Cricket St Thomas Hotel

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Jul, 2013

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The mention of Warners conjures up memories of the past, of holiday camps, chalets, staff in green blazers, lots of children and knobbly knees competitions. How things have changed. Warners have developed their product into country houses and complexes situated amongst beautiful countryside and my stay at Warners Cricket St. Thomas proved it.

Driving west from Crewkerne along the A30 brings you to a country estate entrance. This is the entrance to Warners. A long driveway down hills that are festooned with sheep brings you to Warners Cricket. St. Thomas. To the right stands Cricket House which formed the film set for the television series ‘To the Manor Born’ that stared Penelope Keith and Peter Bowels back in the late 70’s early 80’s. The estate was also the setting for ‘Noels House Party’ and ‘Crinkley Bottom’ with Noel Edmonds and Mr. Blobby.

Entering reception is like entering a hotel with the reception serviced not by people in green blazers but by smartly attired staff. Here I meet Kim who welcomes me, deals with the check in procedure and explains where my room is located. She then proceeds to explain what is on site and how to obtain my reservation for dinner in Treetops Restaurant. If only all hotel receptions and staff were this efficient. My cases are taken from my car by a porter and promptly delivered.

My room is a ‘Signature’ room with patio door leading out into an enclosed garden shared with other rooms on the ground floor. Bottled water is in the fridge and a selection of toiletries in the bathroom. Tea making facilities are in the room which will please those who need an early morning ‘Cuppa’ to start the day.

Unpacked, and after a quick trip to the restaurant to be allocated my table and select my dining time it’s time for a drink at the bar to relieve the stress of the traffic jammed journey from London. Oh dear, the ‘Drinks Inclusive’ does not start until 6pm. Never mind, with a glass of chilled Rosé at a reasonable £4.40 and a table in the sun looking out at the hills and trees all is tranquil. Here I meet a couple who tell me this is their second visit since January and they have visited many of the other Warner venues. They like the relaxed atmosphere and the opportunity to go dancing every night which is what they enjoy most.

Soon it is time to shower and change for dinner. No one had mentioned a dress code so I adopted the smart casual approach. On entering Treetops Restaurant the dress code varied from tee shirt and shorts to smart jacket and slacks so I felt at home. The system for food is you order the starter from your waiter and then have a choice of carvery or a dish from the menu. In the main this works fairly well and the food quality was good. I did however think that the selection could be improved especially in the salad bar and vegetable departments. There is a second restaurant Fenocchi’s Italian, which is available at an extra charge.

With dinner over it was time to visit the main entertainment venue, the Pavilion. Situated 2 floors down from the main Balcony Bar this is accessible by stairs or lift. The weekend entertainment was that of ‘Tribute Acts’. Friday night a tribute to Cliff Richard, Saturday Bucks Fizz and Sunday was the entertainment team. Tribute acts are not my favourite form of entertainment therefore it would be unfair for me to pass comment but others seemed to enjoy them.

The following day after a comfortable night’s sleep it was time for breakfast. This is held in Treetops Restaurant and you collect your chosen fruit juice from a dispenser on entering. Keeping your allocated table the waiter brings you a menu from which you can select a main breakfast or you can obtain fruit from the buffet along with eggs bacon etc. The waiter brings tea/coffee and toast.

Time to explore the grounds or at least part of them which really are spectacular. The whole complex is set in a hollow surrounded by rolling green hills and a valley that amass to 160 acres. A river drifts quietly along before reaching a fall turning the water silver in the sunlight as it cascades down to the next level. This is the home of Swans, Ducks and other water fowl.

A small railway travels around the estate offering magnificent views of the grounds containing many species of trees, bushes, plants and flowers. One of the railway coaches is especially adapted for people with disabilities. As you trundle along you have an opportunity to come close to the various species of greenery and admire their beauty. Even the sheep look on dreamily as you pass within feet of them.

But the gem in the crown for me was the church of St. Thomas. Although having Saxon origins it was rebuilt in 1819. A small church surrounded by graves some of which date back to the early 1700’s. In the graveyard at the front is a memorial to Viscount Bridport, an angel holding a sword. This church has a history that features monuments to the families of Hood and their predecessors, the Viscounts Nelson, who gained the title through Admiral Horatio Nelson who was the first Viscount Nelson. A marble memorial to the Reverend William Earl Nelson, Duke of Bronte. There is a model of Nelson’s famous ship, Victory, on show. The White Ensign hangs from high up representing one of the three original Naval Squadrons. Everywhere you look there are links to the early days of the Royal Navy.

Being adults only the complex attracts an older clientele with an average age of 60 plus. There is a daily program featuring Archery, Rifle Shooting and Singing to name but a few. Dancing features high on the agenda with two dance classes per day. The Leisure Centre has a very nice indoor pool but the sunbathing area outside is limited. For those wanting to lose a few pounds the well equipped gym awaits you. The venue has much more to offer but time prevented me from visiting everything.

If none of the above is to your liking then there was a trip to Lyme Regis at £20pp, Walk with Deer at £22pp or a wine tasting at £8pp. You would be hard pressed not to find something to suit.

For those who want an adult only weekend away from city life, set in beautiful surroundings with a full program of activities then this could well be for you.

Alan Fairfax

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