Sunday 7th to Thursday 11th June 2015
Macdonald Leeming House: Post-event Report
Macdonald Leeming House has clearly recovered high standard and
strong momentum under the current team. Macdonald Leeming
House exceeded the expectations of every one of us, in ever
respect. The team proved that the Lagonda Club made the right
choice when it selected Leeming House as its hotel for the 2015
Tour of the Lake District, and continued its extended relationship
with Macdonald Hotels.
Macdonald Leeming House is well located for a car club tour of
the Lake District, with easy access to the rest of the UK via the
motorway and trunk road network, and to mainland Europe via Hull
and other ferry ports.
- Location overlooking Ullswater is excellent, and facilitates
club events with social aspects.
- It is away from the traffic hot spots of Bowness, Windermere
and Ambleside, and surrounded by the best Cumbrian motoring.
The high spots of Lakeland's challenging high passes are close at
- The hotel has a safe main road access, although the right turn
out is dangerous due to blind approach and high traffic speeds
Arrival - Sunday 7th June
Presentation and greeting were excellent, with a welcoming
afternoon tea provided by Reception. This set the flavour for
an excellent stay.
The car park is excellent, with plenty of room for club cars to
park together. This facilitates security where
required. We contacted Sight & Sound in Carlisle for
overnight security and at our visits: they have necessary approvals
and performed well.
GM Karen Irving provided a gazebo and water supply for car
washing. A nice touch. However, adverse weather
demolished the gazebo prior to our arrival: we shared her
disappointment. Fortunately, that incident heralded the start
of good weather.
Registration - Sunday 7th June
We use the library for registration, which worked well, with
plenty of room and seats for the ebb and flow of arrivals.
It was noted that storage space was limited, a problem with
pre-delivery of considerable materials for Welcome Pack and support
materials. While this was sorted out without problems, this
could prove an enduring problem in view of the restricted office
and storage space.
Reception & check-in - Sunday 7th
Excellent systems and management for accommodation check-in, and
for slot-booking and pre-ordering of Sunday dinners.
Impressive reception performance, with no problems.
Serious delays in rooms availability was unfortunate, and caused
comments from our tired travellers, many of whom had driven their
historic cars long distances, with some using overnight ferry
crossings to mainland UK. Reasons were understood (e.g. staff
shortages at this isolated property), but this needs attention for
other groups. Late availability of room for organisers was a
All double/twin rooms were within Garden Wing, and the four
"Doubles as singles" were within the main hotels. Full
detailed room format instructions had been provided. These
were complied with, with the notable exception of two male friends,
who requested Twin but had their room made up as a Double: swiftly
sorted, but an avoidable details fault.
All rooms were without exceptions approved by their occupants:
we did not receive one adverse comment, and even those with
'secondary' rooms without view or balcony were happy with their
rooms. There were many compliments over the style,
furnishings, presentation and facilities of the rooms
allocated. An excellent result.
Housekeeping and cleaning were unobtrusive, thorough and
efficient. We had a number of comments on the pleasant
manners and attitudes of the housekeeping staff, with their smiles
and greetings complimented.
Much appreciated, and well use. Service was at times
leisurely, but this attracted no criticisms. The quality and
personality of service from Arik and Carlos was much complimented
by our well-travelled group.
Attractive and well used,. Range of drinks matched our
requirements and premium pricing was accepted without comment.
There were particular congratulations from our Club President,
who commented that his supply of wine in its ice-bucket was put on
the table the moment he entered the bar. Despite the demands
and occasional pressures from our group, the team coped very
- Sunday Dinner: 7th June
Our selected limited Table d'Hote worked well, and pre-allocated
timings for dinner service were accepted. A good start.
- Breakfasts: Monday 8th to Thursday 11th
- Swift and helpful, from an impressive team mixing enthusiastic
and well-trained youngsters with mature experience: the assessment
applied throughout our stay, and elicited many compliments.
Perhaps the food served was not as impressive as the same
ingredients at table service - but the system worked very well,
with the swift processing we needed, particulalrly on our early
start Tuesday. The mix of table and buffet service was appropriate
and effective, and would appeal to other car groups.
- Lounge meals
We had anticipated low levers of bar/lounge meals, as a long list
of suggested local pubs in the route books followed our usual
format for our established programme of Tours.
Unexpectedly, the demand for bar/lounge meals from our group was
over 40, rather than the 12 or so anticipated.
Chef, kitchen team and front of house (led by Arik and Carlos)
coped brilliantly with the unexpected pressure; with no-one feeling
their meal or snack was delayed. Well done.
- Barbeque - terrace & dining room - Tuesday
Simply excellent, in quality, selection and quantity. The flow of
our group from terrace to dining room worked seamlessly, with food
served on time and continuously thereafter. Quality of meats
(including gammon and burgers) was complimented. Service from
chef and the whole team was exemplary, and drinks support worked
well. An excellent sociable evening ensued: a great
The restaurant layout of large round tables without table place
worked a dream and helped maximise the sociability of the
occasion. Weather was good, but we recognise that had it been
less pleasant the space and layout internally would have meant the
evening would still have been a full success.
- Reception - terrace - Wednesday 10th June
A success throughout, with good Prosecco and well-chosen canapés
served by the excellent restaurant team. My only comments
would be the quantities of canapés service, and the limited
circulation by staff service the Prosecco: a minor comment, which
did nothing to mar the excellent start to our Gala Dinner.
- Gala Dinner - dining room - Wednesday 10th
The room looked magnificent and exceeded our expectations.
Congratulations and thank you to all concerned. The table
layouts without pre-allocated seating worked well, although the
enthusiasm of certain guests to rearrange the table seating caused
confusion and a small delay.
The dinner menu was a great success, with a good salmon based
starter, an intriguing amouse bouche, and a very fine lamb main
accompanied by appropriate and tasty vegetable cooked to
perfection. I toured all tables before plates had been
cleared and notices that practically everyone had been eaten clean
a compliment to chef and his kitchen team.
Again, service from the team was exemplary, with complements
all-round from everyone. Dessert was well liked: alternative
cheeses showed good variety, and appeared a meal in itself.
A memorable occasion, in splendid beautifully-decorated
surroundings, with attentive and professional staff.
The only debit side was speed of drinks service, and particularly
wine. Perhaps a pre-dinner wine station would have avoided
this issue. However, I will not allocate any blame for this
to the team: those of our well-travelled and highly experienced
group who pre-ordered their win at the bar were well satisfied,
whereas those who didn't even think of pre-ordering waited a little
longer. The impatience of our group was unwarranted: I trust
Arik and the team accept my intervention and apologies for
There were no adverse comments on wine pricing, and I got the
impression that the predominance of our diners did not stint
themselves. It was particularly noted that the bar and dinner
was very well supported. An appropriate end to an excellent
evening, and stay at Macdonald Leeming House which exceeded our
expectations and impressed us all.
Check-out & Billing - Thursday 11th
Efficiently handled on Thursday morning. I understand
problems and questions were minimal. Since that day, I have
received nothing but compliments from our group, particularly all
whom have sent congratulations and expressions of total
satisfaction with our Tour of the Lake District, and particularly
complete quality and excellence of Macdonald Leeming House
We separately discussed the accounting confusions which emerged
on Friday morning, and which were sorted out by GM Karen Irving and
Receptionist Sandra with commendable promptness. This avoided
any lasting negative tastes, and maintained the excellent
relationship between the Lagonda Club, Macdonald Leeming House and
the Macdonald Group who's hotels hosted earlier Northern Tours in
Cheshire in 2011 at Macdonald Portal Hotel, Golf & Spa and in
the Yorkshire Moors at Gisborough Hall Hotel in 2013. I am
sure Macdonald Hotels will be leading contenders for future Lagona
With the minimal exceptions noted here, this was efficient,
unobtrusive and appropriate. As organiser, I put great effort
in ensuring every aspect of our Tour, and particularly our stay and
hospitality at Macdonald Leeming House, was documents in full
detail in writing. This paid dividends in ensuring
expectations were fulfilled, and the Macdonald Leeming House team
fully briefed and every element of our plans and agreements.
This avoided and confusions and misinterpretations: I trust it
helped the Macdonald Leeming House team to enjoy our stay, and
appreciate our patronage.
Communications with Macdonald Leeming House over two years has
been considerable, in quantity and depth. It is testament to
the quantity and depth, and the commitment of team members at
Macdonald Leeming House, that we all enjoyed such a great
The absence of adequate mobile reception, and in particular the
failure of Macdonald Houses to provide a good level of broadband
access on a permanent and reliable basis in all areas of the hotel,
remains the most problematical aspect of our use of Macdonald
Leeming House. In the 21st century, with guests
like ours who are dependent on such communications for their
corporate, Government and personal interests, such shortcomings are
simply not acceptable.
Particular complements and thanks are due to Karen
Irving, General Manager of Macdonald Leeming House. Her
professionalism, experience, positive attitude and pro-active
support made planning and managing our Tour of the Lake District a
pleasant and rewarding exercise. It is clear from talking
with her Macdonald Leeming House team that her leadership and
inspiration are key elements in the success and growing reputation
of Macdonald Leeming House.
Arik leads and inspires an excellent team, mixing with infectious
enthusiasm the professionalism of his older team members with the
outstanding energy and skills of his younger team members and
trainees. An impressive performance, from and impressive
The results achieved by Chef and his kitchen team were also
impressive in every aspect, from canapés and starters to main
courses and desserts, and from early breakfasts to formal dinners.
- Bar & Lounges
Macdonald Leeming House has a unique and personable asset
in Carlos. Aided by younger members of the team service the
lounges, and baked up by the impressive Arik, he coped well with
the ebb and flow of demands from our group. He helped us feel
that we had a much-loved local pub within a larger hotel.
Excellent in all respects, particularly as we recognise the real
challenges or retaining adequate staffing in Macdonald Leeming
House's distant and inaccessible location. Their humour and
pleasant approach, and their efficiency in maintain all our rooms,
added to the enjoyment of our stay.
The first point of contact for our group, and the people who set
the tenor for our departures, the whole team on reception at
Macdonald Leeming House impressed. From our opening check-in
with the smart and pleasant Anna, through days with Richard, and
the considerable strength and professionalism, of Sandra, the whole
process was well-handles throughout.
Since the completion of our Tour, I have received many emails
and letters from participants. They are unanimous in their
praise for Macdonald Leeming House, dining and team.
Among them was an email from our immediate ex-Chairman, Jonathan
Oppenheimer. Jonathan is a gentleman of considerable
corporate, family and individual accomplishment, and an
international traveller of great range and depth. Jonathan
wrote: "Thank you once again for organising such a wonderful
tour. My first visit to the Lake District (to my shame!) and
it couldn't have been better, except for Merav's absence. We
are now determined to visit Macdonald Leeming House
You could not have a better testimonial to the excellent of our
stay at Macdonald Leeming House.
The Lagona Club Northern Secretary