Successful Meetings - December 2008 - (Page 49)

PLACES 12.08 SPACES & Swinton Park Glin Castle Castle Leslie Crom Castle Fairy Tale Venues By Joy Anderson For decades, Britain and Ireland’s aristocratic landholders have been confronting the challenge of retaining and maintaining their ancestral homes. Among the families that have managed to remain in residence, only a handful have taken the extra step of becoming hosts and lowering the drawbridge to houseguests from the outside. It’s a win-win concept. Owners obviously benefit economically (and by the way, staying in a private castle can be economical for groups, too), while guests get to immerse themselves in a world that most have previously only encountered in books and theme restaurants. The newest trend is to open up private castles to corporate groups. While not all castles have been retrofitted to conference center standards, any necessary equipment is usually procurable. These venues are certainly memorable for attendees. On the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, the luxury castle hotel, Swinton Park, is the centerpiece of a 20,000-acre estate comprising rolling parkland, a walled garden, lakes, moors, two villages, and even a fanciful early-19th-century druids’ temple. The castle went through a spell as a management training center and was being eyed by a developer, but in 2000, Mark and Felicity Cunliffe-Lister (Baron and Baroness Masham) reacquired the family home, restoring it to its original glory and opening its doors to overnight guests. Although there’s a restaurant, a spa, and a celebrity-chef-run cooking school, the atmosphere is anything but commercial. SUCCESSFUL MEETINGS DECEMBER 2008 “We decided to open the house to corporate business, as we really felt we had the makings of a destination venue with so much under one roof,” Felicity says. “Corporate guests enjoy the fact that we are privately owned and offer an individual level of service. With the estate on our doorstep, we are able to expand our facilities and create programs for particular requirements.” Among the more distinctive offerings for groups are a formal Gosford Park “shooting” lunch with Champagne at the Deer House or out on the moor, bicycle polo, falconry and hawk walks organInside ized by the Birds of Prey Centre, and > MS Gulf Coast PAGE 54 a corporate training session working PAGE 56 > Fort Worth with horses to improve communication skills run by horse whisperer > South Florida PAGE 58 Sarah Kreutzer. > Beijing PAGE 60 Less than an hour from Shannon Airport, in the scenic west of Ireland, Glin Castle is the hereditary home of the Knights of Glin. Built in the Georgian era, the castle is part extremely comfortable country house and part personal museum of Irish fine and decorative arts. Desmond FitzGerald, the current knight, is also president of the Irish Georgian Society and more than happy to speak with visiting groups about his family’s collection. With just 15 bedrooms, the castle is an ideal exclusive-use venue. “The house was built for entertaining, and we want it to be used. Having people here gives it life,” says FitzGerald. It helps that the dining room serves excellent Irish Country House 49

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Successful Meetings - December 2008

Successful Meetings - December 2008
Editor's Note
Corporate Events
On the Record
Planner Spotlight
Personal Success
Technology Talk
Food & Beverage
Professional Development
Quick Tip
Tools of the Trade
On Site: Retire Those Tired Power-Point Slides
On Site: 12 Tips for Thriving on a South African Safari
Deep Impact
Recession-Friendly Speakers
Showing Off
Hawaii Insert
Places & Spaces
Mississippi Gulf Coast
Fort Worth
South Florida

Successful Meetings - December 2008