Romantic cottages for two in the Peak District

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An engagement in the barns

Its has been a very romantic weekend in Douglas’s Barn. I decorated the barn at one of the guests request setting the scene for a surprise marriage proposal which was a definite YES!. So nice to see two very happy people and to have shared their happiness. Wishing them all the best for the future.image2

‘The best holiday accommodation we have ever stayed in’

Do you believe in TripAdvsaor?

‘The best’, ‘perfection’, ‘luxury…’. What does that mean to you and me?

It is hard to strike a balance, between a discreet modesty and blatant bragging but I am afraid today this will be nearer blatant bragging than we feel comfortable with. However, we were very delighted to read this latest review on TripAdvisor, written by guests who stayed recently in Douglas’s Barn. We were particularly delighted, because they told before they left us that they had stayed in many holiday cottages, were hard to please and had often been disappointed, which makes their comments all the more pleasing!

TripAdvisor is often feared, or decried, and one can only imagine how upsetting it must be to receive malicious reports from competitors or from guests who may well have behaved very badly during their visit to a bargain basement establishment somewhere that tuns out – rather unsurprisingly, to be rather unattractive. And of course there are always tales of employers churning out gushing, ecstatic reviews of their own accommodation.

I don’t know about you, but John and I certainly always consult TripAdvisor before booking somewhere to stay, or to eat. It is easy to spot and immediately discount the one-off angry blast or the very suspicious glowing comments that could only have come from the pen of someone in the know.

Also one decides what is important. Whenever we check out somewhere local  before recommending it to our guests, John always insists on inspecting the Gents. He reckons that if they can’t keep their loos clean, there isn’t much hope for their kitchen hygiene either, never mind anything else. I couldn’t agree more, but am equally concerned that everywhere – including the Gents but I have to take his word for that – looks and smells clean and that the service is sincerely friendly, not forced  ‘friendly’ or even worse, ‘They’ve booked, so we don’t need to bother any more…”. If we’re considering booking a restaurant table, I am very concerned to read about the quality of the food. It’s no good going somewhere  sweet smelling, with spotless Gents’ loos if the food is dull or badly cooked.

However, one can’t always visit in person, and like many, I am more influenced by other users’ reports of what they actually experienced rather than the glowing description of facilities by the biassed owner/manager who has never tried them out for himself and in his enthusiasm risks -inviting disappointment, by over-promising the delights.

So, we are very happy to use TripAdvisor and are very grateful for nice comments written there by our Tom’s and Douglas’s Barn guests. Thank you!

I shall write a post soon, I fear, trying to define more clearly  what we mean by ‘The best’, ‘perfection’, ‘luxury’ ‘top quality’ – all descriptions that we hear about Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns…

 

Certificat d’Excellence pour Tom’s Barn et Douglas’s Barn

Tom's and Douglas's Barns: TripAdvisor 2012 Winner

2012 TripAdvisor Winner!

I know we’ve been dashing thither and thither recently, but I bet you didn’t know that Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns has been on the move too: we appear to have been transported to France…

A few days ago we received this rather handsome table plaque from TripAdvisor, accompanied by a warm letter of congratulations, in French. The plaque, rather conveniently has an English translation on the reverse, but no such political correctness for the (French) letter.

2012 Winner: Letter of Congratulations from TripAdvisor

Letter of Congratulations from TripAdvisor

I mock, but not seriously. Whether in English or French, we are delighted that, thanks to those of our guests who have taken the trouble to write a review, TripAdvisor has seen fit to award this acknowledgement. We have said before, but we feel so lucky to have such lovely guests who seem to be so happy with everything, even when the weather is bad. We often hear dread tales of ‘the guests from hell’, but we are lucky enough to feel with nearly all of ours that we would be grateful to count them as friends.

A Peak District view nearby

With Peak District views like this…

It’s not all sweetness and light. We do have problems from time to time – flooding boilers, power cuts, deep snow, a fridge going on the blink on Christmas Eve… Fortunately – thanks to our great band of loyal and kindly local’tradesman’ and the fact that we live next door and can usually come to the rescue somehow (and that our guests tend to be very understanding and sympathetic) the problems are usually quickly resolved or turn into the opportunity for a party, such as when we have the odd power cut and entertain by candlelight.

Beautiful Bailey, staying in dog-friendly Tom's Barn

And beautiful dogs like Bailey…

And such as also once when our really lovely guests from Edinburgh couldn’t leave because their little car was knee deep in snow but the incoming guests insisted stoutly that absolutely nothing would prevent them from getting here.

We end with two photos that seem to sum up what it’s all about, and neither any credit to us. We are simply fortunate to live in such a lovely area as the Peak District and we can bask in its reflected glory. The views, the walks – with or without dogs, the soothing peace and quiet of our little corner: we appreciate them as much as anybody and it is a privilege to be able to share them with our guests and revel in their enjoyment.

TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for Tom’s & Douglas’s Barns

TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2012 for Tom's & Douglas's Barns

You’ll have to excuse the far from excellent iPhone photograph of the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence’ we are very proud to receive (taken rather hastily by me and certainly not JF-S in case you were wondering).

As a traveller, like more and more others we rely on TripAdvisor to check out any holiday plans before finally booking, and have been saved in the nick of time from many a disastrous choice. And if we have had a good experience, I am very happy to write a review – although I would hesitate to write a bad one unless the experience was so bad one felt obliged to warn others in time, and probably thanks to TripAdvisor that has never happened yet.

As an accommodation owner, you either love or hate TripAdvisor, and it certainly can be abused. We have at least one good friend, with terrific holiday cottages, who got a dreadful review from someone who had never even stayed but was annoyed because she wasn’t able to book the dates she wanted and thought would be free. Although as the one and only damning review sitting amongst glowing reports it looks suspiciously out of place to any discerning reader, it is still there, rather spoiling the atmosphere.

So far we have been lucky enough to escape any malicious reports from non-visitors, and we hope that if any of our genuine visitors had any queries and complaints they would without hesitation come to us immediately, and we would always do all we could to sort the matter out immediately and satisfactorily. Things can go wrong (Douglas’s Barn boiler – are you listening?) but we always do all we can to get them sorted immediately and we are lucky enough, living in a small and very supportive community, to have local tradesman who will come at a moment’s notice to sort things out for us.

So we were truly delighted to receive this Certificate of Excellence ‘that honours business that consistently earn top ratings from TripAdvsor travellers’ and only given to ‘exceptional performers in TripAdvisor’s global business community’… Forgive the moment of ear-shattering (second hand) trumpet blowing but once in a while it does feel rather nice! However, on sober reflection, it is a two way process. We provide the kind of cottages we hope you and all our guests will enjoy, but it is you, the guests, who make them the happy success that they are. For some lucky reason we seem to have the loveliest, most appreciative people staying, who love their accommodation and love to make the most of the beautiful area surrounding us and all the wonderful local opportunities to enjoy themselves while they are here. No wonder they write good reviews…

Parwich: TripAdvisor’s “Travellors’ Choice” Destination for 2012??

Will Parwich beat London – or even Baslow – for TripAdvisor’s latest Travellors’ Choice Awards?
This evening I received an invitation to rate these three destinations; could this be the first hint that Parwich has reached the UK’s short list for this year’s awards?

Sadly, probably not, but let’s see what the criteria is before we give up on the hopes of toppling London. I was going to give you the actual link to the page but fortunately I realised in time that TripAdvisor might blacklist us immediately if 15 or even 50 people filled in the form and rated Parwich as John and me; instead I write it out myself:

How would you rate Parwich for these activities? Answer 1-5 (1 being terrible, 5 being excellent)
Beach/Sun
Food & Wine
Outdoor/Adventure
Skiing/Winter Sports (almost could have said yes last week!)
Golfing
Nightlife
Gay/Lesbian
City Break
Spa and Wellness
Romance
Family

What is your score? Much as we all might love Parwich, it is not going to make it to the Awards…

Finally, to end on a slightly more serious note… TripAdvisor has been a lot in the news recently, with hoteliers I think, mainly, being very upset about malicious anonymous reviews that they cannot remove; others have claimed that often rivals would write themselves, or get members of staff to write, bogus rave reviews about their own establishment whilst slating the competition.

The fact that many millions of travellers use TripAdvisor to plan their holiday, researching accommodation, restaurants and destinations (vote for Parwich!) and finding the information and reviews extremely helpful has been largely ignored in the articles that I have seen.

As far as we are concerned here, being such a small, personal setup, we have not yet suffered any mishaps and we have played by the rules ourselves: we most certainly have never written a review ourselves pretending to be guests of Tom’s or Douglas’s Barns (not even when we have stayed as genuine guests!). We often do not know who has written a review but from what people say, and their destination one can be totally confident that so far all the reviews we have had are completely genuine ones, from guests that have stayed really here.

The fact that the reviews have been very positive is very encouraging and rewarding for us but we are well aware that one day we may have an upsetting one. Things can go wrong in the most ordered of setups (fridges giving up the ghost on Christmas Eve, water pouring through the kitchen ceiling, keys getting stuck in locks – yes to all of those!).

One can imagine that very often people who write damning reviews are feeling so aggrieved is because they feel nobody has listened or cared enough to do anything about their grievance at the time at the time .

This is where people like us, being on the spot, have an enormous advantage. We would always hope to be able to deal with the problem instantly which thanks to a wonderfully loyal and willing team of local tradesmen, builders, cleaners  and general helpers we almost always can although it can be very fraught at the time.

So we think TripAdvisor is great… But, back to the destination rating. How has Parwich fared? 55/55 is the top mark but we have no beach, no nightlife, no one offers city breaks and the skiing is not well established. Perhaps it will be Baslow, or even London.

A TripAdvisor Bouquet for Tom’s & Douglas’s Barns?

Tom's and douglas's barns are always 'full of flowers'“Be Warned!” Our latest TripAdvisor review starts off rather worryingly, as if our steady flow of guests is to be put off in a stroke … But no! Thankfully the reviewer goes on to say of Tom’s Barn “this as a dog owner is the best place I have ever stayed in!”.  Phew! We try so hard to make sure everything is just right for our guests but things can go wrong in the most ordered of households as we all know…!  (In fact we do have a  leaking kitchen tap in Tom’s Barn (a new tap is on order but typically it’s taking time.)

But no, again! Taps weren’t on the reviewer’s mind and the rest of his report is very positive after a shaky start!  The previous TripAdvisor report starts off less worryingly. Marlous writes, from the Netherlands,  ‘We had a fantastic stay last month at Douglas’s Barn. Everything was brilliant, the view, the location, the facilities,’ which is lovely for us to hear.

Interestingly our top plus point is “fresh flowers “(7)

TripAdvisor picks out what it considers the main plus points from guests’ reviews. I suppose it could be minus points- the main ones anyway.  It would be interesting to know how they work this out.

Three pluses tie with 3 points each very warm welcome“, “personal touchand “lovely place. It makes us so happy to see in black and white that our guests do really seem to feel relaxed and well cared for; we had an email tonight from a guest who left last week wanting to book a third holiday as soon as possible, which seems to back this up too. She says in her email’: “We had such a lovely time neither of us wanted to go home” but when they got home they “both felt so rested they can’t wait to come back!’

It works both ways. We are very aware what lovely guests we seem to have, which makes running our two holiday cottages very easy and a total pleasure for us.

TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for Tom’s & Douglas’s Barns

Through the post the other day came this most impressive certificate from TripAdvisor, accompanied by a letter congratulating us on achieving “one of the most powerful recommendations – the endorsement of other guests“.

John has photocopied the certificate (we were only sent one) and we have proudly put one in each of our two holiday cottages. We are really delighted to have received such nice reviews and are very grateful to those guests who have submitted them. Mostly we have no idea who you are, so please accept our genuinely humble thanks.

However delighted we are, we are well aware that one can never sit back on any laurels that might come one’s way. We do genuinely want to provide the ‘best holiday ever’ to quote a certain recent video and are always trying to think of what next we can do to make your holiday even more satisfying/relaxing/memorable etc. On the whole, unless we are responding to a specific suggestion our philosophy is rather self-indulgent – we are always trying to think of what we ourselves would love to find in the holiday cottage of our dreams (haven’t found it yet…).

Fortunately so far we all seem to be on more or less the same sort of wave-length. Please tell us if/when we start to lose it.

Is this how to get Six Stars?

Is this Kylie in Tom's Barn?Dudley, who stayed in Tom’s Barn  a couple of weeks ago, posted a charming and very discreet photo on TripAdvisor of his wife in the Tom’s Barn bath.  It was  spotted very quickly by a regular guest  in Douglas’s Barn who obviously felt he had been shortchanged.

He writes

“We see from an entry on Trip Advisor that John is photographing lady guests in the bath in Tom’s Barn. Do we miss out on such pleasures staying in Douglas Barn?”

For John’s reply see the post, but meanwhile, we have now been emailed this glamorous photo from someone who can only be Kylie Minogue’s publicity agent getting in on the act.

Where is our water?

Severn Trent are not our favourite people at the moment. I very much doubt that anyone from Severn Trent will ever see this moan but it does one good to get it off the chest.

It turns out that some parts of the village (but not us) were warned that their water supply might be disrupted between 9 and 5 today Saturday. Without warning the Orchard Farm supply and that of numerous other houses in the village dried up completely shortly after 1pm and there is still not a drop in the taps now, at after midnight.

Everyone who rings appears (see our Parwich blog to get a different story if they can get through to Severn Trent at all. Meanwhile, cups of tea made with fizzy mineral water, veggies cooked in the same, no washing up possible, buckets of water scooped up from the garden troughs to flush the loos…this is not what our guests have paid good money for and we feel very annoyed on both their and our own behalf. We also have friends staying for the night. At first they thought it was funny.

Both lots of guests went out all morning, came back early afternoon no doubt lured on by the thought of a lovely relaxing bath or shower. Twelve hours later they can’t think it is very funny either.

TripAdvisor Reviews

We are delighted to discover that we now have eight reviews on TripAdvisor. Thank you, all eight couples! All being well eventually we will have some more.

It took a long time to get going. For some time obscure reason TripAdvisor had us as situated just outside Stockton-on-Tees. This was thoroughly confusing to all concerned and meant that for several months we looked – and were – totally lost and lonely. It was hard work persuading the editors that this mattered but eventually we landed up in the right place – Parwich in the Peak District, and slowly slowly the reviews have come in.

Some of the pseudonyms we can guess at but others are a delightful mystery but in a way that is the whole point of these reviews. You  need to feel free to write  freely if that doesn’t sound too obvious.

We haven’t yet been aware of anyone finding about Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns through TripAdvisor but we do know that many people planning or undecided about a holiday will always check things out there first.

It isn’t just about rave reviews either (although that is lovely) but a question of seeing if a place is the kind that you are looking for however highly others may rate it. It would be as well to have found out beforehand that we  aren’t great in these parts  for lap dancing parlours, underground trains or stretch limos.


LATEST NEWS

  • What a great place to spend Christmas!

    There is still time to book a last minute Christmas get away in Douglas’s Barn. The weather may be cold but the barn is very warm and cosy. Why not treat yourselves to a get away from it all break. You can order all your supplies from one of the supermarkets, get it delivered and […]

  • Time for a short pre Christmas break

    Time to get a bit of relaxation before the Christmas mayhem. There are still short breaks available in Douglas’s Barn. Plenty going on in the Peak District. Lots of Christmas markets selling lovely gifts that you don’t see elsewhere. Chatsworth House is also a must at this time of year. There are plenty of stories […]

  • A busy Sunday in the Peak District

    Lots of events to go to in and around Parwich today but managed to get to the Horticultural Show in Parwich and the Hartington Show. Missed out on the Antiques in Ashbourne though which is always worth going to. Izzy did better than me by getting 1st prize as the Prettiest Bitch at Hartington Show […]

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