The Grove has been welcoming guests for 80 years this year, which is something that we are, of course, very proud of. In this time, three generations of Gravelings have been involved and if one were to add up the total years of experience of welcoming guests, it would come to around 295 years. There is quite a well-known book called Feakonomics, which is written by two American statisticians who claim that it takes 10,000 hours for an individual to get good at something. They use examples from sport and music, including The Beatles and David Beckham. Well as a family, I am proud to say that we have smashed that. Allowing time for winter closure, and not including night times, a rough back of an envelope calculation would get to around 100,000 hours of welcoming guests into The Grove. It is fair to say, without blowing our own proverbial trumpets that as a family, we are getting good at it.

There is a secret to this, of course. And what’s more, it doesn’t take the intellect of a Cambridge professor or the business acumen a millionaire on Dragon’s Den to work it out. It is simply that we enjoy listening to our guests, we enjoy responding to their every need and we enjoy fulfilling our main aim, which is for everyone who comes through the door to have an enjoyable and relaxing time.

This listening and responding to guests ranges from what might seem the unimportant to major issues. It might be in the way a dish is presented, the way a bed is made, or something larger. And speaking of some larger examples of how we are listening to our guests, here are a couple of improvements that we are introducing this spring.

On the glamping front, we were told that although the toilet and shower facilities were sufficient, they was sometimes a queue. We bought in temporary toilets last year to help with this problem, and over the last few weeks have been busily building a new toilet and shower block, due to be finished any day now.

Another common remark we have had over the last couple of years is the lack of a bar. To address this we are extending the conservatory to make a bar room perfect for that pre, or post dining drink, nibble one of our delicious afternoon teas, or to just sit and watch the world go by.

We do, of course, have an ongoing maintenance and improvement programme, which deals with the smaller points, some of which we notice ourselves, and some of which are bought to our attention by our guests, who we have been listening to for 80 years, or roughly 100,000 hours.