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Places to see and be seen

Corporate hospitality is big business but which venues will leave a great impression on your guests? We take a look at some of the best

There are plenty of corporate hospitality arenas across the UK, but where do the top business giants take their clients for a day of corporate wooing and what makes these places stand out from the crowd? We find out which venues have the greatest wow factor and what they offer to make a day out of the office something really special.

Cheltenham Racecourse
Prestbury Park, Cheltenham Gloucestershire GL50 4SH

Cheltenham racecourse is best known for the National Hunt festival, a four-day event that is held in March each year. It includes races such as the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle. The picturesque setting, a natural amphitheatre in the Cotswolds, helps to create an incredible atmosphere, and make it a special day out for both hosts and guests.

Cheltenham’s entertainment facilities are extensive and wide-ranging – choose from an array of restaurants, boxes and chalets to entertain up to 200 people according to taste, budget and party size.

The Panoramic restaurant is the place to be as the views are second to none and guests can enjoy top nosh, table service and totepool betting while watching important races. Other eateries include the Horseshoe Pavilion, Moscow Flyer, Istabraq and Champion’s Drive restaurants as well as the fabulous Final Fence restaurant, with a great view of horses jumping the last fence.

Private boxes, for groups of ten, 14 or 18 people, are available, as well as the grand glass-fronted boxes which give excellent views of the action, plus access to the paddock and betting ring. These boxes accommodate 40 people for luncheon or 50 for a buffet.

Celebrities to look out for: Royal rider Zara Philips and potential future royal, Kate Middleton.
Cost: Expect to pay around £399 plus VAT per person for a glass-fronted box. A hospitality marquee in the Tented Village will cost from £299 plus VAT per person.
Contact: 01242 537653 or vist the website at www.cheltenham.co.uk

Wimbledon
The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Church Road, Wimbledon SW19 5AE

When it comes to international tennis, our very own Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships are regarded as the most prestigious in the world. So it’s only natural that if you aim to impress, you will want to take your most esteemed clients to SW19.

A typical Wimbledon hospitality package will include official tickets to the prized Centre Court or No.1 Court matches and access to plush temperature-controlled marquees which feature both dining and lounge areas. You can also look forward to musical entertainment throughout the day, a champagne, Pimm’s, bucks fizz and canapés reception, a fully complimentary bar, including champagne and a four-course à la carte luncheon served with wines and liqueurs. And, of course,Wimbledon wouldn’t be Wimbledon without strawberries and cream.

There were 36 marquees and suites in 2007, but less than 8% of all Centre and No.1 Court seats during the fortnight are used for hospitality, making them even more exclusive.

If you intend to entertain a large group, private chalets are available for parties of 30 plus.

Celebrities to look out for: Former 007, Pierce Brosnan (whose presence allegedly inspired French underdog Marion Bartoli to spectacularly turn around a semi-final she was losing against Justine Henin); Hollywood superstar, Jack Nicholson and, of course, the irrepressible Sir Cliff Richard…

Cost: For a highly prized Centre Court ticket for day one of the Championships, expect to pay around £900 plus VAT per person. For the luxury of a seat at the men’s singles final, you’re looking at a cool £2,450 plus VAT per person.
Contact: 020 8944 1066 or visit the website at www.wimbledon.org

Royal Ascot
Ascot Racecourse, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7JX

Closed down in 2004 for a staggering £185m refurbishment, Ascot Racecourse was reopened by Queen Elizabeth in June 2006. The four-day event known as Royal Ascot which takes place at the racecourse is the biggest in the racing calendar, and a place where horses rub shoulders with British royalty, rich sheiks, business tycoons and, of course, A-list celebs.

As you would expect from such a world-famous name, when it comes to hospitality packages, you will be spoilt for choice.

You can opt to entertain in one of the fine dining restaurants, which include the Pavilion restaurant, Windsor Forest restaurant and the Old Paddock restaurant. As a guide, dining packages invariably include tea, coffee and biscuits on arrival, a champagne reception, four-course luncheon, fine wines, full afternoon tea, a complimentary bar throughout the day, and totepool betting facility and racecard.

Alternatively, you could really push the boat out and plump for one of the 263 luxury private boxes all with stunning views across the racecourse. Some are positioned close to the track past the winning post with a ‘head-on’ view, while others are situated before the winning post so that the horses race past you to the finish. Each box has a private dining room with large flat-screen television, a balcony overlooking the track, a bar and a private kitchen shared with the adjoining box. Dedicated serving staff are on hand all day.

Cost: Varies enormously according to what level of hospitality you want. Be prepared to fork out £4,500 for a single box on level 2, for Royal Ascot on 21 June 2008. A double box on level 5 for the same day would set you back a cool £18,000. Restaurant packages cost around £180 per person.

Celebrities to look out for: The Royal Family are always out in force, and keep your eyes peeled for the likes of rocker Rod Stewart and his model wife Penny Lancaster, and British footballer-turned-actor Vinnie Jones.
Contact: 0870 727 4321 or visit the website at www.ascot.co.uk

Chelsea Football Club
Stamford Bridge, Fulham Road, London, SW6 1HS

As football is the nation’s most popular sport, many corporate bigwigs use the beautiful game to woo their most prestigious clients. And of the myriad clubs to choose from, Chelsea Football Club remains one of the most enduringly popular venues – owing to its prime location in the capital and excellent facilities. Indeed, Stamford Bridge boasts a four-star hotel on site as well as several fabulous bars and restaurants which cater to all tastes.

The 55 restaurant, named after the first year Chelsea Football Club won the league, offers top food at quite competitive prices; Blues, the club’s most recent addition, is an upmarket sports bar; and Marco (owned by and named after world-renowned chef, Marco Pierre White) is a truly exclusive place to dine.

If you opt for a package, such as the Millennium Suite Package, you’ll be offered a private suite, with dining for 16 or 24 people; a pre-match three-course buffet; a complimentary bar; half- and full-time refreshments; a match programme; Chelsea gift; and a celebrity guest appearance. The luxury padded armchair seats from which you’ll watch the match, will be located in the West Stand Middle Tier.

Celebrities to look out for: Premiership football stars (with WAGs in tow!).
Cost: Expect to pay around £130 to £230 per person, depending on the match.
Contact: 0870 300 1212 or vist the website at www.chelseafc.comCowes Week
Regatta House, Cowes, Isle of Wight, PO31 7QN

The first organised yacht race at Cowes took place way back in 1826 and since then, the event has gone from strength to strength. Cowes Week today is regarded as the top annual world-class yachting event. More than 1,000 yachts and 8,500 competitors – from amateurs to world champs – take part in challenging sailing during the week and the varied shoreside activities help to create a good corporate hospitality venue.

There is a whole range of racing yachts, tall ships and power boats available for private charter for small or large groups. Corporate hospitality packages are offered by several different companies and vary in price and service, depending on the size of vessel hired and number of people you wish to entertain.
A typical package may include a return train journey from London Victoria to Portsmouth, with food and drink on the outbound journey;
a sailing barge trip on the Solent where you can spectate and sail in the company of a personal hostess; and a sit-down three-course supper with champagne and fine wine on the return journey.

Celebrities to look out for: The internationally renowned yachtswoman, Ellen MacArthur.
Cost: Around £300 per person for a package for the day.
Contact: 01983 248003 or visit www.skandiacowesweek.co.uk
HATS OFF TO YOU
Gold Cup day, better known as Ladies’ Day, at Royal Ascot is the day of the year when you will get to see the most weird and wonderful headgear. Here’s a small glimpse of what we saw in 2007…

RACING WITH STYLE
Although the dress code for racing events today is not as strict as it was in Queen Anne’s era, there are still a few rules worth remembering

Women are generally expected to wear dresses, taking care that they are not too short – elegance is key – and not too long – as it can get pretty muddy.
On such grand occasions, it is perhaps wise to avoid putting too much flesh on display, so cover shoulders and arms with a smart bolero or jacket. This will also protect you from exposure to sun, rain or wind.
Your choice of footwear is very important. Sensible shoes are a real must as most of your day will be spent walking from one place to another. Stilettos and very-high heels of any description are a recipe for disaster. Mules are a popular choice for both comfort and style.
Men’s dress code is somewhat simpler – a jacket, or suit with tie and smart shoes will suffice.
In the Royal Enclosure, however, it’s a slightly different story and rules are a bit stricter. Ladies MUST wear a hat (as if you’d go without one!), strapless dresses are not allowed, midriffs must be covered and trousersuits, of full length, must be of matching material and colour.
Gents must wear either black or grey morning dress, including a waistcoat, with a top hat.
Overseas visitors are welcome to wear the formal national dress of their country.

Service dress is also permitted.

photos Getty Images

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