Briony Key of ITCM tours some of Scotland’s choice MICE venuesDundee’s massive investment
The new museum is forecast to attract 10,000 visitors a week and has already won a major architecture prize for Civic Buildings (unbuilt) in the World Architecture News Awards.
Dundee’s £925m waterfront redevelopment aims to reconnect the city with its historic riverside.
The 30-year plan is getting wider press thanks to its pièce de résistance, the new Victoria & Albert Museum, which is set to open in 2015 as an international centre for Scottish design. Its Japanese architect, Kengo Kuma, drew inspiration from the cliffs of Arbroath and if this isn’t enough to wet your appetite the fact that it has more than 1,500sqm of flexible gallery space just might!
Discussions are currently taking place to determine exactly what corporate capacity this facility will offer.
Dundee’s current corporate hotel offering includes the Apex City Quay Hotel & Spa. This contemporary, service-led property has 151 rooms, with event facilities for up to 375. The Metro Bar and Brasserie, and the Yu Spa complete the picture. Rates include free Wi-Fi access.
New hotel plans include the centrally located Dundee Malmaison Hotel, due to open May/June 2013. The 91-room new build will include six suites and 12 junior suites. Its flexible function space will accommodate up to 150. –Its floor area of 275sqm can be sub-divided into four rooms. There will also be an open-grill brasserie, wine cellar and split-level whisky snug.
Dundee, Scotland’s fourth largest city, already has a wide range of venues catering for up to 2,000 delegates. They range from hotels to academic options, wildlife centres and nautical treats such as RRS Discovery and HM Frigate Unicorn.
(And I can recommend The Playwright restaurant for excellent food and service.)
Edinburgh’s expansion and restoration programme
Edinburgh’s International Conference Centre is currently adding a further 2,000sqm of function space, with new technology that can raise catwalks, introduce raked seating and arena configurations at the touch of buttons.
The city’s 18thC Assembly Rooms will re-open for business events from September, following a £9.3m restoration. There’s now Wi-Fi throughout, new flooring, fixed and flexible seating, a new permanent bar, soundproofing and air conditioning. These improvements, along with increased accessibility, extend the working life of a Grade A listed building.
Its Music Hall can seat 750 theatre-style, inclusive of the balcony. A further ten rooms can cater for from 10 in a boardroom up to 150 for a reception in the Under Balcony Bar. Any organisers looking to ‘wow’ their groups should explore the idea of a corporate booking at the sensational Edinburgh Tattoo.
There’s never a shortage of new restaurant openings in Edinburgh. The latest include The Tower which has been perched on the rooftop of the Museum of Scotland. It offers a contemporary à la carte menu catering for up to 90 for exclusive events.
For fine steak you can also opt for Kyloe, an old Scots word for longhorn Highland beef cattle. It’s on the first floor of The Rutland Hotel and can be hired exclusively for up to 90 guests, who will enjoy fine views of the castle.
The huge Scottish Hydro Arena opens in Glasgow in 2014 and will host up to 140 music, sports and special events a year. It will be the new home of live entertainment and second in size in the UK only to the O2, able to accommodate 12,000 seated or 13,000 standing. It will host gymnastics and netball for the 2014 Commonwealth games.
Corporate opportunities at the £116m venue include private areas for high-end wining and dining. And it’s also boasting ‘superb acoustics’.
The Hydro's façade will be made up of a series of foil pillows that were developed for the space industry and which will allow companies to project images or logos externally or internally, creating a highly visual impact for a product launch or major event.
Arty options around Glasgow include the House for Art Lovers, one of the many unusual venues that give organisers the option to ‘find something a bit different’ within easy reach of the city.
The House for Art Lovers, designed by the renowned Charles Rennie Mackintosh, sits in Bellahouston Park. Its contemporary, flexible meeting rooms look out over the parkland and are able to cater for 10 to 40 guests. Some have private lounges that can be used for refreshments and lunches. There is an attractive rooftop terrace. The Mackintosh Suite accommodates up to 110 for corporate seminars and there’s a choice of tempting menus, which I can confirm from personal experience, are very good!
Venues set in Scotland’s dramatic landscape
There are also many special venues in the hinterland. The independent hotel Crieff Hydro has invested £260,000 in its 12 meeting rooms. Wi-Fi technology has been provided throughout the property, as well as plug-and-play facilities, making trailing wires a thing of the past.
Here ‘tradition meets modern’ in design terms and the Hydro team runs activator sessions to encourage delegates to benefit from a healthy body and healthy mind.
Located in lush Perth countryside, the Hydro’s team-building options are also impressive, with everything from mini-Highland Games to laser quest, segways, quad biking, high ropes, low ropes, water sports and off-road driving offered on site. Another great get-away venue, Hopetoun, is set in 6,500 acres of parkland by the shores of the Firth of Forth. I was treated to a champagne tasting session during my visit, hosted by Heritage Portfolio. This is a company that specialises in catering and corporate hospitality and works with many of Scotland’s finest venues.
Hopetoun has its own events team and is a favourite venue for anything from small dinners to gala evenings, from intimate meetings to conferences and large-scale outdoor events. Lord and Lady Hopetoun still live at the house and take a keen interest in the activities. They have collated their own selection of Scotland’s Finest Foods, which can help in creating menus for an event.
2012 - Year of Creative Scotland.
2013 - Year of Natural Scotland follows
2014 - Year of Homecoming (including the Ryder Cup).