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With millions of pounds worth of investment and a burgeoning events market, Jersey is becoming a ‘don’t miss’ destination for corporate groups. Square Meal returned to the island to catch up with the latest goings-on
Now approaching the end of a £15m investment from progressive new owners Hilwood Resorts & Hotels, this grande dame has been transformed into a chic, contemporary business and leisure hotel. The stunning vistas remain as does much of the handsome woodwork, but the smart, grown-up style of the interiors is lifted with quirky twists. For events, there’s the Park Suites, a self-contained conference venue with a business centre and dedicated 24-hour concierge, for boardroom meetings, screenings in the 35-seater cinema or private entertaining, while the stylish Grand Suite, a 200-capacity space, has its own reception area, bar and stage for entertainment. It’s also worth noting that Albert Roux is the consultant chef. By this summer, the hotel will have an alfresco dining terrace with a barbecue kitchen and a bar, a new phase of bedrooms, extensive leisure facilities and an Elemis spa.
Set in 25 acres of vineyard, this pretty estate extended its event space in June 2007 with the addition of a 200-capacity function room and a bright, oak-beamed restaurant overlooking the rows of vines. With its outdoor terrace, this would work well for early evening receptions. It may look like a traditional sort of place, with a storing cellar and Wonka-esque distillery providing a backdrop to events in the main space, but functions will benefit from up-to-the-minute audio-visual kit. Behind the scenes, the winery continues to produce red, white and sparkling wines, as well as chocolate and preserves. The newly extended working spaces can be used for group activities for up to 150 – wine-blending (you can take home your labelled bottle) and chocolate-making with effusive Aussie chocolatier Darren Stower are recommended.
What a location for this new 195-bedroom hotel, which opened in November 2007. Stretching along the waterfront, the seaview rooms enjoy uninterrupted vistas of St Aubin’s Bay and Elizabeth Castle. The best function room in the place (possibly even on the island) must be the fifth-floor meeting room. The circular, 60-capacity space with a sweeping of floor-to-ceiling glass and breathtaking sea views really comes into its own at night when the castle is bathed in light. There’s also a self-contained function room, Rocco Tower, for 450 theatre-style and the Brasserie de Verre en Vers has adjoining private rooms for receptions and dinners, with a terrace overlooking the marina and bay.
Blending a smart, business-like style with the personal touches and attention to detail of a boutique hotel, recent renovations at this luxury town-centre property have seen the extension of its back-of-house to incorporate larger kitchens. Now, up to six guests can dine at a brand-new chef’s table in the kitchens of first-rate destination restaurant Bohemia, which deservedly retained its Michelin star in 2008. Shaun Rankin and his brigade also have the capacity to cater for private dinners in the refurbished function suite on the ground floor – a dividable boardroom-cum-private dining room with sophisticated decor and large doors leading out onto a decked terrace. Exclusive hire rates for the 38 bedrooms and public areas are particularly reasonable during the off-season, and the hotel’s über-comfortable beds are famous across the island.
Completed in July 2007, the original Royal Yacht building has now been engulfed by this impressive, 110-bedroom modern hotel and conference venue. A family-run property, designed in the style of a luxury yacht, it’s quite apparent that no corners have been cut here. The Celestial Hall, a simple, modern room with state-of-the-art lighting, sound and projection, can hold up to 280 for banqueting. Large parties are particularly well catered for, as the kitchen clearly has its finger on the pulse. We’d recommend the fabulous buffet for larger functions – a beautiful array of local seafood and meat with artfully presented salads and sides. For smaller groups, the bar and grill in the original part of the building has a charming, seaside pub feel, making it a traditional alternative for dinner.
When the owners of the Hotel de France created the Ayush Wellness Spa, they were aiming to offer a little more than the usual ‘pampering’ facility. Set in the modern wing of this traditional property, and opened late in 2006, the spa offers generously proportioned treatment rooms for western and Indian therapies and consultation with a resident Ayurvedic doctor. The new wing also contains a leisure complex with a large swimming pool, gym and yoga studio. Ground-floor function spaces continue the serene and spacious feel, with a 300-capacity conference room, the airy, Scandinavian-inspired Sorrel Room and a pair of smaller boardrooms. And surely every hotel should have a Late Night Bar, a soundproofed venue with padded walls for after-hours revelry.
Having boosted its fleet with the addition of a brand-new, 34-ft Dufour racing yacht ready for the 2008 summer season, the team at Jersey Sailing have combined their round-the-world sailing and
corporate events experience to add a range of water-based challenges for groups. Under the watchful eye of Will Carnegie and his experienced sailors, groups will work together on sailing strategy
and planning, as well as teamwork and communication in the new Strategy Challenge. Their enthusiasm is infectious, but it’s also a tightly run operation, and less confident sailors will be
reassured by the hands-on approach of the team. Jersey Sailing has also paired up with Pure Adventure to offer multi-activity days – particularly suitable for larger groups – and can create bespoke
packages for different-sized parties. Yacht charter, tuition, racing master classes and racing can all be arranged.
St Helier Marina, New North Quay. Tel: 01534 747738
With its windswept beaches, clear turquoise seas and rolling countryside, Jersey’s great outdoors is one of its main attractions. This enthusiastic young activities company is growing rapidly to
meet the demands of visiting groups. The past year has seen the opening of Pure Adventure’s water- and land-based centres on the waterfront in St Helier and Les Ormes, offering over 30 different
activities. This April, an Aerial Trekking facility will also be launched at Les Ormes. With a combination of high wires and 12m-tall poles, military-style assault courses and a multi-activity area
for archery and team games, groups of 100 can be accommodated for a series of challenges aimed to develop communication, leadership skills and delegation. Staff are well-versed in encouraging
individuals to push to the edges of their comfort zone, so a sense of achievement is guaranteed.
Barneville, Les Grands Vaux, St Helier. Tel: 01534 769165
A new watersports attraction at the Merton Hotel allows surfers to practise their skills on a stationary wave. The £1m-Flowrider, the first of its type in the British Isles, sends a thin sheet of
water up a sloped and cushioned platform to create a wave-like flow of water. Anyone can ride, from beginners to advanced surfers, but the facility, located in the hotel’s Aquadome pool and leisure
club, is only open to guests.
1 Wharf Street, St Helier. Tel: 0870 486 7425
This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events magazine, Spring 2008.