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All Posts By Shawni Dunne

South Beach’s Nautilus Reveals Penthouse and Sixty Suites

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SIXTY Hotels has announced new editions to Nautilus South Beach, Miami. Guests will now be able to check into the stunningly decorated and recently finished penthouse and SIXTY suites to enjoy a luxurious and inspiring stay. Offering spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean and the city, the hotel’s contemporary elegance has been boosted by additional floors offering luxury accommodation.

Spanning an impressive 1,495 square feet, the penthouse boasts an understated nautical theme with mid-century flair and elegance. The spacious area features walnut wood flooring that leads out onto a private outdoor sun deck which was designed with relaxation in mind. Included in the booking is access to the poolside cabana in the event that guests wish to be closer to the action downstairs.

The seaside theme can be felt throughout the luxury penthouse, with white-washed wicker details and a white quartz dining room table in the kitchenette. The master suite comes with lofty 16ft ceilings, ocean-blue walls, a soaking tub in the bathroom and a wonderful king-size bed with natural rattan headboard.

Nautilus’ new oceanfront SIXTY Suites are fitted with king-size beds and full bathrooms. Each suite in unique in its individual design and caters for the specific needs of the guest. For example, in one suite you will find a Jacuzzi, and in another there is a half kitchen with wine fridge and other food-focused amenities. Those staying in the SIXTY suites will also be treated to access to the rooftop terrace which offers breath taking views of the ocean as well as lounge chairs for sunbathing and relaxing. The terrace is also available to rent for private functions.

Whether choosing to stay in the unrivalled luxury of the penthouse or a stylish and unique SIXTY Suite, guests will be treated to incomparable ocean and city views, modern amenities, and ultimate beachside luxury.

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Rome to Reveal Newly Restored Colosseum and Spanish Steps

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This week the newly restored Spanish Steps will be unveiled to the citizens and tourists of Rome following a major cleaning project.

The Spanish Steps will be the second landmark to undergo restoration works, after a €20m project was undertaken to revamp the coliseum, in order to give a new lease of life to the famous historic landmark. The major cleaning works have been sponsored by Italian fashion icons Bulgari and Tod’s and have sought to combat the result of traffic pollution and wear and tear that the landmarks have experienced over the years.

Following a €1.5M donation by Bulgari, the Spanish Steps have been cleaned and restored, cracked paving stones have been replaced and unsightly stains removed. The steps were built between 1723 and 1726 and have been brought back to their original condition thanks to the intensive project.

Tourists can enjoy the delights of the city thanks to Attraction Tickets Direct’s new Best of Rome tour. The ticket also includes a visit to the Vatican, amongst other historic and fascinating landmarks across Rome.

Visitors can experience the classical design of the Spanish Steps by saying a stone’s throw away at Portrait Roma, offering a unique style of bespoke hospitality with 14 suites and studios. A dedicated Lifestyle Team offer unrivalled concierge services to arrange every aspect of a guest’s stay.  Rooms are available from €400 per night, based on two adults sharing a Deluxe Studio on a B&B basis.

Guests to the city can also consider a stay at boutique hotel Palazzo Manfredi, where they can wake up overlooking the stunning Colosseum. Guests can stay in Roman luxury in one of the 15 individually designed rooms and dine at Michelin-star terrace restaurant Aroma, which offers 360 degree views over the city’s landmarks. Rooms begin at €320 per night, based on two adults sharing a Prestige room on a room-only basis.

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Gin Demand Continues to Rise in UK

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The gin market has seen a significant boost over the past couple of years and the popularity of the drink continues to grow. The spirit broke the £1bn barrier six months earlier than predicted according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA).

A WTSA market report today revealed that £601m worth of gin was sold in the on-trade in the last year. £149m of the figure was sold in the last 12 weeks.

“The gin revolution shows no sign of slowing and consumers are enjoying the celebrated juniper based spirit in all sorts of creative ways,” said WTSA chief executive Miles Beale. “We were delighted to see a gin and tonic drizzle cake making an appearance in the latest series of the Great British Bake Off.”

As well as cakes, the nation’s love of all things gin has led to the creation of products such as G&T popcorn, crisps and ice-cream.  As well as a surge in the arrival of new gin brands, specific gin bars have popped up across the country offering a range of types and flavours for customers to enjoy.

“The WSTA’s latest Market Report shows how popular gin has become with UK consumers including those supporting British pubs. While bar owners and restauranteurs have seen the magic and versatility of the quintessentially British spirit, gin menus and bespoke glassware are now a regular feature in pubs too,” said Beale, via

Last year 56 new gin distilleries were opened in the UK. According to HMRC, 28 new distilleries opened in England, six in Wales, 12 in Scotland and 10 in Northern Ireland.

Despite experiencing a 25% growth in volume sales in the last year, gin only accounts for around 11.5% of the UK spirits market by volume, falling behind the likes of Scotch whiskey and vodka.

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Food Manufacturers Invited to Attend E-Leaning Webinar

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Food and drink manufacturers are invited to attend a free one-hour webinar on industry advancement at 3pm on Wednesday 21st September.

The webinar is entitled ‘How to Embed Online Learning into your Organisation’ and will explain to manufacturers how they can make the most of technological innovation with regards  to staff training and skills development in the food and drink industry.

The session is presented by Appetite Learning and will feature Rod Knox from e-learning organisation Virtual College.  A spokesperson for Appetite Learning said: “In an increasingly digital age, online learning – or e-learning- is becoming the training option that top businesses in the food and drink sector choose. Market-leading manufacturers and retailers, such as Coca-Cola, Tate & Lyle and Booths, are among those embracing technology to cut their costs and reduce administration” (via

The webinar will explore the challenges faced by businesses regarding training and how e-learning can deliver efficient and engaging solutions for staff development. Those involved will be able to ask the presenter questions and receive a free course from Appetite Learning.

E-learning can help businesses provide information in an engaging and interesting format that can be accessed by anyone at any time.  The use of e-learning is considered to be a greener and more cost-effective approach to staff training and development as it limits the amount of paper used for information packs and does not require the employment of external teaching bodies, thus saving the company money and time.

The e-learning platform, Appetite Learning, includes courses on food safety and hygiene for manufacturing, food safety and hygiene for retail and food safety and hygiene for catering. Some of the courses are City and Guilds accredited and certified for continuing professional development.

Interested parties can register online for the one-hour e-learning webinar at 3pm on Wednesday 21st September.

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Finalists Announced in the Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards

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45 tourism businesses and individuals from luxury hotels to camper vans, from sports events to cultural festivals, from chefs to shop owners, are in the running for awards to be announced at a ceremony later this year.

The awards aim to celebrate and recognise excellence in the region’s hospitality and tourism sectors.

Those who pick up one of the regional titles will go on to represent the city at the Scottish Thistle Awards next year.

The shortlist has revealed the diversity of the north east’s tourism industry and the strength of the role it plays across the region.

Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards chairman Peter Sangster believes the shortlist highlights how people from a range of backgrounds and businesses play an essential role in a visitor’s experience of the region.

He said: “When we think about tourism, we often think about hotels, guest houses and bed and breakfasts but the reality is that a huge number of different businesses can and do influence the experience of a visitor to the area.

“We are thrilled to be able to showcase the restaurants, events, bars, shops, attractions and people who are so essential to our tourism industry. Whether they are winners on the night or not, they should be proud of the role they play.

“As always, the judging panel has had a very hard task in whittling down the entries. We look forward to celebrating everyone’s success at the awards ceremony in November.”

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony and gala dinner hosted by Ardoe House Hotel in Aberdeen on 25th November 2016. The ceremony will be followed by entertainment and dancing until late. A black tie dress code will be in place and tickets begin at £80 per person, or £800 for a table to seat ten guests.

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Restaurant Survey Reveals More than 1 in 10 Diners Have Skipped Paying a Bill

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Mobile order and payment specialist, QikServe has announced that more than one in 10 of consumers admit to having left a restaurant, bar or café without paying the bill.

The shocking statistic was revealed as part of a survey about customer service in the hospitality sector. The survey showed that 90% of restaurant-goers questioned had withheld a tip for a variety of reasons. The main reason given was that they received ‘terrible service’ or they were ‘ignored when trying to pay’.

The survey, conducted by QikServe, also revealed that 12% of the 90% who did not tip also admitted to leaving without paying. Reasons given included ‘waiting too long for the bill’ or being ‘unable to find staff to take the payment’.

The largest customer service gripes were ‘bad staff attitude’ which resonated with 68% of respondents and ‘waiting too long for food’ which was also revealed to be a significant concern for restaurant-goers.

Daniel Rodger, Chief Executive Office at QikServe said: “We were surprised to learn that so many people admitted to skipping out on a bill, but we believe this higher than expected number is a sign of the times. We live in an age of instant gratification, driven in part by the ubiquity of mobile devices and apps, where consumers are becoming increasingly less tolerant towards waiting.”

“This really brings home how important it is for hospitality operators to make sure that they don’t leave their customers hanging when it comes to payment. In fact, waiting was one of the most significant consumer concerns throughout the survey, whether waiting for food, service or the bill.”

“Operators who offer mobile ordering and payment options can address the waiting challenge directly, helping ensure that diners never have to feel that they can’t order or pay in a timely fashion.”

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Greggs Introduces Healthier Pasties

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Greggs has launched two new ‘healthier’ alternatives to their traditional pasties, this week.  The two new pasties, Chicken Katsu Curry and Bombay Potato, are made with sourdough pastry rather than puff pastry and have a crumb topping.

Marketed as ‘balanced choice bakes’ the pasties come in at under 300 calories each, containing 9g of fat, compared to the company’s beef and vegetable pasty which contains a whopping 33g fat and over 500 calories.

The new creations are further additions Greggs’ balanced choice range which was launched earlier this year. The range contains a series of healthier salads, noodles and falafel.

Recent research has estimated that based on current trends 38% of people in Britain will be obese by 2025. The nation’s obesity crisis has encouraged food chains to consider alternative, healthier options to encourage the public to eat a balanced diet.

Roger Whiteside, Greggs chief executive said: ‘Greggs is well-loved for its traditional pasties and sausage rolls, but we recognise that our customers are increasingly looking for lower calorie and lower fat options.

‘All the research says Greggs is a brand which appeals right across the whole spectrum of consumers. We want them to come more frequently.’

Greggs is currently trying to change its image of traditional baker towards becoming a food-on-the-go specialist in order to gain access to the £6 million-a-year lunchtime market. To fit in with this new image, over 200 Greggs stores were refitted earlier this year.

Looking to the future, Greggs is considering moving into other food types such as sushi, and has suggested the possibility of a gluten-free range.

Coordinator of the Children’s Food Campaign, Malcolm Clark said: ‘Providing healthy options is a good step, but making healthier food the standard promoted item and standard customer choice would be much better,’ he said.

‘Hungry customers’ good intentions may still often crumble at the sight of cheaper, less healthy savoury snacks and the rows of doughnuts and other iced goodies tempting them.’

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Salaries in Catering and Hospitality Sector on the Increase

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Salaries in the catering and hospitality industry are up 2.2% year on year, according to a recent report by Blue Arrow. Catering, driving, industrial and office recruitment company, Blue Arrow highlighted the findings in its latest monthly hiring report. Surprisingly, the figure is in stark contrast to current salary trends in the company’s other featured sectors, where average salaries have fallen continuously since April this year.

Blue Arrow’s unique reports provide salary analysis, job demand levels and average salaries for a range of sought after skills across the UK. The company utilises normalised data taken from job boards and company websites across the UK to provide the concise and informative reports.

While the average catering and hospitality wage saw a rise from £22,876 to £23,817, other roles within the industry suffered significant reductions. Commis chefs were one of the professions hit the hardest, with a 9.7% drop in earnings leading to a dive from £18,574 to £16,766.

The largest drop was found in the supply chain, retail and logistics sector, where average salaries fell 3.6% to £27,616 in the year up to August 2016. Interestingly, forklift drivers were among one of few exceptions to the role, enjoying a significant increase of 19.4%, with wages rising from £19,730 to £23,459.

In engineering and manufacturing, the industry average salary fell 2% from £35,807 to £35,076. Similarly, the office sector experienced a fall of 3.2%.

Managing Director Toni Richards said: “We want to give our clients timely indicators of labour demand and salary changes within their market, helping them to make key hiring decisions at the right time. We hope that we can help our clients’ workforce planning with relevant, real-time insights into what’s happening in their labour market.”

The full report can be found on the Blue Arrow Insight and Advice webpage.

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Herald Lodge Residents Enjoy Medieval Day Out

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Residents at Herald Lodge care home in Coventry enjoyed a day out at medieval Coombe Abbey in Binley last week. The residents were treated to an extravagant afternoon tea experience that they remarked made them feel ‘like royalty’.

The resident and staff enjoyed the luxurious surroundings of the historical building which was founded in 1150AD. The Abbey is now a 4-star hotel, and on arrival the residents were taken through the stunning medieval cloisters to their very own private afternoon tea in the Harrington Suite.

The idea for the trip surfaced when at a Social Committee Meeting, some of the residents reminisced about visiting the Abbey and enjoying picnics with their families in the past. The afternoon tea was the highlight of the trip for many of the residents, providing an array of cakes and sandwiches, with tea served in traditional tea pots and china cups.

Blanche Dawson, who has been living at the home since August 2015, was one of the residents who enjoyed the day out at Coombe Abbey. “I have never been to Coombe Abbey before but I had heard lots about it. It is a wonderful place and was a real thrill for me to visit. I can’t thank everyone enough for taking me out to such a lovely place for tea,” she said.

Ideal Carehomes, who operate Herald Lodge, has recently employed Regional Activities Executives in an aim to enhance and revolutionise care home life. Home Manager at Herald Lodge, Jean Simpson, said: “The great activities schedule is having such a positive impact on our residents and the amazing trips out are the icing on the cake.  We are really keen to make many happy memories for our residents at Herald Lodge – we love to hear their ideas and if we can make it happen, we will!”

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St James’s Hotel & Club, Purdey and West London Shooting School to Collaborate

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This October, St James’s Hotel & Club will be partnering with gun craftsmen Purdey to celebrate a day of shooting at the West London Shooting School.

The hotel will be offering guests the chance to experience a shoot with Purdey’s world renowned hand-crafted guns. Purdey are the leading craftsmen of the world’s best rifles and shotguns and guests will be invited to explore a tradition of gunmaking excellence that goes back over two centuries.

Expert tutors will treat guests to a two-hour session at the West London Shooting School which is ideal for both experienced shooters and those who are new to the sport.

An exquisite game tasting dinner by William Drabble will be provided at the hotel’s very own Michelin star restaurant after the shoot. Drabble is Head Chef of Seven Park Place which is one of the smallest Michelin starred restaurants in Europe. He will delight guests with an Autumnal feast, making the most of the season’s delicacies. The menu will be a celebration of British gastronomy, consisting of the best flavours of the cuisine including grouse, venison, mallards and indulgent white truffle.

St James’s Hotel and Club was originally one of London’s most exclusive Gentleman’s Clubs. It is located in a quiet corner of bustling Mayfair, next to the idyllic Green Park. It is situated just a stone’s throw away from some of London’s most exclusive shopping destinations such as new Bond Street and Jermyn Street.

Phillip Tracey will be exhibiting his creations for Purdey in the hotel this autumn, decorating the rooms in a way which ties in with the hotel’s ethos of style and heritage.

An overnight stay at St James’s Hotel and Club, with a lesson at the West London Shooting School, and a Game Dinner at the Michelin Starred Seven Park Place starts from £523 per night.

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