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Venue spotlight: Westminster Suite at The London Marriott Hotel, County Hall

It can be challenging to excite the delegates when you host your event at a hotel. Everyone will expect a standard conference room.

But what if you use The Presidential Suite instead of a conference room? That’s what we did for the latest #EventPlannersTalk LIVE event. The event took place at The Westminster Suite at The London Marriott Hotel, County Hall.

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Located in the heat of London, just walking distance from Westminster tube station, The London Marriott Hotel, County Hall, is a hidden gem in the busy and very touristic city center. I didn’t even know that the hotel was there until I went for a site-visit. All London’s top attractions – The London Eye, Westminster Abbey, House of Parliament, Westminster Bridge and London Aquarium – are also just walking distance from the venue.

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The room is on the 5th floor and signage can be provided. The venue can accommodate about 25 people for an event like #EventPlannersTalk LIVE, where people can seat comfortably on sofas and bar stools. For private dinners or boardroom style events the capacity will be maximum 1o at the table. Unfortuantley the table cannot be moved.

The only downside of the venue is that the TV screen, the 42in/107cm, is fixed so you can’t reposition it when holding a presentation. For us it didn’t matter and was very helpful using it for a holding slide.

Menu

The The London Marriott Hotel, County Hall has great food selection and we went for the buffet option.

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Pulled Pork Wrap, Cabbage-Apple Slaw

Roasted Duck, Thai Vegetable Salad, Glass Noodles, Sesame-Soy Dressing

Homemade Dill Cured Salmon, Pea Shoot, Lemon Crème Fraiche

Compressed Watermelon, Herb Goat’s Cheese, Pistachio, Aged Balsamic

Ham Hock & Pea Salad, Pickled Onion, Sweet Mustard Dressing, Crackling

Semi-Dried Tomato Salad, Mozzarella Cheese, Pine Nuts, Black Olive Vinaigrette

As you can see on the pictures the food was beautifully presented and tasted even better!

Unique expereince

Everyone loved the venue! It was something different, exclusive, luxurious and provided a uniue experience, definitely not the usual hotel conference room and I can highly reccomend!

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Photos by Sandeep Rai

Latest venue discoveries in London

I really like the big venue selection in London. I rarely visited a venue twice, except few exceptions, and had the opportunity to attend events in venues which are top tourist attraction during the day, before the space is transformed to welcome event guests. There are countless openings and renovations, and unique venues are opening their spaces for corporate events and offering something new and exclusive.

This year I had five venue discoveries in London and are worth sharing.

The Royal Exchange

Located just outside Bank DLR Station and in the heart of the financial centre, The Royal Exchange contains offices, shops and restaurants, and is where I attended the EWL Club breakfast event about “Closing the gap between event education and experience”. Our session took place in the Sauterelle room, overlooking the Grand Café and light breakfast was provided by D & D London.

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EEF Venues Broadway House

Broadway House is part of EEF Group and is a conference venue just walking distance from the Westminster and Victoria tube stations and is where I held #EventPlannesTalk LIVE event about “the perfect pitch – what clients are looking for”. They have in-house catering and for the evening offered us an antipasti buffet with wide selection of healthy options. Walking from and to Westminster station attendees will have spectacular views over Big Ben and House of Parliament which is also not to be underestimated and adds to the whole experience.

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Victory Services Club

Another very central venue but a hidden gem is the Victory Services Club, a private members club exclusive for retired and serving members of the armed forces. It’s very high end and bespoke establishment and just recently they did £1.5 million refurbishment of two rooms, El Alamein and Trafalgar Suite and held the “VSC Vineyard Event” to showcase the renovation. They have their own in-house catering and during the event we were treated for a wide selection of canapés, finger food, cone food, fork buffet, bowl food and desserts to pair with selected wines.

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Victoria and Albert Museum

V & A Museum is one of London’s top tourist attractions in South Kensington and a must visit, and I’ve been there several times before as a tourist during the day. But this year I attended the International Corporate Event Awards (ICE Awards), recognising in-house event planners, and the museum was privately hired for us. The evening started at 7pm with drinks reception at John Madejski Garden, continued with dinner and awards ceremony at the Raphael Gallery and desserts buffet and bar were offered at the Dome. I was really impressed by this venue and if I have to pick one from this list of venues this will be my favourite. It was absolutely unique and exclusive to have this venue privately hired just for us.

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The London Marriott Hotel, County Hall

The Westminster Suite – the presidential suite at the The London Marriott Hotel, County Hall was the venue of #EventPlannersTalk LIVE event about “The role of airlines, added value and the decision making process in MICE travel”. The hotel is located just walking distance from Westminster tube station and is overlooking the Big Ben and House of Parliament. If you want to host a formal event but still give it an informal, relaxed and exclusive ambiance and encourage networking opportunities between attendees this can be the right choice for you. For catering we had a selection of starters from their buffet menu.

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What are your favourite venues or latest discoveries in London and around the world this year?

Victory Services Club Vineyard Event

Last week I was invited to a venue I haven’t heard of before, the Victory Services Club. It’s a private members club exclusive for retired and serving members of the armed forces, very high end and bespoke establishment just few minutes’ walk from Hyde Park and the Marble Arch tube station. I was invited to the “VSC Vineyard Event” to see the El Alamein and Trafalgar Suite after its recent £1.5 million refurbishment.

As the event name suggests, we were treated for a wine tasting and food pairing experience across five stations and the room was transformed into a vineyard for the evening.

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The El Alamein and Trafalgar Suite is a flexible event space with direct kitchen access and own private bar and can be used for private celebrations or business functions. When used jointly, it can accommodate up to 250 delegates for a drinks reception and up to 60 delegates boardroom style. Both enjoy natural daylight and fully air-conditioned.

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Both rooms can be also used separately. The El Alamein room, named after two battles in North Africa, together marking a turning point for the Allies in the Second World War, can accommodate up to 120 delegates for a reception and up to 40 delegates boardroom style. The neighbouring Trafalgar Room can be used as a breakout space.

The Trafalgar Room, named after the historic naval victory, is smaller than the El Alamein room but has own bar and its own entrance. It can accommodate up to 90 delegates for a reception and up to 30 delegates boardroom style.

The venue has in-house catering and we were treated for a selection of canapés, finger food, selection of cone food, fork buffet, bowl food and desserts to pair with selected wines. On this occasion I didn’t drink alcohol but enjoyed the food nevertheless.

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Chargrilled Steak with Chunky Chips & Béarnaise Sauce

Air Commodore Nigel Beet CBE, CEO of the Victory Services Club gave a short overview of club’s legacy over the years since the Second World War and said that today the club has 60,500 members from the UK armed forces, Alliance and Commonwealth, and that it prides itself for delivering three things: Value, Service and Courtesy to its members and guests. The club also engages in Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives using funds from corporate events. These funds allow the club to provide support to families of armed forces and serving personnel who have been injured in military operations and fund free weekends for them and their families.

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Air Commodore Nigel Beet CBE, CEO of the Victory Services Club

Lastly, the organisers also created a hashtag for the night, #VSCVineyard, and encouraged participants to take selfies and tweet for a chance to win a Jeroboam bottle of wine or a magnum bottle of Laurent Perrier champagne. The tweets were displayed on two big displays and showcased the online interaction and leader board.

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Victory Services Club Selfie Sticks 

As you would expect at a private members club, the service was very attentive, bespoke and exclusive and I really liked its corporate feel. Would be happy to come back!

This post is sponsored by Victory Services Club. You can contact Victory Services Club in the following ways:

Web: www.vsc.co.uk/events/events-at-the-vsc 

Twitter: @VSCvenue

Contact person: Lauren Denham – Communications and Marketing Manager

Email: Lauren.Denham@vsc.co.uk 

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Loch Fyne Salmon Mousse Blini with Capers, Lemon & Dill

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Mini Wild Mushroom Stroganoff in Filo

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Smoked Tofu Sausage, Mushroom Ketchup and a Shot of English Cider

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Chicken Tikka Pieces, Roasted Teriyaki Salmon, Moroccan Lamb Kofta, Chargrilled, Courgette & Red Pepper with a Raita Dip

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Vegetable Tempura with sweet chilli sauce

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Beef Burger and Chips

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Cod & Chips in a Cone

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Free Range Chicken, Chorizo & Olives with Penne Pasta in a Tomato & Basil Sauce

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Mango & Pineapple Trifle and Chocolate Cups

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Individual Strawberry & Cream Meringue

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Mini Ice Creams

Photos by Sandeep Rai

Events at Trinity House

Overlooking Tower of London and the River Thames, Trinity House is one of London’s most elegant event venues, offering its space for corporate functions and weddings.

Upon arriving to the venue to attend Association of National Tourism Office (ANTOR) event, I was greeted by Edgar King, Events Manager at Trinity House and headed to The Library where the exhibition took place, with 27 international destinations exhibitors and welcomed over 85 media representatives from travel industry and consumer press.

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We were offered a tour of The House which was conducted by Geoff Boyd, City of London Guide. The tour was very insightful and interesting, highlighting key historic milestones and showing us all the function rooms. I was very impressed that almost every piece of furniture, décor and pictures was carefully selected to reflect venue’s story and maritime history.

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Trinity House is a Charity set up to improve the state of navigation in our waters and to provide support and training for mariners. The venue’s history goes back to 1794-96 when the original house was built by Samuel Wyatt, Surveyor to the Corporation but gutted in 1940 during World War II when an incendiary bomb destroyed all of the original building except the Trinity Square façade. By using photographs of the rooms, taken by Country Life magazine, Professor (later Sir) Albert E Richardson was able to reconstruct The House to almost its original form and it was re-opened after the War in 1953.

The building is Grade I listed and is refurbished on an annual basis with half a million pounds spend over the last year (August 15 – August 16) on new carpeting and redecoration, improved air-conditioning and working fire places.

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The tour began in the Entrance Hall showcasing the different pieces from the nautical industry, including different vessels, acetylene-regulating clock and a “catoptric” lamp reflector, covering periods from 1610 to 1763. We continued the tour to hear about the Lower Passage and Stairs, where on each side of the staircase stands a statue of a benefactor of the corporation – Captain Robert Sandes and Richard Maples – and in front of the statues two globes, the terrestrial to the right, and celestial to the left, dating back to 1824, created by John Cary. The beautiful twin-curved staircase leads us to The Quarterdeck, which showcases a fine collection of paintings from the 18th century and the Bell from The Royal Yacht Britannia which was given to The House when The Royal Yacht was decommissioned.

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The first room we viewed was The Courtroom, the second largest which can accommodate up to 130 delegates for a standing reception and smallest groups of 30 delegates boardroom style. It’s a very impressive room with high ceilings and a selection of full length portraits of royals on the walls so it gives it the character of a drawing room in a great country house.

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The Library, where the ANTOR exhibition took place, is the largest and can accommodate up to 180 delegates for a standing reception, 130 delegates seated and smallest group of 46 delegates boardroom style. Even though called The Library, the precious collection of rare books is safely protected behind the room’s panelled doors. The direct view over Tower of London makes it the most attractive choice for corporate meetings or wedding receptions.

Previously, I attended another event organised by the Event Marketing Association which took place in this room. The furniture was supplied by Great Hire, we had sofas and tables and we were about 30 participants, all set very comfortably for the presentation. The Courtroom was used for drinks reception.

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We continued our tour to view The Luncheon Room which can accommodate up to 40 delegates for a standing reception and smaller groups up to 18 delegates in boardroom style. The smallest room, The Reading Room, is perfect for intimate gatherings or meetings and can accommodate up to 20 delegates for a standing reception and 10 delegates in round tables setting. All rooms are located on the Quarterdeck which runs virtually the length of the House and this makes it very convenient for organisers who maybe want to use one of the smaller rooms as their office or for short speaker briefings or ‘break-out’ rooms.

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It was beneficial to attend two different events in Trinity House and experience the venue in various settings. The venue does not offer in-house catering but has 12 approved catering suppliers. Other suppliers include florists, entertainment, photography, insurance, audio visual services and hotel partners. Because the venue has a great variety of suppliers it gives the organiser great flexibility in terms of price and quality they want for their event.

The House has very rich history, and therefore I would highly recommend offering guided tours such as the one we had with a guide from City of London Guides to unlock its story.

This post is sponsored by Trinity House. You can contact Trinity House in the following ways:

Web: www.trinityhouse.co.uk/events-at-trinity-house-london

Twitter: @TrinityEvents


Contact person: Edgar King – Events Manager

Phone: +44 (0) 20 74816931

Email: edgar.king@trinityhouse.co.uk

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Reading Room
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The Staircase and Entrance Hall


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ANTOR Reception

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The Quarterdeck

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Trinity House façade

Photos by Sandeep Rai

International Corporate Event Awards 2016

Only in its second year, the International Corporate Event Awards (ICE Awards) has gained wide industry support and recognition. Exclusive for in-house corporate event planners, ICE Awards recognises the hard work of teams planning events throughout the year but receive little or no recognition they deserve. This year the event took place on 14th July at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V & A Museum).

I’ve been to V & A Museum several times before but wasn’t aware that it’s available for private hire. The Museum is one of London’s top tourist attractions and during the day open to the public. The event began at 7pm and started with drinks reception at the John Madejski Garden, continued with dinner and awards ceremony at the Raphael Gallery and desserts buffet and bar were offered at the Dome. Ice theme was consistent throughout the event and the podium, table number holders and sponsor logos were ice sculptured.

I’ve been to many venues in London, but never before was impressed as much as I was by this venue. Very good choice of venue, I think it might be challenging for ICE Awards organisers to maintain this high set of expectations for next year’s event.

The evening was moderated by Penny Mallory but ceremony was very short to allow more time for informal networking. Lastly, the nice food was by Create Food.

The categories and winners this year

Best motivation event – BNP Paribas

Best leadership event – Direct Line

Best sponsorship activation event – Barclays

Best CSR event – BNP Paribas

Best international event – BBC

Most effective use of budget – UK Chamber

Most effective agency collaboration – Playtech

Best use of technology – BP

Logistical challenge of the year – ITV

Rising star winner – Jenny Atkinson from UK Chamber of Shipping

In-house team of the year – NSPCC

I highly recommend reading judges’ comments here.

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