A Yorkshire Rendezvous

Part of our group in front of the Graceful Swan

Part of our group in front of the Graceful Swan

In mid January Fiona Horan joined 25 GTOs and their guests on a three-day discovery visit to North Yorkshire, organised by the Rendezvous Hotel at Skipton.

‘The Rendezvous Hotel, situated on the canal just outside Skipton, is regularly shortlisted in the Group Travel Awards, and I was delighted to get the chance to find out why it scores so highly with GTOs and their groups.

I arrived in the afternoon by train, to be welcomed by Vanessa Palmer, Deputy General Manager and Stuart Render, of Stuart Render Tourism. After settling into my room – very spacious with a huge bed and a lovely view of the canal and the sheep-strewn hills beyond, I joined many of the GTOs on a tour of the hotel, led by the owner Malcolm Weaving.

The Rendezvous Hotel is quite large, built in the early 90s, with lifts, wide corridors, large windows, and very light and airy lounges and bars. Rooms at the back look out onto the tranquil Leeds Liverpool Canal. The hotel has a swimming pool, gym and spa facilities, as well as several function rooms, ample parking and a large ballroom. I wasn’t surprised to hear that they get dance groups staying there. The hotel is also well located for walkers, being just outside Skipton – the Gateway to the Dales.

That evening we were treated to The Real Yorkshire Experience, which includes extremely light and delicious Yorkshire Pudding (pictured), a flat cap to keep, a rendition of The Ode to the Yorkshire Pudding delivered by hotel owner Malcolm Weaving, and a singalong of Ilkley Moor – which then ran through my head for the next few days. This was great fun and everyone enjoyed it thoroughly. And the food was marvellous.

The following day, after a good breakfast at the hotel, we were invited to a showcase of local attractions and organisations, wonderfully diverse – including heritage railways, Skipton Castle, Welcome to Yorkshire, Visit Bradford, Herriot Country Tourism, the Dales Countryside Museum, Visit Skipton and the RHS. The showcase proved very successful and informative, and most of us left with booklets and contact details for future itineraries.

The Real Yorkshire Experience

The Real Yorkshire Experience

Then it was off for a ride through the dales on board a coach kindly provided by Bibby’s of Ingleton, driven by Peter Bibby, with Rosemary Barnes and Steve Sutcliffe from Yorkshire’s Best Guides providing illuminating commentary. We visited the Wensleydale Creamery in the town of Hawes and enjoyed a demonstration of cheese-making at their new Yorkshire Wensleydale Cheese Experience. The creamery is a great visitor attraction, with a cheese shop, souvenir shop, café and restaurant. Pre-booked groups are welcomed, parking is plentiful, and the creamery is located at the edge of Hawes, so a visit can be combined with seeing the other attractions of the town. We also saw the striking Ribblehead viaduct of the Settle–Carlisle railway, passed the White Scar cave – the longest show cave in Britain, apparently – and then visited Bibby’s depot in Ingleton in order to see (and clamber on board) their selection of lovely vintage coaches, which can be hired by groups for an extra special experience.

Upon returning to the hotel, we went on board the Graceful Swan – Rendezvous Hotel’s newest venture – an all-electric dining barge which will glide silently along the canal. Unfortunately, last minute bureaucratic hitches have delayed Graceful Swan’s maiden voyage, so we’ll have to return on a later date to experience the pleasure of a dining cruise. This is a major venture for the hotel, and seems sure to be a big success – making full use of the Rendezvous’ enviable location. Instead, we dined in the conservatory restaurant, the Baby Swan, overlooking the canal, to the accompaniment of a pianist.

Our short visit ended the following morning with a walking tour of Skipton itself, with Blue Badge Guide Rosemary Barnes, who opened our eyes to Skipton’s interesting history as a prosperous market town. I know we all had a thoroughly good time at the Rendezvous Hotel, and would like to thank the entire team.’