Hiding away in the beautiful countryside just outside of Uckfield is the East Sussex National Golf Club and Resort, set in 1100 acres with clear views of absolutely nothing. And l mean nothing. There are not many places in the area where you do not see a road, buildings or an industrial estate somewhere on the horizon but from my huge bedroom balcony, l can see nothing but trees, fields and the perfectly manicured golf course.
The main building is a modernistic design dominated by, oddly, a large gorilla in the car park, and the reception is as large as an airport terminal. The staff are very polite and professional and we are whisked to our room.
Well, not so much a room as a tennis court. It is humongous and well equipped and l just wish l had brought ten friends. Whisking open the curtain and you are faced with a totally stunning view and a balcony l could have partied on. A welcome plate of delicious sweets awaited us with a ‘welcome’ made out of chocolate. This is a great start.
The effervescent Sharon Whorby gave me a tour of the building and they seem to have thought of everything. A great range of conference, event and meetings spaces and l particularly like the Roundall room. A circular room on the first floor that has a carpet with, what looks like, a racing track on it running around the circular pillars. I can imagine this room with a large round table in the centre for board meetings – that would be one of those rare board meeting that l would look forward to attending.
To add to the odd gorilla in the car park, l then encounter another oddity. In the National Suite, their largest event space that can hold up to 400 theatre style and 300 at tables, the stage floor opens and an old Wurlitzer organ majestically rises into the room. One really does expect to see the cheesy, smiling Bobby Crush grinning back over his shoulder as he entertains his audience with a medley of fifties kitch. I like quirky and am pleased as punch that they retain these elements in such a modern building. I first witnessed it whilst attending the Lewes Business Awards last year and even then thought someone had spiked my drink.
Still, no time to dawdle as our visit to the Spa was overdue and a massage therapist awaited us with hands of silk and sounds of whales. It was billed as a ‘hot stone massage’ and having never partaken of any such thing, l can now attest that l will demand them henceforth at every massage. My masseuse Carol, ran hot fl at stones over various parts buried in the palm of her hand smothered in essential oils. Yes please.
Slightly floating, we veered away from the pool, gym and jacuzzi and just about made it back to the suite for a lie down. Too soon that distant sound of thunder that was my stomach demanded l rise and attend the dining room which, as it is below the Roundall, is also round.
Dinner really was excellent. With my wife being a gluten free vegetarian l am never sure whether to foist her onto yet another unsuspecting restaurant or take her out and shoot her but her requests were borne with great courtesy as would be expected these days.
I ordered slow cooked crispy pork belly, potatoes colcannon, cream cabbage with glazed apple and my wife ordered Risotto that she commented was ‘fantastic’, which is quite some recommendation. I couldn’t refuse Profiteroles to end that were equally delicious. Their two Rosettes are well deserved.
Two bottles of Champagne pointed me to bed rather than the slightly inebriated desire to go skinny dipping. Bed sumptuous, pillows just right, TV right distance, light controls to hand and silence. That, and the warm body next to me, is really all l need for a great night’s sleep.
Now, within two seconds you golfers will recognise me as a philistine but l will attempt a short mention of the large fl at green things outside my window. The East course is 7,081 yard and was twice home to the European Open. The West course is 7,154 yard par 72 and goes through ancient oaks, quite pools and streams. Club house, proshop, Academy, buggies. There, done.
In such a suite with such a view, breakfast has to be ordered in bed. Trouble is l can never get the time right unless l am working the next day. Having to mark the time on the card the night before, dictates that l must know what time l will awaken and what time l will be hungry. As always, l got it wrong and was dreaming of bacon an hour before its preordered arrival but l phone reception, the time was changed and it was on my bed within 20 minutes with my paper of choice. And, and this is very important, everything was there. How many times do hotels forget something and by the time they get it there, everything is cold. Not here.
Whilst l checked my mails, my wife retired to the pool and attested to its glory upon her return and l sat typing on the balcony overlooking trees and manicured greens shrouded in morning mist with frost still evident in the areas untouched by the rising sun, with the odd bird waking up and softly calling. It was almost spiritual. But not quite, as l was having a crafty fag and inadvertently set fire to my sock.
There was a conference going on whilst we were there but with such a large, well designed building, 104 bedrooms and 1,100 acres, you really don’t realise it. I am asked on many occasions about attractive and professional event and conference venues and, with their range of flexible meeting rooms, l think l have another top venue to add to the list.