Tuesday, 29 August 2017

A haven for those with life-threatening conditions

For the past few years, holidays have become something of a challenge for my wife and I. I should explain that five years ago, my wife was diagnosed with a spinal tumour. The good news was that it was benign; the bad news was that it was inoperable, and was a regressive condition.

Five years on and my wife is now confined to an electric wheelchair and has to sleep in an electric profiling bed.

As a result, any hotels or holiday cottages we stay in must have ample space, accessibility, cavernous wet-rooms and, of course, a profiling bed. Finding suitable accommodation that can tick all these boxes is by no means an easy task. To date, we have only discovered one self-catering location that works well and is one we like. Disabled-friendly Cottages in Norfolk have a number of wheelchair-friendly cottages situated in a pretty location with good views over the rolling Norfolk countryside. We have stayed in the Little Workshop several times. It's spacious, comfortable and works well for us. You can view the website here.  

There are plenty of properties in the UK that advertise themselves as wheelchair-friendly, but from our experience, many aren't really as spacious as you'd like them to be, and the vast majority aren't in the most salubrious surroundings. Indeed, one cottage we stayed in a year ago was very cramped and located on a particularly soulless and unattractive housing estate.  

As far as hotels go, there really is only one that works for us.

On first learning about The Grove in Bournemouth, I was admittedly somewhat sceptical. The Grove is, after all, run by MacMillan as a special hotel for people with life-threatening conditions. So I had visions of a nursing home with vinyl flooring, the smell of disinfectant and an air of deep depression about it. So having packed our specially adapted Citroen Belingo with all the paraphernalia such a holiday requires, I set off full of trepidation and dread.

On arriving at The Grove, my preconceived ideas were dispelled in the twinkling of an eye. The Grove has the air of a quality country house hotel, and its staff are attentive and friendly. Indeed, on climbing out of the car, someone immediately appeared and insisted on taking all our bags.

We had booked room 7, which is a very large well furnished room with plenty of wardrobe and desk space and a concealed fridge. Needless to say, there is a TV and tea, coffee and biscuits. There are also two comfortable electric operated armchairs. The wet-room is vast and comes equipped with a drying machine that effectively dries you after a shower. There is even an attractive view over the well manicured garden.

The meals prepared by the chef are also of an equally high standard. I always judge the culinary standards of such establishments by the quality of the breakfast. The Grove scored top marks in this respect. My scrambled eggs were cooked to perfection; both light and fluffy; and my sausage, bacon, mushrooms and tomatoes were also beautifully cooked and served, and not the least bit greasy. So I wasn't surprised by the high quality of the evening meals, which were delicious and beautifully served.

The staff couldn't be nicer if they tried.

Leaving this place is a bit like leaving good friends who have done their utmost to make your stay an incredibly pleasant and relaxing one. The Grove is more than a hotel; it is a very special place indeed.

Alex Pearl is author of Sleeping with the Blackbirds

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

A great tool for finding email addresses

Having set up our own lean, cost-effective advertising agency Mac & Pearl to service the needs of the luxury sector, my colleague and I found ourselves drawing up an exhaustive list of potential clients and creating presentations to said clients. All that remained was to get our hands on a reliable and up-to-date mailing list.

Such lists are readily available but can be expensive, and because marketing is by its very nature an incestuous business, these lists can be completely out of date by the time you receive them.

So instead of forking out around $600 for around 2,000 contacts I opted instead to try out a website entitled getemail.io  According to their website, the company uses big data and machine learning algorithms to find email addresses of any professional in seconds. But don't let the techno-speak send a cold sweat down the back of your neck, because the fact of the matter is this service is not only easy to use, but also seems to work pretty well.

Here's how it works. You simply register with getemail for free and receive up to 50 free emails per month. The service works through Linkedin, so once you have registered, a green GET EMAIL button magically appears on any Linkedin profiles you view. Click on the button and you'll get one of three possible responses. In many instances, the email address will appear instantly. Alternatively, you will be asked to click another button to verify one of several possible addresses. This will take a couple of minutes, at the end of which you will receive a verified email or one that can't be found. On the whole most emails are in fact located, and are accurate. None seemed to bounce back. In fact, I noticed that one of the contacts on my list changed her surname and email address overnight (presumably because she had just got married) - and this showed up on the system because people generally keep their status on Linkedin bang up-to-date.

If, of course, you want to get your hands on more than 50 free email addresses per month, you can sign up to receive more - anything from 300 to 10,000 a month for $49 or $399 respectively.

So if like us, you are a small business looking for prospects, getemail.io should be your first port of call.

Alex Pearl is author of Sleeping with the Blackbirds