Michelle Chenery reports on the MICE delights this region of Spain has to offer since Vueling launched its new routesYou may well have already said: ‘Vigo? Never heard of it!’
Vigo is in Galicia, a relatively undiscovered part of North West Spain that has been recently opened up with the introduction of direct flights four times a week by Vueling from Heathrow Terminal 3.
I found that it is a region with many possibilities for corporate group events.
Our group took the 17.15 flight and landed in Vigo at 20.30. We were accommodated in two hotels: the NH Placio de Vigo and the AC Hotel by Marriott Palacio Universal.
Soon after landing, we were heading out to the old quarter (Casco Vello) for some local hospitality. What better way to do that than with some tapas?
A five minute walk from the AC hotel, all uphill I may mention, certainly got my appetite up and the meal certainly satisfied that and more.
We were booked in at Lume de Carozo, a typical Galician restaurant. The food was fantastic, with a whole array of dishes from local cured meats and freshly caught seafood to some unlikely-sounding combinations until you tried them. Among my favourites were mushroom and cheese balls, goats cheese in a spring-roll-type pastry covered with three different types of marmalade, marinated pork and potatoes, five different cured meats and the local cheeses.
There was such a plentiful choice that I lost track of everything that came to the table and I have to admit that most of us rolled out of the place after the meal.
I could also see that the seafood was going down a storm as well. Each time any was delivered to the table it was gone in a flash. The restaurant itself had a very typical Spanish ambiance. There were smaller two-seater tables on the ground floor close to the bar and larger tables on the first floor. Our table of eight at the start eventually grew into a table for at least fourteen.
To get a true feel of the delights offered by the local nightlife, we took a short walk up to a local pub where a group called Riobo was playing Galician folk music. The pub was so packed that there was standing room only. More of the local wine was sampled along with local beer offerings, then the group realised just how late it was and we all felt it best to head back to the hotels to get some sleep ready for the next day’s activities.
The AC Hotel by Marriott Palacio Universal
The AC Hotel spans five floors and boasts 68 rooms and one suite, with three meetings rooms and a total of 2,153sqft (240sqm) of space. The largest of these areas was the restaurant, able to cater for up to 150 for a banquet.
The property is set in the city's marina and its terrace, with views out to sea, is the place to relax, enjoy some appetisers, cocktails or whatever beverage takes your fancy.
All of the rooms come with a free mini-bar stocked with soft drinks. Wi-Fi available in the rooms incurs a small charge, but is available free in the public areas. There are two computers for guests to use in the lobby. Superior rooms feature a small living area and a more comprehensive mini-bar.
Breakfast at the AC hotel was served in the La Cuaderna Restaurant and was a continental buffet with an array of pastries, rolls, breads, cereals and fruit to name but a few on offer. Cooked breakfasts are also available on request.
After breakfast it was a quick hop onto our open-top bus for a guided tour of the city and to visit the Auditorio Palacio de Congressos Mar de Vigo. This newly-built conference centre is located about a five-minute walk from the city centre next to the old town, nestled between Vigo's fishing harbour and its shipyards, with views overlooking an estuary and surrounding areas. The best view is from the centre's huge open-air 2000sqm terrace, where a marquee can be erected without hampering the view out to sea.
The building has over 23,000sqm of event space ranging from the Auditorium which can seat 1421 delegates to its multi-use rooms, able to handle from 30 delegates school style to up to 550 theatre style. The centre has a Wi-Fi network in place with support for a/b/g/n technologies throughout the building and provides special network access for exhibitors, stands, courses, Internet spots and mobile phones. A gigabit Ethernet data network is also in place with connections in all rooms. Temporary digital and analogue telecom services can be installed in any part of the complex. The centre also has its own catering to serve events of all sizes, from coffee breaks to full-blown gala dinners.<
The Cies Islands, declared a National Park back in 2002 and consisting of three islands are known for their Atlantic coast and seafloor ecosystems. They can be reached June to September each year on a public boat service several times a day or by renting a sail boat.
Our group went over on a converted Danish schooner ‘Nauja’ from Merak Nautica. With over 90 years of history, the schooner was recently restored to its former glory and is classified as a historic ship. The schooner is capable of holding groups of up to 40, with prices starting at €35 per head, which includes catering, soft drinks and beer.
Sailing was very relaxing, a trip of about 1hr 45 minutes taking in a tour along the coastline and the oyster pots.
As a national park, access to the islands is limited to 2,200 visitors each day. There are no permanent residents and advance permission can be obtained for anchoring and diving in the vicinity.
White sandy beaches, pine trees and abundant wildlife, flora and fauna await you upon arrival and there are several walking routes mapped so visitors can see the best the island has to offer. Of course, that is if you can resist the temptation to just lie back and relax on the white sandy beach. The views from the top of the island are not to be missed though, with the ocean to one side and the Vigo ria to the other. (A ‘ria’ is an ancient river estuary that is permanently flooded).
We next went on to the BBQ restaurant Soriano in the upper part of Vigo. It is a family business that started from the humble beginnings, but which has grown into a restaurant with four distinct dining rooms. We arrived just in time to see the superb panorama of the sun setting over the islands, the light gleaming from the Atlantic Ocean and the lights just beginning to come on in the city.
Any meat lover would think they were in heaven, looking at the menu. Then to cap it all, customers get to cook their own meat at the table, so it's cooked just how you like it. Cuts of meat are partly cooked when they are brought to the tables. The outside edges have been seared with the rest of the meat bloody. Hot plates in the middle of the table allow guests to throw on a cut of meat, hear it sizzle and leave it there for as long, or as short a time as they please.
We finally went on to the Nagari Gran Boutique Hotel and Spa, where at night the rooftop pool becomes a modern Skyline terrace bar. Cocktails are enjoyed accompanied by a selection of chill-out music, with views over the Ria de Vigo. It is available for exclusive group use.
Vigo, the largest city in Galicia, has been shaped by the Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans and many others who have landed on its shores. The sea has not only provided the city with its living, but is also at the heart of the cuisine of the region. The city covers some 110sqkm of varied terrain, including a ring of mountains, encompassing the former towns of Bouzas and Lavadores which became part of Vigo during the 1900s. It borders the towns of Redondela, Mos, Porri`no Gondomar and Nigràn. With over 12 miles of coastline and 45 beaches, every kind of water sport is available.
For summer 2012, with an expanded UK route network, Vueling is operating from London Heathrow to Vigo, La Coruna, Galicia, from Southampton to Barcelona, from Cardiff to Alicante, Barcelona and Palma Mallorca and from Edinburgh to Barcelona.
In addition, UK passengers can fly on to a wealth of onward connections via Vueling’s successful Barcelona Hub operations, currently accessing more than 40 destinations throughout Europe and North-Africa with full through baggage check-in from the origin to the final destination.
Lead-in fares on the Vigo route start from just 59.99€ one way, taxes included, through all Vueling’s sales channels: www.vueling.com tour operators and travel agencies; iPhone and Android apps; the airline’s mobile portal m.vueling.com; and via Vueling’s UK call centre on 0906 754 7541.