Romantic cottages for two in the Peak District

Five Stars and a Gold Award for Tom’s & Douglas’s Barns

Top grading for Tom's & Douglas's Barns

Here is the evidence! A little piece of card, written in biro, which gives us the opportunity for a little bit of relieved trumpet blowing, or sharing of good news. We had our annual Visit England Quality in Tourism (QiT) Inspection yesterday. One never likes to be too confident but quietly we were reasonably sure we were in no risk of losing our Five Star grading. What we were much less sure about was the coveted Gold Award, having been warned at the Premier Cottages AGM last October that too many people were receiving a Gold Award. It is meant to signify ‘exceptional quality’ ‘la creme de la creme’… Their answer is to raise the qualifying score levels, quite considerably, to ensure that the award remains exclusive.

Quality is about exceeding expectations. That’s delicate! People have got to be tempted to stay somewhere so will already have high expectations but not so high that they are bound to feel let down. We’re always pleased when a first-time guest walks in, gasps with delight (had to put that in!) and says ‘It looks better than the website!” Often they then explain that in the past when visiting somewhere for the first time they have felt disappointed because reality had not lived up to what they felt they had been led to expect. They had expected the bedroom to be more spacious, or the views to be more attractive, or indeed for the champagne on ice to be awaiting them.

One thing we feel strongly about is not raising impossible expectations. Wide-angled lenses and clever photo-shopping can create an illusion of space, or elegance. Props such as a bowl of colourful fruit or a tray laid with cut glass champagne flutes and an expensive bottle of champagne…that’s fine if that is why your guests can expect but I am afraid that our guests can’t (sorry!). You can expect a plate of homemade cake though, so we’ll show you a photo of that in the hopes it won’t actually put you off!

So what our inspector found yesterday when she went round Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns was exactly what you, or any of our guests would find upon arrival.The only difference was that because neither barn was booked we seized the precious opportunity, as we always do when we can, to wash and iron the cushion covers, take Tom’s Barn sofa cover to the dry cleaners and extra things like that. Nothing in fact that you or the inspector would notice, but it feels good to us because we know that everything is as spotless as it possibly can be. Carol and Janet worked even harder than usual, which is saying something, absolutely determined that their first class reputation as very special cleaners was not going to be ruined in their own eyes by anything less than 100% for cleanliness!

When we get the final report we will let you know all the scores and any particular recommendations.

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