Wedding Tips at Donnington Valley

When planning for your wedding day, catering will be one of the biggest decisions you will make. The food is one of the main things your guests will remember from the day, what they had, was there enough, was there too little and how did the food reflect you as a couple? Here are our best tips.

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When it comes to deciding on catering for your big day there are a number of choices: a traditional three course wedding breakfast; a relaxed summer barbecue or even a Champagne afternoon tea. Try and be different – and think about the best bits from previous weddings you would have attended. Make it more about you and your partner.

Upon arrival following your ceremony, guests might be a little peckish; the perfect little appetiser would be individually handmade canapés. Time of year is key as to what this might entail – hot, cold, heavy or fresh. You might want the freedom to choose, some venues are more flexible here than others.

Drinks are also a very important part of the day and not everyone wants to drink, though some do! A range of beverages for your reception depending on the time of year including a Summer Pimms or hot winter cider toddy will go down well and don’t have to break the bank.

The main meal, often called the wedding breakfast, can come in a variety of guises – and our Head Chef, Kelvin Johnson, is happy to design a menu for our guests’ wedding day. Kelvin’s menus are influenced by the seasons, using the freshest ingredients from our local suppliers. Importantly for many, wines to compliment your menu sounds like a minefield but needn’t – our award winning wine sommelier, Chris Neeves would assist on selecting exactly what went with your chosen dish. Whatever you choose though, again consider what you and your partner like.

It is also nice to cater for others for example the vegetarians and children who might need something different to the rest. At Donnington we create ‘Little Meals’ – mini fish & chip cones or mini burgers and chips . If you have a large number of evening guests attending or have a family with a large appetite, a finger buffet is perfect, and we are able to customise to suit any dietary requirements. If you fancy something simple; a bacon, egg or sausage roll will go down a treat too and once the party starts can often be the saving grace!

And throughout the evening, something fun will keep everyone entertained and energy levels high! How about going for your favourite retro sweets, a popcorn machine or even candy floss! A great Summer treat is a slush machine which you can make alcoholic, adults only or even an ice cream stand- everyone loves ice cream!

It can be overwhelming trying to accommodate all of your family and friends’ needs. But most importantly remember the day is your day, and if you choose to have it at Donnington, we are here to make your day as special and memorable for you as possible.

Wedding Tips at Donnington Valley

Choosing a wedding venue is a source of great enjoyment – but also can be one of the most stressful and difficult decisions of the occasion. Our Special events co-ordinator Katie Foulds gives a few tips – her first in a series of top wedding tips – to help you plan the perfect day.

 Weddings at Donnington Valley.

When it comes to choosing a wedding reception venue there are of course a lot of factors which need to be taken into consideration. This can be very overwhelming to a couple and I often speak to brides who simply don’t know where to start.

The best place to start is for you to sit down and work out what type of reception venue you are drawn to. Are you interested in historical properties such as a country manor, castle, period hotel, or stately home? Maybe you’d prefer a barn style venue or even a marquee. I advise writing a list between you and your partner of what you’re looking for from a venue, such as: high ceilings, natural light, outside space, traditional features etc. By starting at this point you can easily eliminate the types of venues which don’t appeal to you both. This will instantly make the venue finding process easier and a lot less time consuming.

The next thing to do (if you haven’t already) is to plan your guest list. Knowing how many guests are attending your wedding reception will help eliminate down the venues that are too small or even too large for your needs. Having a number in mind also helps the venue quote for your wedding.

If you plan to hold your wedding ceremony at a different location from your wedding reception try to look for venues within a radius of a thirty minute drive from your chosen location.

Once you’ve narrowed your search down to a list of approximately ten, get in touch with the venues and organise a show round with the wedding co-ordinator.

When making your first enquiry always give the venue the following details:

  •  You and your fiancé/e’s full name
  •  The number of guests you’re interested in having attend your ceremony and/ or reception
  •   A date if you have one (if you don’t have a date, a rough month and year will always help give you an accurate quote)

Giving these details will mean the wedding co-ordinator at your venue can give you a quote as accurately as possible to your requirements and budget.

 

 

Trim up for holiday, hit those target areas

The sunny weather and social season is upon us and in the back of your mind you will have that niggling wish you’d done those extra couple of minutes in the gym, attended that spin class or lifted a heavier weight. Phoebe McCully our Senior Fitness Instructor helps you make that change.

Trim up for holiday

If you always do the same routine in the gym, your body won’t make the changes you want to see. Yes you might have seen some positive developments in the beginning but as you go on, your body adapts to what you are doing and will plateau. So make a change and get the results you want.

Try a different cardio machine that will work you harder. For example if you always tend to use the treadmill switch to the Stair Climber, you’ll feel your heart rate pick up, helping to push those fitness levels higher. The Stair Climber will also help add some toning work to your legs.

Try a different exercise for the muscle you want to train. By changing your routine around, you will find that you will be bringing other muscles in to play that you wouldn’t have used before, helping you get that shape and toned look you have been fighting for. There are many different exercises you can use to tone and strengthen each body part. For example, if you always do squats to help train your lower body, why not try a walking lunge? It still trains your lower body as well as hitting different areas.

Try swimming; this is also a great form of all-round exercise. It’s ideal if you want to be more active and stay healthy, whatever your age or ability. Swimming can help tone muscles, correct posture and improve core stability. Try to vary your strokes to eliminate boredom and ensure every muscle group gets a workout.

Try a class

If the thought of pushing weights or different exercises bores you, then classes are surprisingly easy and addictive alternative – and prove results.

If your target area is to train and strengthen your core, then come along to one of our abs classes; you will come away with new ideas. Aimed at giving you an intense workout to strengthen the core abdominal and lower back muscles, it will help you get over that plateau. Or for better body tone and shape, Body Toning class will sculpt the entire body, helping you burn fat, gain strength and produce lean muscle.

This month why don’t you try and get yourself out of your comfort zone and make the changes, so you get to see the results you want?

Local Events this July

Summer is upon us and the British Social Season is here with plenty to do in West Berkshire: why not plan a couple of days out to enjoy the great British weather with the family.

July

Summer Street Party
Saturday 4th July
Kick start your Saturday shopping trip and join Parkway’s incredible summer street party. The Street Party will include a whole host of entertainment for all the family from Covent Garden performers, live music, and free face-painting. There are also some fantastic offers to be used in Parkway stores on the day.


Newbury Balloon Festival
Friday 17th July – Saturday 19th July
Although balloon weather is not always guaranteed, this event is a weekend packed with activities and entertainment for everyone. Enjoy live music every day from local bands and performers, a giant funfair and various ‘have-a-go’ activities. There is plenty to see and do for all ages.


Champagne Summer Jazz lunch
Sunday 19 July
Our sister hotel The Vineyard at Stockcross offers the perfect Summer Sunday; live jazz, great food and unlimited Champagne! Sit back, relax and listen to the soulful sounds of jazz whilst enjoying a three course lunch and unlimited Champagne with friends and family.


Donnington Valley Hotel Wedding Open Evening
Monday 20th July
Needing a bit of inspiration for the big day, come along and join Donnington Valley Hotel for our wedding open evening. Discuss your plans for your special day and book a guided tour with our dedicated wedding coordinator. We’d love to show you around and spend time with you to completely understand your wedding day wishes.
Whether you prefer a small and intimate gathering or a larger event, the flexible design of our elegant spaces offers you a wide choice of size, layout and entertainment. To make sure that everything goes exactly to plan.


West Berkshire Brewery Tours
Saturday 25th July
Why not support a local brewery come on a tour and gain first hand insight into all parts of the brewing process from the arrival of the raw ingredients to the finished article and, of course, there’s always plenty to sample. Get your friends together to join for a guided tour a few pints of beer and take a glass home for the goodies you can purchase in the shop open on the day.


Uncomplicated British Beauty: delilah

Every woman wants to feel special every day with minimal make-up fuss. Last Monday, the delightful Rupert Kingston introduced delilah, his luxury beauty brand, to our product range.

Delilah Cosmetics
Uncomplicated British beauty from Delilah Cosmetics

Remember that understated glamour you feel every time you don a new colourful lipstick or every time you wear your favourite perfume? That’s how luxury and select make-up range delilah made us feel last night.

And as we learned, there’s no reason why we can’t feel that way all (or most!) of time with the right products. Borne of twenty years international experience in beauty buying and make-up artistry, delilah was carefully formulated in Italy from the finest ingredients. This capsule collection offers women a touch of understated luxury that they can enjoy everyday.

Importantly, delilah does not contain parabens, those modern-day nasties which recent research attests is no good for our skin at all. Instead, the products feel great, lightweight, and let your skin breathe.

Rupert offered a host of excellent tips and tricks as well, such as always to wear an SPF (I’m so guilty of forgetting but skin will be grateful in the long-run), that a brow pencil can so easily enhance your look, and that your choice of make-up brushes can dramatically enhance the application. Invest – or choose wisely initially – for long term gain.

Touching and feeling the products really brought this to life – the packaging is gorgeous and feels on a par with YSL or Chanel – very important in making a product feel extra special. With a host of pretty corals, daring poppies for the lips, warm browns, peacock greens and sultry purpose for the eyes, Rupert also aided our decision on choosing colours. Essentially, while the ‘barely-there’ is great, if you feel daring, don’t be afraid to wear colour!

The main takeaway was that make-up should be fun, easy, and make your skin look good (rather than being obvious). And delilah products very much did the job. I’m placing my order right now.

Great British Summer Cocktails

The British Social Calendar is upon us – something that drink and food go hand in hand with. Whether making them at home or choosing from the bar menu, fresh, fruity cocktails needn’t be tricky yet will enhance the fun, attests Iain Hewitt, our Bar Manager.

Festive cocktails

 

Our Great British Summer is the season for cocktails. Whether you’re entertaining friends at home or out on the social scene (Wimbledon, Ascot, Henley to name a few) the fresh and varied flavours lend themselves to balmy summer evenings and picnics out on the lawn.

A personal favourite is the classic Tom Collins: homemade lemonade with a good shot of old fashioned Old Tom style gin. You can mix the same recipe up with a range of different bases, but somehow I always come back to Christian Jensen’s self-named 1830’s recipe Jensen’s Old Tom Gin. Naturally, adding summer fruits such as strawberries, raspberries and blueberries into the mix before we shake makes for another experience altogether.

The same can be said for the Mojito or the Caipirihna: fresh fruit makes all the difference in these rum-based cocktails and when you throw in something extra into the concoction, you can tease your palate with a wholly different experience. Mixing things up like that is the mark of a true cocktail bar – somewhere you can trust the bar tender to adjust the recipes to your needs and desires at a moment’s notice (assuming they have a fully-stocked kitchen to help out with the ingredients!).

Champagne is a versatile drink on a warm summer’s evening, whether as an aperitif, alongside food or as a digestif afterwards. Simple additions like fruit purée for a Bellini (traditionally peach, though raspberry, strawberry or even mango purées are delicious too) is a longer, fresher drink that will keep you going for a while.

That said, alcohol, fun as it is, isn’t the be-all and end-all when it comes to cocktails, especially with kids present, being the designated driver, or if you just don’t fancy it. A good Florida Cocktail, Mockito or Cranberry Crush will refresh and hydrate wonderfully while keeping you sober to enjoy your days and evenings in the sun.

So now onto the making!

Five benefits of ‘Green Exercise’

Everyone likes to feel healthy – and fresh air and light exercise can make our feel-good hormones ‘endorphins’ skyrocket. That’s not the only benefit of golf, attests Peter Smith, Director of Golf.

The health benefits of golf are numerous
The many health benefits of golf

Golf is not only a great sport to play and one in which different abilities can play against each other fairly due to the handicap system, but it is also a great benefit for health and well-being. Although some say I might be biased (!), whether you’re in retirement or a young person starting their golf career, the benefits are numerous.

The sport itself is played outdoors, so instantly you are improving your health by being outside in the fresh air, and exposure to the elements (the air throughout the year can be wet, cold, frosty and windy!) can also be health-promoting.

It gets your active: golf burns at least 900 calories
Golf burns more calories than you’d think: playing an 18-hole game of golf burns at least 900 calories. Golf also combines all the known weight-loss benefits of walking, combined with the toning and muscle strengthening benefits of swinging the clubs and carrying or pulling your golf bag (that is, unless you have a caddy!). During the average game of golf you can walk around five to six miles.

It brings people closer together
I’m constantly pleased at the amount of friendships fostered over the years on the gof courses that I’ve worked on. Golf a great way to meet new people – especially if you have recently moved into a new area or town or are travelling abroad. Wherever there’s a golf course, a host of rewarding new friendships await, not only due to the ready-made social life at the clubhouse afterwards.

It helps combat stress
“Golf really does tick all the boxes for things you need for optimal wellbeing,” says psychologist and coach Miriam Akhtar from positivepsychologytraining. “It offers some important feel-good factors, such as an active social life and regular physical activity of the best kind – what we call ‘green exercise’ outside in nature.”

It’s good for your heart
Not only due to that five mile walk, but the powerful combination of stress-busting exercise, fresh air and camaraderie can help reduce blood pressure and raised cholesterol, cutting your risk of stroke and diabetes – especially if combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle.

It can help you live longer
Golf’s unique combination of outdoor exercise and social interaction can help you live longer (by up to five years) – and make those extra years healthier. Regular walking, such as the four hours it typically takes to play a round of golf, can also help ward off dementia.

Need we say more? It is never too late to start!

 

Berkshire Events this June

Patio at Donnington ValleyHalf term is all over, and we now look forward to the long, hopefully sunny, period of Summer. With the 21st of the month marking the longest day of the year, whether you’re planning to celebrate Summer Solstice at Stonehenge or not, here are a few ideas to make the most of the daylight hours this June.


 

Wine School – Argentina and Beef

Wednesday 3rd June – 630 to 8pm
Argentina has probably seen the biggest growth area in the world of fine wine in recent years. It is with the current excitement around steakhouses in the restaurant world that the noble Malbec grape has found to be one of the perfect matches to bef. We will explore the range of wines that Argentina produces, featuring Malbec as their pinnacle of achievement. Daniel Galmiche will also prepare a couple of beef cuts for us to pair to the wines being opened.
Read more


 

Beale Park Boat & Outdoor Show 2015

Friday 5th to Sunday 7th June
Thinking of trying – or buying – a boat? Or do you just enjoy being on or around the water? Then look no further…a family day out with lots to do and see around the lake. There are even activities taking place in the lake!! Outdoor pursuits, live jazz, boat rides for young and old alike and so much more……
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Evening Falconry Experience

Tuesday 9th June
Join expert falconer Ray Prior and learn about his birds of prey then practise your skills. You will learn all about how his birds fly and hunt and are brilliantly adapted for their individual habitats. There will be plenty of time to practice your newly acquired falconry skills and knowledge and, of course, some wonderful photo opportunities.
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Father’s Day Lunch

Sunday 21st June

This Father’s day, treat dad to special time with the family at our ever-popular father’s day barbecue in the surrounds of the rolling hills of West Berkshire.

Whether you are a keen meat eater or prefer fish and salads, our Head Chef Kelvin and his team will prepare a first-class spread for all the family. Enjoy barbecue favourites along with a selection of summer salads and vegetables and a dessert buffet plus a little gift from us for Dad. Space on the patio is limited so book early.

£25 per person for 3 courses.

Children up to 16 years, £15 per person.

Under 5’s eat free.

Call us to book on 01635 551199

View the menu


 

Guided Walks of Newbury

21st June
Did you know that Newbury dates back to Mesolithic times after which it was formally founded in 11th Century following the Norman Conquest. To find out more about the secrets and little known facts about this historic town and its royal connections. Stretch the legs and take some fresh air after a delicious luncheon with your family, why not combine your Father’s day meal at The Vineyard with a one hour walk around historic Newbury with all the family. A local historian will talk you through the secrets and little known facts about this historic town.
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Music for a Summer’s Evening

27th June
In the height of summer, what better than spending a beautiful summer’s evening outside listening to great music, picnicking on the lawn. This is possible at Shaw House where you can explore the building and grounds. And fantasic value at £7.50 for adults and children under 16 £2.50.
Gates open at 6pm, the concert will commence at 7.30pm
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Delilah Make-Up at Donnington Valley Hotel and Spa

Delilah Cosmetics

Inspired by a multitude of quintessentially English influences and driven by the lack of boutique British brands Delilah is the creation of three strong team, Rupert Kingston, Hannah Nicholson and Juliet White.

Each of the team brings their own passion and expertise to the brand. Rupert spent many years as a make-up artist and creative director developing numerous award winning cosmetics. Hannah has had a long career as a beauty buyer specializing in product development and working with the worlds most prestigious cosmetics manufacturers. Juliet, a photographer whose work has featured in the New York Times and Rolling Stone brings her expertise in imagery, graphics and design to Delilah.

Rupert will be joining us on Monday 22nd June at 6pm to launch the Delilah range at Donnington Valley Spa. Join him and us for a glass of fizz where Rupert will be demonstrating some make-up tips and techniques to get the most professional result from this fantastic range of cosmetics.

Please call the spa to book on 01635 551188

Tickets are £5 per person which may be redeemed against purchase of Delilah cosmetics on the night.

Bored of the treadmill?

Donnington Valley Health Club

Donnington Valley Running Club

With the summer approaching and the weather, on the whole, becoming more favourable and improving running conditions its no surprise that more and more is us decide to take up running over the summer months.

Our running club takes full advantage of the improving conditions as we take in the beautiful surroundings on a variety of terrains. The running club is suitable for all levels of running ability and represents an ideal opportunity to try out something new. The routes we take can be adapted to suit your current ability with our more experienced participants able to try out longer or more challenging routes if they wish. Don’t let the term “running” put you off either, you can jog at your own pace, if you want to be pushed then the instructor can do this; however if your just looking for some general exercise then this class is perfect for you.

The class consists of a light warm up followed by a gentle jog, once you are completely warmed up the option is there to increase speed or stay at the pace, the instructor will run between groups and navigate the route. Once the run has finished, a cool down is completed followed by stretches.

If you are interested in running and you’re bored of the treadmill, want a change or fancy seeing the sights of the surrounding area then please do book into our running club class every Tuesday morning at 9.30am.

Take a look at our current class timetable on our website and also browse our membership options.

James Beldam

Senior fitness instructor