Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Whilst I have always been a bit sceptical of those rambling acceptance speeches at Award shows like the Baftas, Oscars and Césars, I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been known to mentally write my theoretical Oscar acceptance speech as I walk the dog, or tackle a pile of ironing.
It should therefore be easy to write this Blog and tell you all how very excited and honoured I am to receive our first Award at Maison Lamothe – an amazing 9.7 out of 10 for service in the 2021 Booking.com Travel Awards, as rated by and reviewed by our guests. Of course, just like every Hollywood A-Lister, I now find myself tongue-tied with nothing coherent to say.
Spring of 2020– with lock-downs, quarantines and closed borders – was not an ideal time to launch a new venture. It would have been easy to put everything off until 2021, but whilst we love our solitude at Maison Lamothe, we also love seeing people.
So with no time like the present, at the beginning of last July we listed on Booking.com, crossed our fingers and waited. Within a few hours we had received our first reservation and others quickly followed. We were in business.
The World may not have been able to travel to France, its favourite holiday destination, but everyone in France was desperate to get away and holiday somewhere quiet and peaceful away from the busy cities and coastal resorts. And there’s nowhere that fits that bill better than this little corner of the golden Gers countryside.
Our guests have been amazing and it’s been wonderful to get to know so many interesting people – if only for a short time – and hopefully they have taken away some lovely memories that they will look back on fondly.
It’s certainly been lovely to see the house come alive and for the ever-changing energy as people have come and gone. As well as the family groups who have stayed for a week or more over the Summer months, we have had a real assortment of other guests.
We are lucky to find our home on one of the pilgrimage routes that leads to the Cathedral at Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain, where it is reputed that the remains of the apostle Saint James are buried.
One of the most important Christian pilgrim routes since Medieval Times, its popularity has been growing in recent years and as well as religious pilgrims, there are also lots of hikers who see the 1,500 kms journey as a great challenge to undertake with friends.
It’s lovely to welcome the footsore as they arrive after another daily 20 – 25 kms stretch and to see them enjoying a hearty supper and a relaxing swim before they tackle the next stage.
We’ve also found ourselves to be a perfect weekend retreat for the inhabitants of Toulouse and Bordeaux, as well as those driving between the West and South Coasts of France, who have wanted to break up their journey for a few days.
Everyone remarks on the calmness and serenity of this environment and it really has felt like the troubles of the Pandemic were a world away from us.
And although there were not many big weddings last year, we did share the joy of such happy occasions with quite a few guests who were attending weddings, scouting for venues for their upcoming marriages or staying with us post-wedding. Everyone loves a wedding and I am so looking forward to there being so many more this year.
Obviously many of our annual attractions had to be cancelled including the much celebrated Ronde-des-Creches which draws 30,000 people to Flamarens and our neighbouring villages during December and January, but this Summer we were lucky enough to have a series of classical music concerts in the partially restored ruins of our church in the village.
These concerts were a real tonic and a reminder of what Summers will be like again when we are free to mix more freely.
But life has carried on this Winter and whilst there have been no holiday-makers, there have been a steady stream of guests who have been here to buy or sell homes, to work or simply needing to break their journeys because of the 6.00 pm curfew. One couple drove here from Switzerland to collect their 8- week-old puppy.
These lovely people have kept us entertained and nourished during the quiet winter months and I hear their laughter long after they’ve left.
And as I reflect on the ratings our guests have given us for their stay at Maison Lamothe, I award them a perfect 10, especially for the energy and magic they have spun around the place and for making everything we do here worthwhile.
I’ve loved meeting every single person and do hope that many will return, as well as lots of others who despite having already decided to come here, couldn’t travel over this last year.
So as the early Spring sun starts to give out some warmth and the trees are bursting into full blossom, one cannot help but be optimistic about what lies ahead. Awards are nice but carrying on giving a great welcome is more important.
There’s lots to do to make sure that Maison Lamothe this year is even better than it was last year. And although you’ve set the bar pretty high with the wonderful scores you’ve given us, we love a challenge and want if anything to rate even higher this year.
Thanks again and see you soon.
Michelle Martinez – March 2021