Business events in conference venues can be such dull affairs, so it’s no wonder that business leaders are looking for new ways to inspire their team and seek an alternative training venue or away day experience. One such innovative experience is pairing Michelin star food with a beautiful seaside venue to stimulate minds and focus.
The Carlton Hotel in North Devon is doing just this with its new Michelin business package offering which includes a fine dining evening with Thomas Carr at The Olive Room, the area’s only Michelin starred restaurant (see his exclusive interview below).
The author Bill Marsano, once wrote that, “The British Empire was created as a by-product of generations of desperate Englishmen roaming the world in search of a decent meal.”This was particularly true of British seaside towns which for many years were typified by menus that were high in sugar and fat and low in flavour and substance.
That was then, but things have changed dramatically in recent years. Now the British coast is speckled with small towns where culinary pearls are waiting to be discovered. This is particularly true for Ilfracombe, one of the most picturesque harbour towns on the West Country’s Atlantic coast and home to one of Devon’s most pleasant conference venues for hosting business events.
Business Events With a Difference
The Carlton is pushing the envelope with three unique two day businesspackages that combine business class luxury accommodation with top of the range training venue facilities (from on site meeting and seminar rooms to gym and treatments). The Carlton is one of the more exclusive Devon conference venues for business events – from team meetings and business workshops to training & development courses.
The Carlton Hotel’sMichelin Package, centred in Ilfracombe, sits neatly into this programme, offering a truly unique shared experience for office teams seeking an alternative training venue in North Devon.
For a restaurant, a Michelin star is the pinnacle of success and one that cannot be bought. The go-to guide for food quality began life in 1900 and was soon blazing a trail for the finest food to be found on its travels. The secretive nature of the world of the Michelin inspector was revealed to the New Yorker Magazine in 2009, which noted that ‘inspectors themselves are advised not to disclose their line of work, even to their parents’.
An interview with Michelin Star Chef, Thomas Carr
This is what Michelin Guide inspectors say about Thomas Carr at The Olive Room; “A simple, homely restaurant beneath a B&B, run by an experienced local chef who trained under Nathan Outlaw. Ultra-fresh seafood is the focus, with dishes only confirmed once the day boat deliveries come in. Cooking is skilled.”
So what can Carlton Hotel guests expect from the fine dining aspect of Michelin Package? We caught up with Thomas Carr to get his views on Ilfracombe, what makes the Olive Room so special and where his culinary inspiration comes from.
What is special about Ilfracombe as a place?
Well you only need to have a look around to see. You step out the front of the restaurant and you have a lovely view down Fore Street to the sea. It’s really at its best when the sun’s shining and everyone’s just enjoying a walk along the seafront. We’re also a special place for food! We’re the only place in Devon to have a Michelin Star and a Michelin Bib Gourmand. We’re punching above our weight for such a small town, but it’s brilliant.It’s not just about the Michelin level dining though. We also have the best chippies, fantastic local artisan producers and lots of quality restaurants.It’s a foodie haven.
What is special about the Olive Room fine dining experience?
I think for us, it’s always about making the food the star of the show. Our dining room is cosy and the service is relaxed. Our customers often comment on how they love how unpretentious the experience is. People expect a Michelin Starred restaurant to be a high class affair, but when we have such amazing ingredients to work with, we want to make sure they don’t get lost in an in-your-face Front of House service; we just want our guests to relax and enjoy themselves.
Where does inspiration for the Olive Room menu come from?
I think we are always inspired by the quality of the ingredients we have access too. When a beautiful fish comes into the kitchen we just want to do it justice. We offer chef’s tasting menus (and a la carte midweek), and it’s about keeping the tastes simple, not overloading the dish with unnecessary additional flavours, and showcasing the ingredients. That’s not to say that there aren’t some nice little hidden flavours amongst the dish though. As a chef I’m a bit of a grazer so I tend to pick at different ingredients and every now and then I’ll stumble across a combination of flavours which aren’t typically served together, but I can taste that they could work I’ll start trying to develop a dish from that.
With delegate prices starting at £119* per person per night (for a two night midweek business package stay), the Carlton Hotel in Ilfracombe offers one of the most unique Devon business venues and without doubt one of the most flavoursome! Please emailor telephone (01271 862446) to find out what the Carlton Hotel can bring to your business this year.
*Price based on 20+ delegates.
Grow your team, grow your business is one of those clichés that is periodically rolled out in business event planning sessions or by business magazines and consultants, but what does that actually mean?
Google the term and you will find pages devoted to the topic, filled with jargonese chatter about onboarding, feedback loops or gardening metaphors that wax lyrical about the team progressing from seed to flower!
The phrase is of course a catch all intended to give the boss team building ideas, along with tips on how to increase productivity and profit…while really aiming to nudge the reader to click the link in the vague hope of finding out something they don’t already know.
Business Event Planning in North Devon
In Ilfracombe, North Devon, the Carlton Hotel brings its own slant to business event planning and the burning question of how to grow your team. It involves dispensing with the jargonese and getting ‘back to basics’. Not in a John Majortype throwback to the past, but by simply stripping away all the white noise that goes with the daily grind of life in the office and seeing things from a different angle.
In this respect, the Carlton provides much more than a conventional venue with meeting room hire – although meeting and seminar rooms (fully equipped and ready to cater for groups of 5 – 150 people) it also happens to have! Thanks to its fantastic location on the North Devon coast it offers far more in terms of team building ideas than most destinations.
The Carlton’sEngage business packageoffers unique opportunities for companies to get away from the office for a 2 day midweek break in Spring or Autumn where the art of business can be combined with pleasure in ways that are intended to grow the team as human beings. As most of the afore mentioned articles agree on one thing; people are the cornerstone of any business.
Bathing With Your Boss?
Growing one’s business is so often a case of working effectively with who you have rather than complaining about what you don’t (just ask Jose Mourinho!). This is something that some bosses fail to grasp when considering team building ideas – hoping that just by putting on an away day the team will magically fall in line and come together regardless of the activity.
There are plenty of bad away days you could drag your team through, such as ‘naked relationships’ otherwise known as bathing with your boss, which is apparently a popular bonding activity in Japan! So here are some far more appealing options from the Carlton’s Engage business package which makes the most of the beautiful North Devon coast.
Let’s start with the sea, which lends itself to kayaking, coasteering and surfing – cue a bracing, bonding and fun filled experience splashing about off Atlantic facing beaches such as nearby Woolacombe (which regularly crops up in the list of the world’s best beaches).
For confirmed landlubbers the action can easily switch inland – on the golfing green, off piste on a quad bike or even in mid air (as the clay pigeon flies!). If this sounds like far too much expended energy then gentler pursuits – from chocolate workshops to barista making by way of beachcombing on secluded beaches – can be arranged.
Bespoke Activities and Business Quality Accommodation
The Carlton has a reputation for working with members of the firm responsible for business event planning to come up with activities that will fit the company and the people that make it. Add to a programme of bespoke activities superb business class quality rooms, excellent in-house diningand meeting room hire thrown in for free (to ensure some business motivated moments in the break) and this is a winning combination for growing your team’s appetite for growing your business.
With Engage business packages starting at £100 per person, per night, get in touch by emailor telephone (01271 862446) to find out what the Carlton Hotel can bring to tour team this year (and, just for the record, a longboardingsession is far more memorable than an onboarding session!…).
The problem with modern life is that it just doesn’t stop! There is a lot of research out there regarding office worker health, urging us to switch off and de-stress, but we just don’t seem to get the time to get round to it…
This is something of an irony seeing as the first bit of advice given when our technology stops functioning as it should, is to turn it off and give it a reboot!
Stress is part and parcel of business. It is the adrenalin fuelled engine which drives aspiration, ambition and achievement. But it is a double edged sword. Stress can lead to burn out and also be detrimental to the office environment and the business as a whole.
Many businesses use team building exercises and business away days to take their employees out of this environment. Business away days are an opportunity for the team to de-stress and connect on a different level . Bonding over something other than the shared use of the water cooler is beneficial to office worker health, but frequently business away days are over too quickly to fully enjoy the benefits.
Team Building Exercises to Beat Stress
That’s why the Carlton Hotel in Ilfracombe, North Devon, has seen a swift uptake of its two day Refresh & Energise business breakpackages this Spring. The midweek business breaks combine opportunities for team building exercises with a programme of relaxation activities for the team – from massage and Tai Chi sessions to outdoor coastal pursuits and a specially prepared Wellness menu that’s big on taste but healthy too.
Carlton Hotel owner, Eliot Seabourn-Wren, says, “There is a lot of uncertainty in the UK at the moment and many companies are waiting for the green light on some kind of direction, but this is also taking its toll on the office. Our Refresh and Energise breaks are proving popular because bosses are seeing the benefits to office worker health as well as promoting focus for what’s coming next.”
The Office is Bad For Your Health
It seems obvious, but research has been drawing attention to the negative impact of sitting for up to 8 hours a day. So the solution is to get a stand up desk right? Not necessarily! Standing for any length of time brings its own problems (from conditions such as plantar fasciitis – foot swelling to lumbar spine pressures).
A positive contribution to office worker health (aside from making efforts to bring more mobility into your day) comes through the power of massage. Massage techniques – from head to full bodyto feet massage – will flush out the muscles, put knotted muscles back in place and remove accumulated tension.
The ancient art of Tai Chi has also enjoyed a revival with its clear benefits for the modern office worker. Carlton Hotel ‘s Tai Chi partner, Paul Maxfield. “Tai Chi can be used in various ways such as for strength, flexibility, and mental wellbeing. It has obvious advantages for management and company employees. In day to day business, life can be stressful, and where decisions have to be made with a clear head, Tai Chi brings calm and focus.”
While massage and Tai Chi are more specialised features on the Refresh & Energise business break programme at North Devon’s Carlton Hotel, team building exercises don’t get any less formal than just taking a stroll on the beach! Walking is good for our health and everybody is saying it (hands up if you’ve done your 10,000 steps today?!)- and nowhere is this more pertinent than in relation to office worker health.
Guaranteed to boost the mind and energise the body is a coastal walk, or pleasant time spent combing the beach and marvelling at the power of the elements and the mighty Atlantic ocean – just the kind sight to help get things into perspective. It may be the simplest and most informal of team building exercises on a Refresh & Energise business break package, but it’s an effective one!
And of course a good walk builds a good appetite too. The office is a magnet for poor eating habits; grabbing lunch on the go, snacking on quick fix sugary and salty snacks, being too tired to rustle up anything other than a ready meal in the kitchen at the end of a long day…
The specially prepared Wellness menu at the Carlton appreciates the importance of fuelling correctly for maximum performance. Eating well is just another element of the hotel’s Refresh & Energise two day business break (from £102 per person, per night) – the perfect opportunity to hit stop, reset and prepare the team’s focus for the year to come.
For more information about the Carlton Hotel’s Refresh & Energise package, get in touch by emailor telephone (01271 862446).