See Southport by the seaIn the classic resort of Southport on England’s North West coast are some of the UK’s most notable venues, from conference centres to racing to golf
For anyone not familiar with the area around Southport it may help to be reminded that it encompasses, for example, Aintree Racecourse and the Royal Birkdale Golf Course.
It is therefore an area that has a remarkable range of attractions and venues to offer event organisers.
Southport has for many decades been the very convenient resort for relaxation, sport and holidaying for Liverpool, the whole of Merseyside and Greater Manchester. It is now fully engaged in raising its profile in its own right, so that the rest of the UK and the world can appreciate how much is on offer in so compact a location.
Southport has a long tradition of hospitality but has an array of new facilities to trumpet widely. These include modern conference facilities, new hotels, additional golfing facilities and re-created landscaping that makes the most of its coastal location.
‘Southport has all that is needed for all manner of business tourism events’, comments Maxine McCarthy, Business Tourism Manager, ‘but has still been able to maintain an atmosphere of tranquillity that gives delegates the right environment for clear thinking and hard work; and gives all visitors an opportunity to relax and renew.’
A new £40m investment programme as well as improvements to its existing facilities has put the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre amongst the top venues in the North West of England.
There is now an adjoining hotel, the 4-star Ramada Plaza that enjoys a direct link with the main conference entrance. It has 133 contemporary bedrooms, including eight suites with spectacular sea views, along with bars, restaurants and its own multiple meeting areas.
The Centre’s new Waterfront Suite has 750 sqm of flat floor multi-use space, which can be configured into six separate syndicate or private meeting rooms. The area has its own goods lift and direct access for loading and unloading.
The existing 1631-seat Theatre Auditorium has easy loading/unloading, VIP rooms and large flat stage.
In addition, the original Floral Hall has 1,000 sqm of flat floor space with catering points and a Green Room for VIP stage access. Also available is the Lakeside Suite, a 200 sqm function room, which can be separated into two separate spaces.
Formby Hall Golf Club is now a Resort & Spa as a result of a multi-million-pound new investment.
The Vincent is Southport’s luxury lifestyle hotel with 60 beautifully appointed guest studios, residences and a Penthouse. The Vincent prides itself on it blend of chic contemporary décor and its fastidious attention to guest comfort and relaxation.
Well established properties are the Scarisbrick Hotel, Prince of Wales Hotel and The Royal Clifton Hotel & Spa, all offering a wide range of meeting rooms from private boardrooms to grand ballrooms accommodating up to 400.
Aintree Racecourse, scene of the world’s most televised sporting event, the Grand National, can offer a range of function rooms to accommodate meetings from 10 people up to corporate dining for more than 500.
Southport boasts an extensive range of boutiques and high street names on elegant streets as well as in covered shopping arcades.
Golf and moreSefton is the heart of what has become known as England’s Golf Coast. There is a long list of links courses making great use of the sand dunes and the grass-covered coastal areas that make this part of the North West so special.
As golf has become more popular as an integral part of corporate hospitality, so investments are being made to ensue that the highly rated golf courses have facilities for corporate groups.
Formby Hall Golf Resort & Spa has recently invested £10m in state-of-the-art conferencing and event facilities. To its challenging championship golf it has added the facilities of its new 4-star, 62-room hotel, stylish restaurant and lavish spa and health club, establishing a comprehensive events venue.
The elegant Ambassador Suite can hold up to 250 theatre style and has direct access to a spacious terrace where delegates can enjoy views over the surrounding parkland and golf course.
Formby Hall’s Diplomat Suite can seat 90 theatre style and offers a light, bright ambiance, flexible design and the latest conference technology.
Golf at any level can be an attractive part in a leisure programme, from a full-blown 18-hole tournament on a championship course to a 9-hole par-3 fun competition or expert golf improvement training in the UK’s only PGA Academy.
The Grand National and youIt hardly needs saying that the staff at a venue such as Aintree Racecourse have the experience for handling large numbers of people. They are also accustomed to their management being in the public eye, as the Grand National attracts more TV crews than any other single sporting event.
Furthermore, the prestige of the venue is an important extra for delegates to a corporate event and even the person least interested in horse racing, from whichever country, cannot fail to be excited at receiving hospitality at Aintree.
In addition, the access facilities that serve to get the massive crowds to and from the Grand National are there to make it easy for the smaller numbers who will be invited to attend a product launch or conference.
Acknowledging the increased potential for events business, Aintree completed a £35m development in 2007 to enhance and expand its MICE facilities. In that programme, the 3,700 sqm International Equestrian Centre/Aintree Pavilion and two new grandstands were created, each with its own conference and banqueting facilities for up to 600 delegates.
Added to the existing meeting rooms, the investment meant that organisers of any events from small, top-level gatherings to major conferences could find a space suited to their needs. That includes an exhibition hall complete with vehicular access as well as 39 individual glass-fronted boxes overlooking the course that can serve as break-out rooms.
Lording it at Lord StreetLord Street is one of the North West’s most elegant avenues. It is lined with trees and the best shops. On Lord Street is a hotel that is almost synonymous with Southport, as it has always been seen as one of the top places to stay. But it not snooty, just warm and friendly. It is the Scarisbrick Hotel and the place where guests are entertained if the hosts want to show how highly they are regarded. This is the kind of hotel where porters are on hand 24 hours a day.
Southport is a compact town and from the Scarisbrick it is possible to walk, within minutes, to the seaside Promenade, the Southport Theatre & Convention Centre and the Arts Centre.
The North West is remarkably well served with motorways and Lord Street is within 12 miles of the network.
The property has 88 rooms and suites and the onsite leisure complex offers a pool, gym, sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi, solarium and beauty and aromatherapy treatments.
There are two conference suites, the Isherwood and the Barker, which accommodate up to 200 delegates theatre style. Two dedicated training suites, the Cannell and the Formby, have their own syndicate rooms. In addition, the prestigious Hesketh Room, overlooking Lord Street, is a frequent choice for private dining for up to 25 people.
Another property located in the centre of Southport is the Prince of Wales, embodying the town’s Victorian heritage whilst offering today’s most modern conferencing equipment. It stands in landscaped gardens.
The Prince of Wales has a dedicated conference team and six conference and banqueting suites. All have natural daylight.
The Windsor Suite can take up to 300 delegates theatre style, whilst the smaller suites cater for from 8 to 80 delegates.
There are 143 bedrooms decorated and furnished so as to preserve the Victorian style of the hotel.
Royal treatment on the Promenade
Southport is fortunate in having hotels suitable for events in each part of town. The Royal Clifton Hotel & Spa, a member of Best Western, stands on the Promenade overlooking Kings Gardens and the sandy coast. It is a Victorian property that embodies the Royal Clifton Conference Centre.
This has its own dedicated entrance leading to conference suites. All on the ground floor, most with natural daylight, they are fitted with Wi-Fi and the largest can accommodate up to 300 delegates. Rates can be quoted for breakfast meetings, day delegate, executive delegate and 24-hour residential packages.
There are 120 bedrooms, many with spectacular views. A new Premier floor has a dedicated lift, enhanced bedrooms and extra privacy. There is also a health club and spa, a newly refurbished restaurant and four bars.
A new property of quite different style is the Vincent Hotel. Opened as recently as June 2008, it aims for ‘executive style with contemporary glamour’. There are 60 V-Residences (the word ‘bedroom’ is too plebeian!) and a V-Penthouse. They offer wall-mounted HD - LCD Tv’s, workstations, a fully comprehensive free MP3 collection with over 5000 titles and the latest Pay-per View Blockbuster movies.
There are four meeting rooms, the largest, the V-Grand Galleria, able to cater for 200 delegates. It runs the length of the hotel, with floor-to-ceiling windows and a terrace overlooking Lord Street. There are two Boardrooms with 42-inch plasma screens.
The hotel prides itself on its cuisine, with a full V-Buffet or a selection of pastries created by the executive chef.
Don’t worry about eating well, as the hotel has a fitness centre in its V-Spa.
For brochures and assistance in identifying the most suitable venue in Sefton for an event, contact Maxine McCarthy, Business Tourism Manager. Call Maxine McCarthy, Business Tourism Manager of Sefton, on 0151-934 2402