The brief included a deluxe country house hotel in the Cotswolds and a character hotel in a lovely coastal setting for the West Country... plus a guide with excellent personal skills and an in-depth knowledge of the areas including the gardens. Dining would be at destination pubs and restaurants where possible, with visits to the gardens by senior staff. Members of the group arrived individually, and some were already in the UK. A deluxe country house hotel within an hour of London and offering easy access was required to set the tone for the first night.
- Client: Trustees of a botanical garden in North America 25 people.
- Event: A top house and garden tour with an epicurean slant for the Trustees covering the south-west of England and the Cotswolds.
- Season: May.
Wow! What an incredible challenge. After much research the itinerary clicked into shape, with the final programme as follows:
Day one. Individual arrivals at a stunning country house hotel in the Thames Valley, with a welcome dinner.
Day two. Travel to Stourhead for a Head Gardener tour at one of the world's greatest landscape gardens (see photo above). Then on to Hadspen and exquisite Edwardian garden noted for its colourist borders. Just after 6.00pm the party arrived at a 17th Century inn in a truly remote and peaceful setting of a Cornish fishing village. For traditional Cornish charm and a waterside location this hotel is hard to beat, and dinner offered the freshest fish and local specialities. The party stay here for four nights.
Days three to five. Visits to the Eden Project (for a Board meeting) and on to some of Cornwall's most famous castle and historic estate gardens which are in flower and at their best in May. These included, for example, the 'Lost Gardens' and the 'House of Trees'.
Day six. Leave Cornwall and travel across the moors for lunch at Gidleigh Park a Tudor-style mansion in Devon. The two Michelin Star restaurant is a crowd magnet, with cooking provided by Michael Caine MBE. After an excellent lunch there was a guided tour of the gardens. The group then arrived at the four-star deluxe Cotswold hotel in time for dinner and a good night's rest.
Days seven to ten. The next few days in the Cotswolds included a visit to a little-known garden which was a complete gem, as well as to Sezincote gardens and house. The big names of Sudeley Castle, Stanway House and Hidcote were all on the agenda as well. Dinners were mostly taken at small gastro pubs in nearby Cotswold villages, and the grand tour ended with a wonderful morning at Barnsley House, followed by a delicious lunch.