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What a Weekend in Windsor! by Natasha Hills

After travelling for just over an hour and a half we found ourselves at the entrance to the Mercure Windsor Castle Hotel, what a sight, a beautiful traditional building with balconies and large windows. From the front the hotel looked quite large, but once we walked through the door it was even more grand and spacious than expected, kind of like a tardis, with the added benefit of a well appointed car park. We were welcomed warmly at the reception desk when we checked in. In my opinion first impressions are key, so having a smiling face to welcome guests is very important, which the Mercure Windsor Castle Hotel have down to a tee. When we got to our room we were impressed by the finishing touches and soft furnishings that made the room feel homely and comfortable, rather than cold and sterile. Read More

A Classic Country Stay at Bartley Lodge by Tara Anderson

After a long day in the office my colleague and I from Brief2Event and Square Events arrived at Bartley Lodge Hotel. We were greeted by a long, sweeping driveway that perfectly set up the country manor feel of the building itself our check-in was very fast, we were both delighted with the room we were staying in, very clean, modern but still within keeping with the country manor feel.

Shortly afterwards we met the lovely Nicki Smith for a drinks reception and a show round. The Baronial Hall is an extremely versatile space and would serve perfectly as a function room for private dining, meetings or conferences. The room benefits from wood panelling and has a very traditional feel, one of the best aspects of this room is the large windows overlooking the gardens with access to the patio, which would be ideal for a drinks reception in the summer evenings or as an area to unwind in during conference breaks.

Bartley Lodge Hotel has an ‘old’ part and a ‘new’ part to the hotel. They offer four different categories of bedrooms – Keeper (cosy standard), Agister (standard rooms), Verderer (larger rooms with all amenities) and Crown (executive, some with four poster beds and additional luxuries) The hotel has an indoor swimming pool and sauna for all residents to use.

We dined in the Crystal Restaurant in the hotel conservatory and had the opportunity to sample the new menu for the ‘Spring/Summer’ season. The selections were extensive and the food was delicious. The menu would be great for a private dining experience, such as a Masonic Ladies Festival. The hotel had really pulled out all the stops and this was evident with my dessert I had the chocolate brownie which was presented as a New Forest scene with a side of ‘soil and mushrooms’ they had made mini marshmallows and cookies as the mushrooms and soil was crushed up cookies with fennel for grass. It was a great touch and everyone made comments regarding the dessert. The meal was delicious and we were certainly not left hungry!

We enjoyed a restful night’s sleep in our well-appointed bedroom and breakfast the next day really set us up for a day’s activities in the New Forest.

For more information on organising your Masonic event in the New Forest or the UK please contact Guy Mason, Matt Devine or the rest of the team at Square Events and Perfect Weekend using the details below:

01202 400855

[email protected]

‘MAC’nificent Charity Event – by Natasha Hills

The ‘MAC’nificent charity weekend organisers (Russ and Denise) attended the Square Events familiarisation trip at Hellidon Lakes Golf and Spa Hotel. They loved the venue and thought it would be ideal for the charity weekend that they are organising, to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support from Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd September 2013.

Russ and Craig (brothers in law) take part in the annual Macmillan 4×4 challenge, referred to as the ‘Mac’, partly because they enjoy it so much, but more importantly, because they raise money in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. Everyone has already been very generous with support for the last 2 years, for which they are extremely grateful and thankful. However the 2014 ‘Mac’ hopes to take the total raised since the event started in 2002 past the £1m mark.

They need your help to boost the funds as much as possible, so instead of just asking for sponsorship, a weekend away at a superb hotel in Northamptonshire has been arranged. Everyone is welcome, but demand is high for this indulgent weekend, so reserve your place quickly by contacting Russ Rainger.

The weekend will consist of dinner and light-hearted entertainment on Friday night, overnight accommodation and breakfast at your leisure on Saturday morning, with a day to yourself to enjoy the excellent spa and pool facilities at the hotel, explore the local area or play a round of golf on the challenging course. Saturday night will be a black tie event, with Champagne and canapés, a banquet, music for dancing and the all important Charity Draw, overnight stay and another leisurely breakfast.

Square Events have been involved in the organisation of this charity event, along with Russ and Denise, due to the expertise that they provide. Square Events have shown their versatility in the respect that this is not the usual type of event that they deal with, but have been involved from the off, as they introduced the organisers to the beautiful venue back in November 2012.

Hellidon Lakes Golf and Spa Hotel offers something for everyone, the hotel has experience of Masonic Events, with great banqueting space for your Gala dinner and fabulous facilities including a spa, pool and a golf course for your leisure time. For more information about organising a Masonic Ladies Festival please contact Matt Devine, Tara or myself at  Square Events on 01202 400855.

Russ and Denise are hoping for plenty of support from the Masonic community for this event, please contact Russ directly on 01728 688739 for more information or to book on to this indulgent charity weekend event.

The New Forest, what an experience. By Natasha Hills

The New Forest has so much to offer, a wide variety of hotels, restaurants and cafés. We had an amazing opportunity to experience some of the many different things that can be done in the New Forest, from relaxing in the hotel bar to being on an exhilarating RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) ride.

The New Forest is an ideal location for a Masonic Ladies’ festival, although there are a few hotels in the area that are unsuitable due to size and/or price, they are all set in beautiful surroundings and tend to be within a stone’s throw of a golf course. Another great thing about the New Forest is that it is very close to main transport links and just off of the M27.

I think that the New Forest is one of the most beautiful places in the UK and with so much to experience it is an ideal location for a leisure break with a combination of relaxation, with a wide variety of spas and treatment facilities and lots of exiting activities.

You can also rent a New Forest Twizy to have a different experience of driving around the forest without being worried about emissions, as they run purely on electric. If you are used to driving a big car on the bumpy forest roads, driving a Twizy may be a slightly scary experience.

Battlefield live, laser clay, archery and Segway are just a few of the activities that we encountered in one day in the New Forest, imagine the possibilities for a longer stay.

Even though I live just 10 minutes away from the New Forest and go there often, there is still much more to experience than the relaxing summer walks looking at the cows, ponies, donkeys and pigs and stopping for an ice-cream and possibly a drink in Burley.

 For more information on Ladies’ Festivals in the New Forest contact Guy Mason, Matt Devine, Tara or myself at Square Events and Perfect Weekend on 01202 400855

A night in the forest at the Elmers Court Hotel, Lymington by Natasha Hills

From walking through the door we were made to feel special, the information given by reception while checking in was concise, we were made aware of the arrangements for dinner, when, where and whom we would be meeting. We were also told exactly how to get to our room, but the events coordinator then arrived to show us the way, which was helpful as we did have to leave the main hotel building to get to the blocks where the hotel bedrooms were situated.

The room was really well decorated, modern and up to date and of a fantastic size. The shower was of a good size. There was also a bath in the room which was good as it allowed for variety and ease of use, great for a stay that is longer than one night.

Then down to dinner, attention to detail was fantastic, it was mentioned in passing during a phone call to the hotel that my partner has a nut allergy, as soon as we were joined by the hotel manager, he removed the nuts from the table. The conversation flowed as well as the wine during the evening, they had a great selection. The menu offered was in no way limited, an option for everyone was offered. The dishes around the table were varied extensively, all presented beautifully. There were no complaints about the food, I would definitely return to the Waterford Restaurant for dinner and recommend it to anyone.

The staff in the restaurant and bar were very friendly, attentive and seemed like they were enjoying themselves, which kept the atmosphere bubbly. We went into the Scottish Grill and Bar after dinner for an extra drink before going to bed, the staff were happy to see us even though it was quite late and we were the only people in there, very welcoming and happy to serve us.

Breakfast was lovely, although it was a little rushed as we had plans for the morning. There was a cold/continental breakfast station and a hot breakfast was made to order, the hot breakfast was really well cooked and tasty, for that time of morning that was plenty for me without the cereal, bread, meats, cheeses and fruit that were on offer.

The main function room is beautifully decorated and has a wonderful feature fire place. Great for a Masonic Lodge, especially considering that it can be fully separated from the rest of the hotels guests, with a private bar in a room right next to the main suite. It also has outside space which can be made private which opens on to the beautiful grounds.

The leisure facilities at Elmers Court were great, they include an indoor and outdoor swimming pool (it was a bit of a shame that the outdoor pool is not open yet, considering that it is May), treatment rooms and a large gym. The grounds are fantastic; they definitely show off the beauty of the location, with the boats in the near distance floating by.

For more information on Masonic Ladies’ Festivals at Elmers Court or other hotels in the New Forest area contact Guy Mason, Matt Devine or the rest of the team at Square Events and Perfect Weekend on the number below.

Tel: 01202 400855

Email: [email protected]