A Glass of Wine With… Chris Carss

MD of Rothay Garden Hotel, Grasmere.

Chris Carss

Welcome dear Welly Readers to the brand new and extremely civilised interview section aptly named “A Glass of Wine With…”

Featuring casual chit-chat and soundbites from Cumbria’s movers and shakers across the county’s vast social arena, this is where I get to sit back and chew the fat with business owners, chefs, entrepreneurs, socialites and the odd visiting celeb – obligatory glass of wine in hand – sigh, it’s a hard life.

Enter stage right (or left depending where you’re sitting) Chris Carss, Managing Director of Grasmere’s Rothay Garden Hotel:

So Chris, describe your history with Rothay Garden?

I bought the hotel back in 1990 when it was just a run-of-the-mill 2-star B&B.  Intending to buy out my partners back in 1999, the foot & mouth outbreak soon put paid to that.  It wasn’t until 2002 when I finally bought them out and became sole owner and I haven’t looked back since.

You’ve got 4 stars now – how have you changed things?

Many years of renovation! In 2003, the restaurant was totally re-vamped and by 2011 we had totally re-fitted the ground floor rooms and loft into large suites.  We also built our adjoining spa in 2011 which has an aromatherapy room, sauna and jacuzzi pool.  It’s particularly fantastic in the summer when we can open the spa doors and guests can sit out in the garden.

How many rooms does the hotel have now and what sort of prices are you charging?

We have 30 bedrooms across 6 grades – 3 grades for the rooms and 3 for the suites.  In re-creating the hotel, we are now 4-star category with 2 Rosettes.  Our rack rates vary from £110 to £170 per person per night for dinner, bed and breakfast.

How would you describe the food and most importantly who’s your chef?

We have 2 joint chefs – Andrew Burton, who’s been with us for 25 years and Adrian Kneeshaw, again a long stayer at 21 years.  As for our food, we serve only quality food with prime cuts of meat.  I’m not aiming for fine dining small portions – if you order a steak, it should be a decent size and taste delicious – that’s our mantra and we have many regular guests who return because of it!

So, what makes Rothay Garden unique?  Give me some key features.

We have so many regular guests who return not only because of the accommodation and the food, but because of our long-standing staff who are very much a part of the furniture.  It’s very important to me that my staff are professional but friendly.  Guests return because of the real people I employ here who are open, caring and essentially want to make every guest’s stay a memorable one.   Also, unlike many hotels in the area we don’t host functions or weddings etc and the bar is for residents only.

That’s quite a decision to make when weddings can bring in the £££s!

Yes but with weddings come large, drunken groups demanding attention at all hours of the night and disturbing other guests.  Also, I never want to have to tell my regulars that they cannot book a stay with us on a given night because we’re hosting a big event – with that kind of service, eventually they will just go elsewhere.  We have to stay true to ourselves and the guests who support us and keep returning.

Fair enough.  I can’t imagine the place would look this pristine if you did allow for big parties.
Now on to you Chris – when you’re not managing a successful hotel and you’ve got a rare day off, what’s your getaway?

It’s got to be walking – either over at Windermere, Elterwater or just here on the lovely ridge that runs across Silver How.

And for all the Welly readers out there who like a tipple or two, where do you go for a quiet pint away from the hotel?

Well, my favourite pub has got to be The Crafty Baa in Windermere.  It’s only a 2 up 2 down house but it has a selection of over 126 bottled beers and at least 6 on draught.

And for a decent glass of plonk – after all I do have to shoehorn a glass of vino in here somewhere?!

Ah, that would be The Grand right here in Grasmere.

For further information on the Rothay Garden Hotel and to book, visit: www.rothaygarden.com

Rothay Garden Hotel, Broadgate, Grasmere, Cumbria, LA22 9RJ

T 01539435334 | E stay@rothaygarden.com

 

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