Michelle Chenery reports on great food and challenging team-buildingA shoulder and back massage in a delightful country house hotel spa in winter; then sitting by a log fire with piping hot tea and buttered scones melting in your mouth; - these are delights at any time but all the more enjoyable when you really feel you have earned them after a strenuous outdoor team-building competitions.
I was at Ellenborough Park, a country house and estate located at Cheltenham Racecourse in the Cotswolds. It has a range of unique meeting and banqueting rooms in the Main House and offers teambuilding activities for any size of group.
There are two restaurants, three private dining rooms and a choice of conference facilities. The guest accommodation comprises 62 rooms and four suites located in the Main House, the Mews, Ellenborough Court and Woodland Court. Maintaining a close tie with racing, the suites are named Arkle, Istabraq, Kauto Star and Stormyfairweather – after world-famous racehorses.
My deluxe room, with antique furniture, measured 29sqm. The spacious bathroom had under-floor heating and a free-standing clawed foot tub and loudspeakers relaying the tv. It took willpower to leave it to join our group for dinner.
- De La Bere Court De La Bere Court
- Main staircase Main staircase
- The Boardroom The Boardroom
- The Great Hall The Great Hall
- Ellenborough Park Ellenborough Park
- The Library The Library
The morning light brought me a first sight of the spectacular Cheltenham Racecourse, with the Cotswold hills as a backdrop. Breakfast was served in the Beaufort Room, boasting original oak panelling, Tudor fireplaces and stained glass Oriel windows – a dining experience to remember.
Then came the teambuilding competitions. The hotel works with the Bear Grylls Survival Academy and can offer its gruelling activities on site as well as country pursuits, Giant Garden games, Casino nights and Champagne and wine tasting to name but a few of the options. Off site organisers can opt for the Land Rover Experience at Eastnor Castle, clay pigeon shooting with GB Olympic coach Ian Colley, polo lessons at Longdole Polo Club and stable tours at Jackdaws Castle.
Aztec Adventures put us through our paces after Ellenborough Park kitted us out with jackets and boots. Soon we were trying our hand at target shooting with air rifles. We were all novices but after a few pointers we were knocking down animal targets and making others spin.
Then came the competition proper. The bullseye targets seemed miles away. Some of us got the hang right away, others floundered. I surprised myself with a score of 58 out of a potential 60, the highest of the day. It did wonders for my self-confidence. Unfortunately I had peaked too soon. With the hand gun I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t even hit the target. I had watched too many Hollywood films and now discovered it’s not that easy.
After a hot chocolate and biscuit break, archery was our next challenge. In front of cheering team-mates, I had to be aware of my stance, the angle of the bow, the pull on the bowstring, the aiming of the arrow all at one and the same time - another activity that is not as easy as it looks.
But it was fun when the prizes were awarded for the best and the worst performances for each activity.
Lunch was served in The Boardroom, where we enjoyed some of the bento box options that the hotel can offer for groups. Up to 18 delegates can be seated at a 300-year-old oak table. A 52-in LCD screen can be linked to the presenter’s screen, and there is an integrated PA system with wired and wireless microphone, complimentary high speed Wi-Fi and cable internet access to support video conferencing.
Nine additional areas can be used for meetings and events. The largest is De La Bere Court which has a vaulted glass atrium, separate entrance and cloakrooms and can cater for up to 140 for a reception or 120 theatre style. One of the most unusual spaces is the Minstrels Gallery. Spanning one end of the Great Hall, it is able to cater for up to 16 delegates. The entire property can also be booked for exclusive use.
For full details visit www.ellenboroughpark.com
Phone: 01242 545454
To View more images from our visit, please take a look at our Ellenborough Park Facebook album