Guest post by Michelle Maurer
Business Development Manager, MotivAction
I recently returned from an educational familiarization trip to London, England, sponsored by Virgin Atlantic, Four Seasons Hotels and Allied PRA. As a first time visitor to London, I experienced both popular sights and tours as well as unique attractions and activities that a first-timer typically would not experience.
The service on our Virgin Atlantic flights was impeccable. Our seats were upgraded to premium economy giving us a little extra leg room on the long flight. When we arrived to London Heathrow, we toured the Virgin Lounge for incoming flights, which offered breakfast and showers. On the way home, we quickly stopped in the Virgin Lounge for outgoing flights. This lounge was amazing – with a sleek appeal, wait staff was ready to take your order for breakfast and lunch, al a carte options were available if in a hurry, full bar, small alcove for private meetings, and even a rooftop garden. What a nice way to end a spectacular trip!
DAYS 1 & 2 – Historic London
We spent the first two days at the Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane in the historic part of London. After arriving at the hotel, we had a few hours to freshen up and then took a walking tour through the Mayfair area and had lunch at a traditional tavern, The Guinea Pub. A delicious dinner was served by the very talented executive chef at the Four Seasons that evening. The next day we toured Kensington Palace, and The Orangery, a separate building adjacent to the palace, which can be used for offsite lunch or dinners. Then off to Herrod’s we went, siting the different venues that can be used for special events, including Godiva Café and the Food Halls. For lunch, we went to Inn on the Park, located in St. James Park, the oldest park in London and also across the street from the Olympic Beach Volleyball venue. In the afternoon, we visited beautiful St. Paul’s Cathedral, the non-traditional Tate Museum, and Shakespeare’s Theater. Dinner was at The Roof Gardens, a rooftop venue seven stories high, with spectacular views of London. We did not site Olympic Park because the venue is currently under renovation, which should be available for public use by Spring 2014.
Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane
The Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane is an iconic landmark in London and was recently named the Hotel of the Year for London 2012. The hotel is perfectly situated in the Mayfair area across from Hyde Park and Picadilly Street, within walking distance to Buckingham palace, Westminster Abby, The Parliament, Big Ben, and the Churchill War Rooms. Featuring 147 guest rooms plus 46 suites (total 193) on eleven floors, there is a room type for every traveller. The Conservatory Jr. suites located on the 2nd floor are especially suited for VIP’s or small receptions, offering a large grass patio area outside on the balcony. In addition to the beautiful guest rooms, the hotel offers a lovely rooftop spa and multi-use lounge on the 10th floor for 20-25 people with magnificent views of the city of London.
DAY 3 – Cosmopolitan London
Our adventure started with a double decker bus tour of London, seeing many additional sites that were not covered the previous two days. The bus took us to the Thames River, where we boarded a small speedboat, also called a RIB Boat (holds up to 12 people), and we experienced a wild ride featuring exciting James Bond music and fast turns. We met up with the bus again, taking us on a tour of London’s trendy East Side, which included a stop in the financial district where we had a few minutes to shop underground at Cabot Square. Next was a sky high sights adventure in a cable car across the Thames River, which was opened prior to the Olympics. We ended up at London’s concert hall, the O2 Arena, which also offers a climbing activity to the top of the dome. The adventure continued as we boarded a commuter boat to the popular Greenwich area, home of Greenwich Mean Time and the Meridian Line, where we saw the Painted Church, Cutty Sark Clipper Ship, and Sir Christopher Wren’s Old Royal Naval College. After a fun-filled day, we finally checked in at the Four Seasons Hotel – Canary Wharf. For dinner this evening, we dined at the popular Tako Japanese restaurant and enjoyed a night-cap with a musical experience at Boisdale Jazz Club, offering a large whiskey collection and cigar library with well-known jazz artists.
Four Seasons Hotel – London at Canary Wharf
The Four Seasons Hotel – London at Canary Wharf is an executive hotel within the financial centre of London and walking distance to major financial companies, restaurants, nightlife and underground shops. The hotel is located on the Thames River and offers a light and airy ambiance in the lobby, meeting space and sleeping rooms. Groups are typically booked on weekends.
DAYS 4 & 5 – Country Hampshire
Day 4 started out with a delicious breakfast at the Four Seasons Canary Wharf, and then choosing a mini cooper to ride in for the one hour journey to Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world and the Official Residence of The Queen of England. I was amazed at the beauty of the peaceful countryside. We toured the Castle, with the highlight being Queen Mary’s Doll House. We then experienced a countryside adventure with a picnic at Seville English Gardens. After lunch, we drove to our final destination, the Four Seasons Hampshire. The group went fly fishing in the pond on property, and even caught a few rainbow trout! The fishing guides were friendly and very helpful with us first-timers! After cleaning up, we were ready for our final night in England – a reception on a canal river cruise and scrumptious dinner at the Four Seasons Hampshire. What an amazing trip – with many unforgettable memories!
Four Seasons Hotel – Hampshire, England
Four Seasons Hotel – Hampshire, England is a restored historic Georgian manor house located in one of England’s prettiest counties, and only one hour from central London and 45 minutes from Heathrow. We were greeted by Oliver “Lord of the Manor”, the hotel’s black lab, representing the country estate’s continual commitment as a dog-friendly destination. This hotel presents a true country feel throughout the entire property. On-property activities include The Spa offering signature treatments, Sodashi therapies, and a state-of-art fitness center; horseback riding; fly fishing; and a shooting range.