Posts

Escape to the Country: Sleek luxury incentives edition!

Are you looking for a luxury countryside escape from the city for your clients or employees? Look no further! We have found the perfect incentives location, just a stone’s throw away from London.

Sleek Events hit the road on Friday 1st November (along with some cheesy car songs and lots of sweets) for the 2.5 hour drive to the picturesque village of Frome, Somerset. The purpose of the weekend was both work and play. Packed with strategic sessions, question time, updates from each department but also with plenty of time to relax and enjoy each other’s company. We decided to treat the weekend as if we were on an incentive, gaining insight into the kind of activities we can offer to clients wanting a countryside getaway! Here’s what we got up to…

Day 1 

At around 4pm, we pulled up (after a few minor wrong turns!) to the aptly named Manor, buried deep in country lanes with huge iron gates to welcome us in. As we crunched across the gravel we could only look up in awe at the mansion we would be calling home for the weekend.

luxury incentive location; the manor, frome

We stepped inside and headed into the heart of the house: the kitchen! Our lovely Finance Manager revealed her secret talent of food art – we were welcomed to a glorious spread of meats, cheeses and various other nibbles, alongside several chilled bottles of prosecco.

We spent the afternoon relaxing, exploring the 8-bedroom house (it was a day for getting lost!), unpacking and chatting by the fire about the structure of the weekend to come. We then enjoyed some dinner and spent the evening gin tasting and playing games.

Day 2

Saturday morning was spent in our comfy clothes (including the lovely arrival welcome gift of a cashmere jumper that was laid out on each of our beds) nibbling on croissants, drinking tea and getting stuck into the rugby!

We quickly recovered from the pain of England losing and headed off for showers and to get ready for the morning session. We transformed the Manor’s grand dining room into a fully-equipped meeting room. We began with a company update from our MD & Founder, Jennifer, on new business developments and strategy as well as a reminder of 12-month goals. After a quick break for lunch and a walk around the grounds (another opportunity to get lost!), we began our afternoon session with some department updates including the news of our recent rebrand.

Next was some schedule downtime. It may have been a rest for our brains but not our bodies as the Sleek bootcamp in the Mansion’s gym kicked off! Luckily, this was followed by some time in the hottub before enjoying a three-course meal courtesy of our very own private chefs from The French Kitchen. The meal was to die for and added a taste of luxury to the experience.

The French Kitchen meal

Day 3

As Sunday is traditionally a day of rest, Day 3 took us on an excursion – no lie in for us! We headed to the local market which visits Frome once a month, spending an hour or so browsing the stalls and sampling some of the delicious food on offer.

Sleek team walk in the country

We then drove to the next village of Mells and set off on a gorgeous autumnal walk through the fields, before rewarding all our efforts with an indulgent roast dinner by the fireplace in The Talbot Inn, a local pub. Feeling full and chilled, we headed back to the Manor and had a little more downtime, enjoying an informal fireside chat about our personal goals and reflections.

After a day of indulgence, all we needed were a few nibbles to accompany a film and everyone was ready for an early night – the fresh country air had beaten us all!

Day 4

Waking up on Monday morning was more luxurious than your average start to the week! After a gym session to liven us up, we packed, made some breakfast and then cracked on with our final workshop. We left for London around 12.30pm, making it back in plenty of time time for the school run.

It’s amazing what you can pack into a luxury incentive weekend. Our agenda and mix of activities might have given you an idea for your own getaway or we can create a completely bespoke itinerary to suit you and your clients. Fancy incorporating more outdoor activities? Remember, we say “how?” not “no” at Sleek Events – so we really can arrange the perfect trip for you.

For more information about our incentive packages, drop us an email at hello@sleekevents.co.uk and make sure you follow us on social media to see all the other exciting destinations we visit – it’s a hard job but someone has to do it!

Find us: Instagram LinkedIn Twitter

Croatia incentive destination

Incentive Ideas: An Adriatic Adventure

We’re all familiar with Spain, Portugal and France as holiday destinations – but have you considered Croatia for your next adventure? Croatia has grown hugely in popularity over the last 10 years and is now one of the top destinations for holiday-goers, and we think it’s a great location for incentives too. The crystal-clear waters of the Adriatic Sea, dramatic coastal backdrops, along with exhilarating waterfalls and beautiful architecture will be sure to impress any group whether you’re visiting with your family or work colleagues! We’ve created a handy little snapshot guide of some key Croatian hotspots to inspire you for your next incentive trip or mini break away with family.

Split

Split is the second largest city in Croatia (after Zagreb) and is a great place to start the trip, easily accessible links from all major European cities. Flights from London start from just £65 and take just over 2 hours – so you’ll be soaking up that Mediterannean sun in no time.

The Old Town is a magical maze full of little streets and squares to get lost in. With heavy Roman influences, the tall buildings and narrow walkways are enchanting and reminiscent of the white-washed streets of Italy. Split’s Old Town became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014 and it’s easy to see why – the streets and squares are religiously cleaned so they are beautifully preserved for all their visitors. The town is easily accessible by foot and just a stone’s throw away from the port, which backs onto The Riva – the main street packed with restaurants, bars and shops.

A view through the narrow streets of Split, Croatia for an incentive trip

What to see and do:
  • The Diocletian’s Palace
  • St Domnius Cathedral
  • Marjan Hill – for the best views in town!
  • Plitvice Lakes – a day trip a couple of hours outside Split, but you won’t be disappointed!
  • Bar crawls – Split has some great bars and clubs for those wanting to let their hair down.

Perfect for: Groups who love wandering around discovering tiny little shops and restaurants in a magical maze of historical streets. A true explorer’s paradise!

Hvar

Next on our list is the beautiful coastal port city of Hvar. Easily accessible from Split (a 45-minute catamaran trip costing around £10), the harbour is packed full of luxurious superyachts. This is certainly a place for the rich and famous to park up for a few nights!

The islands surrounding Hvar are equally as beautiful and well worth a visit – but don’t worry if a superyacht is slightly over budget; there are boat tour companies everywhere you turn, so you won’t struggle to find an amazing island tour for your group! A route we would recommend is taking a tour to the Blue Caves (an incredible illuminated cave), Vis, and the Pakleni Islands. These islands are awash with striking coves and hidden beaches with relaxing turquoise water to enjoy a cooling dip. Be careful – you’re not going to want to leave!

A view of some of the smaller boats in Hvar, Croatia for a luxury incentive

What to see and do:
  • The old fort – a leisurely uphill stroll to the top of the historic fort rewards you with the best views across the harbour and islands!
  • Hvar Cathedral
  • Hula Hula Beach – a relaxed beach bar is the perfect place to spend an afternoon soaking up the sun (and maybe a cocktail or two!)
  • Sailing, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, jet skiing and any type of water sport you can imagine! Perfect activities for those seeking a little adrenaline fix.
  • Carpe Diem – for the party animals among the group, this club is on its own island and is a rite of passage for any worthy Hvar traveller!

View of Hvar's port from the fort during a luxury incentive trip

Perfect for: Groups who want to get out on the water and spend a day sailing around some beautiful islands where you can swim and explore some of the most beautiful caves the Adriatic has to offer! Also great for groups who like to have a drink or two and hit the clubs.

Dubrovnik

Last but not least on our whistle-stop tour of Dalmatia, is the beautiful fairytale town of Dubrovnik. Calling all Game of Thrones fans – the old town of Dubrovnik was used as a filming location for many episodes. It’s not hard to see why – as soon as you step inside the city gates you’ll feel like you’ve dropped into a medieval illustration! Similar to Split, Dubrovnik has enchanting narrow streets to get lost in, as well as a square with a fountain, and a picturesque port where you can book tours and boat trips or sample some delicious seafood at one of the waterfront restaurants.

What to see and do:
  • Head to the Buza Bar for sunset – this bar is set dramatically on the side of a cliff and will be one of the best sunsets you’ve ever seen!
  • Hit the Game of Thrones fan pages and find out where it was filmed! There are lots of organised tours and merchandise shops, but if you’re on a budget you could find out where the scenes were filmed and head there on your own steam!
  • Walk around the city walls – for a small charge you can walk around the entire city on the old walls. The walk takes around 2 hours and offers some breathtaking views of the city. Great at to experience as the sun goes down!
  • Visit the beautiful Banje Beach – think sensational cliff scenes with white sand and turquoise water – dreamy!

Perfect for: Game of Thrones fans, city walkers, any group who enjoys wandering around the shops in the morning then relaxing on gorgeous beaches in the afternoon.

Key Croatian facts:

Currency: Kuna (1 GBP = 8.11 HRK)

Typical Cuisine: Grilled fish, meat and vegetables… plus wine!!! Croatia is famous for its delicious wines. There are lots of wine tasting tours – you might even want to take some home with you!

Accessibility: Direct flights available from all major airports to Split, Dubrovnik, Zadar, Zagreb and Pula

Visit their Tourism Board website by clicking here.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the amazing places to visit in Croatia – or all the beaches and activities the Dalmatian country has to offer. We think it’s the perfect place to explore, eat, drink and get a great tan – and it’s extremely instagrammable! Whether it’s for a luxury group incentive trip, a fun trip for your employees or simply a minibreak away with friends or family, Croatia has it all. We can guarantee that you won’t be disappointed!

If you need any help planning your next incentive trip, we can help! From venue sourcing to full trip management, we can take the pressure off so all you need to worry about is what you’re going to pack. And if this whistle-stop tour of Croatia whet your appetite, why not read some of our other incentives blogs – the English seaside or lively Berlin.

Take another look: Dubai

We visited the UAE last year and shared our thoughts on the location for events of all kinds. This time, our marketing coordinator Izzie was invited on an incredible trip by Visit Dubai and Alpha DMC to take a look at Dubai in closer detail.

If you’re looking to take your team, clients or work pals on an amazing incentives trip, then look no further than the up and coming incentives hotspot of Dubai!

Where to stay

When considering a destination for an incentives trip, at the forefront of any #eventprofs mind is that it needs to be fun, educational and, most of all, easy. For this reason, the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel in downtown Dubai could be the perfect place for your group to stay. Located just 15 minutes from the airport, it has luxurious rooms, 3 restaurants, a bar (this bar, called Vault, also gives out 3 free drinks on Mondays for Ladies Night!) on the 78th floor and a large pool area to relax in. They also have great meeting spaces should you wish to squeeze in some strategising!

The Palazzo Versace could also be a great option for high-end groups. With intricate Versace detailing from the shower tiling down to the tea cups and the chair stitching, this hotel is a bit of a novelty and really delivers the wow factor. It has 3 large pools, impressive common areas if individuals want a bit of me time! The food is delicious and you can even do some shopping at the onsite Versace shops.

Another beautiful hotel in the Jumeirah Beach Residences area of Dubai is the impressive Ritz-Carlton. We had a spectacular drinks reception and dinner on the beach here, complete with a warming fire-pit for when it got a little chilly and the most incredible views of the skyline. This would be a really impressive evening for groups who want the beach feel without compromising luxury and great facilities. Simply stunning!

If you are looking to take your groups to have a little evening fun – Wavehouse at Atlantis The Palm is a relaxed diner-style restaurant that serves great food and even has a bowling alley, old school arcade games and a wave machine! Another great excuse to have a little competitive fun!

What to do

If you have a couple of thrill seekers in your group, a trip to the Dubai Autodrome could be just what you need to let your hair down! When you arrive, everyone gets their own tracksuit and helmet before settling in to your go kart and letting loose on the track! An hour on the track is brilliant to unwind and introduce a bit of healthy competition between the group!

Dubai has a really interesting history and culture, and I personally had so many questions about life in this part of the world. If your group also wants to learn about the Emirati culture, taking a visit to the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding is a real eye-opening experience where you can freely ask any questions you may have without fear of judgement or causing offence. The staff there are really open and happy to answer anything, and you can even try your hand at dressing like an Emirati and sample a traditional Arabic breakfast. Following this, you can take a stroll through the Al Fahidi Historical District and the surrounding souks to stock up on some spices or even some gold! Afterwards, be sure to visit the fascinating Etihad Museum to learn about Dubai’s history and the UAE as a whole.

No visit to Dubai would be complete without a trip to the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, which is accessible through the largest shopping mall in the world! Take your group on the world’s fastest lift to the 125th floor to see a spectacular view of Dubai, including the Palm and the surrounding desert outside the city. There is also a hotel and several restaurants inside the Burj Khalifa, so if you really want to impress, a dinner followed by a trip to the top to see Dubai at night would be a really memorable experience for everyone.

Our final incentives activity (but by no means the end of the list) was the incredible Desert Safari by Platinum Heritage. We were picked up in 4x4s and driven just 45 minutes outside the city into the Arabian desert. We were given scarves to protect our heads and then jumped into some vintage open-top Land Rovers for a drive through the beautiful desert. We visited 3 camps Platinum Heritage have available for groups (ranging in price but all beautiful and even with accommodation so you can sleep under the stars!) before arriving at the camp where we spent our evening. Platinum Heritage can arrange an amazing falcon show (the falcon is the national symbol of the UAE) before letting you try some traditional Arabic activities such as camel riding, henna tattoos and shisha. Then, your group can sit down to a delicious traditional dinner of salad, breads and hummus, followed by rice with meats and vegetables with different accompaniments. We even tried some camel, but luckily not the same camel we rode earlier! After dinner, your group can be treated to a traditional Arabic dance with imitation guns, which you can even join in on! They then switch off all the lights in the camp and you can spend some time stargazing – seeing the stars in the Arabian Desert really is something else and can make for a truly memorable end to a jam-packed incentives trip.

This trip taught me so much about what is on offer in Dubai, as well as their culture, cuisine and way of life. As an incentives destination, I would recommend 4 days as the perfect amount of time and really you couldn’t ask for much more on offer – there are incredible activities, luxurious accommodation, delicious food and, of course, don’t forget about the stunning weather! During winter, Dubai enjoys temperatures of around 22 degrees, whereas in summer it can rise up to 45 degrees. If the summer temperatures put you off, be rest assured that there are also so many water-based activities that you will easily be able to cool off. Dubai is a beautiful and intriguing destination which should be on everybody’s bucket list whether it be for business, pleasure, or both!

Christmas in Copenhagen

Did you think Christmas was far behind us? Well, we have one last opportunity to reminisce! It’s no secret that no one does Christmas quite like the Scandinavians. Our marketing and events coordinator, Izzie, was lucky enough to experience a taste of Danish Christmas and the cosiness concept of ‘Hygge’. We caught up with her to get the lowdown on all things Copenhagen!

When I received an exciting invite from the Copenhagen Convention Bureau to fly to Copenhagen for an educational trip, I was practically jumping with excitement. I’d never been to the Danish capital before but had always wanted to visit as I had heard it’s a beautiful fairytale-like city with amazing food and traditions – especially at Christmas.

Nyhavn’s classic example of Copenhagen colour

On the 12th December, I made my way to a private lounge at Heathrow, where I met the other lovely #eventprofs I would be spending the next couple of days with. After a short and comfortable flight, we landed in Copenhagen and were whisked straight away to the jaw-dropping AC Hotel Bella Sky – which is an incredible event space to say the least. We were treated to a beautiful dinner at the rooftop restaurant Sukaiba – the food there is a Danish-Japanese fusion and just to die for! We then headed back to our hotel – the Marriott, which had gorgeous views of Copenhagen across the water.

After a restful night’s sleep, we enjoyed a delicious buffet breakfast before embarking on our extremely well-organised, action-packed day. We were led to a heated boat for a peaceful canal tour, complete with fairy lights and hot chocolate. This included a visit to the iconic Little Mermaid, before eventually stopping at the breathtaking Copenhagen Opera House.This is a beautiful event space and we were treated to an exclusive private performance by Gert Henning Jensen.

Copenhagen Opera House

Next, we were led through the city to Hotel Phoenix, where we had a great time decorating Christmas cookies, before feasting on an exquisite Danish Christmas dinner at the Michelin Star restaurant The Standard. Thankfully, we then had an opportunity to walk off all the food with a charming walking tour through the city courtesy of Hadler DMC, stopping at Amalienborg (the Royal residence), the famous colourful street Nyhavn and other landmarks, before being taken to yet another exciting Christmas craft activity of paper heart making, alongside a warming cup of tea and cookies. A minibus awaited us to whisk us to our final christmas craft activity of the day – candle making at the event venue Oksnehallen which was not just educational; it provided me with a nice homemade christmas present for my mum!

Hotel Phoenix

After some chill time (and a nap) at the hotel, we all got dressed up and headed to the most beautiful Christmas display I have ever seen at Tivoli Gardens. We were served a wonderful traditional Danish dinner here (with lots of wine to boot!) and then left to our own devices to enjoy the park in all its dazzling glory – this took the form of drinking lots of mulled wine (or, as it’s locally known, Glogg) and going on all the rides. Tivoli Gardens should seriously be on everyone’s bucket list – it was absolutely stunning and an evening to remember.

Tivoli Gardens

The following day, we all woke up and walked off the (slightly) fuzzy heads with another walking tour, this time by Copenhagen This Way. This led us to our next site visit at the Skt Petri hotel, which taught us how to make Danish doughnuts, before we then visited one of the most unique hotels I have ever seen – a meat-themed hotel in the meat-packing district. This hotel was actually very beautifully designed and had some great meeting spaces. We were treated to yet more Danish sweet treats here before enjoying some lunch and beers at a local brewery. Our last site visit was the Park Inn Radisson, which has a handy airport location, and involved a mulled wine making activity and treasure hunt.

Park Inn Radisson

One of the things that struck me about this trip is how welcoming everyone was and how much they want to show you their traditions and love of making things cosy, or ‘hygge’. In fact, on arrival at the hotel on the first night, we were presented with our very own ‘Christmas Hygge Kit’, which we added to as we gathered things during the trip. I ended up flying home with everything from tea to a beautiful christmas tree decoration and, of course, lots of treats; thankfully we were given a 23kg baggage allowance! The flight home left me feeling like I wanted to move to Copenhagen – it is without a doubt one of my new favourite cities. It was a simply magical trip and I will most definitely be returning, be it for business or pleasure.

Hadler DMC Cruise

To find out more about destinations for incentives, click through to our incentives page or contact us.

northern light over Reykjavik

48 hours in Reykjavik

Reykjavik is not only difficult to spell but it’s also crazy to get to grips with its extended hours of daylight or lack of it depending on what time of year you visit.

Located just two degrees south of the Arctic Circle, Reykjavik is the world’s northernmost capital city. Its location means that during the winter months the city only gets four hours of sunlight on the shortest day. However, during the longest day in the summer months, when we were visiting, Reykjavik sees almost 24 hours of daylight!

sunset

We had almost 48 hours of daylight to research the best of Reykjavik and the surrounding area for our incentive travel programme, having wrapped up another successful client event in the city.

Here are our top tips to make the most out of a city break in Reykjavik…

ONE

Absolutely hire yourself a car. You’ll find a theme running through this blog – Iceland is expensive. Getting the cheapest travel option from the airport to the city is by bus but, if you value your time, the 1 ½ hour ride is pretty unbearable whilst a taxi will cost you at least €100 – and so your wallet starts to become a lot lighter before you’ve even reached your hotel! Having a car not only gives you the obvious flexibility for sightseeing but it works out significantly cheaper when there is more than one of you travelling together.

TWO

Eating and drinking (and doing most other things) in Iceland is expensive and even more so in the city. Your concierge is likely to offer you the chance to buy a voucher booklet when you check-in – our advice is to go for it! In 48 hours we managed to work our way through our favourite restaurants and bars using these discount vouchers saving us in excess of €200. If you’re with a larger party than just our two average-size tummies, you will save a fortune. We love sushi and didn’t find a bad sushi bar in the whole of our trip.

Discount vouchers

Read more about the voucher booklets on Reykjavik’s Grapevine

Alcohol is so expensive here that we were willing to give it up for the weekend, that’s right, tea-totalling event profs! Of course, that didn’t last for long and here are our two favourite bars we stumbled across. Slippbarinn is part of Icelandair Hotel Reykjavík Marina near Old Harbour, Reykjavik’s first ever cocktail bar and because imported beer is so expensive Kaldi Bar is a great option as they serve several of their own locally-brewed lighter beers.

THREE

The hotels in the city centre are fantastic and great if you’re planning to just spend time walking through the city but, if you plan to go farther afield, we found choosing a hotel on the outskirts much more convenient – and it meant we could park our hire car for free.

Reykjavik Lights hotel

FOUR

If you like horses, this is the destination for you. Did you know there are around 80,000 horses in Iceland with a total population of just over 330,000 people – one horse for nearly one third of the people in Iceland! Whilst the Icelandic horse is a prized breed, don’t be surprised to see horse on the menu in some restaurants.

Icelandic horses

FIVE

Do plenty of research if you’re not visiting via one of our organised, luxury incentive travel programmes. We wanted to fit a couple of tourist destinations into our short visit and were given some great advice by Guide to Iceland. We’d recommend browsing their website before you go to plan in your excursions.

We love a spa like any girl, so were intrigued by the Blue Lagoon tour – apparently one of the 25 wonders of the world. This famous geothermal spa has silica mud under your feet which is said to have healing properties so we smothered it all over us – we have not included a photo for that! You can choose all sorts of premium spa packages but, as this was Erin’s favourite tour she says, “Be aware that you’ll be sharing the facilities with people who don’t mind picking up the bathing robe you’ve paid for!”

You might have noticed our love for a bit of Richmond’s nature on our Instagram so we couldn’t miss out on the whale watching tour run by family-owned tour operator, Elding. We chose to get as close as possible to the action and took a rib tour – this is also the fastest way to get to any wildlife activity. Just bear in mind that it’s extremely chilly, even in the summer months so dress appropriately.

Whale watching tour

SIX

From horses to cats… if you’re more of a cat person then Reykjavik has the country’s first cat cafe – Kattakaffihusid. This isn’t just a cafe where you can take your cat for a saucer of milk, this cafe now hosts 3 homeless cats at a time from the organisation Villikettir and approved guests can give them a forever home. Visit their Facebook page to find out more about their range of tasty cakes and cute kitties looking for a home.

 

SEVEN

We actually found the cat cafe whilst walking in the city to find one of its most well-known landmarks and possibly the most funky church we’ve ever come across, Hallgrímskirkja. Named after the 17th-century clergyman Hallgrímur Pétursson, author of Hymns of the Passion, the church’s impressive stepped, concrete facade is an ode to modernism and a reminder of the Icelandic landscape. It’s well worth a visit and they have a varied programme of concerts on throughout the year.

STUNNING REYKJAVIK

We packed in quite a lot in 48 hours but we also got some time to stop and reflect. My absolute favourite moment of the whole trip was driving round the Golden Circle Tour.

Golden circle tour map

We came round a bend in the road and the landscape opened up in front of us to show the bluest sky I have ever seen. The beautiful scenery around Reykjavik is enough to make anyone stop and feel grounded to the Earth and all of its natural wonders. Definitely worth a place on our incentive travel list.