Talk about cramming it in before winding down for the festive season! We visited both Barcelona and Seville just before we could kick back and enjoy our Christmas party in Richmond.
Stand out Sitges
IBTM Barcelona was hosted at Melia Hotels in Sitges, a short taxi ride from the centre of Barcelona and a sense of calm compared to the hustle and bustle of the nearby city. The compact old town and surrounding streets are filled with charming shops and restaurants. Famed for its film festival and carnival, you can either spend time soaking up its artistic culture or visit the beach and promenade to soak up the sun!
The hotel itself, Melia Sitges, has terraces overlooking the Mediterranean sea and is ideal to combine leisure and corporate events with an auditorium which can seat up to 1,380 guests. Add a fully-equipped gym and a wellness spa including a turkish bath and you have a fantastic venue to keep everyone entertained from dusk until dawn.
Fira Barcelona, a 240,000 sqm convention centre was the venue for the large networking element of our visit to Barcelona – three days of IBTM World 2017 – nearly 40 pre-booked meetings and many more informal chats over coffee!
Time to unwind
Whether we were munching in a mansion at Finca Mas Solers or styling it out for dinner at Soho Barcelona, we were treated to fantastic service and delectable dishes at both locations.
So far, so good and on we went to Seville for our second taster of Spain…
We were welcomed to the Hotel Silken Al Andalus Palace with a dinner hosted by Manuel Macias, the Director of the Congress and Convention Bureau in Seville. He let us know what to expect on our familiarisation visit to Seville – whetting our appetites for a good few days.
Getting to know the locals
A surprise operatic performance by Mundo Lirico kicked off our first full day and set the tone fantastically. A local walked us around the city including the Real Alcázar palace and it was brilliant not to need to look at a map or our phones once. They certainly know the best places to show us and a coffee break on the roof terrace of boutique hotel, Doña María, where you could almost touch the neighbouring cathedral. Lunch followed at Las Casas Rey de la Baeza with our small group containing meat eaters, veggies, vegan and some with allergies, the menu was perfect in catering for everything and the staff were really attentive. We would definitely recommend this boutique hotel for a small incentive group or even somewhere to stay after a conference and enjoy the city.
Mushrooms, light shows & Flamenco
We were shown round the new controversial piece of architecture, locally known as The Mushrooms, Metropol Parasol is a popular tourist attraction allowing visitors to walk across the top of the structure or dine in many of the cafes and bars beneath. There is a great events space available for private hire where the large room can be split into two spaces and is perfect for a gala dinner or a cocktail reception. The terrace can also be used for private functions allowing guests to not only enjoy the view of the entire city but walk on top of the mushrooms.
Our city walk continued into the evening so we could get the best view of their Christmas light show and a quick cerveza stop! We then headed to El Arenal for a Flamenco performance and dinner. The three-course dinner is served during a performance of some of the best flamenco dancers in the region.
Seville’s top picks from #SleekHQ
- Hacienda San Miguel de Montelirio – this family-owned hacienda hosts the largest collection of horse-drawn carriages in the world.
- Pabellón de la Navegación – this building was built for the Expo in 1992 and the attached tower can also be used for small drinks receptions with a great view of the city.
- Hacienda el Vizir – this hacienda is owned by a retired bull fighter and whilst the ring is not used for bullfights, it can be used for any type of event and shows. All the food is cooked onsite by the owner’s son, the Head Chef, and his team.
- Mercado Lonja del Barranco – is ‘food market’ restaurant with many different food stores inside, ranging from traditional spanish dishes and tapas to pizza, mexican and sushi.
We were lucky to visit Seville just as the Christmas festivities kicked off, yet it didn’t feel overcrowded. Over the three full days in Seville, we covered over 25km according to our health app, so a comfy pair of shoes is a must if you want to see all this fabulous city has to offer!