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Opening this week is the five-star Forbury Hotel's new fine dining restaurant, Eden. Clearly aiming for a Michelin star, the 20-cover restaurant can also cater for private dinners & parties for up to 16. British seasonal produce gets a French twist from new executive chef Daniel Galmiche & the room itself is beautifully decorated with white gold-leaf and hand-painted flowers.
South Lodge Hotel in rural West Sussex has undergone a substantial £8m refurb this year and one of the most exciting developments is newly opened The Pass. It's a new take on a chef's table, with 22 covers right in the middle of the kitchen and LED screens showing the chefs at work in case you miss any of the action.
For keen golfers or those wanting to organise conferences at the Southport Convention Centre, the opening of the Ramada Plaza Southport (tel: 01704 516220) is excellent news. Directly connected to the Convention Centre via a walkway, the hotel also has four of its own meeting rooms, holding up to 100 theatre-style, and is well-placed to take advantage of the six surrounding championship golf courses.
De Vere Venues has just opened luxurious The Mansion House (tel: 0844 9802322) in Wokefield Park: a magnificently restored 18th century stately home, with 95 bedrooms, 13 contemporary meeting rooms holding up to 140 and a 350-capacity function room for dinners in the Maple Suite. Teambuilding activities are on offer in the 250 acres of surrounding parkland and there's a delightful new spa to relax in afterwards.
Principal Hayley made an exciting discovery during their £1.8m refurbishment of conference venue Beaumont House (tel: 01753 640000) in Old Windsor: a 19th-century chapel, which they are set to relaunch as a 170-capacity unique private dining and banqueting room by the end of November. The White House has also been converted into a luxury hotel, while Beaumont House and the newly named Village have both had significant facelifts.
Award-winning outdoor activity Go Ape High Wire Forest Adventure is set to open four new adventure courses in March 2009, adding to the existing 17. Locations will be Wales, Bolton, Kidderminster and Woburn Safari Park.
News just in - Michael Caines MBE has been appointed executive head chef at the Bath Priory Hotel, Restaurant & Spa. Caines will begin his tenure at the hotel's Michelin-starred restaurant in February 2009, while maintaining his two Michelin-starred role at Gidleigh Park, the Priory's sister hotel.
A new look and a new name for QHotel's property The Stratford (formerly The Stratford Victoria), in Stratford-Upon-Avon. An extensive £7m refurbishment project has just finished, sprucing up the whole hotel, including its seven conference suites. The largest suite, the Ragley, seats 200 theatre style & there is plenty of opportunity for teambuilding in the hotel's attractive grounds.
Part of the award-winning Sundial Group, Woodside in Warwickshire has just reclaimed the Gold Award in the Enjoy England Excellence in Tourism Awards; Heart of England Region, having won it initially in 2006 and conceded silver last year. The award criteria includes commitment to excellence, customer care, environmental initiatives and a devotion to the training and development of staff.
Oxford has a new, tiki-inspired destination bar & club. Kukui (tel: 01865 240020) is divided into six distinct areas, including the private blue-domed Castaway Room, seating 35 and sealed off from the main space by a 4m tropical fish tank. Alternatively, book the Californian Room, with a 15m tropical rainforest wall screen. 'Hula Hula Girls' and 'Honolulu Hunks' serve the keenly priced cocktails, designed for sharing.