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Tucked away in a quiet corner of Sussex, Goodwood’s enticing calendar of events and 12,000 acres offer a year-round playground for corporate groups
On 18 September 1998, 50 years to the day after the 9th
Duke of Richmond opened the racing circuit at Goodwood, the Earl of March re-enacted the occasion at the first Goodwood Revival, taking to the track in the Bristol 400 that his grandfather had
The spirit of Revival is central to Goodwood and since the Earl inherited it in 1991, the 12,000-acre estate has seen a complete transformation. With a 200-year-old race meeting, two annual motor sport festivals, a new fashion and music festival, a hotel, aviation club, golf course, cricket pitch and 3,000-acre organic farm, you’d be hard pushed to find a deeper toy box.
Though the Earl’s entrepreneurial vision is clearly the driving force behind Goodwood’s reinvigoration, the estate’s 300-year history is the inspiration. Each of the pursuits on offer is inherited from one of its former owners. The Glorious Goodwood festival was born out of the 3rd Duke’s passion for racing, while the golf course grew from a few holes created for the 7th Duke’s children. And the motor racing associations were established by the car-crazy 9th Duke’s passions.
It’s this sense of heritage that makes the estate a momentous backdrop for events. ‘I’ve raced at a lot of circuits and there’s nothing quite like the atmosphere at Goodwood,’ says Sir Stirling Moss.
The 2010 calendar makes exciting reading, revving up with the motoring world’s Festival of Speed in early July, on to the five-day Glorious Goodwood festival at the end of the month. August sees the launch of the Vintage at Goodwood event, September brings the Goodwood Revival. For the rest of the year, there’s racing from May to September, as well as golf and teambuilding year round.
This year sees the launch of the Goodwood Mess, an interactive experience at the Revival, and Vintage at Goodwood, the new summer fashion and design festival. And there are already whispers of ‘time capsule’ garden parties for next year.
For entertaining, all this adds up to a one-stop shop for corporates, so it’s no surprise that this most majestic of playgrounds has attracted the likes of Coutts, The Royal Bank of Scotland and BP. There are packages for each individual event, but the best way to plunder the toy box is with the Sporting Membership, which, under the guidance of a dedicated team, offers top-end hospitality at all the events as well as track, flying, cricket and golf days and invitations to some of Lord March’s exclusive private events.
High-octane racing action contrasts with the leisurely pace off the track when Goodwood is transformed into the world’s greatest car collection
For three days in early July, the sprawling Goodwood Estate is transformed from traditional country pile to petrol-head paradise. Even though the permanent racetrack drops a hint as to the alter
ego of the estate, nothing can quite prepare you for the 150,000 car enthusiasts, grand prix fans and assorted speed freaks who descend from 2-4 July.
From the time gates open at 7am (general admission guests regularly queue from 5am to guarantee a place), it’s the smell and noise that hits you: the revs crack like thunder and kerosene burns a little on the nose as you walk up from the car park.
‘Everyone who comes here has a love for motor sport. People want to talk about what they see on track,’ says ex-boxing world champion, Chris Eubank, a regular at the festival. Even in the hospitality suites, where the action outside is often secondary to the food and drink, guests spend less time over lunch and more in the viewing galleries.
Hospitality is split into five areas. The premier facilities, Hill Pavilion and Gurney Pavilion, are both trackside, with only a reinforced hay bale separating guests from the tarmac. At £500 for almost 10 hours’ viewing, it’s good value, with everything you’ll need for a day’s luxury, from gourmet food to VIP guest passes to all the relevant arenas.
For less traditional hospitality, the Supercar Pavilion opened last year as part of the industry-wide trend for less formal entertaining. Suited to guests who are more into state-of-the-art performance cars over classic machines, it makes for a unique afternoon, dining among the biggest collection of supercars ever assembled. It costs significantly less at £200, but you’ll pay for your own drinks.
For more information on Festival of Speed, visit squaremeal.co.uk/fos or call 01243 755054
The last major racing event in the summer calendar, this is the festival to to be seen at this July
A day at the races
doesn’t get much more quintessentially English than Glorious Goodwood. The pinnacle of the course’s racing calendar and also regarded as the official closing party of the summer season, the
festival blends a social occasion with Grade A sporting action.
King Edward VII described the week-long festival as ‘a garden party with racing tacked on’ and nothing much has changed in the 100 years since his reign. This year running from 27-31 July, Glorious celebrates all things British. From the food and drink, to the sea of Panama hats in the viewing galleries, guests come away flushed with the full-on English hospitality experience.
Like other horse racing hospitality, the format is tried and tested. Lunch is taken before racing begins at 2.15pm and afternoon tea is served just before the penultimate race. The produce comes mainly from the Goodwood Estate farm – the largest organic holding in Europe – with an English spin on each dish.
Racing makes an ideal event to entertain clients, even if the winners are few and far between. Face time is constant, sweepstakes can keep everyone involved and nothing comes close to the atmosphere of a group victory on a long-shot. It’s also suited to both men and women – racing is equally as accessible and the menus aren’t tailored to either sex, as can be the case at other hospitality events.
Of all the areas available, The Charlton Hunt Restaurant makes the best-value hospitality option at £365 per head, with tables for between two and 10 guests. When compared to other racing festivals, it’s a great price. Through one window, guests can take in the rolling South Downs and through the other, they have one of the best views of the track. With a balcony terrace overlooking the final straight, it’s a top spot for watching the winners come home.
For more information on Glorious Goodwood, visit squaremeal.co.uk/glorious or call 01243 755054
l• Dress to impress. Think traditional English summer wear: light linen suits for men and pretty pastels for the ladies
• Don’t be afraid to ask the roving Tote representatives about the bets available to you. They’re happy to give advice
• Postpone pudding to make sure that you don’t miss any racing. The staff are happy to hold off until a convenient break later on
• Can’t find what you fancy on the drinks list? Ask the bar staff, they might be able to source a different wine or spirit from another hospitality area
• Thursday is Ladies’ Day. If you’re taking a predominantly female set of clients, this is the best time to do it – the men in the party won’t mind
• Leave the hospitality area. Specially commissioned exhibitions to celebrate the end of the summer season are worth exploring
• Make a night of it. The on-site Goodwood Hotel (tel: 01243 775537) offers excellent rates for those looking to stick around after racing. A night’s accommodation starts from £280
• The Veuve Clicquot Champagne tent makes a great venue for celeb-spotting. You can gain entry with a hospitality badge, but you will have to pay for drinks
• Hang around once the racing is finished. Not only do you miss the crowds on the way to the station, many of the private suites host post-race parties with open invitations
• The Smith & Western pub (tel: 01243 788886) next to Chichester station makes the ideal venue for post-racing drinks. Ring early and they’ll reserve you a table
‘All glamour, no mud’ is the ethos at this new three-day festival (13-15 August) celebrating British music, fashion, design and retail from the 1940s to the 1980s. With a main stage featuring live
acts alongside five different club-style spaces including a 40s nightclub, 70s warehouse party with roller disco and the 60s ‘Soul Casino’, all teleported into the Goodwood Estate, it’ll be a
stunning event. Other entertainment will take in burlesque, theatre, comedy and cabaret as well as plenty of dance lessons for beginners. A high street of pop-up shops – from Oxfam to Waitrose –
will include retro hair and beauty salons, alongside a vintage market place.
Vintage is aimed primarily at a discerning festival-going crowd, but for corporates looking for something more leftfield than sports-based hospitality without the muddy scrum of a music festival, it’s a great compromise. Curious corporates will also be delighted to hear that the accommodation is aimed at the ‘glamping’ brigade too. If you’re a corporate sponsor, or have £2,000 per pair to spend, the high-end Hotel Bell Tent at The Kennels offers luxury tents with Egyptian cotton bedding, full use of the clubhouse and breakfast in bed, as well as a laundry and grooming service. Other options include woodland yurts with posh loos and airbed mattresses, futuristic Geo Domes and painted gypsy caravans. Or there’s always the Goodwood Hotel on-site. Welly wearers need not apply.
For tickets to Vintage at Goodwood, tel: 01243 755000
The Goodwood Revival (17-19 September) is the world’s largest historic race meeting. But to call it a race meeting doesn’t exactly paint the whole picture. At its heart is the track, with races
running throughout each day, but like Royal Ascot or the Cartier International Polo, what’s happening away from the main action is where the real charm lies. So while the festival attracts its
share of classic car enthusiasts – hospitality packages include access to the competitors’ paddock – it’s a perfect ticket for those who don’t have petrol running through their veins.
The festival’s raison d’etre is to celebrate the golden age of motor racing, from the late 40s to the mid 60s, and every effort is made to ensure that the event immerses guests in the spirit of the age. Every element, from the food stands to the competitors’ costumes and the planes that swoop overhead, are choreographed to create a time capsule. A team of 100 actors, from babies to 80-year-olds, is employed to contribute to the atmosphere.
Of course, the guests are invited to join in this theatre too. The suggested dress code is so broad – from 40s, 50s and 60s – that everyone can find a way to get involved (see ‘Revival Fashion’ opposite). But this is also a serious fixture and the racing action is not as genteel as the behaviour off the track.
The Revival is guaranteed to charm even the most hospitality-fatigued guest. The day starts at 9am (if you want it to) and finishes at 7pm, with a whole day of face time in between, which makes it good value too. ‘Some of my clients will phone me up if they haven’t got an invite and ask if they can come,’ says Norman Marshall, managing director of NM Group, who always books four tables for family and clients in the SuperShell facility. ‘I’ve already booked for next year.’
For more information on Goodwood Revival, visit squaremeal.co.uk/revival or call 01243 755054
Opened in 2008, the high-end Salvadori has a slicker, more formal feel than the Super Shell, which appeals to big companies. The facility overlooks the chicane where all the action happens. There are chalets for up to 30 – including The Ultimate Experience, the top-end package in the corner chalet, which has uninterrupted views right up the course and across to the airfield.
The Goodwood Mess
Fully themed hospitality for 2010; expect ration books for self-service at lunch, and dining on long trestle tables. Overall, it’ll have an informal feel, so guests can come and go. The Mess is in the thick of the action. At track level, it runs along the home straight and finish line. Guests can also watch competitors and crews warm up in the assembly area next door. Even the most auto-averse can’t help feel a sense of anticipation when the engines start revving.
An atmospheric 1950s garage on the lightning-quick Woodcote Corner, Super Shell has an exclusive but pleasantly informal feel, with stacks of character that attracts retail and media companies. SuperShell is close to the track action but a few minutes’ walk from the Paddock and the Woodcote grandstand, so guests are ferried to and from seats in a fleet of vintage cars. There’s a lot of repeat business here, which gives the venue a clubby atmosphere.
Faced with a catwalk conundrum, ladies? Help is at hand. Even a few small touches can transform an outfit. Why not channel your inner Audrey Hepburn with polished make-up – dark eyeliner, bright red lipstick – and a wide belt cinched around an elegant dress at the waist? Alternatively, think Sandy in Grease – a demure flared skirt or summer frock, pumps and jaunty neck scarf. For all-out glamour, look to Marilyn: dark glasses and a vintage fur stole over a figure-hugging gown.
Gents should look to Cary Grant or Terry-Thomas for inspiration. A blazer, flannels and a cravat, crowned with a Panama hat and accessorised with a monocle or cigarette holder. The country gent might choose a sports jacket, trouser and braces with a check shirt and flat cap. A pipe and shooting stick would be the perfect accessories. If you really want to make the ladies swoon, it can only be an
RAF or Army uniform. However, you’ll see plenty of mechanics – why not dress the team in branded overalls? – and the Mods and Rockers always make a showing too. Whatever you wear, don’t forget to top it off with a generous slick of Brylcreem.
l• Dress up. Around 80% of the crowd do so you’ll feel more self-conscious if you don’t
• Take a wander. Half the charm is the promenading and people-watching
• Bring a camera. This is a seriously photogenic event
• Check the site map before you arrive. Hospitality areas are accessed via a tunnel under the track – the entrance is easy to miss
• Car nuts should park in car park B and allow time to admire the ranks of retro gems in the Classic Car Show on the way to the gate
• Choose your car park before you set off. Park in car park D if you’re in Super Shell and car park C if you’re in the Clark, Hawthorn or Salvadori Pavilions
• Leave plenty of time to get there. It takes a good two hours from London and traffic can clog up the roads around the site on racedays
• Nab one of the trackside tables outside The Goodwood Mess for afternoon tea
Away from the madness of the main events, Goodwood’s year-round activities range from outdoor pursuits and golf to glittering banquets in the Ballroom
Bought by Lord March in 2006, the hotel is coming into its own after a number of years languishing in global chain obscurity. Public spaces, including The Richmond Arms restaurant and bar, and the
Goodwood Bar & Grill, emerged from a facelift in 2008 with an understated modern feel – in a similar vein to The Kennels. The same treatment is being applied to a number of its bedrooms
The hotel is the only venue on the estate that has straight-up conference rooms for larger groups, seating up to 150, plus 94 bedrooms. As you’d expect, during special events it’s usually taken up with the guests of Lord March – sponsors, drivers, VIPs – but it’s always worth checking for availability as it’s a handy base and great fun during the Revival when it’s all dressed up. Tel: 01243 775537, squaremeal.co.uk/goodwoodp
Golf at Goodwood
The great game has been played at Goodwood for more than 100 years, but the Earl’s modern outlook is demonstrated clearly at the golf club, where the stifling rules of the traditional set up are
sidestepped in favour of a relaxed, inclusive ethos. There’s no dress code, a £220 annual joining fee and a decidedly new-wave credit system, which charges according to whether the desired playing
time is ‘peak’, ‘popular’ or ‘peaceful’. Day membership is £100.
The greens, tees and fairways were revamped about four years ago, with new feature holes added, but the club is still in touch with its past – check out the retro golf buggies with wicker baskets for Champagne. Vintage golf days – plus fours and flat caps – are particularly popular.
Of the two options at Goodwood, The Downs is the more challenging (a beautiful downland course and the setting for the English PGA Championship this year) The Park is a more forgiving pay-and-play option. Look out for the views over Chichester Cathedral and to the Isle of Wight from the Downs’ 7th green.
Packages such as the ‘Shotgun Start’ (72 playing, 18 four-balls) are great for larger groups, with dinner afterwards in the Ballroom.
For more information on golf at Goodwood see squaremeal.co.uk/golfatg or call 01243 755144.
What used to be a palatial kennel complex for the hunting dogs, built in 1787 by the 3rd Duke, is now a swish clubhouse. Clad in a restrained palette of olives and greens, the Georgian building has
a homely feel throughout (particularly if you’re a dog – there are named dog bowls in the reception) and no dress code – muddy wellies and jeans are welcomed.
It’s a smart setting for events, with private rooms for meeting and dining particularly popular as there’s no room hire charge, just a minimum spend (from £1,500). The Music Room seats 24 and can be used with the South Terrace Dining Room, which has access to a lovely terrace for summer entertaining. For informal events, there’s a bar on the putting green just by The Kennels, used during the summer months for barbecues and post-golf drinks. The views up to the house are stunning.
To enquire about events at The Kennels, call 01243 755144
Goodwood House, the sprawling mansion at
the heart of the estate, is home to the 10th Duke of Richmond – the family still live in the West Wing. It’s also open to the public 60 days a year, with around 20 weddings and a small number of
corporate events on top of that.
There’s no doubting its grandeur; the rooms are immaculately preserved and brimming with antiques and portraits, but the house somehow still feels homely, lacking the austerity of other stately homes of this size. The fact that it’s privately owned also makes it a much easier proposition for event organisers.
There are a handful of spaces for meeting and entertaining. The exotic Egyptian Room, a dark seductive space, and the Tapestry Room are both beautifully kept, the latter used for Privy Council Meetings (scheduled to coincide, naturally, with Glorious Goodwood). However, this house was made for entertaining, and our favourite spaces are the gallery rooms running along the front. For large formal dinners, groups of up to 150 can arrive in the impressive Front Hall for drinks in the Yellow Drawing Room, before moving into the Ballroom, an ornate gallery space with marble columns, gold chandeliers and portrait-lined walls. Whether you’re planning dinner for 10 or a party for 300, all hire is on an exclusive basis.
For more information on Goodwood House and its event capacities, see squaremeal.co.uk/goodwood, or call 01243 755000
Goodwood sporting membership host 800 guests throughout the year, with corporate packages
ranging from £100,000 to £250,000 (tel: 01243 755096)
This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events in April 2010