Kerry Walsh the AIEA Chair and Managing Director of Hatch Events has written this weeks blog about her experiences while visiting Edinburgh and the Balmoral Hotel.
When I received an email from the Director of Regional Sales for Rocco Forte Hotels asking if I would like to take part in an educational trip to the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, I couldn’t have replied yes any faster than I did. Having visited Edinburgh several times, never have I been fortunate enough to stay at the Balmoral Hotel until now. Having received all our travel details, once seated in our first class carriage on the train, we were greeted with Rocco Forte travel boxes, a glorious array of sandwiches and cakes all beautifully presented to last us on the long journey north. Obviously washed down with some decadent champagne, which made the ‘nanny nap’ during the afternoon journey wholly acceptable.
Once we had arrived in Edinburgh, we were greeted off the train on the platform, by the concierge of the hotel who whisked our luggage away. We walked up to the hotel, just a few escalators later, we arrived at the grand entrance, adorned with the biggest floral display one had seen for some time. The red carpet was rolled out and we had our very own piper piping us into the foyer. The Balmoral is a much loved Edinburgh institution, famed for its landmark clocktower from its origins as a Railway Hotel. As we stood in the opulent reception, how could you not be impressed with the smell of the floral display wafting through the air, the marble surfaces, the studded leather seating and the ambient lighting, making it oh so stylish.
I was so impressed by the warm welcome you receive on arrival at The Balmoral and the impeccable, professionalism of each and every member of the team you encounter during your stay. We had the great fortune to meet with Richard, The General Manager of the hotel along with his trusted sidekick Bosun. Once formalities had been done, we were allowed to check into our rooms. My suite was huge, traditional decor in the bedroom and lounge, complimented the suite’s elegant period features. While sumptuous fabrics and luxury wall coverings, in tweedy tones gave a feeling of understated opulence. A tartan check couch and cushions with hares, left you in no doubt that The Balmoral was a proud Scottish establishment.
My bathroom was decorated in white marble, but the design was classic and unfussy, rather than ostentatious. I had a bath tub and separate shower cubicle and a plentiful supply of quality toiletries from Asprey. My favourite thing about the bathroom, was a nod to another of the great icons of Edinburgh – THE best James Bond – Sean Connery.
On to the big day, the reason for our trip to Edinburgh, ‘Events in an evolving landscape – is the future really hybrid?’ Senior event professionals, media and social event professionals were asked to attend, which was facilitated by BBC Scotland’s Kaye Adams and Loose Women Panellist. The panellists included Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Vice President Sales at Rocco Forte Hotels, Jan Arnold and Kelly Mortimer, Wedding Industry Expert. Following lengthy discussions, whilst most people agreed virtual has served a purpose for many businesses during lockdown, to continue to communicate with their audiences, however live in-person events were the preferred option moving forward with an element of online to ensure the reach of that event is maintained. We then tucked into a very sumptuous lunch, before our next adventure began.
Following a walking tour of Scotland’s great city and seeing just why people fall in love with it, we were given a whisky tour by Cameron in the Scotch house within the hotel. I dare you to test Cameron, who has over 500 whiskies in cabinets within the bar and he knows exactly where each one is within those shelves. Strictly speaking I am not a fan of whisky, and I cannot say I am a convert following the tour but I must admit I did enjoy the whisky cocktail that we all consumed at the end of the tour. It may have something to do with having champagne within it…..