Saturday, July 17, 2010

Summer fun at Blenheim Palace!

Apologies for the significant pause since I last blogged - no excuses other than time racing by at a frighteningly fast pace.

I last wrote on the morning after the Awards evening when we were celebrating winning the 'Oxfordshire Business of the Year' Award. We have been enjoying this accolade and there is no doubt that it will help our profiling going forward - it raises the bar on everyone's expectations (quite rightly) and hopefully it will draw business to us as we pop into mind and onto radars. Would be good if it helped to draw in new conference and banqueting business as the space we have to offer in the Palace and in the Orangery is absolutely stunning - as good as anything available in the County or even further afield.

A lot has happened since I was last on here - pretty much all positive - the headlines and highlights are below:
  • My daughter Louisa turned 8, on American Independence Day (highly appropriate for a very independent young lady) and we had a lovely lunch followed by a visit to Giffords Circus with a bunch of her friends. Great entertainment and a fun day.
  • Our summer Trustees meeting went very well - great to get their positive and enthusiastic support for how we have performed over the previous period/year and to work with them for future opportunities and future strategic ambition going forward. It is so exciting that after 8 years or so at Blenheim Palace that there is so much still on the agenda - in every area of the business.
  • England slid out of the World Cup with hardly a wimper; Andy Murray fell under the weight of expectation at Wimbledon; and an Australian won the British Grand Prix - we expect so much and so often we fail to deliver. The media should talk down our chances and we should celebrate any surprise victories that then may happen!
  • The new Destination Management Organisation for tourism delivery across Oxfordshire is up and running - at least in its "shadow format" under the City Council - and I am honoured to have been asked to chair the Shadow Board through this initial phase. It is going to be tough as funding cuts kick-in but there is no doubt that this structure is the right structure going forward - the first year or so will be critical to its long term success and it is vital that everyone across the public and private sector supports its arrival and invests in its success.
  • Attended Annabelle's sports day and enjoyed watching her and her class mates strive for glory in everything from tug-of-war to 4x100m relay - her class came second in their year and they all had a great day.
  • Attended Louisa's Barn Dance as she moves on from her pre-prep school - great fun although both Tracy and I wished that we had done some practising beforehand!
  • Attended the Vision XS annual conference in Oxford - an excellent gathering of industry professionals and a good line up of international/high profile speakers. Blenheim Palace was the case study workshop session in the morning - great fun to have 140 people chew over the business and to discuss the "opportunities" - we came away with some ideas that could work well - watch this space!
  • We had our "fun" staff golf evening at Kirtlington Golf Club last Thursday - a great evening with a mixture of golfers and (very) non-golfers. The non-golfers so enjoy the short 9 hole course and it is an evening that works very well with some super prizes (including 'best dressed' and 'shortest drive' - both incidentally either won or shared by Cathy) and the Tony White Cup in memory of our late construction manager who instigated this event a few years ago. The Cup was won by Andy Gunn with a score of 30 - not bad given the high winds! My team - "Hoy's Heroes" - came last! The non-golfers in my team played OK; I think it was the golfers in my team that let them down!!!!

Blenheim Palace continues to trade well and the "Buy One Day Get 12 Months Free!" annual pass offer continues to be very popular. June numbers were broadly on target and July has started OK - at least until it rained on St Swithin's Day - don't panic!

We have much to look forward to and hopefully the critical months of July and August will deliver in terms of fine weather and good numbers.

The gathering of Massed Brass + Silver Bands in the Great Court on Sunday 25 July should be an amazing spectacle (and a great sound!); this is followed by three days of jousting and falconry on Friday 6 to Sunday 8 August; which is then followed by the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club Championship Dog Show on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 August (you would be barking mad not to come and see that!!) and then August closes with the Annual Classic Car Show on Sunday 29 August and Monday 30 August. Now that's what I call variety - especially when you add everything else that is here to enjoy each day.

Please make sure that Blenheim Palace is on your "to do" list this summer - we look forward to seeing you here and we look forward to giving you a very memorable experience - everyone is awaiting your arrival! And don't forget to get your annual pass!

I am now off for a few days holiday and I will write again when I get back.

Have a great summer.

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Anonymous Keith Hambly-Staite said...

Visited Blenheim for the first time since childhood (now seventy!)Experience exceeded expectations (perhaps the sunny weather and golden hues of the trees and stonework helped. But a reasonably informal atmosphere persuded me to convert our ticket to an annual pass (very good value)so perhaps I will enjoy the parkland in mid-winter as well. Certainly my wife and son are keen fishermen so I can see a spot of bother comingup!

October 30, 2010 at 2:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greetings from Lappland, Finland! Last night I went to see "The King's speach". This morning I found the web site of Blenheim Palace and this blog... I felt I needed some time travelling! I have visited Blenheim Palace 21 years ago; what a wonderful day I had! Everything was totally different compared to my home town and the FInnish culture. We were told that we'll visit sir Churchill's birth place, " a cottage". Hmmm... you can only imagine how surprised we all were! Well, we were also aroud 20 years old by that time and I think nobody of us really knew where sir Churchill was bor... but we foud it out! Now my wish is that I could one day visit the place again with my five children!
Nina Lehtonen, Rovaniemi, Finland

April 13, 2011 at 11:15 PM  
Blogger Josh Ellis said...

Greetings from Houston, Texas, USA. I visited the palace this week, and it was an amazing day. I'm here with fellows PhD students, and several of us came over from Oxford to visit. The tour guide was personable, well-informed, and very animated. "The Untold Story" was worth the time as well, though I read so much that I often had to wait more than one rotation before proceeding to the next room. The grounds were in immaculate condition, especially having been so recently used and with ongoing preparations for future events. The Secret Garden was beautiful. All in all, I loved my time on the grounds. Thank you for providing a wonderful experience.

July 7, 2011 at 2:50 PM  
Blogger kevin said...

This was my first visit to the palace. I found the grounds and the building to be quite remarkable. The folks working at the palace were not only polite and helpful but several of them were willing to answer questions that I asked. They were quite knowledgable about the history of the buildings and the Churchill lineage. I would highly recommend a visit!

July 12, 2011 at 8:37 AM  
Blogger Peter Rogers said...

There is much to see and experience at Blenheim Palace. Most enjoyable to me, however, was learning about another side of Winston Churchill. His artwork, his proposal to Clementine, and the palace itself reveal the familial side of the great wartime leader. The grounds are also incredibly beautiful and worthy of a long walk on a nice day.

July 15, 2011 at 3:26 PM  

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