Who doesn’t love flowers? I mean we work in a very creative industry and when styling our events, the florals can either make or break your event. I would say it’s one of my favourite parts of our roles, being able to work with an amazing florist to bring your vision to life!
On Monday morning we had the pleasure of having one of this months networking events at Pinstripes and Peonies whom are based in the New Covent Garden Flower Market. I’ve always wanted to go to the market and have worked with Rouri before at Pinstripes & Peonies so I knew our members would love them and the morning Rouri had prepared for them.
Despite the rain we all arrived to their warehouse (which is in the flower market) to meet the team and over coffee with some pretty amazing pastries (please send me the name of that bakery Rouri) before being taken on a tour of the market. I like to think we all know our craft well but I fear not nearly as well as Rouri knows flowers. Creative Director Ruari leads the team which has over 40 years combined experience. Having studied law at university and then training as a chef at Michelin-starred restaurant Le Gavroche, we are delighted that Ruari found his natural talent in floristry and his passion and talent for his craft is evident. We learnt all about the best flowers for the seasons, what to look for when buying flowers for ourselves and the most important thing we learnt is that a long lead time means better flowers! Seriously and I am so guilty of this, giving them a weeks’ notice is not doing my event any favours in sourcing and sometimes growing the best flowers for my event so if I take only one thing away from our event, it's this.
One of the reasons I love Pinstripes & Peonies is their approach to philanthropy and sustainability. They have been supporting Floral Angels since 2003. If you have yet to hear about Floral Angles they are amazing. They work to donate all the flowers us event managers do not have use for after our events to worthy beneficiaries like homeless shelters and care homes. It really does make you happy to know all those beautiful flowers aren’t being wasted and they are also in the same warehouse as Pinstripes & Peonies which makes it even easier to suppor them.
After the tour it was back to the workshop for a flower making masterclass which was up there with one of the best things I’ve done. Given expert instruction by the in-house florist, we then had the opportunity to build our arrangements step by step! I loved it, you really switch off and am seriously so proud of what we created. They have pride of place on my dining table at home and I had some lovely compliments carrying them on the tube on the way home.
We said our thankyous (wish I’d nicked more pastries) and made our way to the office by 10.30, arrangements in tow ready to proudly show off our creative flair.
Pinstripes & Peonies are accredited at some pretty fabulous venues and can also work outside of London, you can contact the team here!
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.
We are slowly making our way through all of the fabulous Exclusive Hotels and Venues and last Friday we were off to Fanhams Hall, a Grade II Jacobean mansion house located in Ware for our first FAM of 2018. From Liverpool Street, the venue is just a 45 minute train ride away and only 60 minutes from Heathrow which is very handy.
Our group arrived at 3.00 pm for an amazing light lunch and a chat with Jonathan, MD of Fanham’s Hall before heading off on a site visit of all the meeting and event spaces and there are a lot. Fanhams Hall has 24 meeting and syndicate rooms. Of these 20, 12 are principal meeting rooms and a further 12 are breakout rooms, all flexible in their layouts and all of them having loads of lovely natural daylight. The biggest space, The Hertford and Ware is perfect for larger meetings and is very modern and sleek in design with the most amazing views and fits up to 70 cabaret. Amongst all the meeting and event spaces you will find the long gallery which is my favourite. The long gallery was originally a stunning picture gallery with ornate chandeliers and dual aspect views of the gorgeous gardens, there is also two small syndicate rooms that work with it to make it a wonderful, different option for that board level away day. You can find more on the capacities of all the meeting rooms here.
In the midst of our site visit of the event spaces, we headed outside to see all of the venues grounds and the Japanese Tea Gardens which are truly spectacular. They would make a stunning backdrop for your onsite activities. I really fell in love with them they were just so unexpected...
After our site visit it was back to our rooms to freshen up ready for our welcome drinks and private dinner which was superb. Our chef certainly served up an amazing menu and words (but I hope pictures can) cannot describe the desert. It was AMAZING and provided a good lining for the next part of our site visit… the Karaoke Klub. I can’t quite put into words how fun our night was but I will try.
The Karaoke Club is the venue’s Klub which is a completely self-contained stand alone venue where your guests can sing their hearts out. It also has its own bar and I think adding this on to any offsite/away day would be amazing. It is so good for team building. We certainly had the best time.
The next morning, with some very sore heads we all met up for breakfast and had a giggle about the nights signing stars. This was such a wonderful FAM trip, thank you so much to Fanhams for having us!
We really think Fanhams would work beautifully for a away day or meeting. They have some very competitive 24 hour rates and combined with its proximity to London’s Liverpool Street and those magical gardens it’s definitely worth looking at!
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!
Our June FAM trip was held at the stunning South Lodge Hotel last Friday. South Lodge marks the third property from Exclusive that have hosted Eventprofslive for FAM trips and South Lodge sure did impress us.
We arrived on Friday for a 3.00 pm check-in with time to relax in our rooms before we had afternoon tea on their stunning grounds. Afternoon tea is a bit of tradition here and they certainly do it well. There were some pretty impressive teas on their list with everything from chocolate tea to white raspberry and peach. The cakes, scones and sandwiches weren’t bad either. My favourite were the scones! After a bit of events related chat we had a cake tasting competition with two of our members going head to head for the win. We had to have a sudden death round with a tie on the question “which restaurant has three Michelin stars” being the question that gave us the winner. The answer was The Fat Duck and our winner received a lovely gift from South Lodge.
After our afternoon tea we had a bit of time in our rooms before heading off to “The Pass” for an interactive canape session. The Pass is a three AA Rosette restaurant where Chef Ian Swainson serves up some pretty amazing culinary creations. This would be an amazing idea to have as part of your event for small groups and I think groups of up to 15 I think would work best. Chef talks you through, step by step, each of his dishes and lets you pass them around at the end. They really were stunning both visually and taste wise. I loved this part of our FAM trip and felt quite privileged to be part of it.
After our interactive canape session, we headed off to the wine cellar which was also very impressive. Whilst in the cellar you can be guided by their sommeliers or you can go it alone, sampling the different wines available. The cellar works by buying a card from reception with a monetary sum on it where you use it to try the different wines which cost different prices depending on the type and size of the glass. The 16 wines on offer are held in their state-of-the-art machine that ensures the wines are always maintained to their peak and served at the perfect temperature. I also spied some wonderful looking cheese boards as well and can’t wait to go back with the husband to give those a try. The cellar would work well for a small group for tastings or, to use it for tastings and dinner as there is a wonderful dining table that would accommodate up to 20.
Up next was the site visit of the stunning property which has 75 perfectly appointed suites and rooms with most having those spectacular views over the South Downs. The meeting spaces at South Lodge are unique in that they are all contained in the same area which makes it ever so easy for us Event Managers. The largest room will fit up to 170 with the smallest 16. All the meeting rooms have natural daylight which is wonderful. As a bonus and an exclusive energy stations to keep guests going throughout their day are wonderful.
After the wine tasting it was time for dinner where we had our own private room and had a lovely meal and a lot of chat. Drinks at the bar (for some until 3.00 am) to wrap up the day and then off to bed in our lovely rooms. Waking up to that amazing view over the grounds was truly special. South Lodge really is a stunning property and I would definitely recommend it for away days and retreats. Only 10 minutes from Horsham rail station and only 50 minutes from London Victoria, it is perfect.
We had such a wonderful time on our FAM trip and I can't wait to go back! if you need any further information on South Lodge or Eventprofslive, please contact us.
Our second ever EventProfsLive event was held at the Andaz Hotel nearly 2 years ago and a lot has changed....we've gone from 10 to over 150 members and as the Andaz has gone through their own changes since then, we decided it was about time we returned and return we did, and in style... We had a pamper evening in our own private suite!
If you have been living on Mars and aren't aware, The Andaz Hotel is a 5-star hotel located in the heart of the City of London with 14 unique spaces for events.
On Friday, we said goodbye to the week and hello to the weekend with some champagne in the gorgeous lounge...the first thing you notice at this hotel is how helpful and friendly the staff are, within 2 minutes of arrival our bags and coats had been whisked away and replaced with a glass of bubbles! The hotel has moved away from the traditional "front desk" for check-in and replaced this with an interactive desk with helpful staff and iPads - so much more welcoming and modern and we love it!
After catching up with the fabulous Federica and Abigail from the Andaz and our lovely members, we moved onto a tour of the event spaces.
The hotel has 14 spaces to suit a range of events from small boardroom meetings, private dining spaces, large conferences for up to 250 people or standing drinks reception for up to 500 people. Federica and Abigail are amazing and full of unique ideas of how the spaces can be used. Of all the spaces, the highlights for us on the tour were the Temple, the Studio and 1901....
The Temple has to be one of the best event secrets ever (sssh keep it a secret!) it is a grade 1 listed Masonic temple that was built in 1912 and was hidden before World War II and not discovered until recently. The Temple really does have a wow factor and is perfect for dinners, drinks receptions, fashion shows, creative events and about a million other types of events...
The Studio is a complete modern contrast to the Temple, this space has a New York loft feel. It has a floor to ceiling walls of wine; (we would like to work our way through that!) A working kitchen adds an interactive element to your meeting, and the hotel can bring Chefs in from their various restaurants to add this interactive element from a sushi making lesson, cocktail making, bread making, interactive canapes etc. A lovely touch to the studio is a wall of photos of people that have inspired the hotel including their own Chef from Miyako the uber famous Japanese restaurant.
A recent change to the hotel is that 1901 is now an event space and it is gorgeous! Perfect for drinks receptions or a seated dinner. This space can hold up to 180 people and is worth checking out!
As well as the event spaces, the hotel has two restaurants, a wine lounge, champagne bar and a pub! All of these can be taken exclusively.
We love a bedroom so we also checked out one of the newly refurbished bedrooms. The hotel is currently working their way through refurbishing the bedrooms. The room we saw looked amazing with the most fabulous bathroom - we are suckers for a good bathroom! Technology was also a big factor in the room refurbishment, the TVs all have access to Netflix which we love.
After the tour, we moved onto our pamper evening - very much needed after everyone's busy week! Our pamper evening took place in a gorgeous suite, we were welcomed by a glass of champagne and was served delicious food throughout the evening. The food was amazing and such a variety of healthy and less healthy options - the perfect combo! The service from the staff was outstanding.
During the evening we were spoilt by a neck and shoulder massages and also all got our hair done. It really was such a special evening. We were pampered by Pamper Me (www.pamperme.co.uk), they are beauty therapists that deliver expert treatments at events, companies and at home. We highly recommend them! They can do all treatments from massages, manicures, pedicures, facials and hair styling. I have held a few ladies only corporate events and know that Pamper Me would be perfect - so lovely and so professional!
Michelle Rees is a Events Advisor for a London Law Firm
Kate is a Events Manager for a London Law Firm