We have been lucky enough to host two groups at Pennyhill Park for FAM trips in the past 12 months and every single member, every trip has fallen in love with it just as we have.
Pennyhill Park is situated in Bagshot, just a short 35 minute train journey from London. Synonymous for its amazing Spa and the England Training group being on its doorstep we corporate events managers in the know, know just how amazing a venue it is for corporate events as well.
Our FAM trip started with a 3.00 pm check-in and a short walk over to the spa for our very own spa workshop with a senior beautician. Headbands on and makeup stripped bear, we learnt the correct way to cleanse, tone and moisturise and had a great laugh whilst we did it. Up next was what everyone had been waiting for, an afternoon of total bliss in the award winning spa. Those that know me, know that I have pestered my husband repeatedly for membership to the spa at Pennyhill Park and I haven’t given up hope (hint hint hubs). It is just amazing, there are so many different treatment rooms and pools you don’t know where to start. I am fairly certain we tried all of them, and the prosecco and a light snack (just to make sure all bases where covered) before we headed off to our amazing rooms to get ready for our show round and dinner.
Pennyhill park has 124 individually designed rooms and suites and no two are the same. I must have stayed in Pennyhill Park now at least seven times over the years and I have never been in the same room twice. They are seriously stunning with so much character and I know from experience that your meeting attendees will love them. They are gorgeous and all hi-tech with high speed Wi-Fi (comp) throughout and in-room IPads so anything you need to do/or order is just a click away.
In regards the meeting and event spaces you are also spoilt for choice. The main meeting rooms are the Balmoral and Sandringham and used in combination can take up to 200 theatre using the Sandringham for up to 50 or, as your breakout for teas and coffees.
There are a further 18 other rooms for meetings up to 80 guests all with natural daylight and all just perfect. You can see the capacity charts here. Alongside the fab meeting rooms are the latest av equipment and very tasty healthy snack boxes to give your meeting attendees tea breaks with a different. All included in their DDR.
After our site visit we headed off for dinner to the Brasserie which whilst is a casual dining experience holds 2 AA Rosettes and is also the main restaurant for breakfast each morning. Alongside the Brasserie, is Matt Workswick at The Latymer, Pennyhill Park’s Michelin Starred restaurant. You are really are spoilt for choice. Imagine hosting your board dinner in The Latymer?!
After dinner it was off to the bar for a few civilised drinks (ha ha) before heading off to bed, ready for a full day of the spa the following day. The bar at Pennyhill is fabulous, a mix of residents and dinner guests and such a lovely atmosphere with the live music. You could sit there for hours.
We would love to thank Pennyhill for their continued support of Eventprofslive and allowing us to bring our lovely members to see the venue that Kate and I have fallen in love with. It really does make for a stunning venue with exemplary service and wonderful staff. Thanks to Dom for hosting us as well, we can’t wait to come back.
For more information on Pennyhill Park for your meeting and events, please reach out to Ratnesh here.
Our April FAM trip was held at the stunning Manor House in the picturesque village of Castle Combe in the Cotswolds, we knew we were going to love this place as soon as we started the approach to the Manor House via the village. If you are looking for a 5-star property in a stunning setting for either an intimate board level retreat or for a conference for up to 100 delegates, then look no further we've found the perfect place for you!!
Upon arrival, we were directed to our beautiful rooms – let me re-phrase that – we were directed to our beautiful rooms in the super cute cottages that are located within the grounds of the main hotel – less than a 2-minute walk door to door. We were all so excited at staying in the cottages, after checking out each other’s rooms we are happy to say that they are all equally as lovely!! Majority of the cottages have access to outside space so after one or two Instagram stories / Tweets about our rooms we all met on the terrace outside one of the rooms and had a glass of bubbles before the trip officially started – it really was the perfect way to start!
Bubbles consumed, we headed off to meet Ratnesh who was our brilliant host for the trip. We started off with afternoon tea in the Bybrook restaurant which is a great space and has a private dining room just off the main the restaurant. The afternoon tea went down a treat especially the cheese scones – they are a must to try when you there! After catching up with everyone, we had bellies full sandwiches, cakes and tea so we decided it was time to check out the grounds and walk off some of the calories!
The grounds provide ample opportunities for team building activities, outside dining, BBQs etc – it wasn't BBQ weather, but it was putting weather! We all put our golf skills to the test with some putting on the putting green, it was great fun and we all got extremely competitive – a great option for a light-hearted activity to break up your event. There is actually an 18-hole golf course on the property which would work really well to add as an option for your delegates after a meeting at the Manor House.
Once we realised we were not going to be giving Patrick Reed a run for his money at the next Masters we went back to what we know best (and love) – events!
The hotel has 4 meeting spaces with capacity ranging from 12 – 100 people, the two boardroom spaces are gorgeous with natural day light, exposed brick work and they interconnect so perfect if you wish to use one as a space for the board meeting itself and one for the networking space. The largest space has capacity for a maximum of 100 people in cabaret or theatre style, this space provides you with an exclusive use feel due to the location of the space within the hotel, it even has a lovely terrace overlooking the beautiful countryside. Full information on the spaces can be found here.
The Manor House really does feel like a resort especially with the cottages and the latest addition – their very own pub! The Castle Inn is a pub located in the village – less than a 5-minute walk (or stagger at the end of the night) from the Manor House – that is owned by Exclusive. The pub also has some bedrooms which can be used as overflow bedrooms if you've occupied all the bedrooms within the house and cottages – the rooms in the pub would be suitable for the organising team with your delegates staying in the main house and cottages. If you have exclusive use of the hotel and are there for a couple of days, the pub provides a great alternative for an informal dinner option night with the formal dinner night taking place in the Michelin star restaurant, the Bybrook.
After freshening up i.e. making the most of the amazing bathrooms (ladies – all rooms have the fantastic Dyson hairdryers, we were super impressed with them so much so were all on John Lewis looking them up to place an order…) we were all ready for the night's activities – a night of gin tasting and a tasting menu in the Michelin star restaurant! Personally, I was bit apprehensive about the gin tasting as I've not had good experiences on gin and it turned out a few other attendees felt the same so we were a hard audience to please but by the end of the gin masterclass we had all learnt about we liked / didn't like, how the tonic really does affect the taste of the gin and even a few of us were converted gin drinkers! Josh, the Bar Manager, really knows his stuff, along with the other bar tenders, the bar has a list of over 250 gins including their own gin!
Up next was the tasting menu with paired wines in the restaurant, the restaurant has a Michelin star and I have to say the food was seriously good and well deserved of the star. After a night of fantastic food, drink and great company with lots of laughs, we ended the evening in the bar with a nightcap – we were going to head to the games room for a game of pool and board games but at this point our beds were calling.
At our FAM trips, we always say that the breakfast is vital as it is the lasting impression of the hotel. I'm happy to report that the breakfast didn't let the Manor House down! It was delicious with lots of healthy and non-healthy options, the breakfast is served in the Bybrook restaurant and they also offer room service if you wish to make the most of your rooms.
A few of us really didn't want to leave the Manor House or Castle Combe so much so we stayed on for the day, we explored the grounds, the local area and after a 5k walk we had worked up an appetite (not sure how after all the food we had consumed in the past 24 hours) so we headed to the pub to check out the lunch menu. It really was the perfect FAM trip, we can't wait to return to the Manor House it really is the perfect venue for events that require 5 star treatment in a beautiful setting – all within 70 minutes from London.
For further information on the Manor House or any of the hotels in the Exclusive group reach out to Ratnesh Bakhai.
The motto of The Vineyard is "We love wine. We eat, sleep and drink it" coincidently we do too so the Vineyard was the perfect fit for our February FAM trip.
The Vineyard is a 5 star luxury hotel in Berkshire - the journey from London Paddington takes less than 1 hour, and for our FAM, we were met at the station by our own personal driver, John, who was super friendly and provided us with lots of information on the hotel and the local area in the short 10 minute journey. Within 1 hour 20 minutes of leaving our desks we were standing in the stunning reception with a glass of wine in our hand which is ideal for Off sites and Away Days.
The hotel has 49 bedrooms, 32 of which are gorgeous suites. The group were all lucky enough to stay in the Atrium Suites which provide ample space for your delegates to comfortably work in the living room area of their suite without feeling like they are in their bedroom. The suites all have a lovely balcony providing views of the surrounding countryside and just feel so luxurious!
If your group were going to extend their stay or wanted to explore outside of the property, the local area provides an array of opportunities to add on elements to your event including golf, an experience at Bombay Sapphire Distillery, shopping experience at Bicester Village, horse racing at Newbury and for those Downton Abbey fans or international delegates looking for the typical English experience Highclere Castle is close by.
The hotel has five event spaces with the largest event suite having a capacity for up to 160 delegates. The event spaces all have that important natural daylight and what was very obvious from all our interactions with all members of staff, your delegates would receive impeccable service. The hotel is perfect for exclusive use providing your delegates with that "special" feel.
As you can see from our intro, the hotel is all about wine and for us, one of the highlights of the evening was having a private tour of one of the wine cellars. The hotel has over 30,000 bottles in their cellars with 3,000 bins which makes it quite the collection and so fascinating. The wine cellar would be a great addition to add onto your event with each tour accommodating up to 15 people.
After soaking up the atmosphere (and the smell of wine) in the wine cellar, we were more than ready to taste some! We were extremely lucky to join the wine experience that was taking place - a five course tasting menu with paired wines in one of the lovely event spaces The food was incredible, the service was impeccable and the wine was divine - we learnt a lot about wine and felt quite privileged to be able to taste a few that we would usually not be privy to. It really is a special experience.
With that lovely full feeling of an amazing evening of food and wine, we actually retired to our suites much earlier than usual and surprisingly woke up feeling very fresh faced the next day! So much so we enjoyed the day relaxing in the spa within the hotel before we begrudgingly got back on the train to London.
If your delegates love good food, good wine and impeccable service then the Vineyard is for you. For more information, reach out to Sarah Birch at the Vineyard who will be very happy to provide you with further information.
Our August FAM was held at Stoke Park with 12 of our members. Everyone knows Stoke Park for their golf course and that famous scene in Bridget Jones’ Diary where Daniel Clever recites poetry to Bridget in the lake before he falls in! What many people aren’t aware of though is that there are 49 exquisite bedrooms and some of the most stunning grounds to which Stoke Park calls its home.
Stoke Park was founded in 1908 and is steeped in rich heritage. The Sunday Express said “it is a perfect exercise in Country House Splendour” and it really is. The properties 49 luxury bedrooms and suites are a mix of modern and traditional and our group stayed in rooms split between both the mansion house (traditional) and the pavilion (more modern) parts of the hotel which are just a short walk between.
We started our FAM with buggy tours around the glorious golf course learning about the 27 hole course, the grounds and how corporate golf days would run which was great for those members of our group who look after the corporate hospitality for their firms. After the tour of the golf facilities, it was on to the meeting and event spaces. Stoke Park offers 9 meeting rooms ranging from The Ballroom which can accommodate up to 72 for dinner down to the chapel which you could use for a small, intimate round table. You can find all the meeting room capacities here.
After our tour, we had time to change before dinner and a few glasses of champagne where we chatted and got to know one of our new members. Next up was dinner in Humphry’s which is Stoke Parks’ 3 AA Rosette restaurants which is fabulous. The food was stunning and we were all delighted when Head Chef Chris Wheeler popped out to say hello.
We had such a lovely time at Stoke Park the following day using the spa facilities and having a long luxurious breakfast in the mansion house.
Stoke Park is a fabulous choice for an away day or retreat for a small group. The activity options are endless for your team building on the stunning grounds, the food is wonderful and the meeting spaces all work very well.
For further information, you can contact Stoke Park here.
Thanks so much to Stoke Park for hosting Eventprofslive; we can't wait to come back!
Michelle Rees is a Events Advisor for a London Law Firm
Kate is a Events Manager for a London Law Firm