Can you eat too much of a good thing? If you had asked the bald, gray-haired and young at heart at the tribute band festival at Alvaston Hall Hotel last month, they would have given you a resounding ‘No!’ In fact, they probably would have put music on it and started a conga.
As we drift away from confinement and partiers emerge from their burrows, attention has naturally turned to nightclubs filled with sweaty teens. But make no mistake, parents and grandparents of teens want a piece of the action, too.
This establishment, in the heart of the Cheshire countryside, is part of a group of Warner Leisure Hotels spread across the country. They offer adult-only breaks geared toward the older generation and have had an impressive sideshow on music-themed weekends.
It’s a kind of magic: Alvaston Hall Hotel, which has developed a secondary activity on weekends with musical themes.
Occasionally the performers are household names, such as classical singer Katherine Jenkins, but mostly they are carefully crafted tribute acts by hard working professionals who know what they are doing.
Dolly Parton in Cheshire, Cliff Richard on the Isle of Wight, Rod Stewart in Herefordshire.
Of course, it is not the real Dolly, Cliff or Rod. But which one would you prefer? Great songs sung by skilled imitators? Or shitty songs sung by would-be teenagers? I rest my case.
At Alvaston, the tributes flew thick and fast. For Stevie Wonder. For George Michael. To the queen. For Elton John. To Abba. For Tina Turner. And everyone had a great time.
We are not out of the Covid forest yet, so there were plenty of masks on view. But there was also a sense of normalcy returning.
‘A cruise on land’ is how DJ Alun Webb described the entertainment on offer, and he got it in one. People are sometimes quite whiny about the entertainment on cruise ships, but it shouldn’t be that way. The best cruise companies offer increasingly sophisticated packages.
Tribute band Pure Queen showing off their stuff for Warner Leisure guests. Other acts include tributes to Tina Turner and Elton John.
Alvaston Hall undoubtedly exuded a quiet sophistication. There was a small room for cabaret before dinner and late-night humming and bopping, and a large main stage plus dance floor, where the main show of the night was held in front of more than 400 diners still standing. they digest their food.
The purist would probably say, “But you can’t see Tina Turner strutting around in a tiny skirt while eating a coconut cheesecake,” but the purist wouldn’t get the point.
It was the overlap between the great wines and dinners and the full music that made the weekend so memorable. There was a hint of decadence in the air, people who wanted to make the most of things.
For artists, it was an opportunity to get back on track after a lean period thanks to Covid.
Max Davidson was impressed by “the excellent food and drink” at Alvaston Hall. Shown here is the hotel’s Cheshire Barn pub and restaurant.
Wayne Denton, masterfully as Neil Diamond, made audiences eat out of his hand with his self-deprecating punch.
‘I also do John Denver, but with a different wig, obviously. I was one of the finalists on a television talent show in 1986. Seven of us are still working. One is a firefighter, another is an electrician.
For the guests, some of whom took their first vacation in 18 months, it was an opportunity to relax, recharge, meet old friends, and be transported back to 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 temporarily lost their way, that nostalgia is most needed.
Joyce, from Ormskirk, Lancashire, is a regular at Alvaston. Warner has these weekends to perfection. Good music in a relaxing environment.
Mark from Liverpool agreed. ‘The tribute bands spark so many happy memories. You are never too old to enjoy music. I used to come here with my parents when they were in their 80s. ”
Guests can relax by the hotel pool during the day, before enjoying Alvaston’s music in the evening.
Tony and Judy, whom we met at a wine tasting, had a particular passion for American music and had traveled extensively in the United States. They are in the fall of their years, but their passion for music has not diminished.
For my wife and I, whose tastes range from The Beatles to country, western and Irish folk singers, it was an opportunity to unleash our inner partiers after long months of live music starvation. No one joined the songs with more enthusiasm.
We were blessed with perfect weather, which only added to the sense of charm.
During the day, we explored the roads and paths of Cheshire – craft fairs, canal side cafes, pretty old towns, exciting green fields.
Other guests relaxed by the hotel pool or participated in the leisure activities that are part of the Warner package, from archery to contests and shuffleboard. The bars, of course, did a great deal.
But it was cocktail time, and until midnight, we were all ready to jog, as fast as our old legs would allow us.
Is there something to beat the septuagenarian couples who take to the dance floor with their joie de vivre evident at every step?
Alvaston Hall, pictured, is located 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 music breaks, visit warnerleisurehotels.co.uk.
Some wore smart casual clothes, others were dressed to the nines, with stitched stockings reminiscent of World War II, or shirts so gaudy they threatened to drown out the music.
But we would not 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 cheesy, familiar, and endlessly repeated songs are the best songs of all.
On the way home, two hours after leaving Cheshire, my wife was still humming Dancing Queen and I was still yelling, “Then I saw your face, now I’m a BE-LIEVER!” Like a Monkee on steroids.
And I am a believer, my belief strengthened by this exhilarating unbuttoned weekend.
A believer, not just in music, but in the power of music to span generations, fool time, and make the heart dance.