Crown were recently hosted by Fairmont St Andrews for a familiarisation trip to the Scottish town of St Andrews over a weekend. Senior Logistics Manager Amelia Conti lets us in on why it’s an ideal destination.
Arrive in Style
We began our weekend on Friday evening with a quick and easy flight up with Virgin Little Red, which sadly have stopped their service to Edinburgh but with a plethora of other airlines flying into Edinburgh air access is easy and accessible. The nearest train station to St Andrews is Leuchars which also good connections with Edinburgh.
We were greeted on arrival by the Fairmont Party bus and our 1 hour 15 minute journey was enjoyed with glasses of champagne and canapés cooked by the Fairmont chefs. Although it was dark, we still managed to catch glimpses of beautiful landscapes complete with grazing sheep and quaint Scottish villages, and I was already looking forward to seeing it all in the daylight.
Our first impression of the Fairmont St Andrews was the grand entrance down the drive where we were greeted by the smiling concierge and further glasses of champagne. While it was quite late, we still managed to fit in a delicious dinner at the onsite Italian restaurant La Cucina – washed down with some red wine and while others continued on in the lively bar (complete with a Scottish band), I retreated to my room to enjoy the king sized bed.
Continue as you mean to go on
Waking up feeling refreshed I got the chance to explore my bedroom properly. The hotel has 209 number of bedrooms across 6 different categories and can do large room blocks for groups. For any VIPs they also have two four bedroom Manor Homes – a real treat for a CEO travelling with his family. The bed was huge and comfy, and the room had all the amenities needed – a packed mini bar, luxurious shower and a Nespresso machine. Breakfast buffet was a feast of English and Scottish delights – the star being the delicious black pudding.
After a hearty breakfast we moved outside where we were met by the team building team and for the next hours our teams were pitted against each other in some Highland Game challenges including archery, gumboot throwing and caber toss. The Fairmont St Andrews has 520 acres of space which can be utilised for team building and the team had some brilliant ideas such as Scottish themed treasure hunts.
We received our briefing for the team building in one the nine rooms spread out across 15,000sq ft meetings and events dedicated space. Most impressive was the 6,179 sq ft Robert Burns Ballroom which is flexible enough to allow for a multitude of set ups and can also allow access for vehicles – great for automotive events.
After a quick stop for lunch in one of the meeting rooms at the hotel which including warming soup and sandwiches, we headed off to explore the town of St Andrews where we spent a couple of hours getting lost in the small winding streets and popping into restaurants like Forgan’s for coffee and cakes – a venue which can be privatised for groups or included as part of a dine around. On the way back to the hotel we stopped off at Kinkell Barn – a great option for an offsite gala dinner. The barn can be catered and hired through Fairmont St Andrews which makes it a very easy and seamless process if you are also staying there. We were all completely blown away by the beautiful timber arches in the barn, which were decked out with fairy lights and beautiful bouquets of flowers for an event later that night. The barn is 5 minute drive from the hotel or 10 minutes from the centre of town.
That evening we dressed in our fineries and met downstairs in the bar for a presentation by Kings Barn Distillery – a local whiskey distillery, where we learnt the complexities and differences between the whiskeys they produce. Sipping our whiskeys, we were invited out onto the front lawns where a local marching band greeted us and lead us down to a private dining room where we were pipped in by bagpipes – a truly spine tingling experience! That evening we dined on local Scottish produce – haggis, smoked salmon, Scottish beef and supped Gin and tonic from local makers Eden Mill, where had the chance to try their new Rose Gin.
Both Kings Barns Distillery and Eden Mill offer tours of their distilleries and have options for private meetings, lunches and dinners – a great choice for a high-end board meeting.
It’s always hard to say goodbye
With our final morning dawning bright and sunny, we had a coffee in the Clubhouse – a gorgeous venue which can be privatised, with panoramic views of the Scottish coast and pondered when we could next get back to test out their award winning golf course (World's 50 Best Golf Hotels by the Golf Digest Awards). Waving farewell to the friendly concierge, we boarded the ‘party’ bus again and headed back home feeling that we have definitely experience the full warmth of Scottish hospitality.
This article was originally published in Hospitality & Events North magazine.