Stripy deckchairs, bustling piers and colourful carousels – we can all conjure a vibrant image of the great British seaside, even if we can’t always picture the sun! It’s part of our heritage and culture as much as newspaper wrapped fish and chips. However from an event planners’ perspective seaside resorts have become more associated with leisure and family holidays in recent years, with the big cities overtaking towns such as Blackpool or Brighton as the go-to locations for conference and events.
Whilst a big city undoubtedly has a number of selling points, these ‘traditional’ conference destinations have plenty to offer the discerning event planner; flexibility in rates, free parking, breath-taking scenery and a more leisure orientated feel – we’ve hand-picked seven seaside destinations just for you…
- Eastbourne, East Sussex
Gateway to the new South Downs National Park and home of Beachy Head, a filming location famous for being used in Hollywood blockbusters such as Harry Potter, James Bond and TV series including Luther, Eastbourne’s seafront consists largely of Victorian era hotels, a pier and a Napoleonic fort and military museum. The Grand Hotel is the most luxurious hotel here, indeed it’s billed as a ‘Palace by the Sea’, but we rather like The View Hotel, which offers a purpose built conference and events centre, and also provides activities such as a BBQ with stunning pier views or a treasure hunt on the beach to complement your event.
2. Brighton, Sussex
Approximately 20 miles west of Eastbourne, Brighton is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city. Home to the annual Pride parade it is kitsch, cool and fun with a good mix of traditional and modern venues. The Grand Brighton is one of the landmark destinations on Brighton’s famous seafront and is currently undergoing a restoration project, due to be completed in Autumn 2017, which will see the beautiful Victorian building restored to its former glory. The Jury’s Inn Brighton Waterfront is just minutes from the pier, has 210 stylish and comfortable rooms, and has a lovely high glass ceiling in the Atrium Bar and Lounge.
- Blackpool, Lancashire
According to Visit Blackpool, over the last five years Blackpool has been the beneficiary of more than £400m worth of investment in regeneration projects – and by 2020 that figure will have risen to over £500m. The Pleasure Beach, Blackpool Tower (home to the Skywalk if you’re feeling brave) and the famous illuminations, this resort on the Irish Sea is renowned for the sheer volume of B&Bs and hotels to choose from. A state of the art conference and exhibition centre is being built at the Winter Gardens Blackpool. Due to open in Spring 2019 the space will be based at the Leopold Grove side of the complex and will have a double height entrance foyer, with exhibition space on the first floor. Already popular for its crystal domes, theatres, gardens, fountains and promenades this will bring the venue’s capacity for conferences up to 7000!
- Skegness, Lincolnshire
Skegness, or ‘Skegvegas’ is home to one of three Butlins resorts, is where Butlins began in 1936, and is the biggest resort of the three with capacity for any team from 10 to 7,000. A short hop for Midlands businesses (two hours from Nottingham), the venue offers charming New England-style accommodation and conference facilities which can be hired out exclusively at certain times of the year. Whether you are planning a board meeting for a dozen people, or a product launch for thousands, the resort has onsite team building activities from treasure hunts and fairground challenges to high adventures. Butlins is a great option for a one stop shop that’s full of energy and fun.
- Bournemouth, Dorset
The jewel of Britain’s South Coast, Bournemouth is a vibrant and colourful resort with miles of sandy beaches and panoramic views of the coastline; majestic period hotels perching on the cliff tops overlooking the sea have become synonymous with Bournemouth. The Highcliff Marriott Hotel is a typical example with panoramic views over Bournemouth Bay to inspire vision and help drive creativity. The Dorchester Suite can host up to 350 people, or if you need more space the Bournemouth International Centre is conveniently adjacent and has a range of meetings spaces up to 3,700 theatre-style in Windsor Hall. A little further out The Sandbanks Hotel is situated on the glorious Sandbanks beach and offers six versatile suites with Sea or Harbour views.
- St Andrews, Scotland
St Andrews is a place of history, learning and culture and is a wonderful coastal resort. Known for its many golf courses, including the Old Course, with the landmark Swilcan Bridge at the 18th hole, there is also the ruins of St. Andrews Castle, with its medieval bottle dungeon and of course the University of St. Andrews. The five star Old Course Hotel overlooks the famous links courses, the West Sands Beach and the beautiful Scottish coastline and boasts 144 rooms, 35 suites and a variety of meetings spaces from the cosy Captains Room to the Hall of Champions. Alternatively Hotel du Vin & Bistro St Andrews has been lovingly transformed into a stylish, boutique hotel, has lots of nooks and crannies in which delegates can take time out and is the perfect base from which to explore the old town’s historic buildings and medieval streets.
- Lake Windermere , Cumbria
Ok – so it’s not technically the seaside, but we think it’s worth an honourable mention. Lake Windermere in Cumbria’s Lake District National Park, is the largest natural lake in England surrounded by mountain peaks and villages. Bowness-on-Windermere, Lakeland’s most popular holiday resort, is an excellent centre for boating activities, is home to The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction and a large selection of Adventure Activity companies. Our top pick is The Belsfield Hotel, which sits on the Eastern shore in the picturesque village of Bowness. Set in six acres of landscaped gardens this boutique hotel offers unparalleled views over Lake Windermere and has 62 designer bedrooms, an award winning restaurant and six stylish conference suites which can accommodate up to 120.
There’s more to Britain’s seaside destinations than buckets and spades! If you would like more information about the venues we have mentioned, or would like to explore these destinations further for your next event please do get in touch with our expert team on firstname.lastname@example.org or 02476 369720 – we’re here to help!