforehand .... so no hanging around while we locate your bill then print it off. Seems obvious to us but maybe we’ll check to see what our guests want.

PS Just worked out that the cost of employing a receptionist would add approximately £5.00 per room per night to the bill

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Slow train to Eastbourne

Isn’t it about time that Eastbourne had a better rail service?

While visitors to Brighton are favoured with additional trains and additional capacity, we are provided with a branch line service with trains so full that they remind me of the underground during rush hour.

And while they are treated to a non-stop journey, we are calling at just about everywhere including Berwick, Balcombe and Wivelsfield where the platforms are not even long enough to accommodate the train.

For travellers, the train journey to Eastbourne is fraught enough as we worry over whether we are sitting in the right part of the train lest I end up in Bognor Regis, Littlehampton or Seaford.

Southern claims to listen to its customers and aims to “create a different kind of train company: one that delivers by thinking like the passengers it serves”.

Well think again I say.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Naughty Bits

Unfortunately, you cannot please all the people all the time as our recent experience with one of our guests reminded us. The guest arrived early, complained about the room, complained that the windows didn’t open, complained that the windows didn’t shut, complained about the heat, complained about the noise, complained about the walls and complained about the breakfast. To cap it all they asked for a wake up call and then had the audacity to complain that they had said 8.15.

We realised that things might not be easy when we received an email asking for “As quiet a room as possible also, away from any loud music or noisy occupants”....what sort of establishment do they think we are running here? Furthermore, the email continued “Please ensure that any art in the "room is suitable for viewing by young children (i.e. no pictures with 'naughty bits', however artistic)”.

To cap it all, they then decide to write a negative review on TripAdvisor saying that “our heart isn’t really in the hotel business”. We wrote to TripAdvisor to point out that the review did not meet their posting criteria and they suggested that the best we could do was offer a management response which we did. It took a long time for Trip Advisor to post our response.

Our guest did not take kindly to our response and has informed me that I shall be hearing from their date I have heard nothing.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

...all that jazz

Our guests have been complimenting us on the music played in the breakfast room and in the public lounges. We have discovered that jazz is particularly popular especially the music of Norah Jones, Katie Melua, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington, Miles Davies and Nina Simone. if that is your type of music then you are going to enjoy breakfast!!

Talking of music, I was thinking of which artists you probably won’t hear being played at the da Vinci...and here is my top 10 list..... presented in alphabetical order rather than a hierarchical list. I have included a reference just in case you fancy a stroll down memory lane and want to hear any of them just one more time.

‘Boom bang a bang’ by Lulu

‘Can’t take my eyes of you’ by Andy Williams

‘Don’t go changing’ by Barry White

‘Don’t sleep in the subway’ by Petula Clark

‘God only knows’ by the Beach Boys

‘I write the songs’ by Barry Manilow

‘Just an old fashion girl’ by Eartha Kitt

‘The Look of Love’ by Dusty Springfield

‘Sweet Talking Guy’ by The Chiffons

‘Those were the days’ by Mary Hopkin

‘24 Hours from Tulsa’ by Gene Pitney

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Now available in 14 different colours

Sometimes I surprise myself when I tell guests that we have only been open for just over a year. In particular I am amazed at just how much we have done since we took over this derelict grade 2 listed building. We have a spacious art gallery downstairs and 14 art themed rooms upstairs. Our art gallery has exhibitions by Gilliam Bates, Catherine Birchwood, Lucy Bourne, Sheila Bourne, Ben Eggleston and Paul Jordan.

Upstairs we now have all of the rooms at the front open with just ten more to go before we complete the set. The ensuite bed rooms have all been refurbished and redecorated to a very high standard and everyone is unique in terms of its colour and your heart out Holiday Inn!. Frank has been out shopping again so we can now boast that all of our rooms have flat screen colour TVs as well as DVDs. Complementary toiletries and tea/coffee making facilities as well as an iron and an ironing board are also provided.

Our builder is just finishing off the rendering on the basement and we are beginning to get the back gardens sorted out. Our next major job is the back of the hotel which should cause no inconvenience as 12 out of 14 rooms are at the front and we only have two (single) room s at the rear of the hotel presently open. When the back has been rendered and repainted we will start on the back rooms and open some superior single rooms...but that will have to wait till 2010 so watch this space.

Feedback and reviews

We welcome and appreciate the feedback which we get from our guests and, for the most part, it is positive or else constructive. The most recent comments from our guest book say “Thanks for the friendliness, relaxed atmosphere and for your help”, “Had a very enjoyable stay. Will come back again especially for breakfast”, “Excellent food, service, ambience – will definitely be back” and “Perfect in every way”.

We like to feel that if our service is not good enough that our guests will let us know so that we can do something about it. In fact we would much prefer then telling us than reading about it on one of the many review websites that feature our hotel. Unfortunately, we do seem to have upset one couple recently with our breakfast which caused them to write to TripAdvisor and then repeat their complaint on

As hoteliers, we have no right of reply so I will use this blog to apologise if, as you say, your breakfast was “ all swimming in oil/fat ”, your poached egg was not “ sufficiently cooked” and the lift was out of order. We endeavour to do anything and everything we can to make amends where things are not to guest’s complete satisfaction....but if they prefer to air their complaint in a public forum then we accept that this is your choice.

Monday, 17 August 2009

The Hotel Lift ...again

Our hotel lift is still causing us major embarrassment by misbehaving in front of our guests. In particular, it likes to take a rest between floors or else enjoys taking our guests to the third floor regardless of which floor they has requested. We have now resorted to insisting that guests are accompanied in the lift for their convenience and our sanity.

Fortunately, this has not caused us too many difficulties with our guests who are clearly less exercised by the temperamental nature of the provision than I am. So far, we have only had to institute evacuation procedures on two occasions and, fortunately for us, our staff are all now trained on how to get people out of the lift in the event that it gets stuck.

In the meantime we are now employing a second lift company to see if they can resolve the problem as the first one seems to have given up on us. My problem is that I have become something of a lift bore as I now find myself an expert on how lifts operate and how they use flags to tell them where they are...the problem is that mine seems to have no clue sometimes!!!

Having spent two more days on the lift, I am now assured by the lift company that all is back in working order. Certainly the lift is now inclined to take you to the requested floor and has stopped resting between floors ...but we are not celebrating just yet. In the event that this time the repairs last more than a week then we shall have to consider a proper opening ceremony - time to get the ribbon and the scissors out again!!!

Friday, 26 June 2009

The top floor continuued

We managed to open the four rooms on the top floor just in time for the end of tennis week but we think that they were worth waiting for and our guests seem to agree. So now we have 14 rooms and we think that is enough for now – the bank manager agrees

We ordered the furniture and decided which artists would be represented. We even persuaded Kate Sayers, a very much respected local artist, to take over one of the rooms (the green one) to continue our theme of highlighting the work of local professional artists.

Here are the pictures showing the finished rooms ...we hope you like them?

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

The top floor

Our next big project is the top floor which will bring our total to 14 rooms (with only 10 more to go). The rooms on the top floor were originally laid out as six rooms and our first task was to remove the connecting walls to return them to their original layout.

Two bathrooms had to be removed and two doorways blocked off so that we might realise our vision of restoring the rooms to their former size. The remaining bathrooms had to be enlarged and refurbished and the whole floor had to be rewired and refloored.

Here are some pictures showing the work in progress – as you can see, we have been even bolder in our choice of colours!!!!

Friday, 10 April 2009

The Hotel Lift

A local hotel has a sign outside which says ‘Lift to all floors’ and it seems that having a hotel lift is something of a status symbol amongst hoteliers. So you can understand how excited I was to have a lift and even more excited when the lift company managed to get it working.

However, the excitement did not last too long as we soon realised that our lift had something of a temperamental streak and often enjoyed having a rest between floors or else taking our guests to the third floor regardless of which floor they has requested.

The problem is that the third floor is not open and I am sure a few of our guests must have received a shock to be delivered to the top of the building and deposited onto a floor that looked more like a building site than a hotel.

Our lift company has told us that for £30000, we can have a new lift but we might as well wait until we open the third floor then our guests will just think they pressed the wrong button and we can spend the £30000 on opening the last rooms at the back of the hotel.

Saturday, 28 February 2009

SOS - Save our Sign

February must be a quiet month for the council as they have decided to object to our hotel signage. The fact that the sign is exactly the same size as the old one and in exactly the same place as the old one does not seem to count under Council rules.

The Planning Enforcement Officer seemed entirely reasonable in suggesting that it wasn’t the size or the font that was the problem but rather that council would prefer 18 individual letters to be drilled into our front wall so that we might catch a glimpse of the sills (and the drainpipe) which lies underneath.

The Conservation Officer who called around next had a different idea and thought it might be nice to have two small signs in order to identify the hotel as two buildings – so ‘da Vinci’ on one side and ‘eastbourne’ on the other....I dismissed his suggestion as aesthetically unacceptable and wondered whether other (seafront) hotels had been asked to split their hotel signage in a similar way.

The Planning Enforcement Officer called again and made some useful suggestions which we were happy to pursue pending a visit from the new Conservation Officer who suggested that the word ‘eastbourne’ in our sign was unnecessary....I am surprised to learn that we are now being discouraged from using the town’s name in our signage.

Anyway, we were subsequently told to shrink the size of all the letters to fit between two ledges in such a manner that the sign is now so small and insignificant that it will hardly be seen from the pavement let alone the road. It is evident that this is a battle we are not going to win so we duly submitted our application to the council.

It would seem that our application has fallen at the first hurdle as I now have a letter from the Planning Support Services requesting further information or they will send our application back to us. The letter suggests that want to see detailed scale drawings, three copies of an Ordnance Survey plan, a Design and Access statement and a Waste Management least we didn't have to complete a Flood Risk Assessment like another establishment was required to complete!!!