Just over 30 minutes on a direct train from London is Guildford (Surrey), and with such easy access to and from London, we thought it was a great option for our September FAM trip.
For this FAM, we worked with Meet Beyond London, who is one of our Eventprofslive Partners, their aim is to showcase the best meeting and event spaces within the South East of England and they certainly do!
After an easy journey from the office to Guildford, we arrived at the Guildford Harbour Hotel which is a 4-star hotel in the heart of town with 183 bedrooms and 7 event spaces (and most importantly… a fab spa). The location is ideal for those traveling from London but also further a-field as Gatwick and Heathrow airports are both within easy reach.
We began the FAM by exploring the various event spaces the hotel has to offer for up to 400 delegates which include a great outdoor terrace perfect for BBQs and drinks receptions – with the added bonus of a retractable roof! The hotel also has an award-winning restaurant – the Jetty – the menu looked fab and also the Long Bar which is the longest bar in a hotel outside of London – both of these areas can be hired exclusively. You can read more about the event spaces here.
Our next stop for the evening was Barnett Hill which was one of the hidden gems of our FAM trip as none of us had heard of this amazing venue before let alone visited – so thank you Meet Beyond London for the introduction!
Barnett Hill is a 4-star luxury boutique manor house in the gorgeous Surrey Hills. The hotel has recently been refurbished to a very high standard – it is just gorgeous! The venue is perfect for retreats, private meetings, team building events, and weddings – with a capacity of up to 70 people this venue has plenty of options! We were lucky enough to experience one of the team building events that works perfectly – a cocktail making masterclass with KDM Events – in the dining room at Barnett Hill overlooking the gardens.
We started off being divided into teams – ensuring we had an equal mix of competitiveness across the teams – KDM Events then talked us through three different classic cocktails and each team had to compete against each other to recreate the perfect classic cocktail – let’s just say we may have been a bit heavier with the pouring of the spirits compared to the expert! After learning various techniques and drinking our creations, we had a final challenge of creating our own cocktail in our teams with various ingredients. KDM Events were brilliant and it was such a great way to add a team building event to your evening. KDM Events have a variety of team building options available and what is great about them (not only being an award-winning company) but they own all of their equipment which makes it much easy for us #eventprofs! After making and tasting cocktails, we were ready for a delicious 3-course dinner in our private dining room – we can see why the restaurant has been awarded 2 AA Rosettes – we can’t wait to return to Barnett Hill!
After Barnett Hill it was off to bed and ready for day two…
As we had an early start this morning, most of us were quite well-behaved last night (I said most) and our day started with breakfast in our hotel. Because of the wedding the night before, breakfast was buzzing and was lovely. The sausages and bacon were very well received as I was not one of the said most whom behaved the night before!
Full from breakfast, it was back on the bus and off to see our first venue of the day – The WWF Living Planet Centre which was just a short drive away from our hotel in Woking. The centre is the home of WWF-UK and is one of the greenest buildings in the UK and is quite frankly inspiring. The centre can be used for family activities and school workshops and more importantly for us, meeting and event spaces that I have now become obsessed with using. The main space, the auditorium, can host up to 80 cabaret style, the boardroom can take up to 20 and a variety of other meeting spaces, all with stunning natural daylight can host up to 12. Featuring state-of-the-art technology, flexible seating and those all-important flipcharts. You really need to get along to see for yourself. I was blown away by the whole look and feel of the spaces. You can read more about their capacities here. When we arrived at the centre, our visit started with a quiz to find out what kind of animal we were most like to which at the end we were told what we were! I am pleased to say that 4 out of 6 of the group had the same personality traits as the same animal! Must be an event manager thing!
Next up on our tour was De Vere Horsley Estate, which has 51 flexible meeting and event spaces and the best way to describe the estate would be that it is two in one. One side of the estate Is a modern management centre, like a conference centre, which would work so well for a variety of meetings, events, and team building, the other part of the estate, the historic mansion, is home to the Great Hall and has the most stunning facade. Its dramatic original features would make it a fabulous grand space for private dinners and exclusive events. Combing both areas of the estate would be fab and with such a contrast between the two, I would hold all your meetings and events in the modern side before moving them over to the stunning mansion for the gala dinner. We loved it.
Last on our agenda for the day was Denbies Wine Estate. It’s surprising that wine is basically my favourite thing in the world yet I and all our group had never been. A lot of the group are Surrey based so it is even more surprising, but we will certainly all go back. First up on our visit was a tour of all the meeting and event spaces. There are eight in total and each one different from the next. How amazing to host your meeting in a winery! You can read all about the capacities here. After a short tour of the spaces it was off for a stunning lunch in the gorgeous Gallery Restaurant with glorious panoramic views over the winery and then, after lunch, it was on to our very own wine tasting which you could incorporate into your conference or meeting in the estate.
We couldn’t think of a better way to end our FAM trip and would love to say a huge thank to Meet Beyond London and Visit Guildford for hosting our FAM. We had an amazing two days exploring the area and only a short 33-minute train ride from London Waterloo, Guildford is such a great idea to host your offsite meetings and events.