Meet the Team: A Day in the Life of Kris

Introducing you to Krzysztof "Kris" Parchimowicz
Introducing you to Krzysztof “Kris” Parchimowicz

Name: Krzysztof “Cliff” Parchimowicz

Job Title: Reservations Manager

Location: Aberdeen

How long worked for the company: 2 years

What your job entails: I am responsible for the smooth running of Reservations Department which involves taking/managing the bookings for our 4 locations, adjusting our rates, controlling revenue streams as well as forecasting.

Any funny or interesting stories that have happened to you while at work: Too many to remember one particular thing but let me put it this way – I sit opposite to Craig; there is always something funny/interesting going on :)

What do you like most about serviced apartments? : The space and usually their great central location.

Favourite flavour of ice cream? Mackies Dairy or my sister’s daily special, she has her own ice-cream shop.

Favourite actor/actress? Leonardo Di Caprio

Tea or coffee? Coffee and lots of it.

What can’t you leave home without? Phone which is a bit sad really…

Nature in the City

Holyrood Park
Holyrood Park

This year it has felt rather sombrely like an eternal winter. However, now we have weathered the dreary, miserable winter days full of drizzle, hail and the relentless wind, it is now time to lock those well-worn wintertime lifelines of scarves, hats and gloves away for another few months. Yes, July is finally here meaning the hibernation weather has been vanquished and it is time to bask outside in all the resplendent glory that the sunshine brings with it (at least when it chooses to come out!). It is irrefutable that in our city destinations of Aberdeen, Birmingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh, you can find some of the most vibrant and pulsating entertainment, dining and retail scenes to be found in the UK, however amongst all those buzzing sights, sounds and noises, there is always a space for tranquillity, peace and clarity to be found. Whether it is spacious parks, stunning beaches or picturesque gardens, there is always a bit of nature to be found amongst the concrete jungle of city blocks and with this much prized heatwave bringing some light to the UK, we felt now would be the perfect time to discover them.

Aberdeen

Union Terrace Gardens
Union Terrace Gardens

A sparkling skyline created by magnificent granite buildings that glitter in the sun, it is undeniable why Aberdeen also affectionately goes by the title of the “Silver City”. However, do not let that title mislead you because Aberdeen actually has a hidden green side that softens out the harsh edge of the plethora of the outwardly appearing austere granite buildings. Nothing quite cements Aberdeen’s ability to be an equal natural wonder quite like it winning gold at “Britain in Bloom” a record-breaking eleven times.

You may not know it, but over a quarter of Aberdeen’s land is actually open space which is predominantly manifested in the form of gorgeous parks and gardens. Most renowned of all are Duthie Park, Johnstone Gardens and Hazlehead Park; all of which provide an abundance of lush space to have a leisurely walk around; an adrenaline pumping work-out in or a place to indulge in a summer picnic. However, each park also brings with it a myriad of hidden gems and treasures to be unearthed. For instance, in Duthie Park, a venture through the rather mysterious and exotic Winter Gardens will lead you to encounter the largest collection of cacti in the UK while an exploration of the idyllic Johnstone Gardens will enable you to photograph many a memory against the picturesque backdrop of fairy-tale like ethereal ponds, waterfalls and a signature bridge. Moreover, between its pets’ corner, rose garden, maze (the oldest in Scotland!), child’s playground and golf course, Hazlehead Park delivers the perfect family day out away from the hustle and bustle of city life. However, nothing quite epitomises nature in the city quite like the Union Terrace Gardens which present an oasis of tranquillity right in the midst of the city centre. With an abundance of green space to stretch out on, and an iconic floral recreation of Aberdeen’s Coat of Arms to admire, the ambient atmosphere is at total contrast to the fast-pace of life emanating from the surrounding city streets.

However, of course the crowning glory of the cosmopolitan Silver City is the golden sandy shores of Aberdeen’s beach. Aberdeen’s prosperity as a city is based upon the riches that reside below the crashing waves of the North Sea and so it is no surprise that images of the harbour also are commonly used to characterize Aberdeen. Take in the stunning coastal views and breathe in the fresh air as you venture along the coast and some of Britain’s finest beaches including Balmedie Beach.

Alternatively, at this time of the year, the sea also affords a different natural pleasure in the form of our friends with fins: dolphins. Due to Aberdeen being one of the best places in Europe to watch these magnificent animals at home in the sea, it is no wonder it is fast becoming a prime dolphin watching spot. Often frolicking near the harbour, it is not uncommon to witness the dolphins feeding & playing alongside surprise guests such as whales. It is truly a beautiful sight and reflects how there is more to the North Sea than just oil. RSPB Scotland’s DolphinWatch team will be at the Torry Battery Car Pack till mid-August and with dolphins appearing on 90% of 2014’s DolphinWatch days, you cannot miss an opportunity to see such playful, innocent fun.

Birmingham

East Side City Park
Eastside City Park

With one of its defining features being its impressive canal system which covers more miles than Canal City itself, Venice, and runs straight through the heart of Britain’s animated ’Second City’, it can already be inferred the strong sense of nature that permeates throughout Birmingham. The canals provide the best seat in the house for an intensive tour of Birmingham, with none of the stress!

Nothing epitomises Birmingham’s green-side quite like the very aptly named Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park, which, with a collection of over 130 species including the popular likes of lemurs and meerkats, is an simultaneously fun and educational experience which offers much enlightenment in regards to conservation efforts.

Although not quite an authentic natural attraction, the headlining National Sea Life Centre certainly at least presents an opportune moment to get up close and personal with our friends in the sea. Surrounded by a one-million litre ocean tank, which is residence to all kinds of exotic and mesmerizing creatures including tropical fish species, gentle sea turtles and formidable sharks, it is no surprise that the Sea Life Centre is a popular attraction for anyone who wants to experience the wonder of the ocean in a bustling, up-and-coming city jungle. It is truly a whole other world!

However, of course you cannot miss the plentiful supply of headlining Birmingham parks in which to picnic, workout or just simply to admire. One of the most famous parks is Cannon Hill Park which with its pedalo boats in the summer, as well as its collection of tennis courts alongside a bowling green and mini-golf course, provides a lasting day of entertainment for the whole family to bask in. Alternatively, there is the Eastside City Park as well as Kings Heath Park, with the Eastside City Park being of particular importance due to it being the largest single piece of public open space in the bustling city centre and it even winning a special accolade for it being an outstanding public green space (which includes gardens, water features and a Science Garden) at the European Entente Florale 2013 competition.

Glasgow

Glasgow Botanic Gardens
Glasgow Botanic Gardens

Glasgow may well be a prime dynamic leisure hub due to its renowned nightlife and retail scenes, however with its collection of 90 parks, it is clear that Glasgow is more than a little in touch with its green side also. However, in fairness, the sassy yet warmly hospitable city has much to live up to considering that in Gaelic; Glasgow translates as “Dear Green Place”. Therefore, be under no illusion that Glasgow is all about the bright lights, the vibrating bass and the chime of cash registers, there is so much underestimated natural beauty and peace to be uncovered alongside the magnificence of its prestigious architecture.

No park brings nature to the city quite like Glasgow Green; Glasgow’s oldest and most city central park. Famous not just for its age or location, Glasgow Green also features the largest terracotta fountain in the world. However, that is not the only treasure to be enjoyed as within the stunning grounds you will also come across the People’s Palace and the Winter Gardens; a Victorian glasshouse masterpiece which will generate much wonder due to it being residence to all kinds of tropical and mysterious plant species.

However, it is the West End of Glasgow that is a particular natural showcase due to it being home to both the renowned Kelvingrove Park and Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens. Nothing enhances the beauty of Kelvingrove Park quite like its location on the banks of the River Kelvin. If its location was not idyllic enough, its status as a Victorian park only goes to exacerbate this considering the air of splendour and grandeur it conjures. The prestigious Kelvingrove Museum and Art Galleries aside, one of the park’s most stunning features is the tranquil walks it affords alongside the breath-taking river walkways and the plentiful supply of wildlife you might have the fortune of crossing.

Internationally recognised for many a thing, whether it is its warm hospitality or its inspiring art scene, Glasgow is also a winner on a global scale when it comes to its highly-esteemed Botanic Gardens. Well-regarded when it comes to both the glasshouses’ architecture and the wondrous exotic collection of plants they behold, the wooded walks and formal gardens are truly a natural haven that is worlds away from the hustle and bustle of Glasgow’s streets.

One other natural highlight worth mentioning is the picturesque Victoria Park which due to its stunning horticultural backdrop of beautiful floral displays, is often regarded as one of the loveliest parks in Glasgow. However, the real treasure it beholds is Glasgow’s most ancient attraction: the Fossil Grove. Open between April and September, the Fossil Grove consists of a fossilized grove of prehistoric trees which to give any indication of their age, are so historic that they are double the age of dinosaurs.

This year in particular is an opportune time to consider Glasgow as a “Dear Green Place” due to it being the “Year of Green”; a year in which there is much jubilation and cheer in correspondence with Glasgow’s mission to become a sustainable city in the future. As a result, there are many an exciting event to partake in; including the likes of Twilight Walks and Wildlife Garden Festivals.

Edinburgh

Edinburgh Botanic Gardens
Edinburgh Botanic Gardens

With its ideal location on the mighty Firth of Forth, it is no surprise that Scotland’s most bustling city is also greatly in touch with Mother Nature. It is a side that can only be reinforced due to it proudly receiving a Gold Award in the Britain in Bloom Awards 2013, one of the most prestigious awards when it comes to celebrating Britain’s best and most stunning gardens. Of course one of Edinburgh’s headlining attractions is the renowned Edinburgh Zoo which is home to many a fascinating furry resident including meerkats, tigers, rhinos and penguins.

The pinnacle of Edinburgh’s nature scene is most definitely the Royal Botanic Gardens which in itself provides over 70 acres of sweet-smelling, scenic gardens that contains wondrous plant species from all parts of the world. These gardens are so magical and beloved as they are rumoured to be some of the most excellent in the world due to them being residence to all kinds of special and rare plant species. Between the gardens, the greenhouses and the eco-centre, there is so much beauty to be admired and knowledge to be gained and all in a tranquil setting that is only a mile from the fast-paced Edinburgh streets. It is certainly a prime natural spot with the award-winning Inverleith Park being located in the near vicinity which offers mesmerizing cityscape views that cannot be easily replicated.

However, do not assume that nature is only to be found on the outskirts of the city, there is much green space to seek solitude in, even amongst the animation and the incessant hustle and bustle of Scotland’s Capital. At the base of the Royal Mile, you can explore the spacious Holyrood Park but the ultimate crowning glory in the area has to be Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano, which provides a heavy workout as well some of the most renowned and photo-worthy views of the whole city. Whether you hike it, walk it or even run it, the magnificent views will certainly make an intrepid adventure of Arthur’s Seat worth it! Alternatively, if you are needing somewhere to relax right there and then after an ambitious shopping spree on some of the nation’s most beloved high streets, then the extremely city central Princes Street Gardens should tick the box. Residence to some of the most iconic Edinburgh attractions that make their way into every picture perfect postcard, including the Scott Monument and the grandeur of the Ross Fountain, it is not surprising that these gardens are packed on a warm’s summer day due to the surrounding all-encompassing beauty and energy of Edinburgh’s historic streets.

Ultimately, there is so much natural beauty hiding amongst the concrete camouflage of some of the UK’s most cosmopolitan and dynamic cities, and it is waiting for you to discover it. Therefore, get your picnic baskets, running shoes and cameras at the ready, with the UK currently basking in the glow of a heatwave, now is the perfect time to breathe in that fresh summer air while enjoying nature’s gifts.

Sources

Images

en.wikipedia.orgwww.glasgowbotanicgardens.comglobespottingcara.wordpress.comwww.bdonline.co.ukphotorator.com

Information

http://visitbirmingham.com, https://peoplemakeglasgow.com/, http://www.visitaberdeen.com/, http://www.visitscotland.com/about/nature-geography/edinburgh-lothians/https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/

Take a Trip to the Movies with The Spires

Trainspotting - Princes Street- (1996)
Trainspotting – Princes Street- (1996)

James Bond. Harry Potter. Fast & Furious. Globally renowned and beloved, you might think these epic blockbusting movie franchises are worlds away from the natural wonder that is Scotland. While the stunning beauty of its lochs, beaches and mountains cannot be replicated, it is fair to say that Scotland may be missing the glamour, glitz and the bright city lights often associated with the Hollywood-LA lifestyle. However, it is precisely for this reason that Scotland does in fact have its own dazzling spotlight on the global movie stage and nothing has quite epitomised Scotland’s starring role in film tourism quite like it recently coming top of a reader-voted poll held by USA Today’s Travel Site 10Best to determine which destination holds the rather esteemed reputation of being the best cinematic travel destination in the world. Nominated by TV and film tourism experts alongside the likes of larger than life destinations such as the mighty metropolis of London; the indulgence of the Sin City itself Las Vegas and the exotic tropical paradise famed for its roaming Hobbits of New Zealand, Scotland’s breathtaking natural landscape as well as its bustling modern cities ultimately triumphed.

Often when people come to visit Scotland, you would expect it to be in association with the dramatic ruins, regal castles, tempting whisky distilleries and adrenaline pumping adventure sports; however the irresistible allure of film and television plays a bigger motivating role than you may think in bringing tourism to our corner of the world. It has been estimated that 40% of UK visitors have been inspired to come having been influenced by the cinematographic wonders they have seen unfold on the big and small screen alike. It is clear that Scotland has visibly arisen through the international filming ranks, and nothing has quite solidified its fame like “Outlander”, a domestic and overseas hit which depicts the romantic turmoil of a woman living through WW2 and 18th century Scotland. Its influential impact on tourism can be reflected in that figures from Historic Scotland show year-on-year visitor numbers to Doune Castle, the predominant outdoor filming location, have grown by a rather impressive 30.2% to 49,553 in the 2014-2015 period and visits to VisitScotland’s dedicated Outlander site sit at a mighty 98,000, with over 160,000 unique page views. The demand has even led to a subsequent visitor map being created so that impassioned fans are able to pay a visit to the locations used.

Outlander - Doune Castle - (2014)
Outlander – Doune Castle – (2014)

While Outlander has done much for tourism in the borders, that is not to say that all the action is happening there. With apartments in major UK city destinations such as Edinburgh (coming soon!), Glasgow and Birmingham, we are never too far from the (literal) Blockbuster action. Therefore, whether you are an international guest and want to see the sights that have acted as a backdrop for iconic movie magic, or you simply want to engage in a staycation with a twist, why not stay with The Spires and pay a visit to locations that have gone down in movie history:

Glasgow

World War Z - George Square (2012)
World War Z – George Square – (2013)

There is no city in Scotland which could be better suited for the entertainment industry than the animated, dynamic and effervescent city of Glasgow. The heartbeat of Scotland, there is no denying the positive energy and warm hospitality that radiates from its exquisite, historic architecture and bustling streets and so it is no surprise that Glasgow has managed to slide itself as an extra into many a blockbuster. It is also Glasgow’s stellar ability as a stunt double that has worked in its favour with it masquerading as Philadelphia in Brad Pitt’s “World War Z” and as San Francisco for Halle Berry’s “Cloud Atlas”. See all the other major films and television shows in which Glasgow has managed to win a starring role and some of the iconic locations that they featured:

That Sinking Feeling (1980)Kelvingrove Park

Taggart (1983-2010)

Heavenly Pursuits (1986)-Glasgow Cathedral

Trainspotting (1996)

Beautiful Creatures (2010)

Neds (2010)

Perfect Sense (2011)

Cloud Atlas (2012)Blythswood Hill

World War Z (2013)George Square

Fast and Furious 6 (2013)Cadogen Street

Sunshine on Leith (2013)Kelvin Art Gallery

Under the Skin (2013)Argyle Street, Buchanan Galleries, Celtic Park

Edinburgh

arthurs-seat-edinburgh-one-day
One Day – Arthur’s Seat – (2011)

As Scotland’s capital, of course Edinburgh has to witness some of the action! With stunning cinematographic attractions such as the Forth Rail Bridge and Edinburgh Castle, as well as the magnificent views of the beautifully historic city afforded from the likes of Calton Hill, it is no surprise that Edinburgh is every filmmaker’s dream. From Robert Carlyle to Anne Hatheway, walk the streets which have been treaded on by many a famous foot:

39 Steps (1935) – Forth Rail Bridge

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969) – Greyfriars Churchyard, Grassmarket

Chariots of Fire (1981) – West Register Street, Broughton Place

Trainspotting (1996)-Princes Street, Waterloo Place, Leith Street

The Da Vinci Code (2006­) – Rosslyn Chapel

Burke & Hare (2010)-Merchant Street, Edinburgh Castle, Old Fishmarket Close

The Illusionist (2010)– George Street, Princes Street, Arthur’s Seat

One Day (2011)Arthur’s Seat, Cockburn Street/Warriston Close, Moray Place/Forres St, Parliament Square, Calton Hill

Cloud Atlas (2012)– Victoria St/Terrace, Princes Street

Filth (2013)– Grassmarket, Merchant Street, Edinburgh Castle

Sunshine on Leith (2013)– Constitution Street and the Shore

Birmingham

Hustle - Victoria Square - (2010)
Hustle – Victoria Square – (2010)

While it is not technically in Scotland, we can never leave our Birmingham location out of the action particularly with its esteemed reputation as Britain’s “Second City”. Becoming a formidable rival to London, but a cheaper alternative, it is no surprise that Birmingham is starting to become the location of choice when it comes to filming in a bustling, dynamic metropolis. Due to the presence of the BBC, it is predominantly the television world where Birmingham has left its mark but with just last month Glenn Close and Gemma Arteton filming scenes at Church Street and Dudley Hospital for the Dystopian“She Who Brings Gifts”, it is clear Birmingham is preparing itself for a Hollywood debut:

Dalziel and Pascoe (1996-2007)

Doctors (2000-Present)

Survivors (2008) – Birmingham Municipal Bank

Hustle (2010-2012)- Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Victoria Square

Toast (2010)

Line of Duty (2012-Present)

Dancing on the Edge (2013) – Grand Hotel, Birmingham’s Council House, Birmingham University

WPC 56 (2013-Present)- Jewellery Quarter and Black Country Living Museum

For Day Trips

Harry Potter - Glenfinnan Viaduct - (2002)
Harry Potter – Glenfinnan Viaduct – (2002)

If you make your way through those lists, then here are some simply unmissable locations that have witnessed the most iconic Scottish cinematography moments in movie history and are only a day trip away from some of our apartments:

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974)-Doune Castle, near Stirling

Braveheart (1995) – Glen Nevis and Loch Leven

Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets (2002) – Glenfinnan Viaduct

The Queen (2006)-Balmoral Castle, Castle Fraser, Cluny Castle

The Eagle (2011) – Loch Lomond and Stirling

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)- Royal Burgh of Culross

Skyfall (2012) – Glencoe

So what are you waiting for? Visit the cities where the entertainment royalty of Ewan McGregor, Eva Green, Brad Pitt, and Scarlett Johansson have all visited and breathed in the fresh Scottish (and Brum!) air. If you are a real film buff in general, there is definitely no reason not to visit us as there is an annual Film Festival held in each of our locations: Aberdeen (October 2015), Glasgow (February 2016), Birmingham and Edinburgh (the Edinburgh International Film Festival is globally renowned).

Take a journey to the stars with The Spires; your name is being called…

Ready, Set, Action!

Information Sources

http://black-kilt-tours.org/scotland-in-film.html

http://www.thelocationguide.com/blog/2015/03/ng-film-tourism-outlander-boosts-film-tourism-for-scotland/

http://www.scotsman.com/news/scotland-tops-poll-of-best-cinematic-destinations-1-3802404

http://visit-glasgow.info/sights/glasgow-as-a-film-scene/

http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/whats-on/film-news/ten-tv-series-filmed-birmingham-9418471

http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/whats-on/film-news/16-movies-filmed-in-birmingham-9418666

http://www2.jpscotland.co.uk/en/filmmap.pdf

http://www.visitscotland.com/about/arts-culture/films/locations

http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Outlandish-Success-Story-1833.aspx

http://thisisedinburgh.com/discover/itineraries/edinburgh-on-film-tour-1/

http://mediacentre.visitscotland.org/pressreleases/join-the-glasgow-set-jet-1121374

http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/whats-on/tv/tv-programmes-made-birmingham-city-5715440

Images

http://whatculture.com

news.stv.tv

celtictoursfotos.wordpress.com 

studyinuk.universiablogs.net

www.outlandertvnews.com

Time for a Catch-Up

2

Going through my recent blog entries, I have noticed a distinctive lack of my own personal student work placement blogs. When I first began at The Spires the plan was initially to do a blog each week (hopefully!) chartering my rise from an inexperienced yet energised university student to a full-fledged sale administrator extraordinaire, however clearly somewhere along the way that plan went awry! The last time I had a post dedicated to my own personal development was at the three month mark so somehow the fact that I am now blogging about myself with slightly less than a month to go, is rather fitting.

Considering my blogging absence you may be wondering what havoc I must have been causing, and it has certainly been a busy few months here at The Spires! Particular news of note for The Spires itself is the continued rolling out of The Apartment Collection – By The Spires, the serviced apartment finding service element of the firm which enables us to source accommodation out with The Spires’ home locations so we can meet guest’s wider needs. As of late, I am attempting to start a “Featured Destination” of the week to get the ball rolling and to provide some travel inspiration for our social media followers so they can see all the locations we can take them. I am also doing this in conjunction with my recently discovered addiction in Infographics as even though they may be a bit old school now, I still find them to be a very attractive means of communicating information which gets the point across while being eye-catching: https://magic.piktochart.com/output/6737572-the-apartment-collection-milton-keynes. 

Similarly, other very exciting news is that the opening for the Edinburgh location keeps growing closer and closer, and as a result, we can now happily show some sneak-peeks of our newest apartments which can be found at the dedicated Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/TheSpiresEdinburgh. Having been working at The Spires as the plans have increasingly unfolded for Edinburgh, it has definitely been intriguing to witness all the hard work that goes into opening a new location. Of course, I never imagined that it would be an easy venture but looking at how the smallest details need to be thought of, from cushions to toiletries, you realise how every decision is ultimately important as everything goes to create an image of the brand in the customer’s mind.

In terms of the personal chaos I have been causing, as well as my usual social media management and email marketing campaigns, a particular task of note is my introduction into the world of segmentation. Recently me and my fellow Sales Administrator, have been tasked with the rather daunting task of going through our databases to segment all entries into groups which share particular common characteristics as this should be indicative of their unique requirements. When first bestowed with this task, my unsuspecting colleague and I were aware that this would be a somewhat timely task although we were quietly confident that we would manage it in three-weeks tops. However, 1.5 months later and still sifting through it, we recognise that we possibly underestimated the magnitude of the challenge that awaited us… Fortunately, it is a challenge that I am enjoying because there is something oddly addictive about it, and from an academic perspective, it is really beneficial to put something in to practise that I have learnt so much about from both high school and university. Sometimes it can feel like all the endless models and theories you encounter at university have no workplace value as no one actually implements them in practise, and that is why it is so satisfying to see them being used in action because it reinforces the value of what you are studying and that those theories do exist for a reason (other than to play mind-torture on students!).

Other things I have been getting up to have included an insight into the world of taking reservations (and therefore the use of a PMS); the scanning of business cards and the creation of promotional materials such as posters for the apartment blocks. These may not sound like the most glamorous of tasks, however I am always really eager to try new things; it is always beneficial to have new tasks to add to that repertoire! The scanning of business cards was a particularly interesting endeavour because it was quite enjoyable to learn all about the possible career options on the tourism stage as well as to gain an insight into some of the international firms that exist. Even though the smallest and most innocuous tasks like scanning business cards can seem quite inconsequential, when you consider them in relation to the sales process and how that prospect’s details could enable them to be converted into a potential lucrative business source, you do realise how it is all the small things that build up the bigger picture. Similarly, even from a learning perspective, so much can be gained. For instance, as a young university student anxiously holding on to the sides of that career ladder, teetering precariously on the first rung, it is really insightful to see all the different formatting of business cards and how an effective business card means that not only is it memorable and conveys all that it needs to, but it is also capable of being easily scanned so that the details can be stored. The same goes for the development of the promotional materials I created, because even though it does not necessarily require a high level of skill, a poster is something that will be viewed by the public and every single touch-point from a poster to a direct customer interaction communicates something about the brand and you want it to be consistent with the values upheld by the firm.

Therefore, with five months up and one month to go, you might be able to see how contemplative and reflective I have become. The university report I have to write may also have something to do with why my mind has reached the point of micro-analyzing the importance of tasks like scanning business cards. It is akin to the days back in high school when you had to explain everything down to the symbolic importance of why the author made the curtains blue; there has to be a reason behind everything. In a sense however, that is what my placement has taught me, that there is a reason for every task you complete-particularly in the hospitality industry where even the smallest of actions influences the customer journey and therefore the over-riding success of the firm.

Ultimately, unless I manage to do something utterly catastrophic in my remaining 4 weeks (I still have time to delete all the contacts in the CRM by accident or potentially sell a room for £1…), I can already say with confidence that I am exceptionally happy I signed the second semester of my third year away to The Spires. With a month of full-time work left to go, there are still so many things I want to try such as video tours of the apartments, blogging from our Birmingham & Glasgow locations and even attempting more team-related blogs. Therefore, watch this space for all the fun that is still to come!

Till next time,

Alex (Intern Sales Administrator)

Summer of Joy

boxer_graduation_hat

The sizzling of succulent sausages on a BBQ. The infectious sounds of laughter and joy coming from families frolicking on the beach. The vibrant colours decorating the little umbrella that garnishes that cheeky yet oh so needed pool side cocktail. Yes, these are all the sights, smells and sounds that we associate with the most anticipated season of the year: summer. It is irrefutable that one of the greatest reasons why we look oh so forward to this most joyous time of the year is that the holidays are near. Like all good combinations, you cannot beat the ultimate combination that is summer and vacation. However, summer brings more than just a time to explore, escape and relax; it also provides a chance for some good old fashioned family bonding. We are not just referring to those infamous family holidays, but also to the multitude of joyous occasions that tend to adorn this time of year. For instance, factor in the rapturous audience applause, the sights of black mortar boards flying through the air and the sequins, sparkles and lace embellishing an array of specially bought outfits, and you can discover another few reasons that help to enhance that summer time glow: graduations and prize-givings.

With both university and the sun out, it is the perfect time to rejoice in the high-spirited celebratory mood whether you are attending a well-deserved graduation or a heart-warming wedding. However, such occasions require the attendance of those you hold dearest, many of whom may be out of town. Therefore, to fully take advantage of these momentous occasions that forever hold a special part in our hearts and mind; of course we all want them to run as smoothly as possible. Consequently, why rush down or up for that one important day when you can make it into a small trip that helps to relieve some of the inevitable stress associated with attending large social gatherings.

If we do say so ourselves, serviced apartments are the perfect accommodation type for when you are travelling in groups; such as with extended family. Graduation, weddings and special occasions all require the presence of more than just mum and dad; often grandparents, uncles, aunts, siblings and significant others are all in tow particularly considering just how large and blended modern families can be. Therefore, why pack everyone in someone’s flat/house with the inevitable bed-sharing and sofa-sharing angst or the expense of shelling out on multiple hotel rooms when you can simply book an apartment to share. Ranging from one-bedrooms up to two-bedroom deluxes, our apartments can fit up to 6 persons and to make it an even more cost-effective option, we charge based on the apartment size, not on the number of persons in the party. With en-suite bedrooms, there is lots of room to get all gussied up in for that special occasion and less fighting over the bathroom.

It is not just the extra sleeping space that is of benefit however. Serviced apartments such as at The Spires also offer modern, stylish and spacious lounges complete with sofas and TVs as well as fully-equipped kitchens that are kitted out with essential amenities such as dishwashers and dryers. When we say we want to create a home away from home atmosphere, we mean it. Therefore, with larger groups consisting of various age brackets, the extra space provided is much needed as no one is treading on anyone’s toes and everyone can be kept amused. Similarly, the inclusion of kitchens also helps to cut down on those mammoth food bills that can be so easily accrued by dining out as a group. Being your own chef means you have plenty of room to make that delectable meal that satisfies all the taste buds as well as the wide array of dietary requirements that tend to run in groups. Similarly, happen to spot a mark on that glamorous outfit you have been lusting over and are so eager to wear? With our washing machines and dryers, you need not worrying about anxiously tracking down the local dry-cleaners or incurring massive laundry charges as you can nip the problem in the bud right there and then.

It is not just all an issue of space and cost-effectiveness however, the city central location of our apartments also provide the further benefit of convenience-you are just minutes away from the main attraction. In our respective locations of Aberdeen, Birmingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh, you are only ever minutes away from all the entertainment and culture that these dynamic, cosmopolitan cities have to offer whether you are seeking supermarkets, banks, shops, transport links or even just a decent local coffee shop. Moreover, why travel all the way just for the special occasion itself? Any time is an opportune moment to discover all the treasures and hidden gems that our major city centre locations have to offer. Therefore, why not go visit a local castle such as Dunottar when you stay with us in Aberdeen, the Kelvingrove Museum when you stay in Glasgow or even Cadbury World when you stay in Birmingham? All the fun and action is right on your doorstep meaning you need not worry about the co-ordination or the military precision strategizing of taxis.

To all those celebrating this summer, whether it is your own personal well-deserved graduation or you are sharing in the glory of a loved one’s, we wish you a beautiful, happy day full of heart- warming memories which will stay with you forever; hopefully The Spires can play even the smallest of parts in making that joyous day as special as it can be.

Image: www.kpc.alaska.edu 

Me, My Selfie & I

Of course no blog on selfies is complete without one or two illustrative examples and so all selfies used in this blog are courtesy of our globetrotting selfie-fanatic National Sales Manager 

Selfies at work and at play!
Selfies at work and at play!

It all started innocently enough. A few of them taken were here and there, then it began to spread and then it became a craze that took over the world. Now it is no longer a “trend” or a “fad”, it is simply a behavioural norm that we are so accustomed to we longer notice. Any guesses as to what I am referring to? The odds are you will shamelessly have taken one (or maybe an abundance) yourself and they will most likely be in your possession right now. They are the latest entry in the pop culture archive and they are commonly referred to by a mere sole word that is always rising in the ranks of power: “selfie”.

Yes, despite starting off as an innocuous niche twitter hash tag even as potentially far back as 2004, “selfies” have since risen to global dominance and are both a standard part of our vocabulary and behaviour. Nothing quite exemplifies the now new-found normality and acceptance of “selfies” quite like the fact that since 2013, “selfie” has cemented itself a position in the online Oxford Dictionary. Therefore, for those who are selfie ignorant,  a “selfie” can be defined as A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media”.

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Although I am not a personal avid fan of selfies (going through my phone’s gallery can play testament to this), I am particularly intrigued to see their impact on the travel industry and how they influence the way in which people travel. Indeed, it is undeniable the correlation between “selfies” and vacations because ultimately, social media has totally revolutionised how travel photos are taken. I am sure most of us still remember the days when the digital camera was the latest sought after technological development when it came to photography, however long gone are those days. Now, it is all the aforementioned selfies and Instagram filters so we can post and boast to the world right there and then the adventures we are engaging in. Nothing quite epitomises the social media revolution quite like the fact that apparently holidays are no longer the personal experience taken just for us, in helping us to explore and escape, but are in fact made for sharing. This trend has led to a whole new brand of travellers, now recognized by the Future Foundation report as “social-capital seekers”, who travel with the over-riding ambition of documenting their adventure and therefore designing it to be Facebook, Twitter, etc. post friendly. Even already the bond between holiday snaps and social media can be reflected in that a survey for Hotels.com revealed that twenty-five per cent of British travellers share a photo within an hour of arriving at their holiday haven, although the average time people wait is almost three hours.

Going on holiday and the taking of photos are synonymous activities because photos are that way of documenting the happy memories and preserving them so you can look back at them and reminisce. However, the development of selfies is beginning to question whether this remains the true primary motive. More often than not, it is likely that on your social media you will spot someone posing with *insert iconic landmark”. From the Empire State Building to the Colosseum to the Eiffel Travel; they have all played the scenic backdrop for someone’s mobile phone selfie portrait. If anything, the development of the selfie stick has exacerbated this trend as it is now even easier to get the perfect angle and pose for that ultimate selfie which will trigger a plethora of likes and retweets. Therefore, narcissism and selfies are beginning to become quite inter-linked with people believing that all these self-portraits taken in cultural and heritage rich locations are more a means of boasting about the locations we have been. It can be debated how truly interested someone is in the attraction itself and the meaning and values it holds. Potentially, we are no longer living in the moment and taking in the time to truly bask in the beauty of attractions because we are all just superficially about taking the “ultimate selfie” to show the world that we were there.

Craig with the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah
With the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah

Linking on to this notion of cultural admiration, and just general health & safety, is that further debate is igniting in the travel industry when it comes to selfies, or at least selfie sticks, with increasing numbers of attractions banning the admittance of selfie sticks. For instance, Disney World has been the latest attraction to post physical signs forbidding the use of selfie sticks and therefore joins the ever growing list of anti-selfie stick locations which also includes the prestigious likes of the Colosseum, the Guggenheim Museum, The National Gallery in London as well as a variety of stadiums.

Craig with the Hollywood Hills
With the Hollywood Hills

Ultimately, selfies will remain a divisive topic. Potentially they are the epitome of the shallowness and narcissism of our generation in terms of how we feel our self-worth and popularity is all linked to the followers we have and the number of retweets. If it cannot be documented to the world on social media to be admired, then what is the point? Alternatively, selfies are just a fun way of us leaving our mark on the world and showing that we were here on this Earth at one point and as a reminder of the magnificent sights and wonders we have witnessed.  As I have been told, anyone can go on Google and get a photo of Big Ben or the Grand Canyon, but you will never be able to find one that was clearly yours if you are not starring in it also. Likewise, they also are just fundamentally practical, particularly for solo travellers, because they prevent you from having to awkwardly walk up to someone red-faced and embarrassed asking them to take your photo for you (and then again, if you invariably do not like it). Personally, I think there is nothing wrong with a good selfie or two but the most critical thing is that if we are taking them with, or in, cultural attractions like museums or historical landmarks, yes it is good to take a moment to document our time there, but also to take a minute to fully understand the true value of the attraction and what it stands for and represents.

P.S. The Spires is not on the anti-Selfie Stick list and so we fully embrace and enjoy seeing selfies or just old-school photos of our guests in our apartments. Post to our Instagram using #TheSpiresApts or simply tweet us @TheSpiresSuites so we can see how you are enjoying your stay :)

Sources

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24992393

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/10465199/Forget-the-selfie-holidaymakers-go-for-braggie-photos.html

http://skift.com/2015/04/24/selfies-are-changing-the-fundamental-reasons-why-we-travel/

The City Built on More than Just Oil

Source: www.offshorewind.biz
Aberdeen

If I were to ask you for the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Aberdeen, odds are on that “oil” would be your headlining answer. It would not be at all surprising because even as a born and bred Aberdonian, whenever someone asks me to describe my home town, the oil industry tends to be my instant characterisation of the city I call home. It is not possible to separate Aberdeen from the oil industry because the North Sea and its oil supplies are what has put Aberdeen on the national, and indeed the international stages. Nothing epitomises this quite like the fact that Aberdeen is known as the “Oil/Energy Capital of Europe”. Due to the strong inter-relation between Aberdeen and oil, it is undeniable that the predominance of tourism is in relation to business as reflected by the fact that over half of the visits to Aberdeen are linked to business matters.

Consequently, I can fully understand why one may not consider engaging in a leisure trip to Aberdeen. With the strong association of energy corporations and professional services, it is easy to comprehend why someone may think Aberdeen is all work and no play. HOWEVER, there is so much more to Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. It may be best known for its oil supplies, but there are so many other achievements and accolades that Aberdeen should be on the map for; none of which have anything to do with business but all to do with fun. From the luscious supply of lush green spaces; an abundance of breathtaking castles and all the fun and frolics to be had at the seaside, it is clear that Aberdeen is equally capable of delivering glowing holiday memories and experiences that will last a lifetime.

The Silver City

Practical, easy to maintain and stunning to look at, the eye-catching glistening of the granite walls of Aberdeen are certain to capture your attention and your camera’s lens. Known as the Granity City and the Silver City, Aberdeen’s greyness can easily be attributed to its architecture that was built in the granite days of the Victorian era. Due to the mica that sparkles beautifully in the sun, it is no wonder that Aberdeen’s resplendent architecture is one that you have to stop to admire.

Marischal College  Source: www.canon-fodder-forums.com
Marischal College
Source: http://www.canon-fodder-forums.com

Do I Spot A Castle?

Aberdeen may have alter-egos in the form of the “Silver City” and the “Oil Capital of Europe”, but it also has a rather unknown secret identity that goes by the code name of “Castle Country”. With a collection of over 300 castles and more castles per acre than anywhere else in the UK, there is almost a castle to visit every day of the year meaning more than one trip to Aberdeen is not a choice, but an necessity. Due to the wealth of castles to explore, there is a castle to suit everyone’s tastes. There is the breathtaking dramatics of the haunting cliff-side ruins of Dunnotar Castle or for an idyllic family day, there are also the enchanting gardens that surround the splendour of Crathes Castle. For a more majestic experience, a trip to Balmoral Castle cannot go amiss for it is a favourite with the Royal Family and even is the grand holiday abode of Her Majesty the Queen. Similarly, Craigievar is an almost iconic image for Scotland as due to its ethereal fairy-tale like appearance, adorned with turrets; it is also supposedly responsible for inspiring Walt Disney. An exploration of castles could be your sole reason to visit Aberdeen if you embark on Scotland’s only Castle Trail which will take you through 17 of Aberdeen’s most renowned castles. You could visit all the castles and still desire more because ultimately, there is always a fascinating story to be learnt about Scotland’s captivating history.

Dunnottar Castle  Source: : http://www.uk-pictures.com/dunnottar_castle.html
Dunnottar Castle
Source: : http://www.uk-pictures.com/dunnottar_castle.html

The Grass is Always Greener…

To balance out the stunning (if a little gray) architecture; over a quarter of Aberdeen is actually open space. The fact that Aberdeen has won the Britain in Bloom competition for a record-smashing ten times is only testament to its abundance of sweet-smelling, picturesque parks. Whether you are looking for a tranquil walk in nature or a heart-pumping workout, there is a park to accommodate anyone and each will provide a scenic backdrop to all the action. Each park has its own unique attractions providing the perfect location for a family day trip. If you are looking for rose gardens to admire; a play park to keep the little ones out of trouble or a maze to get them lost in, look no further than Hazlehead Park which also comes armed with a petting corner full of furry friends. Duthie Park and Seaton Park also present the perfect setting for a moment to engage with nature and Duthie Park even has its own winter gardens which is resident to the UK’s largest supply of cacti (a little bit of trivia for you all!). However, if you stay at The Spires and are happening to be looking for a park closer to home, the ethereal Johnston Gardens is also a gorgeous spot for a bit of nature loving as due to its hidden waterfalls and ponds, it is no wonder that it is a favourite for wedding photos.

Johnston Gardens  Source: Wikipedia
Johnston Gardens
Source: Wikipedia

Nature Watch: Aberdeen Style

Parks are not the only natural wonders in Aberdeen. Perhaps the biggest draw to Aberdeen this lovely sunny season are our favourite new residents: dolphins! Due to Aberdeen being one of the best places in Europe to watch these magnificent animals at home in the sea, it is no wonder it is fast becoming a prime dolphin watching spot. Often frolicking near the harbour, it is not uncommon to witness the dolphins feeding & playing. It is truly a beautiful sight and reflects how there is more to the North Sea than just oil. RSPB Scotland’s DolphinWatch team will be there till mid-August and with dolphins appearing on 90% of 2014’s DolphinWatch days, you cannot miss an opportunity to see such playful fun.

Dolphins in Aberdeen Harbour  Source: www.rspb.org.uk
Dolphins in Aberdeen Harbour
Source: http://www.rspb.org.uk

Golf Anyone?

Golf is a sport synonymous with Aberdeenshire due to its plethora of courses to play on. Residence to over 50 courses, there are courses only a quarter of a mile away from Aberdeen and even more courses located just an hour’s drive away. Therefore, you are certain to find a course you like. Most famous is the Hazlehead No 1 which is rumoured to be one of the best in the North-East and whose claim to fame is that it was designed by Dr Alistair MacKenzie; the man who was responsible for creating the Augusta National course home of the US Masters. It is no surprise that Hazlehead No 1 is a thorough test for those golfing skills! Similarly, history meets golf with The Royal Aberdeen Golf Club being the sixth oldest course in the world and if it was not enough that the course allows for some superior golf playing, it also allows you to play among stunning panoramic views.  Another golf course that is commonly associated with Aberdeen is the splendour of The Trump International Golf Links which has only helped to consolidate Aberdeen as a golf paradise.

Royal Aberdeen Golf Course Source: www.dailyrecord.co.uk
Royal Aberdeen Golf Course
Source: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk

Those Summer Days Spent by the Seaside…..

We all look fondly back with nostalgia on those good ole days spent on holiday by the sea, splashing about in the sea and munching ravenously on delectable fish & chips. Well, due to Aberdeen’s Fun Beach, you can relive those memories and bring them into the 21st century. Many a day can be spent at the beach between the arcades; mini-golf; tempting restaurants; the amusement park; the leisure pool filled with watery thrills & spills; the ice-rink, the cinema….All this before you even consider the simplicity of just walking along the coast line to bask in the fresh sea air and to feel the warm sand between the toes. It is truly an entertainment hotspot and is certainly one to keep the whole family occupied and the cameras snapping.

Aberdeen Beach Source: VisitScotland
Aberdeen Beach
Source: VisitScotland

Journey to the Past

The beach borders on another prime Aberdonian attraction: Footdee (or fondly known as Fittie by Aberdonians). The words charming, quaint and idyllic certainly come to mind but how could they not considering Footdee is a well-conserved fishing village where you are free to walk around and bask in the tranquility of life by the seaside. It is truly a walk back to the past and is in stark contrast to the modernity of the city centre that is only minutes away. Similarly, due to Aberdeen’s strong maritime links, of course there has to be a museum to document the bond between Aberdeen & the Sea; something which The Maritime Museum spectacularly manages to convey in its award-winning displays.

 

Footdee  Source: TripAdvisor
Footdee
Source: TripAdvisor

History in the Walls

History could not be any more present in the city than in Old Aberdeen where you are able to find a 15th century college and a medieval bridge and cathedral. Aberdeen was once its own independent town between 1489 and 1891, however to this day its historical beauty still remains and you can feel the rich heritage emanating through the walls. Popular sites on the two-hour journey to the past include the King’s College (which is now a part of the University of Aberdeen) as well as St. Machar’s Cathderal and the Brig o’ Balgownie. Traverse the cobbled streets and breathe in the smell of the past, it is truly a unique and beautiful trail to follow which shows how there is more to Aberdeen’s history than just the sea.

St. Machar's Cathedral Source: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2636881
St. Machar’s Cathedral
Source: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2636881

The Water of Life

It goes without saying that a visit to Aberdeenshire is not complete without a visit to a distillery. Scotland is home to the only whisky trail in the world, in Speyside, where you will be able to find more than half of Scotland’s malt whisky distilleries each possessing their own unique recipes and history. From Glenfiddich to Glenlivet to Cardhu, these are the famous whiskies we all know, and can be found on this illustrious trail.

However, you do not have to look as far as Speyside to find a fully-functioning distillery; reminding you how Aberdeen is in a prime location to engage in all aspects of Scottish culture. There are eight distilleries only an hour from Aberdeen which may be smaller in scale, but still have their own exciting story to tell and unique whisky recipe to taste. Fettercairn, Knockdhu and Glen Garioch are some of the names featured and of the eight overall distilleries; at least half of them do have visitor centres making for a perfect day-trip from Aberdeen.

City Life

Aberdeen may have 8,000 years of stories to tell, but that does not stop it from being a bustling modern 21st century city. There is always a whole host of the biggest names gracing the stages of the AECC, the Music Hall, the Lemon Tree and His Majesty’s Theatre. However, if it is Hollywood calling you, then there are three major cinemas to keep you up-to-date as well as the artsy Belmont Cinema which shows a more international & indie selection of films. With all the latest brands in the shopping and food plaza hotspots of Union Square, Bon Accord Centre, Trinity Centre, St. Nicholas Centre and The Academy, your wallet will not be short of exercise and that is before you even consider the retail parks. However, if it is the mind you want to exercise, then the likes of the Tolbooth Museum & the Aberdeen Art Gallery should be enough to engage the brain. Other cultural activities include the plentiful supply of festivals that take place, including the Aberdeen Festival Collective which features prime events such as the Aberdeen Jazz Festival, Techfest & Aberdeen International Youth Festival among other.

His Majesty's Theatre Source: www.rosemountaberdeen.co.uk
His Majesty’s Theatre
Source: http://www.rosemountaberdeen.co.uk

If you have managed to reach the end of this rather extensive city guide to Aberdeen, then I hope that you are in no doubt that it is a lie to say Aberdeen is for business tourists only. Aberdeen opens its arms to everyone, as does The Spires, and so whether you do come for business or leisure, we look forward to giving you a warm Aberdonian welcome.

Sources:

http://www.visitscotland.com/

http://www.visitaberdeen.com/

http://aberdeen.stv.tv/articles/317594-dolphinwatch-was-launched-at-aberdeens-torry-battery-on-friday-april-17/

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/the-granite-city-thats-made-of-stronger-stuff-10264270.html