Croatia – Jewel of the Adriatic

An often overlooked destination, Croatia is an ideal location for a wide variety of events.

This month we’re focusing on Dubrovnik; there is much more to this beautiful coastal area than the UNESCO protected old city but that seems a pretty good place to start …

With walls that run almost 2 km (1.24 mi) around the city, varying from four to six metres thick on the landward side (but much thinner on the seaward side), it’s easy to be charmed by the maze of trinket shops and century-old churches. Incredible work has been done to repair the shell-damage the city suffered during the war; just a few shrapnel marks on a church facade and a small photography exhibition hint at the true scale of the destruction.

Effective Travel Solutions’ incentive group packages include a private tour of the area, with a local guide to explain the ‘hidden’ secrets – from ancient graffiti to the old orphanage building and other such wonders that the average tourist would miss!

Groups can enjoy a range of dining options in the old city, from the terrace of luxury restaurant Nautika housed in the Navy Academy building to the 16th century Sponza Palace which can be booked exclusively for private events.

Your time in Dubrovnik isn’t limited to life within the city walls though, a trip up into the surrounding hills can be taken by cable car, bicycle, jeeps or our personal favourite; a convoy of classic Renault 4s driven by your guests!

Equally the crystal blue seas provide many options for water activities, whether it’s a relaxing yacht cruise out to the Elaphite islands or adventurous sea-kayaking that takes your fancy, there are a wide range of vessels to suit any size of group.

But don’t be fooled into thinking this charming destination is just for incentive groups, it offers just as much for conferences and meetings.

One of Effective Travel Solutions’ favourites is the Valamar Lacroma 4 star hotel, located just under 10 minutes drive from the old town the modern property also boasts stunning sea views (best enjoyed with a glass of local wine on their lovely terrace …)

Valamar Lacroma has a multifunctional congress centre offering flexible space for up to 1,200 delegates alongside 400 onsite bedrooms (two additional sister properties within walking distance can be used for overflow rooms). The main space can be split with air-walls to allow breakout sessions or exhibition space in addition to the range of smaller meeting rooms on the next level (also flexible to your needs!)

The event space has road access allowing easy build for complex events and has a brilliant blank canvas ‘plateau’ level which can take marquees in winter or be used as open-air catering area in the summer months – although the sunshine and pleasant temperatures stretch well into spring and autumn too!

Whatever the size of your group or nature of your event, Dubrovnik has something to offer – get in touch with our team today to discuss tailored options for you and your company.

Time to get the tinsel out … It’s Christmas!

In the unforgettable (we’ve tried) words of Noddy Holder ‘It’s Chriiiiiiiistmaaaaaaaas’, well nearly anyway, and that can mean only one thing: time for the annual office party.

If you’ve been waiting all year to dust off your novelty tie or oversized reindeer earrings for the annual bash at the pub-down-the-road then time to rejoice, if not, maybe it’s time to give your designated office party planner a bit of inspiration .

London is so choc-a-bloc full of attractive offers and intriguing venues it can be tempting to just stick with what you know rather than get lost amongst the hoards, but if you are feeling like it’s time for change here is our pick of the best:

8 Northumberland’s ‘Sugar Palace’

Restored Grade II listed venue located a one-minute walk from Trafalgar Square – The Old Billiard Room will be transformed into an enchanting fairytale playground. Think the Sugar Plum Fairy’s Kingdom of Sweets meets the White Witches castle – cool, decadent and delicious. A glittering colour scheme of silver and white will evoke a dazzling winter wonderland complete with edible trees, giant lollipops and a candy-man DJ!

Additional whimsical flourishes include spinning table centres to nibble on and an enticing dungeon sweet shop. Top hits will keep guests partying late into the night, while the magical LED light technology will provide a visual feast as it dances around the room in time to the music.

Reception from £70 per person + VAT / Seated Dinner from £120 per person + VAT

The Deck – ‘Chalet Noël’

They’re bringing the rustic charm and inviting surroundings of an Alpine resort to the South Bank this Christmas, transforming The Deck into Chalet Noël, a luxury ski lodge, perfect for enjoying an evening of entertainment with breath-taking views of London’s iconic skyline.

After walking through a pathway lined with twinkling trees and powdery snow, you and your guests will receive an exclusive ‘ski pass’ to Chalet Noël, a cosy retreat with exposed wooden-beams, fur linings and winter sports paraphernalia galore.

Warm yourself by a roaring fire whilst taking in the landmark views of St Paul’s Cathedral and the City of London, with the smooth sounds of the jazz piano playing in the background as you sip on a glass of our fortifying mulled wine.

Three themed menus have been created by our executive chef, Simon Flint and his team, featuring classic French dishes to stave off those winter chills:

A refined tea party for 20-70 guests, from 11am – 3pm, is the perfect ways to experience Chalet Noel during the day. For just £49.95pp + VAT / A standing reception for 50-120 guests, from 6pm – 11:30pm at £99pp + VAT / Five-course dinner, for 30-70 guests, from 6pm – 11:30pm at £145pp + VAT

Inamo – interactive asian fusion for smaller groups

They’ll serve you a delicious 4 course menu (3 choices per course) and offer everything from creating your own cocktails & virtual tablecloths, to tasty canapés, sushi making & saké tasting.

Start your party in style with a Prucia fizz cocktail, or 3 canapes including shichimi baby peppers.

Take advantage of the unique interactive tables to customise your table surfaces and wow your guests (see how your image might look on a table), and create a cocktail for your party (maybe even in your company colours?)

Don your apron and learn to prepare tasty nigiri & maki with our sushi chef, and taste 4 sakés by booking a sushi & sake masterclass for your party.

The Christmas Party Menu is available from Nov 25th to Dec 24th. Price per guest: £35.

If those weren’t enough to tempt you and assuming you don’t quite have the budget for a truly bespoke extravaganza (something we at Effective Event Solutions can most certainly provide if you do though …) then why not look a little further afield…..

Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire – Take a step back in time

There is no better place to hold your Christmas celebrations than Blenheim Palace, a truly magnificent venue. For the festive season the Palace will be dressed for ‘A Dickensian Christmas’.

Blenheim Palace provides something for everyone with a range of Christmas packages & event spaces. Choose between the elegant Orangery, the beautiful Marlborough Room or one of the private rooms for your festive lunch or Christmas party with colleagues and friends.

The Orangery is perfect for larger parties of 60 – 180 guests, and smaller celebrations can take place in the Marlborough Room. £49.00pp inclusive of VAT

What finer way to enjoy a quintessentially English tradition than with a Festive Afternoon Tea at Blenheim Palace? £25.50 pp inclusive of VAT


Just a quick train ride from the big smoke you’ll find the enchanting Christmas Markets of Brussels:

One of the highlights for Christmas shoppers are the 240 wooden Christmas chalets opened during this time. They line the streets of Bourse, Marché aux Poissons and Place St. Catherines. These stalls look like gingerbread houses, twinkling with fairy lights and covered with ‘snow-top’ roofs. The chalets sell a variety of Christmas items, decorations, gifts and Christmas season food.

The markets are open from From 29th November 2013 to 5th January 2014. Everything is open until 9pm on weeknights and 10pm on weekends.

Effective Travel Solutions can provide transport and accommodation packages along with a British hostess to ensure the smooth running of your trip.

Available for groups of 10+, prices dependent on preferred dates of travel.


UK launch of Girvan single grain scotch whisky

Last friday we were thrilled to assist William Grant & Sons with the unveiling of Girvan whisky as a UK market exclusive.

The original Girvan Patent Still, know affectionately as “No. 1 Apps”, a distillery term for apparatus, was built in 1963 under the stewardship of Charles Gordon, a whisky pioneer and the great-grandson of William Grant. Fifty years later, William Grant & Sons proudly launched its first ever single grain whisky under the emblem of the very first Girvan Patent Still.

John Ross, Master Distiller, said: “The Girvan Patent Still continuous distillation method takes the finest cereal grains to produce a very pure, fruity and clean-tasting grain spirit, which is lighter in aroma and character than most malt whiskies. It is then matured in first-fill American White Oak which adds flavour, character, colour and complexity. Time mellows the whisky, amplifies the aroma and enriches the taste. Characterised by vanilla, toffee, honey and caramelised fruit notes, the whisky delivers a taste that truly reflects William Grant & Sons’ pioneering distillation heritage.”

Our team worked with the distinct flavour notes of the whisky to create matched sweet canapes for service throughout the launch night.

The evening was well attended by the media, who were eager to be introduced to the new brand ahead of it’s exclusive UK-Only store-drops in 2014.