As corporate #eventprofs we are always looking for the dream venue for off-sites/retreats/away days etc., for those based in London this usually means accessible from London; outdoor space; lots of natural daylight; outstanding food and service; sustainability at the heart of the venue and options for team building activities. Our recent FAM trip to Celtic Manor and ICC Wales ticks all the boxes for this brief.
Located in Wales you may think this is too far from London but our train journey was only 1 hour 35 minutes from London Paddington to Newport which is a short drive from Celtic Manor and ICC Wales – this is about the same time it takes to travel to Heathrow airport from one side of London!
Celtic Manor and ICC Wales is part of the Celtic Collection which includes six accommodation options providing over 1,000 bedrooms! Three of these six accommodation options are within a short walk from ICC Wales – Celtic Manor Resort, The Manor House and Hunter Lodges – providing ample options for accommodation across the resort.
After being picked up from Newport station in the fabulous Celtic Manor transport, we were greeted by a refreshing smoothie station where we were enjoyed a warm Welsh welcome. After a smoothie pit stop, we walked from the resort to ICC Wales – less than a 5 minute walk – where we were greeted by the lovely team and we enjoyed seeing the branding with our name on across the various digital screens within the venue – lots of branding opportunities here! We enjoyed a delicious lunch in one of the many spacious and light networking areas. The lunch was delicious with lots of locally sourced and in-season produce demonstrating their commitment to sustainability; there was a also a live cooking station adding an interactive element to the event.
ICC Wales are leading the way on ensuring all attendees are safe when attending events; and are instrumental in the events industry of understanding what Protect Duty will mean for venues, staff, delegates etc. We learnt more on this topic as well as their sustainability approach across the collection. We were very impressed on their approach, dedication and commitment to both these important initiatives.
ICC Wales has incredible event spaces, majority with natural daylight overlooking the woods, this provides a truly inspiring and creative space for an event. There are 15 meeting spaces in total ranging in capacity from 20 – 660 delegates; a fabulous two level theatre with green rooms and amazing AV for up to 1,790 and the main hall can hold up to over 4,000 delegates in theatre style. The opportunities for events here are endless, the meeting spaces truly exceeded our expectations and got our creative juices going.
We are always asked for team building activities that don’t take too much time, are appealing to the audience and are interactive. We enjoyed a 30 minute Welsh cake making class within one of the beautiful meeting spaces that overlook the woodlands, we felt like we were in a treehouse cooking school! The class was perfect from the duration, the level of cooking expertise required, the interaction from the chef (who was brilliant) and the interaction amongst the group. We got very competitive with our Welsh cakes!
What is needed with a Welsh cake? A cup of tea or coffee, so off we went to check-in to our gorgeous rooms on the signature level to enjoy our cakes with a drink. After exploring our rooms, we headed off to the spa to enjoy some much needed relaxation before we got dressed for pre-drinks in the lounge. The lounge is on the signature level which is only available to those staying in the signature rooms. All dressed up for dinner, we headed off to one of the golf club houses on the grounds of the resort for a private dining experience.
For dinner, we enjoyed a delicious 3 course dinner in a private dining room with a stunning autumnal table setting which provided a fabulous setting. The private dining room has its own bar for pre / post drinks, we enjoyed a mini cocktail masterclass during the evening with the bartender which was another excellent example of an engaging team building activity that could be incorporated into your event. The food was outstanding, you will be well looked after here! We ended the evening in the hotel bar in a reserved area which would be perfect for a group in a semi-private space to enable you to enjoy the live music which we thoroughly enjoyed before heading to bed for a wonderful night’s sleep.
Breakfast is always a highlight on a FAM and the Celtic Manor did not disappoint! We enjoyed breakfast in the restaurant on the signature floor which again is exclusive for those staying on the floor. The views of the grounds were amazing – we even spotted a rainbow! All fuelled up on food and coffee, we headed off to explore the event spaces within Celtic Manor. There are a variety of event spaces including:
- the ballroom, exhibition and larger spaces that can accommodate from 300 to 1,200 delegates. The in-built AV is brilliant, we loved the light show they demonstrated for us;
- for those events that are medium sized, there are a variety of spaces for up to 280 delegates all with their own bar/networking spaces and can be divided as required;
- 13 meeting rooms for boardroom meetings for between 8 – 24 delegates;
- for unique events the Hunter Lodges provide a number of options – they are private lodges on site;
- 3 golf courses with club houses that house a number of event spaces. Perfect for those corporate golf days; and
- the Manor House is onsite within the resort which also has some meeting spaces as well as bedrooms. A great option if you need overflow from either ICC Wales and/or Celtic Manor.
One of the hotels within the collection is the Parkgate Hotel which is located in the centre of Cardiff. We took the short coach ride into Cardiff to enjoy a delicious champagne afternoon tea. The Parkgate Hotel is a listed building, it used to be a court and a post office, throughout the hotel there are nods to its history. The hotel has capacity for events for over 400 delegates. Our favourite space was the Telegraph Room which can accommodate up to 50 delegates. This space is set in a unique setting with a theatre kitchen and stunning exposed beams demonstrating the history of the building. For those who book sporting or cultural events at the stadium, the hotel is perfect for pre/post events, accommodation and dining requirements due to the short walk to the stadium.
If you would like to find out more about the collection and holding events in Wales, please do reach out and we will connect you with our amazing hosts.