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In this issue: 5 minutes with Simon Calder Do it yourself?

Quality Wales Issue 5, 2012

Meet 'the management' Bright young things A cooler warmth

wales.gov.uk/tourism


Featured in this edition of Quality Wales, [13] Castle Hotel, Aberaeron, [25] Kristian Fuchs, young chef, [35] greener energy, [05] Welsh icon, the Snowdon Horseshoe, [07] the cruise ship revolution coming to Welsh ports, [21] T^y Newydd Hotel, Aberdaron, [31] Conwy's new approach to tourism management, [17] Caerphilly cheese from Trethowan’s Dairy near Tregaron, [11] the 2012 Olympic Torch, [04] Gold Awards winners, and [39] the best of seasonal eating. [ 25 ]

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Quality Wales Issue 5, 2012 [ 07 ]

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Contents Wouldn’t it be great to be able to see Wales through first-time visitor eyes? It’s home, we’re proud of it, but it’s familiar. Good to know then that growing numbers of cruise ship passengers (p07) are coming to Wales – and loving what they find. Of course they do, what we have to offer is world-class and – as you’ll discover in this issue of Quality Wales – there’s real dedication to seeing that visitors enjoy a quality experience. Welcome message from the Minister [p03] / A sign of quality gold awards 2012 [p04] [p07]

/ 5 minutes with Simon Calder [p05] / Ship Ahoy the perfect cruise?

/ Game on the world’s biggest sporting event [p11] / Do it yourself? get out

a paint brush and get stuck in [p13] culinary universe? [p17]

/ Say cheese Wales’ greatest contribution to the

/ Moral support help for business [p21] / Bright young

things getting that first foot on the ladder [p25] / Does it pay to tweet? tweeting suits some, repels others [p29] for from a destination? [p31]

/ Meet 'the management' what are visitors looking

/ A cooler warmth greener alternatives are cooler [p35] /

What’s in season? food for all seasons [p39]

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Quality Wales Magazine is published by Visit Wales,

We’ve tried really hard to make sure that everything’s

Content researched and written by Julian Rollins, Rebecca

the Tourism and Marketing Division of the Welsh

accurate but can’t accept liability for any errors,

Lees and Elizabeth Udall – www.grassroots-media.co.uk

Government © 2011.

inaccuracies or omissions. We’ve checked all the websites at

Printed by MWL Print. Photography supplied by Visit

the time of going to press. However, as they’re not ours, we

Wales Image Centre and other external sources. © Crown

Visit Wales, QED Centre, Main Avenue, Treforest Industrial

can’t guarantee that they won’t change. All rights reserved

copyright 2011. This publication is also available in Braille,

Estate, Treforest, Pontypridd, Rhondda Cynon Taf, CF37 5YR.

– please don’t copy stuff without asking us first. Opinions

large format print, and/or audio from Visit Wales. This

Tel: 0845 010 3300 / Minicom: +44 (0)8701 211555

expressed in Quality Wales Magazine are not necessarily

magazine is printed on recycled paper.

Email: visitwales.communications@wales.gsi.gov.uk

those of Visit Wales. ISBN 978 0 7504 6757 5 WG12972 Design by

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Opinion

Foreword Business Minister Edwina Hart MBE OStJ The decision to move responsibility for tourism from the former Heritage department to my new ministerial portfolio of Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science was a clear acknowledgement of the important contribution tourism makes to the potential economic prosperity of every part of Wales.

Visitors have always come to Wales to share our unique Welsh culture and history, savour our spectacular Welsh landscapes and enjoy our wonderful Welsh welcome. Many years after today’s hi-tech Welsh industries have been resigned to the Welsh museums of the future, tourists will still be coming to spend their holidays in Wales – and supporting the Welsh economy. That is why one of my first decisions as Business Minister was to designate Tourism as one of three new priority sectors in the Welsh economy. By making it a new priority sector, along with Food and Farming and Construction, we can strengthen the distinctive national identity of Wales, within the UK and internationally, as a place to visit, invest in and as a place to do business. These three sectors will build on the six existing priority sectors that we are supporting to help Welsh businesses grow and create the jobs needed for the future development of our economy – Energy and Environment; Creative Industries; Life Sciences; ICT and; Financial and Professional Services.

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I am delighted that Dan Clayton Jones, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund, has accepted my invitation to chair the new tourism panel. He also becomes the Welsh representative on the Visit Britain board. Given Dan’s extensive experience of the tourism business both in the private and public sector within the UK and overseas, I’m sure he will provide a strong lead for the Tourism advisory sector panel to ensure that the views and priorities of the industry will inform the Welsh Government’s policy development and provide me with expert knowledge and advice. Key commitments within our Programme for Government, launched recently by the First Minister, also reflect the crucial role for tourism in growing the economy and creating sustainable jobs. Those commitments include: developing tourism activity and niche markets and securing maximum benefit from major events in our high profile venues; promoting Wales as a destination with a high quality tourism offer; working to extend the tourism season and associated benefits; identifying opportunities to improve visitor infrastructure and product in Wales and supporting investment in staff training and management to support a high quality tourism industry.

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Although tourism has strong growth potential, the competition in the global market-place is intense and Wales must work hard to raise awareness of its distinctive product offer to attract more visitors throughout the year. The recent launch of our ground-breaking ‘We want Piers Bramhall’ campaign, with the help of Welsh celebrities such as Joanna Page and Gareth Thomas, caused a considerable stir within the industry and media. Hopefully this will be rewarded by more enquiries about Wales and an increased footfall of visitors attracted here by the many diverse attractions and activities on offer. Of course, quality is another key to future success and in this latest edition of Quality Wales, you will find a diverse range of Welsh tourism businesses that are setting an exceptionally high benchmark of quality. I was delighted to recently announce the Visit Wales Gold Award winners for 2012, these accommodation businesses are setting an exceptionally high benchmark of quality. Together, we can work to build a stronger, more profitable and sustainable tourism industry for Wales.

wales.gov.uk/tourism


REWARDS

A sign of quality Gold Awards 2012 What makes a good business into a Gold Award winner? Visit Wales created the awards to recognise and reward outstanding quality, exceptional comfort and hospitality in the serviced accommodation sector. Hotels Bodysgallen Hall, Llandudno Cardiff Marriott Hotel, Cardiff Castell Deudraeth, Porthmadog Craig Y Dderwen, Betws-Y-Coed Empire Hotel, Llandudno Falcondale Country House Hotel, Lampeter Gliffaes Country House Hotel, Crickhowell Heywood Mount, Tenby Hotel Maes Y Neuadd, Harlech Imperial Hotel, Llandudno Marriott St Pierre Hotel, Chepstow Morgans Hotel, Swansea Osborne House, Llandudno Pale Hall Hotel, Bala Park Plaza Hotel, Cardiff Penmaenuchaf Hall, Dolgellau Quay Hotel & Spa, Conwy Seiont Manor Hotel, Caernarfon St Brides Spa Hotel, Saundersfoot St George's Hotel, Llandudno St Tudno Hotel, Llandudno The Cawdor, Llandeilo The Hotel Portmeirion, Penrhyndeudraeth The Lake Country House, Llangammarch Wells Tre Ysgawen Hall Country House, Llangefni Vale Hotel, Golf & Spa Resort, Pontyclun Ynyshir Hall Hotel, Machynlleth Guest Accommodation 3 Pen Cei, Aberaeron Abercelyn, Bala Acorn Court Country House, Llandrindod Wells Ael Y Bryn, Eglwyswrw Afon Gwyn, Betws-Y-Coed Blaencar Farm, Brecon Blas Gwyr, Swansea Brackenhurst House, Fairbourne Brig Y Don , Aberdyfi Bryn Tegid Country House, Bala

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Bryniau Golau, Bala Cae'r Blaidd Country House, Blaenau Ffestiniog Canal Bank, Brecon Canaston Oaks, Narberth Castle Cottage Restaurant with Rooms, Harlech Castle House, Denbigh Coedllys Country House, St Clears Cross Foxes, Dolgellau Crown At Whitebrook, Monmouth Crug-Glas, Haverfordwest Cwm Ban Fawr, Carmarthen Cyfie Farm, Llanfyllin Dolffanog Fawr, Tywyn Eifionydd, Bala Ellingham House, Colwyn Bay Escape – Boutique B&B, Llandudno Fairfield Bungalow, Monmouth Fairyhill, Gower Felin Glais, Brecon Ffynnon, Dolgellau Ffynnon Feddyg, New Quay Four Views, 6 Marine Crescent, Conwy Galedffrwd Mill, Bethesda Glandwr Mill, Barmouth Glangrwyney Court, Crickhowell Glangwili Mansion, Carmarthen Guidfa House, Llandrindod Wells Gwesty Cymru, Aberystwyth Gwesty'r Harbourmaster Hotel, Aberaeron Hafod Elwy Hall, Denbigh Holm House, Penarth Llansabbath Country House, Abergavenny Llwydiarth Fawr, Llanerchymedd Lochmeyler Farm, Haverfordwest Maes-Y-Derw, Newcastle Emlyn Manorhaus, Ruthin Morgans Town House, Swansea Neuadd-Lwyd, Llanfairpwllgwyngyll Parc-yr-Odyn, Pentraeth Penbontbren Boutique B&B, Llandysul

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Pilleth Oaks, Knighton Plas Bodegroes, Pwllheli Plas Dinas Country House, Caernarfon Plas Maenan, Llanrwst Ramsey House, St Davids Slebech Park, Haverfordwest Tan Y Foel Country House, Betws-Y-Coed Tan Yr Onnen Guest House, St Asaph The Acorns, Betws-Y-Coed The Checkers, Montgomery The Coach House, Brecon The Granary, Brecon The Grove, Narberth The Hardwick, Abergavenny The Old Rectory, Conwy The Old Rectory, Newport The Old Rectory On The Lake, Tywyn The Old Vicarage, Newtown The Paddock, Haverfordwest Tir Y Coed Country House, Conwy Ty Derw, Machynlleth Ty Mawr Mansion, Lampeter Tyddyn Du Farm Holidays, Blaenau Ffestiniog Tyddyn Llan Restaurant with Rooms, Corwen Tyddyn Perthi, Caernarfon Venetia, Abersoch Wern Farm, Menai Bridge Wilton Court Restaurant with Rooms, Ross-On-Wye Y Garth, Newport

Find out more…

http://www.visitwales.co.uk/ holiday-accommodation-in-wales/ collections-award-winning-luxuryaccommdation-in-wales/

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Profile

5 minutes with Simon Calder The Independent’s Travel Editor – and Britain’s best-known travel writer – was on our side of the Severn for a week recently. On his travels he took time to share his personal take on tourism with industry practitioners around Wales – and with Quality Wales' Julian Rollins.

‘Staycation’ “It’s a word I’ve never used other than ironically,” he says. In fact, the basics of how the domestic market works remain largely unchanged, he argues. “There are somewhere between 20 and 25 million British people who have decided that they want to have a foreign holiday somewhere sunny in the summer. So all the various claims that are made about staying at home are basically tosh, “ he says. But at the margins there are significant numbers of people whose habits are changing, he suggests. Their decision has been prompted by issues like the airport experience, tighter family budgets, fear of terror attacks and the vagaries of Icelandic volcanoes. For many people the 2010 volcanic dust situation was “the first time they found themselves somewhere and didn’t know how to get back”, he says. It has dented confidence in air travel, a sentiment reinforced by this year’s eruption. It all adds up to an opportunity for Wales. Simon Calder says: “Of course everyone will want to visit Wales. It’s beautiful, it’s easy to get to. It has lovely people and, of course, a fantastic cultural history.”

Be heard Social media may capture the lion’s share of our attention, but, says Simon Calder, more traditional media – radio and TV, guidebooks and, of course, newspapers – still have an important role to play. And, people involved at the industry’s “coal face” have something that he and his colleagues need. What do journalists want? Like everyone else they want to keep the boss happy, he says, and they do it by supplying strong stories that “inspire, inform and entertain”. So how do we get our story in front of people who can write about them? Send a press release? “For newspaper travel desks email is great news, we used to have to take press releases out of their envelopes and then throw them away,” he says. “Now we just hit delete.” Between 30 and 40 press releases arrive in his inbox each day and, he says, all are deleted unopened because they have also been sent to hundreds of other editors. “They’re no use to me. I want to hear something that is targeted just to me – that is an exclusive.” Iconography How clear is Wales’ offer to the world? Simon Calder says destinations need to keep things simple: “People want an answer to the

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question ‘am I going to find something there that I’m not going to find anywhere else?’” For Australia the answer has been, he says, to distil their offering down into three icons: Uluru (Ayer’s Rock), the Great Barrier Reef and the Sydney Opera House. What about Wales? “For markets beyond Britain, Wales needs to have three things that stimulate people’s appetites, icons that make them say to themselves: ‘Anywhere that’s got Portmeirion, Snowdonia or whatever has got to be interesting.’ It simplifies the offer and they find out there’s much more when they arrive.” So, Simon Calder’s own Welsh trinity would include Portmeirion and Snowdonia, how about the third? “I can only respectfully suggest that it would help travellers enormously if they felt that life was being made easier for them,” he says. But then having said he’s not going to name names he adds Cardiff Bay to the mix. There a day or two before our conversation, he’s fallen in love with the Norwegian Church. “I think it (Cardiff Bay) is really, really impressive,” he enthuses. “It’s been a while since I’ve been there and I think it now really has a sense of being something different and unusual.”

wales.gov.uk/tourism


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And finally What one thing should Wales be doing better? Simple, improve access. “As a public transport user I think it’s interesting that the closer you get to Wales the older – and slower – the rolling stock gets,” he says. “During my week in Wales I travelled on seven trains and only one of them was on time. The odd bit of disruption you can live with, but delays like that make life very difficult – people won’t accept it.” [ 03 ]

Find out more…

Simon Calder is the author of ‘No Frills: The Truth Behind the Low-Cost Revolution in The Skies’, which is published by Virgin Books.

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Simon’s pick of Wales’ icons includes [01] Snowdonia, [02] Portmeirion and [03] Cardiff Bay and [04] the Norwegian Church.

www.simoncalder.co.uk

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Tourism

Ship Ahoy The perfect cruise?

Somewhere tropical, exotic and probably Caribbean? Not these days. Business is booming and the 21st Century cruise operator is looking further afield and for something different – and increasingly ‘different’ means Wales.

Dinner at Cardiff Castle, golf at Celtic Manor and a tour of the Wales Millennium Centre. For the passengers of ‘The World’ the ship’s stopover represented a busy three days. The call at Cardiff last summer was just one of many for the luxury vessel, which is at sea during every month of the year. It sailed off heading for Iceland, Greenland and on to Canada, but the visit by ‘The World’ represented a huge step forward for Cardiff’s drive to establish itself on the cruise holiday scene. The cruise business is new in Cardiff, but is growing strongly. The size of the sea lock in the Cardiff Bay barrage means only small and medium-sized cruise ships can dock, but larger ships – like ‘The World’ can anchor outside the barrage. The ship is a little different to the average cruise vessel, says Sally Edwards Hart, Operational Manager for Tourism at Cardiff

County Council. It’s home to its 300 or so millionaire passengers each of whom own their own onboard apartment. So the visit represented a healthy boost for the city’s economy. “We did see a lot of shopping bags going onto the ship over those three days,” says Sally. “Cruise passengers do spend money, and so do the crew. They come ashore too, buy supplies, use internet cafes and generally enjoy themselves.” This year the city has played host to four cruise ships. That may not sound that many, but it represents another successful year for a newbie on the cruise scene. It is also managing to attract strong interest from the cruise lines. That’s largely down to the quality of the experience that the city offers, says Sally: “We have excellent feedback about city attractions and about the friendliness of the people, that’s always commented on.” Cardiff County Council sees real benefit in building on the cruise trade. Its estimation

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is that a single visit by a large ship carrying around 2,500 passengers could be worth about £200,000 to the local economy. Cruise ships deliver benefits in more ways than one. The obvious one is the direct effect on the economy that comes from goods and services bought by passengers and cruise operators. That’s everything from the souvenirs and taxi trips passengers buy during their time on shore to the food and fuel purchased for the ship. But there’s also the indirect benefit that comes when businesses that are direct suppliers to cruise operators spend their money. And, of course, there’s the fact that people employed, directly and indirectly, because of the cruise business have more money to spend too. Scale that economic benefit up and the figures for all Wales become even more persuasive. Each visit by a cruise passenger is said to contribute £85 to the local economy, so larger vessels can be big business for the local economy.

wales.gov.uk/tourism


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Ship Ahoy

But when those practicalities

The perfect cruise?

are covered passengers are mostly delighted by what they

A ship carrying 2,650 passengers has a total passenger spend of €257,000 – or about £224,000. And that money is spent quickly – typically a ship will spend just a day in port. The great news for Wales is that the cruise market is growing. At the same time operators have an appetite for new destinations to tempt customers with. Figures from CruiseBritain show that 2010 was a boom year for cruise passengers stopping over in the UK. In all there were 541,000 visits – up 21 per cent on 2009 – and over the last seven years total visits have gone up by more than 130 per cent. Wales’ slice of the cake remains modest, but there’s huge potential for growth. In 2004 just 3,000 passengers visited Welsh ports, whereas this year that total will be close to 22,000. Building on that success is the objective of Cruise Wales, which promotes Swansea, Newport and Cardiff, Milford Haven, Fishguard and Holyhead to the world. Formed in 2004, the partnership represents ports, destination managers and the Welsh Government and works closely with Irish Sea and British partners to develop itineraries. The group’s committee secretary is Sue Blanchard-Williams, who is Cruise Coordinator for Milford Haven Port Authority. She has seen calls to the Pembrokeshire port jump from just two or three a year mid-decade to seven this year. Selling Wales to the cruise industry has taken effort, Sue says. “I have to go looking for cruise ships,” she says. “It’s not easy, you are dealing with about 300 companies all around the world.” Now those companies are waking up to what Wales has to offer there is real scope for growth, Sue says. “Cruise companies like to change their itineraries every few years to keep things fresh so what one Welsh port gets one year I predict other Welsh ports will get soon after.”

What could transform Milford Haven’s appeal to cruise companies is what the business calls an “alongside berth”, a berth at which full-size cruise ships can tie up allowing passengers to step onto dry land. With an alongside berth Milford Haven could aspire to be on a par with the heavy-hitter of Welsh cruise stopovers, Holyhead. During 2011 Holyhead will welcome 17 cruise ships with an average of just under 1,000 passengers per ship. That represents good business for the area’s qualified tour guides like Mandy Whitehead, who is based at Deiniolen, near Bangor. Freelance guides like Mandy lead day and half-day excursions for cruise passengers that are arranged by ground handling companies. Typically a company will arrange all the excursions, including coaches and guides, for all a ship’s UK stops. Mandy says: “We don’t like to keep passengers on the coach for more than an hour or an hour and a half. In that time you can get to Portmeirion, to Caernarfon or Conwy castles, or do a loop around Snowdonia.” There are practical difficulties, Mandy says, which could have the potential to limit the growth of cruise business in the future. She says: “People underestimate the importance of things like catering and toilets to your overall experience. People can’t enjoy history and culture if they are hungry, or cold or they want a wee. That overrides everything else that they might be thinking about.” But when those practicalities are covered passengers are mostly delighted by what they find in Wales, she says. “They love our history, our culture and our language.”

find in Wales, she says. “They love our history, our culture and our language.”

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[01] [04] The cruise ship Crown Princess berthed at Holyhead, Anglesey, [02] [03] Saga Ruby at Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, and [05] a coach picking up cruise passengers at Holyhead.

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wales.gov.uk/tourism


Ship Ahoy The perfect cruise?

The largest cruise ship calling at a Welsh port this year was the ‘Crown Princess’, which anchored at Holyhead in May, June and August. Operated by Princess Cruises, the ‘Crown Princess’ is one of the company’s fleet of 17 ships and can accommodate 3,080 passengers.

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Holyhead is the only Welsh port in Princess Cruises’ list of 102 European ports of call. Selling Holyhead to prospective passengers Princess Cruises says: “From its proud Celtic roots to its indelible connection to the British Monarchy, Wales is a land rich in art, folklore, and regal pageantry.” [ 05 ]

Excursions offered to passengers during their visit to Anglesey include a tour of Beaumaris and Conwy castles and a trip to Portmeirion. At the other end of the scale the ‘Hebridean Princess’ carries just 49 passengers and called at Cardiff, Fishguard and Milford Haven. The ‘Hebridean Princess’ was chartered last year by the Queen for a family holiday and its operators say their vessel offers an experience that is “more akin in size and atmosphere to a floating boutique hotel”. The ship operates around the UK and France. It visited Welsh ports as part of a 10-night cruise that also took in parts of Ireland and the west coast of Scotland.

Find out more…

Sign up for the Cruise Wales e-newsletter and find out more about cruise operators, ports, itineraries and Wales’ cruise calendar at: www.cruisewales.visitwales.com

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London 2012

Game on The world’s biggest sporting event will have a global reach and Wales will definitely be at the party.

That first kick at 4pm on Thursday, July 25, will – excuse the pun – get the ball rolling on the women’s Football competition. It will also mark the end of a very long build up to three weeks of the Olympic Games with the 11-day Paralympic Games following at the end of August. In all around 15,000 athletes are expected to come to London 2012 to take part in 806 sporting events. There are 28 teams involved in the Football alone, which will see 58 matches played over 18 days. Cardiff will host around 11 of those Games. Players – including world-famous names – will spend time training at Cardiff

University’s playing fields in Llanrumney. But the 2012 buzz will be building long before the first kick-off. The Olympic Torch Relay will be making the news weeks before the Opening Ceremony. It will start at Land's End on May 19 before starting a 70-day journey throughout the UK. The Torch will spend its first night in Wales in Cardiff on May 25 before heading off to Swansea, Aberystwyth and Bangor on its way to a stopover at Chester on May 29. During its journey through Wales there will be community events to mark its progress. You can find out more about the Torch route and planned events at www.london2012.com/ olympic-torch-relay. The Paralympic torch will also feature in Wales. Cardiff will host a Paralympic Flame Festival on Monday August 27, 2012. For further information about the Paralympic Flame Festivals please go to www.london2012. com/paralympic-torch-relay. There are numerous opportunities to get actively involved in community events in Wales during 2012, register at www.london2012.com/localleaders. The London 2012 effect will also arrive early around Wales as teams arrive for preGames training. So far, 16 sports specific and multi-sport teams have committed to train in Wales before the Games including Paralympic teams from the whole of the Oceania Paralympic Region. The list includes multi-

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When does London 2012 start? The obvious answer to that question would be with the Opening Ceremony on July 27, but in fact the first happening of the Games “proper” will be a boot hitting a ball at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.

sport paralympic teams from Australia and South Africa who will base their athletes in Cardiff and Newport, while the New Zealand contingent will be heading for Swansea. The Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee is also committed to basing its team in Cardiff. While they are in pre-Games training the visitors will have quite an impact on the areas they visit. For example, with the visit of the Trinidad & Tobago Olympic team there will be opportunities for star-spotting; the team is expected to include the Beijing 2008 silver medal sprinter Richard Thompson, who is likely to be one of Usain Bolt's main London 2012 challengers. Athletes from New Zealand will include Valerie Adams, the reigning Olympic, World and Commonwealth champion for the shot put. Long Jump gold medallist Lynn Davies believes London 2012 presents a massive opportunity for Wales. The star of the Tokyo 1964 Games says: “We must see the London 2012 platform as an incredible opportunity for our small nation to showcase what we have to offer.” Look out for the ‘Following the Flame’ exhibition. It highlights the achievements of Welsh Olympians and Paralympians over the last century through photos, paintings, film, theatre, music and more. It’s touring venues around Wales during the run-up to the games. For more information go to www.artswales. org.uk

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"The true legacy of London 2012 will be how it encourages a generation of youngster to get involved in sport," says Jon Morgan, the Executive Director of Disability Sport Wales. Jon believes that having the Olympic and Paralympic Games in “our back yard” will capture the imagination of youngsters. It’s something he’s seen at other Games and has the power to change lives, he says. Wales punches above its weight at Summer ParalympicsGB. Our population is around a twentieth of the member nations, but at Beijing 2008 Welsh athletes came away with a quarter of the gold medals won by ParalympicsGB. "That success is a reflection of the set-up on the ground that means that young hopefuls can access support across Wales", Jon says. And he believes that Wales is well placed to make the best of the London 2012 effect. “We’ve already got opportunities for disabled children to go out and find in their communities,” he says. “So a child who watches the London 2012 Games, who happens to be a wheelchair user, who says ‘I want to do that’ can pick up the phone and make it happen.” [ 01 ]

First Minister Carwyn Jones signs a memorandum of understanding with Brian Lewis, the Secretary General of the Trinidad & Tobago Olympic Committee during the 2010 Ryder Cup at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport.

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Interiors

Do it yourself? What to do when your property’s interiors begin to look a bit tired? Get out a paint brush and get stuck in, or get someone in? For a growing number of tourism businesses the answer is to call in an interior designer who specialises in working with the trade.

It was a tough brief and a tight deadline and David James and Meinir Bowen admit there were tensions along the way. But for the owners of The Castle Hotel in Aberaeron, when it came to reflecting both their roots and David’s globe-trotting career, there was only ever one person for the job. Ann Hughes brought her expertise as an interior designer and as joint owner of boutique hotel Llety Bodfor in Aberdyfi but she was also, says David “a local girl. She went to school with Meinir, we are friends, she knew how important our backgrounds and the area were to us but also my three decades of travel in the merchant navy.” After almost five years at the hotel the couple decided it was time for a change and allowed only eight weeks to transform the café bar and bedrooms in their Grade II Listed Building in the Georgian harbour town. “But Ann was used to working within builders’

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schedules and had the contacts to quickly find everything we needed and we re-opened on deadline in March 2009,” says Meinir. David was keen to bring Africa into the hotel. “I wanted to give the café bar a Casablanca feel but at the same time keep it Welsh.” Ann sourced plantation shutters for the windows, found space for a ‘play it again Sam’ piano and moved in plants. But she also bought antique Welsh furniture on ebay and renovated the couple’s church pews and original wooden floor. The planned focal point for the bar café proved more problematic. “David really wanted a curved bar to echo his years at sea and also because of the hotel’s location while Ann said we should save space and go for something against the wall. But we stuck to our guns. We felt the shape was inviting and would encourage people to socialise.” The bar is now a big hit with customers, as are the rejuvenated bedrooms with their distinctly Welsh touches. “My mother used to own the Alltcafcan

Woollen Mill in PentreCwrt,” David explains. “So we have a link to that with tapestrycovered headboards and traditionally-woven Welsh nursing shawls on the beds, with many of the patterns originals.” Meinir was impressed with how Ann was able to choose colour and texture, make practical suggestions and add detail. “It might be a wallpaper to make a room more cosy, the right size wardrobe or changing the position of the bed or replacing door handles or adding candle holders. She did all the things we wouldn’t have thought of which made such a difference but at the same time she listened to what we had thought about. We had strong views and she respected them. It was a real partnership.” David agrees and says employing Ann was “definitely money well spent. There has been a 30-40 per cent increase in business for the rooms and the hotel has gone from three to four stars. People are always telling us how much they love it.”

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Do it yourself?

There has been a 30-40 per

Get out a paint brush and get stuck in.

cent increase in business for the rooms and the hotel has gone from three to four stars. People are always telling us how much they love it.”

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When Noella Nicholas called in an interior designer it felt, she says, like an admission of failure. “Was I really so inadequate I couldn’t pick a paint colour, choose a cushion or decide where to put a picture or piece of furniture?” The owner of Scolton Country Cottages, near Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire, was also fearful her wishes – not to mention her budget – would be ignored and the ten, centuries-old stone farm building conversions would be stripped of their character. “I didn’t want to spend lots of money on everything being scrapped and replaced and end up with something which looked like a show home.” But after meeting with interior designer Linda Hunt, Noella felt reassured – and inspired. “It was the best two hours I had spent in a long time.” It was a grade inspector who, earlier this year, suggested the properties might benefit from some updating. “As an owner it is easy to get on a treadmill of maintenance, whether that’s making sure things are working or giving something a fresh lick of paint, and to lose sight of the frills and fringes and florals which give away to increasingly demanding clients how long it is since you replaced them.” Linda assured Noella that a great deal could be made of what was already there, keeping carpets for instance, adding in some modest changes for a manageable cost. “She also persuaded me that rather than only doing the bedrooms in all the cottages as I’d initially suggested, I should start with the whole of one cottage.”

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Owner Meinir Bowen behind the bar at the Castle Hotel, Aberaeron [02] [03] [04], and Noella Nicholas [07] at her business, Scolton Country Cottages, near Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire [05] [06] [08]   . [01]

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Do it yourself? Get out a paint brush and get stuck in.

How do you get the best out of the colours you choose? Here are designer Linda Hunt’s top tips: [ 07 ]

Two-fifths of paint purchases are the result of a wrong first choice. Use samples, fix or apply them to the relevant wall or ceiling and make sure you leave them in place for at least 24 hours so you can see the effect during the day and when you switch on the lights at night. Make attention-grabbing primary colours – red, blue and yellow – work for you. Don’t waste a beautiful view with bright red curtains that make the eye stop in the room. But a single wall away from the window papered using those colours will, for example, refocus attention away from a window overlooking a car parking space.

[ 08]

Running ten properties does not leave Noella much time for interiors shopping “and I don’t have a great deal of confidence when faced with a bewildering array of choices. That can mean a lot of wasted time and money. Linda saves all that legwork and doubt. There are no mistakes and she finds the right things quickly so it’s really cost effective.” Beds were freshened by ditching the florals and going for plainer bedlinen and Linda added to their appeal with cushions and throws in cleaner-looking contrasting checks. The cottage walls, emulsioned in magnolia throughout for simplicity, now have some single walls papered for impact, blinds and mirrors have perked up the bathroom and a compact room seems lighter since slightly contrasting white paints have been used on the ceiling and beams. And rather than replace the brass light fittings we got a tin of matt black spray paint to give them an affordable makeover. She also used colours and materials to reflect the woodland close by and give a subtle sense of place. Linda works with graders so she knows exactly what is needed to get the most from your property. The few regulars who have seen the just-finished cottage can’t believe the transformation. But I couldn’t have done this alone. Linda nudged me in the right direction and I have enjoyed every minute.”

Choose neutrals carefully. They can be cool or warm and there are are more than 50 shades of white. Use cools, like greys, in a north-facing room and it will never feel warm. In a sunny, south-facing room cool neutrals balance that light whereas a warm neutral, like buttermilk, could look sickly. Aim for your main colours to be stylish rather than fashionable. If you want to reflect seasonal trends, use those colours in inexpensive accessories.

Find out more…

Ann Hughes Design is run by Ann Hughes and partner Gareth. They are based in Aberdyfi, Gwynedd. www.annhughesdesign.co.uk Linda Hunt’s business Meigan Design is based at Boncath, North Pembrokeshire. www.meigandesign.co.uk

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Say cheese Wales’ greatest contribution to the culinary universe? It’s the sort of question that can start a fight. Or at least a good after-dinner conversation. It’s probably a straight match between the usual suspects. Beef and lamb are almost certainly favourites, while the combination of cockles, bacon and laver bread would be a decent outside bet. But when it comes to winning accolades it’s Welsh cheesemakers that lead the way. With plenty of great cheese to choose from we’ve picked our magnificent seven from recent award-winners, a selection that proves Wales’ cheesemakers are a class act.

[ 01 ]

Gorwydd Caerphilly from Trethowan’s Dairy, near Tregaron, Ceredigion, and [02] [03] Golden Cenarth, which is made by Caws Cenarth at Lancych, near Newcastle Emlyn, Carmarthenshire. [01]

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Gorwydd Caerphilly

Trethowan’s Dairy, near Tregaron, Ceredigion The only Caerphilly in the village (it’s made at Llanddewi Brefi), Gorwydd is everything a classic farmhouse Caerphilly should be although perhaps just a little sweeter and creamier. It is a favourite with foodies, including Nigel Slater and Phil Vickery (“the best Caerphilly cheese I have eaten in a long time”). It also wowed the judges at the 2010 World Cheese Awards, where it won the Welsh Government Trophy for best Welsh Cheese. www.trethowansdairy.co.uk

[ 02 ]

[03 ]

Golden Cenarth

Caws Cenarth, Glyneithinog, Lancych, near Newcastle Emlyn, Carmarthenshire Soft, smelly and with a breathtaking flavour, Golden Cenarth is the personal project of Carwyn Adams, one of Rick Stein’s food heroes. The product is the latest addition to the established Caws Cenarth range and is a cheese that’s not for the faint-hearted. It certainly wowed the judges at the 2010 British Cheese Awards, where it was selected from a field of 170 to be the year’s Supreme Champion. www.cawscenarth.co.uk

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Say cheese Wales’ greatest contribution to the culinary universe?

Teifi Farmhouse

Glynhynod Farm, near Llandysul, Ceredigion The 2010/11 True Taste Product of the Year, Teifi Farmhouse is a Welsh cheese with a Dutch twist – its creator John SavageOnstwedder moved from his native Holland to make cheese at Glynhynod Farm, Ffostrasol, in the early 1980s. A leading member of the Welsh artisan cheese renaissance, John uses high quality, unpasteurised milk from lush Teifi grazing to produce a cheese that the True Taste judges described as having a “nice rich tang”. www.teifivalleycheeseproducers.com

[04 ]

Caerphilly

South Caernarfon Creameries, Chwilog, Pwllheli, Gwynedd The creameries business was set up in 1938 and is a farmer co-op. Milk from members’ farms around Snowdonia, Anglesey and the Ll^yn goes to make a range of cheeses, including a Caerphilly that judges picked as best in its section at the 2010 British Cheese Awards. www.sccwales.co.uk

[ 05]

Hafod Organic Cheddar

Bwlchwernen Fawr, Llangybi, Ceredigion As the author of ‘Cheese Course’, Guardian food writer Fiona Beckett knows what she’s talking about. She lives on the wrong side of the Severn, just a stone’s throw from Cheddar Gorge but recently let slip that her cheddar of choice is Hafod. A recent True Taste gold winner, it’s made a long way from Cheddar at Bwlchwernen Fawr, near Lampeter, by husband and wife team Sam and Rachel Holden. www.hafodcheese.co.uk

[ 07 ]

[ 06 ]

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Llangloffan Smoked

Boksburg Hall, Llanllwch, Carmarthenshire Llangloffan was created by musician-turned-cheesemaker Leon Downey at his North Pembrokeshire farm in the late 1970s. After years of winning awards Leon retired from the business of cheesemaking in 2006, but his brand hasn’t lost the winning habit. It’s now made by the Carmarthenshire Cheese Company and the company’s smoked Llangloffan picked up a gold in the 2010/11 True Taste awards.

Prize-winning Teifi Farmhouse, which is made at Glynhynod Farm, near Llandysul, Ceredigion, [05] Llangloffan Smoked, from the Carmarthenshire Cheese Company, at Llanllwch, Carmarthenshire, and [06] Blaenafon Cheddar from the Blaenafon Cheddar Company, Torfaen. [04] [07]

Blaenafon Cheddar

Find out more…

Blaenafon, Torfaen Excuse the pun, but maturing cheese down a 300ft mine shaft is a great way to age cheddar – and to tap into the rich vein of Valleys industrial heritage. Blaenafon Cheddar Company’s link with the Big Pit National Coal Museum has paid off by getting the new brand noticed. But it’s the quality of the cheeses that have established its reputation – most recently with the judges at last summer’s Royal Welsh Show, where Blaenafon Cheddar Company picked up three golds for its flavoured products. www.chunkofcheese.co.uk

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The Great British Cheese Festival is held at Cardiff Castle each autumn. For details of the 2012 event visit www.greatbritishcheesefestival. co.uk

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Investment

Moral support Help for business As a new scheme to deliver investment support to tourism businesses takes forward Visit Wales support for the sector, Quality Wales hears from two businesses that have had help in the past.

Iain and Wilma Roberts took over Gwesty Ty^ Newydd in Aberdaron on the Lly^ n Peninsula in 2006. The support they received has played an important role in the seaside village’s revival. How much was your grant for and what did it fund? The support was for almost £300,000. It was for a total refurbishment of the first and second floor. The hotel had a front part and a back part, connected only by a ground floor section with a flat roof. We lifted that up and made it wider, added the first and second floors and link corridor and took the lift up to the second floor. We also refitted 11 en-suite rooms.

[01 ]

How has it improved the offer to visitors? The support enabled us to finish the job properly. Previously there had been 12 rooms, but only five were en-suite and some were really small. The previous owners also had a flat within the hotel so we incorporated that too. Now all the rooms are really spacious and the architect managed to arrange it so all rooms have a sea view.

Since taking over the T^y Newydd Hotel at Aberdaron owners Iain and Wilma Roberts have spent time and money upgrading the popular beachside property [02] [03] [04] [05] . [01]

[02 ]

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[ 03 ]

Has it been a good investment? It was a good investment for the area as the hotel hadn’t had anything done for years and years. It was closed for three days a week, regardless of whether those days fell on a bank holiday, so you can imagine the effect on the area. The village was run down and was withdrawing, but now there has been a revival. Aberdaron is really buzzing. An S4C drama was made here last winter and the National Trust has just bought car parking that used to be in private hands. It’s now open 24/7 instead of closing at 7pm, which wasn’t good for us. How important is taxpayer support for the tourism industry in Wales? I think it’s very important. We have quite a few builders about and it’s hard to see where else they would get their work without tourism. The money then spreads into the community. What is brilliant about tourism in Wales right now? The variety Wales offers. In Aberdaron we have the coast then within 40 miles there’s Snowdon. You don’t have to travel that far from the beach to go hill-climbing or whitewater rafting. And it’s a relatively safe country, which I think is a factor for tourists when they book.

[ 04 ]

Find out more…

Gwesty Ty^ Newydd overlooks the beach at Aberdaron, Gwynedd. www.gwesty-tynewydd.co.uk [ 05 ]

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Moral support

It is accessible and trendy, with

Help for business

access to some of the best food and natural resources

A grant given to Lake Vyrnwy Hotel in Llanwddyn, Powys, partly funded a major refurbishment – described by General Manager Anthony Rosser as a “resounding success”. How much was the grant for and what did it fund? The grant was for £750k, forming part of a £2.3m project to build an extension of 14 new premier rooms with balconies, increase the conference and banqueting area – including a bespoke and self-contained wedding venue – and to build a spa with sauna, spa pool, steam room, experience showers and two treatment rooms. How has it improved the offer to visitors? The purpose was to increase the existing hotel by 30 per cent, add new product and take the business to a level where it could be commercially sound for the future. The business will sell well over 22,000 bed nights this year, which equates to around 11,000 people coming to stay overnight in the valley. Has it been a good investment? The project has been a resounding success Turnover has risen by 34 per cent and the business continues to grow, despite recessionary pressures. Most importantly, when the recession ends the hotel will be in a fantastic position to take advantage of the upturn. If this injection had not been made, the expansion project would not have happened and we believe the business would now be struggling to grow.

How important is taxpayer support for the tourism industry in Wales? With demographic changes and the changes of working practice in rural Wales, Lake Vyrnwy Hotel has now become the primary economic driver for a significant part of rural Wales. More than 90 people are employed here, more than £1m will be paid in wages this year and hundreds of thousands of pounds of primary and secondary expenditure is spread into the local economy. We have been able to offer real employment with decent accommodation, careers and training prospects to local people. We have several instances of the sons and daughters of local farming families working in the community in which they grew up. What’s brilliant about tourism in Wales right now? It is accessible and trendy, with access to some of the best food and natural resources available. And, if you live in the UK, you don’t generally have to use an airport to get here.

available. And, if you live in the UK, you don’t generally have to use an airport to get here.

[02]

Find out more…

The four-star Lake Vyrnwy Country House Hotel is on the shores of Lake Vyrnwy, Powys. www.lakevyrnwy.com

Grant aid from Visit Wales has enabled the Lake Vyrnwy Hotel [01] at Llanwddyn, Powys, to improve bedrooms [02] and upgrade facilities [03] [05] [06] . It has proved a ‘resounding success’, says General Manager Anthony Rosser [04].. [ 03 ]

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Moral support Help for business

[ 04]

[ 06]

Q. What is the new support set up? A. It’s called the Tourism Investment Support Scheme (TISS).

[05]

business will be asked to achieve and maintain a relevant Visit Wales quality grading or accreditation. Q. When is a grant paid? A. If your application is successful you will be sent an ‘offer letter’ that sets out the terms and conditions of the support. After you have formally accepted the offer you will be assigned a monitoring officer who will process your claims. Grants are usually paid in instalments as clearly specified in the offer.

Q. Would I qualify for help? A. If you have an existing tourism business or you’re thinking of setting up a new venture you can enquire directly to the TISS team. Q. How much could I apply for? A. The minimum grant is £5,000 and the maximum is £300,000. The maximum amount of support allowed may vary with the location and size of the applicant business.

As Quality Wales was going to press the Tourism Investment Support Scheme announced a ‘one-off’ investment opportunity to small and medium-sized tourism enterprises across Wales for capital projects that can be completed by the end of March 2012. The ‘Building for 2012’ initiative offers up to 40 per cent of eligible costs to make projects happen by the deadline date.

Q. What proportion of a project cost is covered by TISS? A. If you’re successful the support offered would not normally exceed 25 per cent of a project’s total cost. Q. What is TISS likely to support? A. The prime objective is the provision of quality facilities, to add value and improve business performance and the visitor experience. A project that will create additional capacity will only be considered if the result is to ‘grow’ Wales’ tourism economy.

For details of the simple, quick process visit the TISS pages on the link below.

Find out more…

Q. Are there strings attached? A. If support is offered it will come with a number of standard criteria/ conditions. Where appropriate your

To find out more phone 0845 010 8020 or email tiss@wales.gsi.gov.uk wales.gov.uk/tourism

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Training

Bright young things From ‘The Apprentice’ to ‘Michel Roux’s Service’ the focus is on getting that first foot on the ladder. But away from the small screen Wales’ brightest and best are showing the same sort of passion and commitment. Quality Wales met three of Wales’ young stars to hear about how they made their career choice, what it’s like to be learning the ropes and what they hope the future holds.

Why did you decide to be a chef? It wasn’t something I always wanted to do particularly; I just kind of fell into it. I was working part time in a restaurant in Leicester and that led to me going to catering college. I realised it was one of those jobs where you learn something new all the time, which was surprising. There is not just one area you can go into and I found that interesting.

Current Junior Chef of Wales Adam Middleton, 22, spent two years at Hotel Maes-y-Neuadd, near Harlech, before his recent move to Bodysgallen Hall, Llandudno. He will represent Wales next year in South Korea.

How did you get the first foot on the ladder? I was asked to do work experience at Hotel Maes-y-Neuadd then Peter (Jackson, Maes-yNeuadd chef patron and chair of the Welsh Culinary Association) offered me a job. Then I went back to college to gain another qualification, the NVQ Level 3. What experiences have you learned from and how have you found the training? Everyone makes mistakes and I’ve made

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plenty of those! The training has been brilliant. Everyone sees things differently and I have learnt from everyone I’ve worked with. It can be a little bit rough when there are clashes of personality but you just have to be strongheaded. Winning Junior Chef of Wales was a real boost. I didn’t expect to win as I am my own worst critic but it gave me that selfconfidence I needed. I’ve also learnt a lot by making the transition from college to work. Where do you want to be in 10 years’ time? Ultimately I’d like to be a teacher. In the meantime I’d like to get out and do as much as I can, working in as many different environments as possible. What do you do away from work? I used to do a lot of sport such as cricket, football and golf but then college took over and now I just don’t have time for anything outside of work. Cooking is my life.

wales.gov.uk/tourism


[01]

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Bright young things Getting that first foot on the ladder Ascot was insane. I couldn’t believe how much I learned by working with top calibre chefs.

Kristian Fuchs, 20, runs the Silverdale Inn in Johnston, Pembrokeshire, with his father Werner. The 21-room hotel includes a long-established, popular pub and the father and son team are about to launch a new restaurant on the premises. Why did you decide to be a chef? I have always been around the business as we live on the premises. I cooked a lot in the kitchen with dad and my mum, Connie. Mum had breast cancer, which she got through but then she was diagnosed with lung cancer when I was about 14. I had to grow up very quickly and do a lot for myself; instead of her doing my washing it was the other way around. How did you get the first foot on the ladder? I did NVQ Catering and Hospitality at Pembrokeshire College. In the second and third year I had a part time job in Solva as well as working at home. While I was at college I won a bursary to go to Coworth Park in Ascot for six months, which I’m so grateful for.

16-18 hours a day but it taught me how to work in a team, how to work under pressure and how to maintain a professional manner. I also learnt commitment and dedication, as I was getting up so early in the morning. I have also been in quite a few competitions, such as the UK Skills Welsh Final and the Welsh Culinary Championships, and there is no doubt they open a lot of doors.

[ 02 ]

[ 03 ]

Where do you want to be in 10 years’ time? I really want to bring everything I have learned back to Pembrokeshire and put everything into the restaurant. I am happy where I am for the time being but I do think this is a young man’s game. At Ascot, the vast majority of staff in the kitchen were in their twenties. The only people at the 40 mark were the top chefs. What do you do away from work? I work from 6am to 1am seven days a week so it’s hard to have a life. I can’t really plan things. When I’m not working I come up with new ideas, cooking every day for my dad and often for my gran. I have put my heart and soul into this but you can’t really look at it as a job; it’s a way of life.

What experiences have you learned from and how have you found the training? Ascot was insane. I couldn’t believe how much I learned by working with top calibre chefs. I learned a lot from college but this was a totally different level. It was hard, hard work doing

Adam Middleton is the current Junior Chef of Wales. [02] Kristian Fuchs is now working as Head Chef alongside his father Werner at the Silverdale Inn [04]. [03] Ffion Lewis hopes to be running her own business before she turns 30. [01]

[ 04 ]

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Bright young things Getting that first foot on the ladder

Ffion Lewis, 19, is studying Professional Cookery at Coleg Powys in Newtown. This year she was the only female candidate in the Cook and Serve final, where she and her team partner, Dave Johnson, came second. Why did you decide to be a chef? I’ve been interested in cooking and food from a young age. I have always loved baking and cooking at home with my mum and my nan, as well as experimenting by myself. In particular I love making desserts and cakes. I went to the college open day and found all the staff to be very friendly, and I’ve really enjoyed it ever since. How did you get the first foot on the ladder? I have a job at the Aleppo Merchant Inn in Carno as a chef, working 30 hours a week on top of college. I work every evening and on weekends I do split shifts, so it’s no good for my social life! Then when I go home I make biscuits and cakes. My family and friends love that!

What experiences have you learned from and how have you found the training? I have had really good training. All my lectures at college have been completely relevant, even the theory lectures. Our lecturers have lots of experience and chefs have come in to do master classes and demonstrations. And the Cook and Serve competition was really good experience. Dave and I had to produce a three-course menu. It’s a male dominated industry and I was the only girl in the competition but that just makes me want to do it even more. Where do you want to be in 10 years’ time? I would like to be back in Wales. I plan to stay at the Aleppo for a year or two then go travelling, working in different kitchens and hotels to get as much experience as possible. I would like to think in 10 years’ time I will be cooking at a high quality level and running my own restaurant. What do you do away from work? I do karate.

Find out more…

A good starting point for information about careers and training is the Career Wales website. www.careerswales.com

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Digital tourism

Does it pay to tweet? Tweeting suits some, repels others. Facebook isn’t for everyone. And you may not think YouTube is for you, but are you missing out?

How do you interview social network enthusiasts? You Tweet, of course. Or at least you use the tweet discipline of setting a 140-character limit for questions and answers, which can be quite a challenge.

Q. Is keeping up-to-date a chore or a joy? A. To begin with it was a chore, now I love sharing our adventures. Seeing people’s reactions to our photos, videos, etc is awesome.

Cleopatra Brown set up the Pembrokeshire-based coasteering business Celtic Quest in 2008. The business was a finalist in the National Tourism Awards’ Digital Marketing category in 2010.

Q. How do you stop Twitter, Facebook and the rest from eating into your day? A. Easy answer would be I'm in the sea most of the day. I try to post daily, in the mornings before I hit the beach or later after the day’s adventures.

Q. How did you start out? A. Used Facebook to keep in touch with friends, family etc. Pretty soon clients started finding me and interacting, it snowballed from there. Q. Does the time you spend on it generate business? A. Definitely, fans share our activity, clients share their experiences, photos, videos etc. Nothing beats a personal recommendation!

Q. Stats suggest Facebook’s recruitment may have peaked. Could social media turn out to be just a fad? A. No, with more and more ways for folk to interact (especially mobile phones), they may use other platforms, we just need to go with the flow! Visit www.celticquestcoasteering.com for links to all its social media activities.

[ 01 ]

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Elizabeth Musgrave left the world of accountancy in 2005 to run a holiday cottage business in the Clwydian Hills. She now also mentors Flintshire tourism businesses on how to extend their marketing reach. Q. Which social media do you use? A. Blogging, Twitter, Facebook and, to a lesser extent, Linkedin. Q. Which one came first and how did you get started? A. Blogging came first and I started for my own interest to record the seasons and my life here. Q. How long do you spend on ‘feeding’ your social media each week? A. Tricky. I blog weekly, takes about an hour to write and another hour to read others. Tweet most days, takes seconds. Facebook a couple of times a week, takes half an hour or so. Q. What are the rewards for you? A. New friendships and networks, dialogue with customers, speed of response. Q. How does that help your business? A. People are keener than ever to understand more about you and your offering. Social media lets you extend what you can share, via photos and by conversations with you.

[ 02 ]

Visit Wales launched its Digital Tourism Business Framework Project in March with a vision to move the sector firmly into the digital age. The project is being guided by a steering group of experts on both tourism and digital technologies. It aims to help businesses and organisations that support them to embrace new technologies.

Q. If you had to give up all forms of social media but one, which would you keep on? A. The blog. I enjoy writing it, I like having the record, have made some good friendships both real and virtual from it. It also brings in business for the cottage as a happy by product!

Support on offer includes assessments of ICT use, training and the sharing of knowledge and content as well as innovative pilots and the development of ‘digital communities’.

Elizabeth’s blog – and social media links – are at www.welshhillsagain.blogspot.com [ 03 ]

To find out more about the programme and the opportunities it offers, contact the Digital Tourism Project team via e-mail on: digitaltourism@wales.gsi.gov.uk

Find out more…

Free ICT check-ups for tourism businesses are now being offered through the Digital Tourism Business Framework Project. To find out more visit the tourism section of the Welsh Government website.

Marketing via the web, Twitter and by blog [02] [03] are keeping businesses like coasteering Celtic Quest [01] in the public eye.

www.wales.gov.uk

[04]

[ 04 ]

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[01]

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Development

Meet ‘The Management’ What are visitors looking for from a destination? More than anything else they want something that ‘works’ – where everything comes together to make their holiday experience as good as it can be. Which is, say two pioneers, what Destination Management is all about.

Seeing is believing. Jim Jones knew that Conwy had a problem with its seagulls, but watching a gull ‘mugging’ played out on film really brought the issue home for him. The sequence was captured by a cameraman filming for a promotional video and shows a visitor enjoying a quick snack in the sun. Then the perpetrator swoops. “The seagull came at her like a flying missile,” says Jim, who is Conwy’s Section Head of Tourism & Community Development Coastal. “Seeing it happen is really quite shocking.” "In the grand scheme of things seagulls pinching sausage rolls may not seem that important, but the wildlife encounter would have made a strong impression on the woman in the clip. It’s the sort of experience that could sour an otherwise positive experience", Jim says.

Issue 5, 2012

And quality of experience is important to the powers-that-be at Conwy County Borough Council. Its patch takes in the Victorian resort of Llandudno, historic walled Conwy and parts of Snowdonia National Park and tourism – a major employer – brings £559m a year into the local economy. Jim offers his seagull story as an illustration of what a Destination Management (DM) approach is doing for Conwy. The council’s first step on its DM ‘journey’ was to invite the trade to a forum to say what changes they would like to see. For Jim and his colleagues the response they got came as something of a surprise. They had expected more strategic issues like business rates and inward investment; what they got was loos, bins – and seagulls. After that meeting the Conwy team went back to the council and took the issues that had been raised to colleagues in relevant departments. The forum meetings have now evolved into the Destination Conwy Steering

Quality Wales

Group, which brings together representatives from the trade from around the county. The group’s first job was to work with the council to put together a DM Action Plan, which was launched in October last year. It deals with a wide range of issues and, of course, that includes the seagull question. As far as it can the council is addressing the problem. Bins that sometimes became overfilled at busy times are now emptied more often and have lids. Another issue is that people like to feed seagulls, so the council has set out to convince people not to through a marketing campaign. Last, but not least, the Conwy Council has called in birds of its own – hawks from a falconry business. Seagulls are frightened of hawks, so when the falconers bring their birds to seagull hotspots gulls keep their distance. And in a smart move, the tourism team hit on the idea of asking the hawk-handlers to dress in costume – Medieval outfits when they’re in Conwy and Victorian ones when

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Meet 'The Management' What are visitors looking for from a destination?

they are in Llandudno. So in both towns the hawk patrols serve a dual purpose, says Jim. “They’re an attraction in themselves – people take pictures of them. And while they’re around the seagulls definitely keep away.” At the other end of Wales the journey towards Destination Management has been a longer one. In effect, it started with the creation of National Parks in the late 1940s – long before DM was even a twinkle in an academic’s eye. “I see Destination Management as deeply appropriate to National Parks as in essence it’s what our job is all about,” says Richard Tyler, Sustainable Tourism Manager at the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority. “The parks were set up by politicians who wanted people to enjoy the countryside more, but who were aware that people can do damage to precious landscapes. They knew they had to invest in a mechanism that would protect what people came to see.” More recently it was the impact of the foot and mouth crisis that underlined the importance of tourism to the Beacons economy. After the all-clear the National Park Authority set out to bring together people with an interest in tourism throughout the park. Richard says: “Effectively we had a national tourism icon, but with no single public sector body with a remit to look after it.” The first step towards putting that right was taken in 2002 with the creation of a Brecon Beacons Strategic Tourism Partnership. It brought together interested public bodies, but lacked input from the trade. Later trade representatives were voted onto the partnership, which went on to develop a tourism strategy, which was completed in 2007. It had as a core principle the need to have a representative trade body, which led to the creation of Brecon Beacons Tourism. Co-ordination of public services has improved in a way that better serves visitors needs, Richard says. But it’s now his ambition to take things further and see that the views of the wider community are heard too. A recent development for the Beacons has been the creation of 14 clusters that work to encourage tourism business collaboration under the EU’s COLLABOR8 project. What has

surprised – and delighted – Richard is that these clusters have attracted interest beyond the trade. He says: “Clusters have had people knocking on the door saying that they are not businesses, but are interested in the way tourism works in the community.” Getting the community on-board has meant that clusters are able to pick up on the issues that local people care about, he says. For example, in one village people were very concerned about parking at peak times. Ensuring that local people feel that their interests are part of the decision-making process is, he says, very important. “If a community isn’t welcoming to visitors then businesses are at a big disadvantage. If people are met with grumpy faces in pubs or shops or wherever the chances are they will not come back,” he says. “It is critical that we don’t ignore that.” Brecon Beacons is now hoping to get more of this community input by creating formal groupings that bring together community and business representatives. If it does it could take the park still closer towards striking the sort of sustainable balance for tourism that was envisaged when the National Parks were created. “Destination Management is about the totality of the place people are visiting,” Richard says. “The big picture for me about it is that it’s moving us all on from the model of ‘more bums on seats’ – the goal of simply getting more visitors and more money into the local economy. That’s a valid aspiration, but it needs to go hand in hand with working with local communities and making sure that the product is good on the ground.”

“Destination Management is about the totality of the place people are visiting,”

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Tourism is hugely important to the economy of Conwy County with visitors travelling to enjoy its rich heritage and beautiful countryside [02] [03] [05] . Destination management has helped to identify and deal with visitor niggles like seagull nuisance [01] [04]. [03 ]

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Meet 'The Management' What are visitors looking for from a destination?

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Inside track: What is Destination Management? Visit Wales defines it as: “Coordinating all the activities and services which impact on the visitor and their enjoyment of a destination.” That’s things like integrated transport, signage, footpaths and car parking. It’s all about providing benefits to all “stakeholders” now and in the future. The DM process sets out to: w Protect and enhance the natural and built environments w To grow the economy of a tourist destination w To support local communities and their culture.

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Find out more…

You can read up on how destination management works elsewhere at www.dmwales.com, which showcases examples from Blackpool, Lancs., to Moreton Bay, Australia.

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Sustainability

A cooler warmth Greener alternatives are cooler

Not that long ago energy efficiency was the preserve of the green enthusiast only, but rocketing prices for heating oil, electricity and gas have changed all that. Now greener alternatives are cooler – and make financial sense too.

Money to burn? Who has? but that doesn’t stop most of us wasting energy every day of the week. Good businesses keep track of costs across the board, but it seems too many have a blind spot when it comes to light and heat. But it doesn’t have to be that way, says Blaenau Ffestiniog-based energy efficiency guru Dave Humphreys. “Ninety per cent of what you can do to make savings is really simple,” he says. “The first people tend to think of is things like solar panels and expensive new boilers, but you don’t need to spends loads of money to make big savings.” Earlier this year Dave took on a special assignment from Visit Wales, which asked him to carry out an energy audit at seven tourism businesses. The plan was to get a measure of how wisely they were using energy and where improvements could be made. The aim was to cut energy bills and to show how easy it is for businesses in our sector to make their operations more

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sustainable. The fact that Dave’s visits were made in February added weight to the exercise coming as they did just after a record cold spell and at a time when energy price rises are marching well ahead of inflation. The seven businesses that Dave visited were each very different, ranging from a large hotel and a caravan park to a mountain bike centre and a B&B. His main focus wasn’t to suggest big changes – solar panels, wind turbines, ground source heat and the like – but to look for the “low hanging fruit”, low and no-cost solutions that deliver savings without too much time, trouble or expense. One thing that all seven had in common was that they were in the dark when it came to how they were using utilities. The simple step of installing electricity monitoring equipment typically delivers a saving of about a tenth on energy used previously, Dave says. "Monitors are now cheap to buy and easy to use", he says, but can deliver big savings. In the case of one of the businesses audited for the

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Visit Wales exercise the simple step of putting in monitoring equipment netted a saving of more than £3,000 a year, he says. What monitors do is encourage consumers to re-think how they use the power they buy, he says. Often they are making obvious mistakes that he spots as soon as he crosses the threshold. For example, one recent visit threw the situation where one business was running large freezers part full rather than just one or two filled to the brim. At another business chip fryers were turned on two hours before opening time to warm-up when they only take 15 minutes to get up to heat. In both cases a bit of commonsense would save money. Buying time switches is another measure that costs pennies, but can deliver pounds in lower power bills. Dave found a number of the businesses he visited were leaving electrical equipment on when it was not in use, usually fridges and bottle coolers. A little time and money spent buying and setting up cheap time switches is worthwhile, he says. “Good, digital seven-day timers cost as little as £10 now and will pay for themselves really quickly,” he says. If all seven businesses put timers in they would cut their bills by around £4,000 a year.

Other key areas where money was being wasted – and CO2 being generated needlessly – were on lighting and on water heating. Replacing lighting equipment with more energy-efficient alternatives would net the businesses a total of £9,000 in savings, says Dave. The cost of new equipment would, he argues, be recouped in less than a year. Costs of improving the efficiency of water heating systems would be paid back in saving even faster, Dave says. Improving insulation and making sure that time clocks are set up properly would save the businesses £5,000 and in some cases would pay for themselves in less than a couple of months. Some of the other recommendations Dave made to the seven are more costly, but they would pay for themselves over time. Installation of solar thermal heating and heat recovery equipment at three of the businesses has the potential to save up to £20,000 a year, he estimates. But the main message that comes from the audits is, he says, that small changes can – and do – save money. “If you can do something that saves you £1,000 off your energy bill that should be a priority,” Dave says. “How much work would you have to do to make £1,000 pure profit? People are so obsessed with making money they forget to put time into saving it.”

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Renewable energy generation [01] [04] are working together with energy efficiency measures [02] [03] to make Wales greener – and cutting operating costs for tourism businesses like Swallow Tree Gardens Holiday Park [06]. [ 04 ]

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Swallow Tree Gardens Holiday Park, Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire One of the businesses audited for the Visit Wales project was Swallow Tree Gardens, a coastal park with 55 static caravans and pine lodges. The business is run by John and Anne Hancock and their daughter Debra Webber. Debra says the family have put time and effort into keeping utility bills down over the last few years. That has been driven partly by rising prices and partly by a desire to make the business more sustainable, she says. But Dave Humphreys was able to identify changes that have the potential to save hundreds, even thousands, of pounds from annual energy bills. “He questioned everything,” says Debra. “He thought we were doing quite well but he saw it all with a fresh pair of eyes.” In the case of the restaurant Debra admits that she was caught napping. At the time of the audit the restaurant was closed for two months, but bottle chillers were busy cooling beer nobody was going to buy for weeks. Putting the chillers on time switches was a quick, easy saving. A far bigger payback will come from the installation of more efficient lighting equipment in the restaurant, reception area and pool; Dave estimates the new equipment could save around £1,400 a year, recouping the cost of the change in six months or less. Another of Dave’s suggestions is that the park’s swimming pool should be covered to retain heat, cutting the cost of pool heating by about a third. “It’s the next item on my ‘to do’ list,” Debra says.

Be sustainable Save energy: Don’t use standby mode, switch to low energy lightbulbs and consider switching to a renewable energy provider. Buy local produce: It helps local businesses and gives visitors an authentic and distinctive taste of where you are. Cut waste: Reduce, re-use and recycle wherever you can and encourage your staff and guest to follow suit. Be proud: Stand up for your local environment, community and heritage. Get involved in community events and encourage your guests to join in too. Save water: Keep track of your water use to keep waste to a minimum.

For more green ideas visit the development area of the Welsh Government tourism website www.wales.gov.uk/tourism

Find out more…

A good starting point for energyefficiency tips and impartial energy advice is the Energy Saving Trust. www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/ wales

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Food

What’s in season? Culinary calendar Whether its fruit and veg or fish and game, most produce has its season. Eating food at its time of year is often cheaper, greener (less CO2 from heating greenhouses and running lorries) and puts you in touch with Mother Nature. It usually tastes better too.

Autumn w Mussels are at their best between September and April. w  Forage for wild fruits including blackberries and elderberries. w  The grouse season starts on August 12, but the birds are at their best later on. w  Low sea temperatures after October make for quality oysters, while mackerel are plump and good to eat. w  Lots of wild fungi comes onto the market, including ceps, chanterelles and blewits.

Spring w  Rhubarb becomes available in March. w  Lamb comes into season in April as do Pembrokeshire new potatoes. w  Short but sweet, the asparagus season kicks off in early May and finishes by mid June. w  Sewin is also available in May as the fish return to Welsh rivers. w  Wild garlic is at its best before the white flowers begin to bloom. It’s great in a salad or as a soup ingredient.

Winter w  Slow cook mutton for a perfect winter meal. w  Frost sweetens the flavour of parsnips, turning starch to sugar. w  Other winter vegetables like leeks, sprouts and red cabbage are at their best. w  Colder water makes for better-quality scallops. w  November is a good month for wild sea bass caught around Ll y^ n, Pembrokeshire and the Gower.

Summer w  Look out for Welsh salt marsh lamb, which becomes available in July. w  Broad beans are at their best, together with fresh garden peas and Florence fennel. w  There’s plenty of fresh fruit including plums, cherries, apricots, strawberries and raspberries. w  Grey mullet is good throughout the year but at its best at the end of the summer. w  Forage for tender nettle tops and for gorse flowers, which have an exotic coconut aroma and are good for making wine and tea.

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Find out more…

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For recipe ideas, details of local suppliers and up-to-the-moment food news visit the True Taste website.

Autumn for fungi [01] and good oysters [02], winter’s mutton [05] and leeks [03], wild garlic in spring [04] and the fruits of summer [06].

www.walesthetruetaste.co.uk

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Quality Wales - English - 2012  

Quality Wales Guide

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