Bath, Bristol & Great Western Railway’s combine to create memorable incentives

The post Bath, Bristol & Great Western Railway’s combine to create memorable incentives appeared first on TD (Travel Daily Media) Brand TD.

First impressions count, especially for corporate incentive & VIP guests; stepping beneath London Paddington Station’s iconic wrought iron and glass three-span roof, is a reminder of rail travel from a different epoch, but also Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s vision to ‘build a station after my own fancy’. It certainly delivers on positivity and conjures-up a sense of adventure which criss-crosses the evolving eras of rail travel.
For corporate planners looking to take their meetings, events and incentives outside of London, but still within 1.5-hour radius, then set your compass to the southwest for a twin-centre experience spread across Bath & Bristol. Located just 12-minutes apart by train, and both under two hours from London, this duo of uniquely distinct destinations, offer many wonderfully different qualities, characteristics, experiences and venues.
Part of the whole experience is the journey, and whilst relatively short, one is following in the footsteps of generational travellers from yesteryear, taking them to the English and Bristol Channel resorts in the West Country, and onto the far southwest of England such as Torquay in Devon, Minehead in Somerset, Newquay and St Ives in Cornwall. The GWR was called by some “God’s Wonderful Railway” and by others the “Great Way Round” but it was famed as the “Holiday Line”.
GWR was originally founded in 1833 and in the safe hands of chief engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, forever changed Britain’s commerce and leisure landscape by connecting London to the West Country and Wales. Today, they have fine-tuned their product, one that carries with it their history and heritage, all wrapped-up within a framework of modern rolling-stock and state-of-the-art stations.
Stepping onboard GWR’s first class carriage, as it points towards Bath & Bristol, sets the right tone. With Eurostar-style seating, spacious carriages, plug sockets with USB terminals, complimentary refreshments served to your seat, all means that one can mould themselves into the reclining seats, whilst watching the countryside serenely and cinematically pass by the carriage windows.
The Rail tracks carve a path through a softly undulating landscape; the route specifically selected by Brunel to find the most efficient means to ensure the smoothest journey between Bristol and London. And yet between these two points, the train darts passed verdant woodland and quaint villages surrounding ancient church spires, before running alongside canal ways traversed by barges characterised by flower and geometric patterns painted in vibrant colours. Intertwined with the old and ancient, is the future, unveiled through fields of solar panels and the uber modern Reading Railway station which took on a colossal renovation, was unveiled and opened by Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2014; under the modular canopies of metallic-blue steel, the GWR’s original station entrance and clock tower constructed in 1860, was incorporated within the ultra-modern refurbishment.
This clever amalgamation of old and new, embracing the need to look to the past to shape the future, extends beyond GWR and is a key theme that marks the many experiences which run like a ribbon through Bath and Bristol’s main attractions, sites and venues. Both cities are very close geographically, yet very different in terms of body and soul, making them exceptional twin-centre incentive destinations.

Bath is an UNESCO World heritage city and as quintessentially English as is possible to get, (think Bridgerton, filmed in the city or indeed the backdrop for many a Jane Austen film) with period Georgian architecture around every corner and crescent. Surrounded by rolling countryside, Bath is world-famous for its thermal waters, which have been enjoyed since before the Romans arrived. Add in ’boutique’ shops, quality restaurants, hotels and parks, it becomes a super attractive proposition.

Bristol is a young, creative and innovative city, with major multi-nationals and global firms calling it their home. It has a very strong urban culture that has produced the likes of world-famous street artist ‘Banksy’. Bristolians are known for their quirkiness, accents, irreverence and fun nature and they want visitors to experience their thriving culture, first-rate nightlife and proximity to the great outdoors. Brunel’s Bristol is a legacy stretching across the city and includes the ship SS Great Britain, Clifton Suspension Bridge and Brunel’s harbourside walking trail, all of which provide an insight into and symbolise Bristol’s origins of innovation, forward-thinkers, independent and alternative spirit.
TEN Incentives to consider……
-Roman Baths & Pump Room (Bath): It is impossible to come to Bath and not experience their famous thermal waters, and even more unthinkable not to tick-off the bucket list the Roman Baths & Temple, followed by high tea in the 18th century Pump Room. Dating to the 5th & 6th centuries, the Roman Baths were an important landmark for Romans’ who named the city Aquae Sulis. This UNESCO heritage site can be hired out for a diverse range of events including a drinks reception beside the Roman colonnades looking upon the steaming waters, before moving to the exquisitely elegant ‘Pump Room’ for a Gala dinner. There can be few places that can present such outstanding options in such an iconic venue, which combines 2000 years of history, part of the city’s UNESCO world heritage status and the neo-classical architecture in the form of the Pump Room Restaurant, all on the one footprint and all for hire.
-Blowing Bath’s Blue Glass Baubles: Looking for an experiential incentive that lets your group take home a souvenir they have created, then ‘BathAquaGlass’ ticks all the boxes. Bath is famous for its blue glass which features in the stained glass windows of Bath Abbey. The ‘BAUBLE MAKING’ experience takes place at the wonderful Theatre of Glass, their Studio & Factory Shop located on Walcot Street. Personally created baubles will be hand signed with the word ‘Bath’ and the year date.
Tour of locations for Bath’s Bridgerton Netflix series: Want to have a group incentive that keeps people on their toes and healthy, then consider arranging a private guided tour of Bath’s filming locations of Netflix’s hit show ‘Bridgerton’ on an immersive walking tour around Bath, which includes headphones to showcase the music and sounds used in the series. Season 3 saw the cast and production return to Bath for some filming including street scenes on Edward Street off Pulteney Street. The film ‘Wonka’ was filmed on the steps of Parade Gardens, The Colonnades by Pulteney Weir, Bath Street and Kingston Parade and the alleys by Bath Abbey. It is no wonder that Bath is a perennial film location destination
-Star-Gazing atop Bath Abbey with Astronomers: This magnificent 15th century Abbey is truly awe-inspiring even if you just have a tour of this ancient edifice or even take a meeting in one of their state-of-the-art meeting rooms in the remodelled crypt. Fan vaulted ceilings, honey gold walls and stunning stain glass windows, pour colour into this historic edifice, which has been around in its present form since medieval times. Why not add another dimension with a unique incentive of star gazing tours led by Bath Astronomers.
-Climb the rigging/mast of Brunel’s SS Great Britain (Bristol): If you want to test whether your friends or colleagues have a head for heights then challenge them to climbing the ship’s rigging to a mast platform, and then out along the main yard of ‘Brunel’s SS Great Britain’. Now a museum ship (do not call it a boat, Bristolians will be put out) designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, it once carried a huge cargo of coal to San Francisco, sailed around the world 33 times and when launched from her dry dock in Bristol was the largest ship in the world. Once the rigging has been conquered, go below deck for a sit down meal or drinks reception or even below (sea level) the ‘glass sea’, to view the hull from this unique perspective. This is Bristol’s number 1 visitor attraction and another fine Bristolian venue to consider.
-Check-in for boarding on Concorde at Aerospace Bristol: One of the UK’s ultimate gala dinner venues. Imagine dining underneath the body and wings of ‘Concorde’, alongside 550 other guests which is the capacity of the venue for a seated dinner. This is not just any Concorde, but the last Concorde to ever fly, alongside exhibits charting aviation history. Concorde’s visitors have a chance to step inside the aircraft, a rare episode in itself. Concorde is a magnificent piece of aerospace engineering, housed within its own hanger, incorporating a museum and smaller meeting spaces, including a lecture-style theatre, so plenty of options for every event/ meeting. If you are looking to ‘WOW’ your guests, then this is the place to do it.
-The Wave, Bristol’s inland surf destination: Follow in the foot-steps of ‘Wave’ clients, such as the Premier League, who have used it as a corporate weekend away. This surfing lake fans-out across beautiful parkland, combining technology, nature and wellbeing.  Let your group have a meeting in dedicated onsite spaces, before donning a wet suit and learning to surf on this man-made outdoor wave facility. Groups can stay onsite at ‘The Camp’, which is a very comfortable glamping experience; 25 tents for up to 8 people each complete with kitchenette and wood-burner.
-St Nicholas Night Market: Give your group a culinary and acoustic surprise at St Nick’s Night Market, spread around the Glass Arcade, Corn Exchange and Corn Street. This happens four times a year in the very heart of the city and is an incentive which touches all the senses; street vendors, musicians and an array of performers delight a thronging crowd. Whilst exploring an eclectic mix of cuisines, fabulously presented across the cobbles, why not make it extra-special and drop into the Harbour Hotel for some famous cocktails in their design-led and chic bar area.
-Boating & Paddle Boarding on the River Avon: For those groups who like to relax with a drink and take-in the sites of Bristol Harbour then step-aboard the glass roofed ‘Bristol Packet Boat’. It can also be your private mode of transport between city centre hotels and the historic SS Great Britain, a wonderfully historic and atmospheric gala dinner or cocktail reception venue. Alternatively, why not view Bristol from a totally new perspective and go paddle boarding through the city’s historic waterways. There are few better ways to bond, challenge or reward your team with one of the UK’s fastest growing water sports!
-Bristol Beacon, hub for the City’s music industry: Following a five-year, £131million refurbishment and then a hugely successful re-opening party in November 2023, the Bristol Beacon, the cities largest concert hall (around 1750 seats), will soon be reverberating to a vast range of of shows from orchestral concerts, stand-up comedy, dance music events and band nights. The venue has been transformed into a modern, accessible, state-of-the-art facility with two international standard performance venues, a bright new restaurant and its cellars in use for the first time as education and performance spaces. This venue will support major events in the city, whilst supporting the cultural future of Bristol, by providing the city and the South West with a world-class concert venue, but also a boost to the larger association and congress business attracted to the city.

The post Bath, Bristol & Great Western Railway’s combine to create memorable incentives appeared first on Brand TD.

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