Staycation: Accompany Tribute Groups with Fans at Alvaston Hall Hotel in Cheshire
Can you have too much of a good thing? If you had asked the bald, grizzled and young-at-hearted punters at the Alvaston Hall Hotel Tribute Festival last month, they would have said “No!” In fact, they probably would have put it to music and started a conga.
As we move away from lockdown and revelers emerge from their burrows, attention has naturally shifted to nightclubs filled with sweaty teens. But make no mistake, parents and grandparents of teens want a piece of the action too.
This property, in the heart of the Cheshire countryside, is part of a group of Warner Leisure hotels scattered across the country. They offer adult-only breaks targeting the older generation and have developed impressive leeway in music-themed weekends.
It’s a kind of magic: the Alvaston Hall Hotel, which has developed a secondary activity in musical weekends
Sometimes the artists performing are well-known names, such as classical singer Katherine Jenkins, but most of the time, they’re carefully crafted acts of tribute by hard-working professionals who know their stuff.
Dolly Parton in Cheshire, Cliff Richard on the Isle of Wight, Rod Stewart in Herefordshire.
Of course, that’s not the real Dolly, Cliff, or Rod. But which one do you prefer? Beautiful songs sung by skilled imitators? Or bad songs sung by aspiring teenagers? I rest my case.
At Alvaston, the tributes flew thick and fast. To Stevie Wonder. To George Michael. To the queen. To Elton John. To Abba. To Tina Turner. And all of them had a great time.
We are not out of the woods of the Covid yet, so there were plenty of masks in evidence. But there was also a feeling of normalcy returning.
“A cruise ship on land” is how DJ Alun Webb described the entertainment on offer, and he incorporated it. People are sometimes quite sniffling about the entertainment on offer on cruises, but they shouldn’t be. The best cruise lines are offering increasingly sophisticated packages.
Tribute band Pure Queen strutting for the guests of Warner Leisure. Other acts include tributes to Tina Turner and Elton John
Alvaston Hall certainly exuded quiet sophistication. There was a small lounge for cabaret before dinner and late night chants and boppings, and a large main stage and dance floor, where the main show of the evening took place in front of over 400 diners still digesting their food.
The purist would probably say, “But you can’t watch Tina Turner strutting around in a skimpy skirt while you eat a coconut cheesecake” – but the purist would miss the point.
It was the overlap between the excellent wine and dinner and the loud music that made the weekend so memorable. There was a hint of decadence in the air, people wanting to make the most of things.
For the interpreters, it was an opportunity to get back in the bath after a lean period because of the Covid.
Max Davidson was impressed with the “excellent wine and dinner” at Alvaston Hall. Pictured is the hotel’s Cheshire Barn pub and restaurant
Wayne Denton, masterful as Neil Diamond, had the audience eaten out of his hand with his self-deprecating chatter.
“I also do John Denver, but with a different wig, obviously. I was one of the finalists for a talent show in 1986. Seven of us are still working. One is a firefighter, the other is an electrician.
For the guests, some taking their first vacation in 18 months, it was an opportunity to relax, rejuvenate, meet old friends and immerse themselves in the sounds of their youth.
Don’t let a cynic tell you that nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. It is after times of national crisis, when people have momentarily lost their bearings, that nostalgia is most needed.
Joyce, from Ormskirk, Lancashire, is a regular at Alvaston. “Warner has done perfectly these weekends. Great music in a relaxing environment. ‘
Mark from Liverpool agreed. “The tribute groups stirs so many happy memories. You are never too old to enjoy music. I used to come here with my parents when they were over 80 years old.
Guests can relax by the hotel’s pool by day, before enjoying Alvaston’s musical evenings at night
Tony and Judy, who we met at a wine tasting, had a special passion for American music and had traveled extensively in the United States. They are now in the fall of their years, but their passion for music was intact.
For my wife and I, whose tastes range from the Beatles to country, western and Irish folk singers, this was an opportunity to let our inner revelers run wild after long months deprived of live music. No one has joined the singalongs with more enthusiasm.
We were lucky to have perfect weather which only added to the feeling of enchantment.
By day we explored the highways and back roads of Cheshire: craft fairs, canal side cafes, pretty old towns, striking green fields.
Other guests relaxed by the hotel’s pool or took part in the recreational activities that are part of the Warner package, from archery and quizzes to shuffleboard. Bars, of course, were doing a roaring business.
But at aperitif time, and until midnight, we were all hot at the trot, as fast as our old legs could carry us.
Is there something to beat couples in their seventies who take to the dance floor with their zest for life evident with every step?
Alvaston Hall, pictured, is nestled in the heart of the Cheshire countryside
Three nights half board at Warner Leisure Hotels, which has 14 adult-only properties across the UK, start from £ 319 per person, including live music and activities. For more musical breaks, visit warnerleisurehotels.co.uk.
Some wore casual attire, others were dressed to perfection, with sewn-in socks reminiscent of WWII, or shirts so loud they threatened to drown out the music.
But we wouldn’t have traded the experience for a beach in Greece or a brasserie in Paris.
It was as if, together, we had grasped a simple truth: that sometimes the most old-fashioned, the most familiar, the most repeated songs are the best of all.
On the way home, two hours after leaving Cheshire, my wife was still humming Dancing Queen and I was still yodeling, “So I saw her face, now I’m a BELIEVER!” Like a Monkee on steroids.
And I am a believer, my conviction reinforced by this exhilarating weekend unbuttoned.
A believer, not just in music – but in the power of music to cross generations, cheat time and make the heart dance.