Enjoying a taste of sports mix
PUBLISHED: 09:00 18 March 2014
Andy Cooper puts the sporting blues behind him as he enjoys a visit to a gem of a hotel where a stay can be as busy or relaxed as you like
Cricket isn’t really the greatest of topics for an Englishman to discuss right now, is it? As the dust settles on a miserable trip Down Under for our boys, it’s something of a relief to be able to put the sport to the back of one’s mind for a few months until summer arrives.
For someone wanting to forget about the thwack of willow on leather then, our arrival at Deer Park Country House Hotel might have been a little alarming. For, as we ascended the staircase leading onto the balcony outside our room, there on every wall were magnificent paintings of cricketing scenes and heroes of the past.
Now, if that sight might have had me feeling grumpier than Fred Trueman (one of the subjects of those magnificent portraits), then seconds later any thought of a tantrum had been forgotten.
Our lovely, spacious room, with its views right out over the hotel grounds and beyond the rolling Devon hills, was spectacular and with a welcoming and warm ensuite bathroom we were feeling truly spoilt in seconds. Just lounging on the sofa and armchairs whose arrangement made one room seem like two was a perfect introduction to a place which mixes the feeling of a country house hotel with an eye to modern innovation.
Chief among those innovations has been the introduction of a series of events at the hotel which mean paying guests and visitors can both get something a little extra special from the place.
In our case, laughs were on the menu for one of the regular comedy nights being held in a marquee connected to the main building. Congratulations to Deer Park for not only backing upcoming comedy with such nights, but also recognising that offering something a little different to the norm will get folks in.
It’s been a year of innovation and inspiration for this imposing hotel not far from Honiton, with over £500,000 invested in Deer Park and its grounds. This included a range of new additions; newly landscaped Italian garden and fountains, the installation of a Bushman wood-fired oven, resurfaced driveway, refurbished restaurant and conservatory as well as the installation of a zip wire in the woods.
Activities loom large on the offering and, while you can avoid the hunting, shooting, fishing options if you want to and just relax at your leisure, there is still plenty on offer to those who want to embrace the great outdoors. And the warm and friendly welcome we experienced from all the staff who served us was a true delight.
The sporting theme does run through the hotel, with pictures and memorabilia festooning many of the walls, but don’t worry if this isn’t your kind of thing - the general ambience and feel of a proper country hotel experience remains at the core of what the place offers.
So, if you thought you knew what Deer Park is all about then think again and if you haven’t taken the time to find it then do seek it out. There’s a whole raft of activities and events planned for this year and the hotel also prides itself on its weddings, understandable given the setting and the service we encountered.
In fact, for someone who arrived feeling ‘anti’ cricket it’s safe to say by the time we left we had been bowled over by our welcome and weren’t feeling stumped about things to do.
This article was first published in the March issue of Devon Life. To get the magazine delivered every month to your home, subscribe at www.subscriptionsave.co.uk/dev or call 08448484217