Sometimes you come across a venue that’s a stunning labyrinth of spaces, and you wish you could be attending the event, as well as organising it!
That’s exactly how we felt when we discovered Stanbrook Abbey for a clients’ two-day conference and activity programme. It is an amazing 16th century Abbey nestled in the Worcestershire countryside, about 45 minutes’ drive from Birmingham International Airport.
This Abbey certainly has the ‘wow’ factor when you approach up the long driveway. Hard to believe it was home to nuns until 2009!
The purpose of this event – our client’s mid-year review.
The programme? A conference set up for the morning and early afternoon. Along with lunch, activity, special dinner and overnight stay. To keep energy levels up, we changed the style and format of presentations. So, splitting the conference agenda between a high-ceilinged, wood panelled hall and an adjoining light filled glass box worked well. We hired wooden boxes for the contemporary space, so the larger group could quickly configure into small breakouts of varying sizes. We took over the restaurant for lunch, using smaller tables of 4-6 to encourage in-depth round table conversations about the morning’s content.
As the event was in early February, we decided it was dark too early for an outdoor activity.
Instead, we took everybody down to the cellars where we had designed a high speed, on-the-move, gameshow. The cellars are a warren of rooms, annexes and corridors. Naturally, for an Abbey, we choose to theme the activities with the ‘Sound of Music’! Split into 8 teams, each group moved around the various challenges and games in this fast paced, competitive activity. In short, they had 5 minutes per round. And each round made use of the maze of rooms and incredible hidden spaces.
Rounds included a twist on beer pong, a codebreaking game, ‘Guess the intro’, going ‘Snooker Loopy’ to name but a few. As you can see, everyone got stuck in and that competitive spirit came out!
As soon as the game finished, we made sure everyone had a drink in hand and the speculative banter began. Who would be crowned be the winners? We had porters deliver luggage to rooms whilst everyone was competing. We also had room keys brought down to the cellars for us to hand out. As a consequence, we made it hassle-free for our guests to check-in and go and get ready for dinner.
And this is where the magic really happened…
Everyone met again for ‘prinks’ (pre-dinner drinks) in the elegant Piano Bar. Then, we took the group down the long corridor to the big double doors at the end…for the big reveal.
The former chapel with its stained glass windows, wooden carvings, pews and a domed ceiling, up-lit in the most spectacular colours looked incredible. Open-mouthed guests immediately reached for their phones. Photos of this dinner were instantly being splashed all over social media with ‘Look I’m at Hogwarts!’ being a comment theme!
And to top it off, at the end of dinner, we pulled open the red curtains at the other end of the chapel. Complete with lasers and lights and pumping base was their very own Ibiza style DJ: their private nightclub!
They partied until the early hours. However, we can report that they all still managed to meet for breakfast! This was in yet another historic and charming room, the nun’s former dining hall!
Number of attendees: 42
Duration: 1.5 days