My Berk­shire

Berkshire Life - - Front Page -

Sonning se­crets with the boss of The Great House

Michael Westen­brink is the Op­er­a­tions Di­rec­tor over­see­ing The Great House at Sonning and The Swan at Streat­ley. Dutch by birth and from a fam­ily of hote­liers, he’s been some­thing of a trav­eller, even fit­ting in the envy of many teenagers, a year at a high school in Cal­i­for­nia.

But now he lives in War­grave, close to The Great House and the ir­re­sistible lure of its Coppa Club.

You hap­pily fly the flag for Berk­shire, hav­ing seen a lot of the world. What makes the county spe­cial for you?

I’ve now worked at river­side lo­ca­tions for more than 10 years so def­i­nitely the wa­ter is some­thing of an at­trac­tor in my life, and Berk­shire ob­vi­ously has plenty of that with the Thames…

How do you like to spend your ‘free time’?

Long leisurely walks, es­pe­cially the one from Read­ing along the Thames Path, past Sonning and if we feel like it we take it all the way up to Shiplake… and then end with a sim­i­larly long lunch. Sonning is home to the

Prime Min­is­ter, the Clooneys and other fa­mous faces.

Do you think this makes a dif­fer­ence to the vil­lage? Theresa May was at the open­ing of Coppa Club Sonning in 2015 and is very much a sup­porter of any­thing in her con­stituency, but they’re all as much part of the vil­lages as any­one else is. It does gen­er­ate that ad­di­tional at­trac­tion, but our ho­tels and the Coppa Clubs would do well even with­out the ‘fa­mous’ as it’s af­ford­able lux­ury com­ing to ev­ery­one.

We know The Great House and Swan are first class. But if we asked you to take us to eat some­where else… Out­side of the Coppa Clubs, the ob­vi­ous choice, I re­cently found an­other favourite, The Shur­lock Inn at Shur­lock Row, and I have to men­tion Jane who owns The Bull in War­grave which is just down the road from me so is the ‘end sta­tion’ some week­ends!

Rec­om­mend a lo­cal ser­vice or store

I re­cently had the plea­sure of meet­ing Jane and Annabel of Quee­nie & Belles (www. quee­nie­and­ who are events plan­ners, their com­pany is fab. I also find The Vin­tage Look in Hen­ley great, and al­though not quite in the county it’s pretty close to it.

Go on, re­veal a se­cret about your­self that might sur­prise fam­ily, friends or col­leagues. I’m an open book re­ally. It’s no se­cret that I’m a fan of Re­al­ity TV. In a busy world, it keeps me sane.

The War­grave hote­lier over­see­ing some top des­ti­na­tions in Sonning and

Streat­ley shares his lo­cal se­crets

ABOVE: Beau­ti­ful views on a walk be­tween Read­ing and Hen­ley via Sonning

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