Our new Project Manager, Rebecca Hill, hit the ground running and flew out to Portugal last weekend for the DBF Events and Awards – ‘All About People’ event. Find out just how much can be packed into a weekend with this roundup of her Mediterranean adventure.
Hosted by: DBF Events and Awards - ‘All About People’
Dates: 22 – 24 March 2019
Airports: Heathrow – Lisbon
Flight Duration: 2 hrs 35 mins
Location: Estoril, Cascais
Population: 10.31 million
Climate: Wonderfully warm and sunny
The ‘All About People’ event allows event professionals to experience a destination, meet and network with participants and walk away having had a fun, relaxing but educational time. Suppliers and buyers have 1 on 1 meetings to learn more about the hotels and destinations our partners have to offer.
After a very early start in the UK, we flew with TAP Portugal and landed in Lisbon just before lunch time, where coaches took us to the Hotel Palacio Estoril for a lovely welcome buffet lunch served in the Europe Room; we then moved outside onto the terrace and ate, whilst enjoying the beautiful Mediterranean sunshine. It was then time to freshen up and explore this great hotel, with its ‘007’ history.
During a destination presentation by the hotel staff, we discovered some really interesting facts surrounding the ‘007’ franchise. We were told that Ian Fleming, creator of the James Bond character, wrote his first book of the Bond series, Casino Royale (1953), whilst he was staying at the property and that he drew inspiration from both the hotel and the guests that were staying here at that time.
We also found out that during the filming of ‘Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ in 1968, members of the film cast stayed at the property, and many parts of the venue were included as scene backdrops.
As well as impressive Bond links, the Hotel Palacio Estoril also has plenty to offer as a strong venue option:
The hotel has a number of breath-taking function spaces, including the Atlantic Room; this is the largest room with a 400 pax dinner capacity, and large glass doors looking out over the garden and pool. We were also shown the Imperial Room, which was a lovely, light and airy space adjacent to the outdoor terrace: ideal for participants to relax and unwind between meetings. We also experienced the Tropical Room, which was beautifully and creatively decorated with tropical scenes and elaborate furnishings.
There are a total of 9 purpose built and fully equipped event rooms, all very spacious and relaxing, with exquisite interior design and perfect for events of varying sizes and purposes.
The hotel also has a fantastic Wellness centre and spa, with a fully equipped gym, indoor pool and treatment rooms. As if that wasn’t enough, the hotel is situated next door to Estoril Casino, one of the biggest working casinos in Europe, and is in a fantastic geographical location for golf lovers, with 7 golf courses in the area.
With an entertaining history; an array of event spaces, some of which we used first-hand for networking and presentations during our stay; elegantly designed bedrooms and dining areas; and a tranquil outdoor garden and swimming pool, this is a venue that I’d highly recommend.
Later that afternoon we began with our 1 on 1 meetings and destination presentations; the perfect way to meet fellow event professionals and partners.
Lake House luxury
After an incredible first day, it was on to our welcome dinner and drinks, which were kindly hosted at the beautiful Hotel Quinta da Marinha, a luxury golf resort in Cascais. We were greeted with bubbles and a traditional dance performance before being led through the gardens to the Lake House. The beautiful setting for this evening made the event very special, with surprise light performances and the moonlight glistening on the lake.
After a wonderful night, and some much-needed sleep, day two of the ‘All About People’ event kicked into action with more 1 on 1 meetings between the attending buyers and suppliers. These kinds of sessions are so useful, as they give us event profs the opportunity to connect with some key contacts from around Europe, as well as providing insight into what hotels and destinations can offer us, in relation to what we need to deliver from our events.
The group were then invited back to the Europe Room and served with another delicious hotel buffet lunch: a lovely selection of local and exotic foods. There was something for everyone! And, not to mention the Portuguese delicacy, the best custard tarts in the world.
Then, it was time for the real fun and games to begin…all the information we were given about the upcoming activity were the keywords “jeeps” and “mission impossible”. It was all setup to be a big secret, which certainly got everyone very intrigued and excited. We were all gathered for the briefing, when 20 mysterious men in bomber jackets and dark glasses gathered at the back of the room. We were all divided into teams and set off on a problem-solving adventure in the Cascais Natural Park.
The teams boarded 4x4 vehicles, which each had an enigmatic driver at the wheel; the aim of the mission was to solve a series of riddles and clues which enabled us to reach our next destination. At each location we were taken to there was a task, such as being suspended from a tree trying to find some keys in a bush or searching through long grass for a secret metal box. Each activity had to be completed to receive the next riddle and so on, until the groups reunited to work together to ‘disarm the bomb’ and, hopefully, win the task.
The whole experience enabled us to explore Cascais Natural Park, a beautiful area with a fascinating geological history. The 24-degree sunshine made this adrenaline inducing activity very enjoyable, as well as the fantastic team members and drivers. Our team didn’t win, unfortunately, but we had an amazing time. It’s definitely a thrilling activity that I would recommend to clients looking for a unique team-building exercise that breaks away from the norm.
James Bond themed awards dinner
When we arrived back at the hotel after our impossible mission, we were surprised with a beautiful collection of classic cars on the lawn. These definitely occupied everyone’s attention (especially the Aston Martin – for me anyway). Once we’d had time to admire the cars, we headed to our rooms to get changed and ‘glam up’ ahead of the James bond themed awards dinner, that awaited us in the ballroom of the Palacio Estoril.
Everyone looked fabulous as they arrived into the Europe Room – a space, that with distinctive European architecture, lends itself perfectly to banquets and cocktail parties. With a red-carpet entrance, a small casino at one end of the room and the classic ‘007’ martini being served alongside delicious canapes, the evening was off to a great start.
The main dinner was held in the Atlantic Room, another attractive setting not just for dinners, but also as a plenary meeting space (500 pax theatre style), with room for AV and lots of natural light.
Every detail of the evening was on theme, and even the tables were named after Bond movies; I was on the ‘Octopussy’ table. We had performances from a fantastic operatic singer and much to our surprise, the entertainment revved up a gear when a motorbike drove into the ballroom. The food was delectable, and the drinks flowed throughout the evening. The awards ceremony was brilliant, and it was great to see people within the industry being recognised for their work and achievements.
The final morning gave us some time to relax in the sunshine around the pool and soak up the last of the Mediterranean rays – just what was needed after an action-packed couple of days.
Before we departed for the airport we were treated to the last lunch of the trip, which was very generously hosted by the stunning InterContinental Estoril: a small boutique hotel that provides perfectly picturesque sea front views. Our tasty canape lunch was held poolside, with lovely music and great company.
All too soon, we had to make our way back to the airport to board our TAP Portugal flight back to the UK.
Overall, the ‘All About People’ event was fantastic; I met some wonderful contacts from venues and other agencies and got a real insight into what opportunities I could offer to future client events.
Portugal was a great host destination too, and the venues we visited and the experiences we took part in during our stay, really impressed me. Estoril and Cascais are both locations that definitely have scope for a variety of events, meetings and incentives and now, with first-hand experience, I would be confident to present Portugal as a strong destination option for clients to consider.