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. queenieandbelles.events) 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