Who doesn't want to stay in "the loveliest castle in the world", I mean seriously, if you received an invitation to attend an event there could you say no? We certainly couldn't and last Friday our March FAM was held at Leeds Castle which really is, the loveliest castle in the world.
Leeds Castle is not in Leeds (as most of us originally thought) , it is in Maidstone Kent and just 50 minutes from London Victoria. Our FAM started with a fabulous afternoon tea in the Maidens Tower Long Gallery where we caught up with the Leeds Castle team, Meet Beyond London and Conference Maidstone. After a brief intro it was off outside for a bit of falconry and to meet the stars of Leeds Castle, the birds! There are five different experiences that you can incorporate into your event, we loved it (especially the Owls) and you can read more about it here.
After meeting the birds it was time to check-in and have a bit of leisure time to enjoy our stunning rooms. Each of The Castle State Rooms have their own stories. As you can imagine the Castle is steeped in history and it was so fascinating to read about what our room had been in the past two hundred years and more importantly... who had slept there. Apart from being stunning in decoration, the beds where out of this world comfortable. I don't know if I am getting old but I literally sat on mine, sunk into it and nodded off. They are the most comfortable beds ever.
Our group then met in the Library for a welcome drink before a full tour of the castle to learn all about its history. The castle's most famous owner was of course King Henry VIII and you can read more about all the fascinating history here.
After the tour it was off for a fabulous dinner in the Dining Room where we got to know our hosts and dined on asparagus tart, duck and cake for pudding. It really was a lovely evening! A few of us had a nightcap and then it was off to those comfy beds. Up early for breakfast and a morning to explore the grounds before heading back to London!
When holding your corporate event at Leeds Castle, there are three types of accommodation available. The Castle State Rooms (eight in total) which consists of eight charming rooms, many of which offering breath-taking views over the moat. The castle bedrooms (seven in total) are styled around members of the housekeeping staff during the 1920s and a further 17 bedrooms are available in Stable Courtyard, just a few minutes walk away from the Castle Island. The Maiden's Tower, on the Castle Island, has five en-suite bedrooms offering complete luxury for the hosts and their guests. Currently the 24 hour rate is only £245 plus vat which is amazing when you consider the experience you are giving your delegates.
In terms of activity options, you are spoilt for choice. Just a short drive away you have Go Ape which is one of the best team building activities around. You have golf, falconry and Segways as well and can bring anything in (within reason).
We loved our FAM to Leeds Castle and feel so privleged to be able to showcase all these amaging hotels, venues and spaces that would work so well for corporates both in and around London.
If you would like any more information on Leeds Castle or to host one of our corporate FAM tips or events, drop us a line.
Our October FAM Trip was held at The Grand on Brighton’s iconic seafront. We wanted to keep this one small and intimate so just four of us set off last Friday which lucky for us, turned out to be a day basked in the most amazing sunshine. It really did feel like a summer’s day in late October.
Our group started with check-in at 3.00 pm into our stunning rooms, all seafront views and absolutely huge. A cheeky Brighton Gin and tonic was waiting for us alongside some fabulous chocolates and it set the tone for the rest of our FAM…indulgence!
First up on our site visit was a short walk across the road to the i360. The i360 is a 162-meter viewing tower which was built by the team that built and designed the London Eye. It is the world’s tallest moving observation tower and all I can say is wowsers. The views alongside the experience are just amazing and I know our group now have a lot of ideas on how they could produce some stunning events either on the tower or, in one of the many meeting spaces (all with natural daylight and a stunning view of the seafront). You can read about all the spaces here.
After a cheeky glass of Nye Timber sparkling wine on the i360 whilst we enjoyed some stunning views of the South Downs and of Brighton, we made the two minute walk across the road back to The Grand where an amazing afternoon tea was waiting for us in the Victoria Terrace where we got to know Kirsty (Corporate Account Manager) for The Grand and caught up on all things #eventprofs. Two of our members had just been to Japan and one just engaged so there was plenty to talk about.
Our site visit of the nine meeting and event spaces was fabulous as there were events being set up so we were fortunate enough to see The Empress Suite in all its glory in full set-up mode. The room is best suited for large-scale events which can fit up to 600 for a private dinner. It is huge and it’s sea-facing which a huge draw for any event. It certainly has that “wow” factor. The other eight meeting and events spaces range from accommodating 8 to 900 and you can see all the spaces here.
After a quick change, it was down for a mini cocktail master class with The Grands’ resident cocktail making guru! He was so fun and really made our night. Such a wonderful idea for a team building activity. We made some amazing cocktails which were very swiftly Instagrammed! Ha ha After cocktails it was off for dinner in GB1. GB1 is a 2 AA Rosette restaurant and offers (quite rightly) freshly caught seafood straight from Brighton’s shores. The food was amazing and the staff were outstanding. Our waitress was fabulous and if all of the staff at The Grand share her bubbly, professional personality then you would definitely be in great hands with your event.
After dinner, we were all quite well behaved for once and headed off to bed after dinner ready to get up early and hit the spa. I love a spa (don’t we all) and this one is gorgeous. The relaxation area is unlike anything I have seen and I added so many pictures of it to Pinterest for ideas for my dressing room (sorry hubs this is going to cost you). I had the signature gold champagne facial which was 55 minutes of bliss. If there was an option to hire out the spa exclusively as part of your event then your guests would talk about it for years to come. It really is stunning and the pictures I have do not do it justice. After the spa, it was, unfortunately, time to leave for me however a couple of our group decided to spend the day exploring Brighton which they loved.
This was a really great FAM that I know made us look at The Grand for the location for away days, retreats, conferences and events overall. The spaces are really so versatile and the location is perfect.
Contact Kirsty Gammer here for any further information.
We are now looking at FAMs for 2018 and are booking up fast. If you would like to attend as a corporate buyer, or host, please get in touch with us!
Michelle Rees is a Events Advisor for a London Law Firm
Kate is a Events Manager for a London Law Firm