London Familiarization Trip written by Sarah Murray

Maybourne GroupI recently experienced classic English hospitality on a Familiarization Tour to London, England sponsored generously by the Maybourne Hotel Group.

The 6 hour night flight departing from Toronto at 6:40 pm had us landing at Heathrow for 6:25 am the following day, after two movies and a glass of wine, we were there!

Day 1

The transfer from the airport to our hotel was seamless; it took no more than thirty minutes to maneuver through traffic to the stunning Connaught hotel located in Mayfair. The Connaught hotel is quintessential England in every shape and form; fresh flowers are situated in every nook, the furniture and classic art throughout the property has been maintained to look brand new and still keeps its hundred year old character. The meeting space blends itself well to smaller, intimate meetings and the Connaught Bar located just off the front reception is a place where as a group, we enjoyed a lovely glass of wine, with such enamour! Every member of the hotel from the doorman to room service is dedicated to making sure your stay is memorable, and it most certainly was a place I called home for two straight nights!

Our first day in London included a personal tour of the famous Burberry Flagship store located on famous Regent Street – a 440,000sq ft area boasting with possibilities for a group event. They promote private buy outs, champagne breakfasts with private shopping, and my personal favourite, the opportunity to design your very own Burberry Trench! The store boasts the famous plaid design throughout and blends itself well to an out of the box evening with exclusive buyout opportunities.  In just four short hours the store can be transformed into a “concert hall” or empty venue with wall to wall mirrors and staging able to accommodate up to 1000 people!

The first evening in London was perfect…we started with a site inspection of one of London’s most iconic hotels – Claridges, another hotel in the Maybourne collection, located nearby to the Connaught hotel in Mayfair. Claridges reaps history throughout the venue, I can’t write in words how grandeur it is, simply stated, boasting with old English aristocracy and royalty. This hotel is a perfect fit for the achievers who have well deserved to live like royalty for a few nights! The meeting space is so quaint; we were treated to a self-serve dinner in one of the private meeting rooms. The dinner set up was a fantastic way to mingle and network, and we received a very special surprise during dessert – our very own “Charleston” performance and the opportunity to learn a Charleston dance!  It was quite riveting seeing everyone get up and learn with props and costumes, a perfect way to toast our first day in London!

Day 2

We had an early morning start on our second day, with Spectra DMC.  We had the opportunity to “catch the early worm” specials at Harrods before it opened to the general public. The “behind the scenes” tour was breathtaking, this department store really has it all and the event possibilities are endless…we finished our tour with breakfast upstairs in the Georgian Restaurant, the true epitome of elegant dining and a perfect venue for up to 350 people for an awards dinner!

The rest of our day was packed with London town site visits, including:

Kensington Palace – recently renovated, and a wing of the Palace is soon to be the residences for William and Kate. There are some great rooms available for private receptions, the Orangerie, located in the palace gardens is a perfect setting for a group reception, up to 300 people and plated dinner for 150.

Babylon Roof Gardens – Located on the 7th floor with amazing views of London’s skyline – food is spectacular and reaps Richard Bransons “Virgin” top notch reputation on every level.

Silver Sturgeon Yacht – A 21st century luxury river yacht with capacity for up to 550 guests, this yacht offers the latest high calibre technology, the upper deck is fitted with an open air glass bar, complimented with chrome finishing that offers breathtaking views of the River Thames. Catering supplied by Jamie Oliver – this venue is a cool, multi-functional space and hosts a stunning backdrop for a private event.

London Eye – The famous giant Ferris wheel situated on the banks of the River Thames, is the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe and the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom. The views of London are expansive, this activity is perfect for a pre-cocktail reception, guests can enjoy a Private Champagne Capsule before dinner. Each capsule can accommodate up to 25 people comfortably!

Gherkin – Built in 2004, the Gherkin is a modern building that has been built in a historic area of London. It stands out prominently in the city’s skyline; Searcy’s restaurant operates on the top 3 floors of the bar, and is available for private dining.  This venue has amazing views and the restaurant offers exclusive rooms for buy outs.

Narrow Pub & Restaurant – Operated by Gordon Ramsay, this classic English pub has retained the charm of a bygone era with flagstones, fireplaces and traditional good service. Perfect for a casual dinner, one can expect to find classic pub dishes and real ales alongside cocktails and good wines, all served with panoramic views of the River Thames

Day 3

This was a free day giving us the opportunity for some High Street Shopping… no need to spend any money as the window shopping is spectacular.

Final Dinner – The Berkeley

We experienced our last night at the Maybourne Hotel’s third hotel in the collection, the Berkeley. Located in the heart of London’s Knightsbridge, with Sloane Street and Hyde Park on the doorstep, this 5-star hotel is family friendly; the rooms are spacious and properly laid out with the most discerning traveller in mind. The hotel is a hot spot for young celebrities and boasts dozens of awards including the Best Restaurant in London – Pétrus operated by head chef Marcus Wareing.

Our final night included of a delicious plated meal in one of the conference rooms, followed by drinks in the famous Blue Bar – a popular and exclusive top London celebrity hangout located in the Berkeley Hotel!

My experience in London was more than could be expected – while many people have visited the city before, it is near impossible to see it all in one lifetime. As a Corporate Incentive destination, the out of the box ideas and “wow” factors are endless. I can’t wait to bring a group back!

It is Dragonfly Meeting Solutions Inc.’s commitment to our clients, to have firsthand experience and knowledge in all industry news and events, whether it is a trendy destination, latest AV technology, new hotel openings, or keynote speaker trends.  We strive to be experts in our field.

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