Not only 213 bedrooms and 19 meeting rooms, but lots more facilitiesWhittlebury Hall can be most things to most event organisers. It is set in rural Northamptonshire, with the advantages usually offered by a country house hotel, but it was purpose-built for events as recently as 1999. It thus does not bring with it the disadvantages often associated with venerable manor houses.
It is a low rise construction, with a long wide footprint. This provides the important benefit of being able to accommodate large numbers of people moving freely around without bottlenecks – and also privacy and quiet even if there are several meetings running concurrently.
There are 213 bedrooms, all recently refreshed and updated, with straightforward access to superfast Wi-Fi.
And Whittlebury Hall can boast two large conference and banqueting suites, as many as 19 different training and meeting rooms as well as 30 syndicate/break-out rooms. Capacities range from boardrooms for 28 up to 500 delegates theatre style. And 400 can be comfortably seated at a banquet.
Designed exactly to suit the needs of organisers, Whittlebury’s dining facilities match its conference facilities. Delegate menus can be provided to suit special diets, brain food, light lunches to avoid afternoon listlessness and so on.
The Hall also has the latest coffee stations where delegates can serve themselves when convenient, avoiding long interruptions to the sessions.
The conference rooms have all been designed with wide doorways, not just for easy movement of delegates, but also to admit cars and other large items for product launches. All have generous natural daylight. Access to the Whittlebury Hall’s location is no problem. It is situated alongside Silverstone F1 racing circuit, so the area is attuned to coping with large numbers of people arriving and departing at the same time. With unlimited parking areas, the Hall is rapidly accessible from the M1 and M40 motorways linking directly with Birmingham and London.
The Heathrow, Birmingham and Luton airports are all about one hour’s drive away and the nearest rail connection is Northampton.
The owners of Whittlebury Hall are financial institutions and it is run as an unashamedly commercial operation, but with the emphasis on ensuring that the clients are happy with the services and satisfied that they are getting great value for money. The Daily Delegate Rate is only £39 (plus vat as applicable) and the 24h rate is £135.
Two directors are the hands-on managers of the whole facility and they have concentrated on providing very good basic amenities to suit organisers. The meeting rooms have decor bland enough to allow clients to stamp their own image on them. However, there is an added sense of occasion, stemming from the proximity of Silverstone. Names have been chosen that relate to car racing. The two large conference suites are The Grand Prix and the Brooklands. The main dining room is Aston’s, whilst the fine dining restaurant is Murray’s – and, yes, Murray Walker, the unforgettable F1 racing commentator, has enjoyed the cuisine there. The very lively bar is called Silverstone’s.
Whittlebury Hall has styled itself as a destination resort. In addition to the wide range of indoor event spaces, it is set in Whittlebury Park which boasts a beautiful golf course that delegates can use; there is almost no limit to the areas suitable for outdoor team-building activities; and it has one of Europe’s most extensive spas. Stretching across two floors, there are 23 treatment rooms, a very spacious fitness room with every kind of modern equipment; a 19-metre indoor pool with sauna, Jacuzzi and steam room. Delegates have access to these facilities which are free, except for the treatments. However, prices are modest and the treatments are described as ‘affordable luxury’.
In spite of its overall size, the spa comprises smaller discrete areas, ‘so that guests do not feel lost in space’, as Cathy Harrison puts it.
An interesting insight during the ITCM visit to Whittlebury Hall was the management’s attitude to its staff. Employees number around 300 and a lot of attention is given to their motivation and contentment. Management holds special Welcome to Work Days, displays notices about Employee of the Month and of the Year and provides them with rewards that can include treatments at the spa.