3 Reasons why you should visit Henley Royal Regatta once in your Lifetime


Today is the start of the Henley Royal Regatta. If you have a chance you should visit it. Here are three reasons:

The first Reason:
Even if you are not a rowing type you should, once in your lifetime, visit the Henley Royal Regatta. It’s a real happening!

Last year I had the honor of attending this event on invitation. The invitation included access to all enclosures. Years earlier we had disappointed our friends enormously by arriving one day late for an earlier invitation, caused by too much last minute business. Only last year I understood that arriving one day late years earlier had been a very grave error on our side. It could have cost us our friendship. Off course this second invitation was extended very hesitantly and very early this time.

In the UK and world race rowing world Henley Royal Regatta is comparable with events as last week’s Royal Ascot in Horse racing or in tennis sitting in Centre Court during “Wimbledon” with strawberries, whipped cream, hats and all. It’s all about seeing and being seen.

The funny thing is you can watch every upper class Brit who once attended a boarding school or a university of some standing and had something to do with rowing walking around in his rowing club jacket. In itself the variety of all those colors and all those hats of the ladies are a spectacle in itself. My host in particular was very proud to walk around in a jacket that dated back to 1929 that a good relation had donated him shortly before. I was really amazed to see him so proud as a peacock walking around with this piece that belongs in a museum.

Henley Royal Regatta has a long history. You see race rowing here as it has been done for ages: Two crews competing against each other side by side. In modern race rowing you can hardly see what happens, because the courses are so wide as to accommodate 6 to 8 boats side by side. Here you can see it happening right under your nose. Even opposite the finish you can walk around freely. In addition to the races there is a real ongoing defilé of all sorts of little boats and punters.


The Second reason:
I have seldom seen a more idyllic scenery as in this part of the Thames Valley. The Thames is really narrow and shallow on this stretch and flows between idyllic hills. The stewards actually own large stretches of land including Temple Island, where the races start, just to keep it as it is. To keep the property developers away and to ensure that the main part of the race course is accessable by the public.


The Third Reason:
You can attend it for free! You can pack your lunch packet and take some Pims, wine and/or beer with you and travel off. Although you may not be able to visit all enclosures that ask hefty fees or won’t admit you because you are not a member. There is plenty of public space around the race course that you can walk and have a picnic on. Only cars pay admittance fees for the car parks. You can see everybody picnicking in the car parks.

Even if you don’t like rowing and water at all you should take some picnic outfit and a cloth to sit on and marvel at the Aston Martins, the Jaguars, the Bentleys, and what not all unload their fully dressed owners, setting up their little pagode tents and spread out a full lunch under it.



The Mr & Mrs Smith Presentation (Winding Down from the T-List – PhocusWright Travel Blogger Summit #ITB09 in Berlin part 2)


It is really refreshing when you are sitting at a conference with presentations and discussions of travel and hospitality and tech types who only seem interested in their good self or their own product or service and are not outgoing and not interested in the guest, their clientèle, or only maybe in the money of the guest, to get a presentation of a really passionate couple. James Lohan and Tamara Heber-Percy (see also my interview with Tamara) , the husband and wife who founded the Mr and Mrs Smith Collections under the caption: Luxury and Romance meet Technology.

Yes, I agree. It’s all about Respect!

They both come from a completely different background than travel and hospitality. Again their success shows that innovations in this industry frequently come from those outside the industry.

They started out with the production of the Mr & Mrs Smith guides. They described their difficulties with getting the guides published. Never before was a guide produced with one editor and one photographer for all properties. Eventually they decided to pyblish the guide all by themselves. The interesting thing is that added to the guides is a Mr and Mrs Smith membership card which gives the holder some extras as upgrades or a little present from their shop. That gives the brand a tremendous crowd to source from.

They are adamant about the properties being inspected by themselves or a member of their team of +40 in the meantime, because they strongly believe you cannot review a hotel properly without having experienced the look and feel of the place. In addition they sometimes team up with unusual partners for the hotel industry like lingerie brands. They also understand that you sometimes want to stay in a self catering accommodation or luxury chalet, rather than a hotel.

They seamlessly have merged their Blog (in the air since July 2005) into their main site. However Tamara was already out there scoring whatever was said about the brand in 2004: Shortly after I became aware of their guides via a post of my fellow editor Willem Vos at the Dutch language Weekend Hotel Blog she already commented there – note the date of the comment is not correct, as Willem had some problems in 2008 to migrate the blog to his new platform running on Ruby on Rail…whatever that may be, but I know I made the comment already in 2004-.

Here you see some footage of one of the rather unconventional and hilarious ad they presented at the keynote.

If even Gesa Noormann of Escapio says in a comment under Kevin’s Travolution coverage of the presentation:

Thanks Kevin for the fab article. Despite the fact that Mr and Mrs Smith are Escapio’s UK competitor, I can’t deny that their presentation was fantastic!

then you know your presentation was good even if you were dead tired.

Some personal notes:
I don’t understand jot from what Kevin’s caption means: “Corporate Barbarism does not begin at home say The Smiths”, but that could be my Dunglish.

If you are curious to see who the guy behind Escapio is look here. Even if I say it myself, I like the picture.

I think Willem should start talking with the two portfolios mentioned here, Mr & Mrs Smith and Escapio, or alternatively they should start talking with Willem, to see if there are possibilities to team up to cover The Netherlands and Belgium better than they do now separately.

Added March 24, 2009:

Via twitter I got the link of the same video on their site: Mr & Mrs Smith | Get a Room!. It has a bit better quality than the YouTube one

Leeds: The Ellington Scheduled to Open in September, 2008

The Ellington Logo

Recently my friend and fellow travel blogger Guillaume Thevenot of Hotel Blogs ranted in Hotel Blog Rants about PR about all the stupid press releases you get in your mailbox as a Travel Blogger. I get my fair part of nonsense as well.

However, Sue Heady, Director of Communications of the new Pantin Hotels Group did it the right way: She alerted me with a simple press release about the opening of The Ellington in Leeds and the fact they have attracted one of the youngest chefs to operate their restaurant.

The Ellington Lounge

From the website Pantin Hotels and from some artist renderings she very promptly sent me on request, I got interested to post about this new hotel on the block. Not in the last place, because this is a hotel in the very backyard of another good cyber friend and fellow Travel Blogger, Darren Cronian of the Travel Rants Blog. Hint for Sue: Invite Darren for the opening party and maybe you’ll get some coverage in a first class Travel Blog at reasonable low cost!

The Ellington - Staircase

Some key persons of the Pantin team come from the Rocco Forte collection.
The Pantin group’s first hotel will be The Ellington in Leeds.
The Ellington has 35 air conditioned rooms, including three Junior Suites, a one bedroom suite and a two bedroom suite.

The Ellington Bedroom

Pantin’s second project is The Crispin

Crispin House, a distinctive Grade II listed building, is to become a significant new luxury hotel and spa. The property, set to open in 2010, comprises of 84 bedrooms of which 26 are suites and 22 dedicated rooms for spa guests. Bedrooms will be amongst the largest in the industry averaging over 50 square metres.

Dutch Design (25): The Dutch and 2008 EK Football (1): The T Shirt

Aanvallah (source Arab_Lab Loves Aanvallah)

According to Tjebbe, who initiated this media project to get Muslims united with the Dutch soccer team, and Dutch people with their neighbors, this will be the T-Shirt of choice for the Dutch Football Fans who will visit the 2008 EK Football (European Soccer Championship) that starts today in Switzerland and Austria.

The statement in it is that the usual war cry from the Dutch Football (or soccer for our American friends) is “Aanvallen” or more vernacular “Aanvalluh”. Tjebbe made the connection with Allah.

Lacking participating football teams from the UK, the Dutch have convinced the UK football fans to endorse the Dutch Team as the team to yell for according to a Guardian Poll. So they will have an orange lion on their shirts.

We will wait and see. It will be a hot summer.

Quote of the Day (3): Heaven and Hell

Heaven Is...
Hilarious Quote on T-Shirt

Heaven is where the police are British, the chefs are Italian, the Mechanics German, the lovers French and it is all organized by the Swiss.

Hell is where the police are German, the chefs British, the mechanics French, the lovers Swiss and it is all organized by the Italians.

Unfortunately for the creator I forgot where I found this.