Latest News from Arena

Latest News from Arena

  • News from the Bridge Room on the Venetian Riviera

    Host report by Andy & Chris Simmons

    For our holiday on the Venetian Riviera we returned to the Hotel Principe Palace in Lido Di Jesolo. This ‘platinum grade’ hotel is located in the heart of Lido Di Jesolo with lots of bars, shops and restaurants close by. It has a well-appointed rooftop terrace where guests could relax during the day, and extensive indoor and outdoor ground floor lounges that included grand piano recitals. Rooms were comfortable, fully equipped and regularly serviced. For dinner we were encouraged to select from a range of specially prepared Italian cuisine and there was always an extensive salad bar and lots of dessert options. Service was truly magnificent and gave the impression that this is a family run hotel where the guests come first. One of our guests was very soon overheard to say “this is a great hotel and I never say that of anywhere”.

    During the entire holiday we were blessed with warm, calm and sunny weather – perfect for sightseeing. A bus and then ferry ride took us into the remarkable city of Venice. Everyone came on the inclusive guided tour and this was a good introduction. There is so much culture and history in Venice that most guests returned for subsequent visits. Nearby islands also have unique charm and character and many took advantage of the regular ferry services to visit them too. Among these was Murano that is famed for its glass making studios.

    A large number of guests took advantage of the trip to Lake Garda and Verona. Sirmione del Garda is an attractive town on a picturesque peninsula on the south of the lake. Here guests would find the best ice cream in Italy (arguable the world). The trip also stopped at Verona. This is a city with artistic heritage and has a well preserved ancient amphitheatre that still stages grand open air productions like Verdi’s classic opera Aida.

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  • News From The Bridge Room In Jersey

    Host report by Barry Watts

    We could be in the South of France! St Brelade’s Bay is a crescent of the softest sand and shallow sea sheltered in the arms of rugged rocks and cliffs characteristic of the Channel islands. The sun shone for us virtually the whole week warming the sand and sea. Swimming and water sports continued as though it was high Summer. Most of the Summer holiday makers had gone so we could enjoy relatively clear beaches and walk into any of the beach restaurants to enjoy the excellent seafood.

    The St Brelades Bay Hotel, we were told, is the most popular hotel on the Island. After 24 hours we knew why. The hotel was full. Its staff were excellent and were tireless and cheerful in meeting our every need. The Hotel, its rooms, the gardens and its wonderful position on the bay make it a beautiful place to stay. Most of all, the restaurant was outstanding. The restaurant rooms and the terrace facing the Bay were busy all day as guests and private parties enjoyed long lunches drifting into lavish teas, creating a charming mix of British and continental tastes.

    The good weather drew everyone out to explore Jersey. The Island offers great walks and numerous interesting sites to visit. Especially popular were the War Tunnels, excavated by forced labour for the Germans during the 5 year occupation of the second world war and now preserved as a fascinating history museum of the occupation.

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  • A message from Bob & Jacky Baker

    Bob & Jacky Baker

    A message to all the guests who have been on holidays with Bob & Jacky.

    We are both terribly disappointed that we have been unable to be on the holidays this autumn to Jersey and Menorca. Unfortunately Bob has been diagnosed with a serious illness, and it is not clear if we will be able to continue with the holidays.

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  • News from the Bridge Room in the French Alps

    Host report by Andy & Chris Simmons

    This was our second holiday at the Chateau des Comtes de Challes, a traditional castle in the French Alps that has been lovingly restored by its current owner. It retains its charm as a historic building whilst the rooms are gradually being upgraded to accommodate modern tastes. This year all rooms have been fitted with air conditioning and that is especially welcome because the weather can get a little warm in the summer. That said, the weather on this holiday has been near perfect with warm and dry sunny days.

    “This place is just idyllic”, said one guest and that sums it up quite well. Terrace gardens look out over a scenic valley and there are lots of seats strategically placed so that guests can relax in the sun or in the shade and watch the gliders swooping across the chateau to land on the airstrip below. There are beehives providing fresh honey and birdsong is in abundance all day long.

    After a couple of days the danger of evening thunderstorms had passed and dining was outdoors on the adjacent terrace. Dining here is a special experience. Guests at first found it odd that they had to order their choices in advance. However, this is a restaurant that has two ‘Michelin Stars’ and with a group this size it is necessary for the Chef to know what is needed so that the ingredients can be brought in fresh each day. The result is stunning as the food is presented immaculately just as you would expect at such an establishment. To wash it all down there was a generous allocation of fine wine too. Continue reading
  • News from the Bridge Room in Lake Bled

    Host report by Jacky Baker

    The spectacular setting of Lake Bled proved a popular venue for our group, many of whom previously had never been to Slovenia. The views from the restaurant, the bridge room and many of the bedrooms were of the lake, which with the small island (with its church) in the centre of the lake looked just too good to be true!

    There were several trips organised - to the capital Ljubljana, a “Taste of Slovenia” trip, a visit to the nearby Julian Alps and a tour around Bled itself. This Bled tour included a voyage on a “pletna” boat to the island and the picturesque church. Local legend has it that visitors should pull the bell rope three times; if they succeeded in ringing the bell then they would be granted a wish. That evening we were watching carefully for guests enjoying more than their fair share of successful finesses.

    The hotel staff were really friendly and efficient. In fact they were so efficient that one evening after the bridge session finished they locked the doors leading to the bridge room without realising that two of the players were still in the toilets. Once this became apparent it took a little while for the person with the keys to be located and a rescue made. Fortunately the free drinks which were offered by the bar to the unlucky pair saw the evening end happily.

    We do hope to return to this stunning location at some time in the future. As usual, we have to offer a big thank you to the hotel and also to our excellent local tour guide Luca who greatly enhanced the trips and was appreciated by all the guests. Thanks, too, to the third member of our First for Bridge team, Fran Keene, who was a willing helper, played when needed and added much to our holiday. Continue reading
  • News from the Bridge Room in the Rhine Valley

    Host report by Jacky Baker

    Our first visit to the Rhine Valley saw us staying at the splendid Bellevue Rheinhotel in Boppard, which is situated right on the banks of the imposing river. Boppard is a delightful town, with a central square offering a good variety of pavement cafes and many fine buildings, some of which date back over five hundred years. Its location fairly central in the Upper Middle Rhine is ideal for discovering the region.

    The area known as the “Upper Middle Rhine” is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the sixty seven kilometres between Rudesheim and Koblenz is generally recognised to be the most beautiful part of the whole Rhine between the Alps and the North Sea. As our bridge holiday included two river cruises, one South to Rudesheim and the other North to Koblenz and beyond, where the Rhine meets the Moselle, our guests were able to enjoy the wonderful scenery along the whole of this stretch of the river. In addition the local rail station provided fast and efficient services to places such as Koblenz, which offered further scope for exploring the region. Continue reading
  • News from the Bridge Room in Menorca

    Host Report by Pauline and Nigel Durie

    This was our first opportunity to host a holiday for First for Bridge and what a wonderful introduction it was. Thank you Andrew for your guidance and support. La Quinta hotel was splendid and the staff were very welcoming, recognising returning guests and treating them as old friends. This was much appreciated. The hotel’s facilities were a big hit and as the weather was not overly kind at the beginning of the week, the indoor spa pool and extras were well used. The beautiful outdoor pool came into its own by the end of the week. The food was described as outstanding by many of the guests. The courtesy bus into Cuitadella was well used with people enjoying exploring the harbour and the old streets. Some went to the mass in the Cathedral on Sunday morning. Thanks to John Barker for organising activities. The tennis match ended with two of the team suffering minor injuries but was enjoyed by all. The week passed very quickly and bridge honours were shared. Continue reading
  • News from the Bridge Room in Slovenia

    Host Report by Barry & Maggie Watts

    For anyone who has explored the Western Mediterranean resorts, the Slovenian Coast and Istria on the Adriatic are a delightful surprise. It is lush, green and heavily forested. The ‘Karst’ landscape is beautiful and the neat towns and villages are architectural gems with buildings owing their diversity to Roman, Venetian and Austrian empires. Its 47 mile coastline is a picture postcard and the resorts pride themselves on offering a mix of healthy, active and restful holidays.

    Portoroz has been known as a health resort since, in the 13th century, monks discovered the healing properties of seawater and sea mud. The Venetians, members of the Habsburg Empire, the French and now the Slovenians have maintained the tradition of the monks. At the end of the 19th century, a shareholders' company was established, which built a spa and health resort. Today, the Grand Hotel Portoroz is one of five luxury hotels that are all joined by a single 1st floor corridor allowing access to a magnificent modern spa on several floors. Continue reading
  • Report from our textiles trip to India in March

    By Karin Hellaby description would ever be adequate! You really do need to see this continent for yourself. This was Arena's first tour to India and my third.

    We started off in Delhi, staying at their top 5* hotel which had been built for King George V's stay in 1911. We were immediately transported to life in luxurious colonial India. From there, we travelled to Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur, Ahmedbad and Mumbai, taking in forts, history, museums, culture, shopping, scenery, life on the streets and of course the most amazing textiles we have ever seen. We had a fantastic guide, whose family were noblemen of the Maharajahs and who asked to guide our tour as he had been collecting and documenting his centuries old family textiles. On coach journeys we could ask him anything about India and on each topic we got a lecture. His knowledge helped make this tour outstanding. Continue reading
  • News from the Bridge Room in Majorca

    Host Report by Frances Keene & Liz Farrar

    It was our first opportunity to host a First for Bridge Holiday and the first visit to the Hotel Bella Playa which came with a few challenges! As both hosts, director and scorer’s luggage had disappeared into the ether, we soldiered on for two days before our cases arrived in dribs and drabs. However the Hotel Bella Playa and the Manager were exceptionally helpful during our hours of need providing us with bathrobes and toiletries. This was an indication of how obliging they were to us and our guests during our two week stay including assisting with flight problems caused by firstly the French Air Traffic Control strike followed by freak storms in England. Continue reading

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