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All with a horticultural expert and event official in attendance to guide you through the maze of displays and advise on any gardening issues. Hospitality for the Royal Horticultural Society is run by Fortnum & Mason Events, and Fleur Bonnett of Fortnum & Mason comments on what makes it particularly special. “I think first of all the ambiance at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is quite spectacular. Fortnum & Mason Events hosts the Corporate Village, the Chelsea Oasis and the President’s Marquee. The Oasis is a haven of peace in the hustle and bustle of the busy showground. You experience the best of entertainment, with superior dining, beautiful surroundings and an unrivalled attention to detail.” Comments from attendees speak for

themselves: “We were absolutely blown away by the step up from previous years – there was no comparison. For the first time since we’ve been involved with the show, the event felt ‘high end’, which is exactly what we’ve been trying to achieve previously,” says Jo, whose company declined to be named. “We couldn’t fault anything. The canapés were absolutely glorious; the lunch was divine and perfect for the day. The speed of service was fantastic, particularly given the fact that Fortnum & Mason were also offering guests a choice of main course (which went down extremely well) and the service all day was impeccable. The marquee also looked fantastic and we had numerous comments from our guests, the vast majority of whom have experienced the event at least once previously with us, about how superb the food was, how amazing the marquee looked and just generally what a fantastic day it had been from start to finish.”

CROSSING THE COUNTRY To make corporate hospitality an even more

exciting experience, however, you can take guests further afield, or for those already based outside of London, find bespoke occasions on your doorstep. Experiences that can be arranged anywhere in the UK include a helicopter treasure hunt, where teams board choppers and visit a number of checkpoints, the locations of which they will have deduced together from clues given to them beforehand, and perhaps the odd hint from the pilot. Or bespoke perfume making, where a consultant takes your group on a fragrant journey, after which they can design their own scent and take it home with them afterwards. Another sure-fire crowd pleaser is the


chocolate experience, a guided history of the world’s favourite bean and a thoroughly delectable lesson in cocoa use, including blind tasting, telling the difference between hand- and machine-made chocolates, and trying a full variety of fresh cream, pralines, moulded and dipped chocolates. These less traditional options provide


flexibility in a number of ways, catering to different budgets, venues and personalities. This allows creativity when it comes to spoiling your guests, and a more interactive alternative to putting a glass of Champagne in their hand and leaving them to it. Imagination goes a long way: a lot of companies offer a huge variety of events, and ideas include a big band and

DJ service, a rope course, corporate cooking classes, a murder mystery night, a yoga retreat, a corporate drumming class and a health spa. While a traditional theatre outing often presents a good ice-breaker, a much better solution for getting to know clients is actual ice sculpting, a fun and unusual activity that is flexible enough to arrange at any venue of your choice. Another route for youthful or more active

groups are short breaks such as a North Devon surfing trip, described by AOK Events as “the new corporate ski break, but much cheaper”. It allows guests to combine learning a new skill with looking cool and feeling the health benefits, then head to a pub in the evenings. As well as learning to surf, you could be taught to play beach volleyball, or go ‘coasteering’ ( jumping off cliffs into deep rock pools). For the outdoorsy but less adrenaline-seeking,

companies such as Large Outdoors offer a range of walks and UK mountain-climbing challenges, which can incorporate fundraising activities into the experience.

BLOW THE BUDGET If you want to show clients what they really

mean to you, you can’t get more exclusive than an incentive break or foreign tour. Kaluma Travel’s ski experience, run during January, gives up to 18 guests an exclusive seven-night stay at Chalet Maisonnée in Courchevel 1850, the highest and most famous part of Les Trois Vallées ski region in the French Alps. This year it included a one-way private

helicopter transfer to the chalet, where guests found ski passes, sommelier-selected alcohol and the services of an on-site, 24-hour ski-lift. They also had the opportunity to try out heli-lunching at La Bouitte in St Marcel for just £80 per person, based on five passengers per helicopter. Kaluma put together a full itinerary, including visits to the best local restaurants, exclusive après-ski and the finest powder slopes available. Less exclusive but equally popular are

planned tours. This sort of trip, if you aren’t booking all of the flights yourself, can be put



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