March 26, 2015 | Stockenbridge Breaks
Whether combining sociable games of Bridge with walking in the Cotswold countryside, gardening in Sussex, or even skiing in the French Alps, StockenBridge Breaks continues to innovate, offering relaxing Bridge holidays with a difference. Founded in 2007 by brother and sister team, Zeb and Claudia Stocken, the family-run business aims to create trips that are as much about the location, food and company as they are about the Bridge. The breaks are not aimed at those seeking a serious 24-board duplicate every night – instead, expect welcoming, jocular games and a chance to make some wonderful new friends.
Know nothing about Bridge? No problem. Complete beginners can sign up (as a group of four) on any of the holidays described below, and quickly pick up the skills behind this fascinating game.
NEW to the StockenBridge Breaks collection for 2015/16 are:
30 April: Charity Bridge Day at the Manor House Hotel, Cotswolds
Enjoy fun, instructive Bridge sessions and a delicious lunch, mixed with friendly company, all while raising money for Marie Curie Cancer Care. Held at the Manor House Hotel, a luxurious 16th century Cotswold retreat in delightful Moreton-in-Marsh, the Charity Bridge Day combines learning new techniques – from no less than five Stocken family members – with supervised play and duplicate, tailored for the group.
The ‘Charity Bridge Day’ costs £45 pp (all proceeds in aid of Marie Curie), including Bridge tuition, supervised play and a buffet lunch. Alternatively, simply join for the morning or afternoon sessions (£15 pp).
5 to 12 September: La Maison du Château, Burgundy, France
This beautifully restored 18th century manor house, set in its own 24-acre park, offers the ideal chance to merge Bridge with a number of other pursuits, including wine tasting, tennis, golf, croquet and fishing. Play a game or two of Bridge in the music room – complete with a wood-burning stove and incredible views over the park – before taking an evening stroll along the canal, or even a refreshing dip in the outdoor pool. Otherwise, explore the beautiful and historic towns and villages nearby.
‘Bridge in Burgundy’ costs from £1,160 pp (two sharing), including all Bridge tuition, course notes and prizes, full-board accommodation (except on Tuesday, which is the chef’s day off), and a reception with sparkling wine and canapés every evening. Flights or rail travel extra.
16 to 23 January 2016: Hotel Le Chalet Blanc, Montgenèvre, France
Join StockenBridge Breaks in the French Alps early next year, for its first ever Ski and Winter Walking Bridge holiday. The luxurious four-star chalet-style hotel is truly ski-in ski-out – with a ski lift just outside the door – so starting your day on the slopes could not be easier. With the added convenience of a knowledgeable guide, skiers can also cross over into Italy to enjoy the varied terrain of the ‘Milky Way’ resorts, notably Sauze d’Oulx and Sestriere. Alternatively, try your hand (or feet!) at snow-shoeing, led by top mountain expert Mike Rollins – ideal for non-skiers or those wanting to try something different, away from the pistes. Whichever activity you choose, make the most of the sunny slopes during the day, before settling down to relaxing games of Bridge in the evening.
‘Ski and Winter Walking’ costs from £1,431 pp (two sharing), including all Bridge tuition, course notes and prizes, half-board accommodation with daily afternoon tea, six-day lift pass, ski and snowshoe guiding, and airport transfers (from Turin). Flights extra.
Also available from StockenBridge Breaks during 2015:
14 to 17 April: The George in Rye, East Sussex
Set in pretty East Sussex, The George in Rye is an ideal retreat at which to brush up on your Bridge and gardening skills. Take a break from the Bridge table to explore the medieval town or blow the cobwebs away with a stroll on nearby Camber Sands. Alternatively, enjoy an excursion to Great Dixter, the family home of renowned gardener and gardening writer, Christopher Lloyd, or a talk by Sarah Raven, TV presenter and garden expert, both at additional cost.
‘Bridge and Gardening’ costs from £413 pp (two sharing), including all Bridge tuition, course notes and prizes, half-board accommodation with wine at dinner, and a drinks reception with canapés. Admission to Great Dixter costs from £10 pp. The Sarah Raven talk costs £75 pp, including a one-hour tour, lunch, and coffee or tea with biscuits.
11 to 15 June: Chalet Les Marmottes, Serre Chevalier, France
With spectacular mountain scenery, a Mediterranean climate and 300 days of sunshine (on average) per year, Serre Chevalier is one of France’s best kept secrets. Summer, in particular, sees an abundance of wild flora, which contrast spectacularly with the snow-capped peaks and bright, cobalt skies. Experience the Alps’ beauty first hand, whilst blending Bridge with walking and tasty Savoyard-style food. Focused on duplicate and aimed at more advanced players – familiar with the LTC (Losing Trick Count) and a convention or two – optional games of supervised Bridge will take place every evening after dinner.
‘Bridge in Serre Chevalier’ costs from £680 pp (two sharing), including all Bridge tuition, course notes and prizes, full-board accommodation with wine at dinner, an aperitif and canapés each evening, two guided walks with a local mountain guide and airport transfers (from Turin). Flights extra.
13 to 15 November: The Rectory Hotel, Cotswolds
Combine Bridge, delicious food and beautiful countryside at The Rectory Hotel, in the pretty Cotswold triangle of Tetbury, Malmesbury and Cirencester. Enjoy games of Bridge in the conservatory, with views of the landscaped gardens. And, with no Bridge sessions scheduled for Saturday afternoon, visit the nearby villages and delight in a variety of local walks. Alternatively, venture further afield to Westonbirt Arboretum (10 miles away), one of the most spectacular tree collections in the world, or the Cotswold Water Park (eight miles away).
‘The Rectory Hotel’ costs from £414 pp (two sharing), including all Bridge tuition, course notes and prizes, half-board accommodation with wine at dinner, and a reception with sparkling wine and canapés on the first evening. Admission to Westonbirt Arboretum costs from £9 pp in November.
And, looking ahead to 2016:
20 to 27 February 2016: Kasbah Bab Ourika in the Atlas Mountains, Morocco
Leave the British winter behind and journey to Morocco, mixing top food, unforgettable views and good company. Surrounded by panoramic vistas, and just 40 minutes from Marrakech, the Kasbah Bab Ourika hotel looks out across olive groves, lemon trees, snowy peaks and a vibrant ridge of red rock, known locally as ‘Arizona’. Play Bridge at your own pace before exploring the wonderful walking trails, savouring a delicious picnic prepared by the hotel, or taking a camel trek.
‘Bridge at the Kasbah’ will include all Bridge tuition, course notes and prizes, full-board accommodation with wine at dinner, a reception with sparkling wine and canapés on the first evening, and airport transfers (from Marrakech). Flights extra.
For more information visit stockenbridgebreaks.com.
Ends/ 26 March 2015
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