Hanbury Manor Marriott Hotel & Country Club – Hertfordshire

FEBRUARY 2019

Location

In the heart of Hertfordshire, north of London and close to the A1M and M1. Rail options nearby and within easy reach of London’s Heathrow, Stansted and Luton Airports.

What's on offer

Historic Manor House meets 21st century style & technologySeventeen individual and beautifully designed events spaces for 8–200 guests.  Cutting edge, innovative presentation technology wows in each meeting room a big tick for corporate events. Lots of interesting areas to break out, meet and network161 beds and therefore popular with exclusive hiresGolf of course – the Jack Nicklaus II is regarded as one of the best golf courses in the country.  Extensive Spa – and relax.

Why Book?

Arguably some of the best meeting space in Europe in terms of the presentation technology on offer. Easy to use and a massive plus for Board meetings through to interactive sales kick off meetings.  The newly refurbished Assembly Area, the perfect place to network and informally breakout whilst enjoying tasty pastries and of course, healthy options.  Flow of meeting space cleverly thought through with superb views over the golf course and 200-acre estate.  Exclusive use works well as Hanbury Manor has 161 bedrooms.  Location close to transportation links and airports make this a popular place for international events.  Fine food, a golf paradise and relaxing spa compete the picture. 

STARTER FOR 10:

Billed on the welcome letter as London’s Original Country Retreat, you could add “and still the best”, particularly thanks to the impressive recent refurbishment programme.  This is no lick of paint, but a £1.7 million transformation of the meeting and event space masterminded by internationally renowned interior designer Lucid. 

And it’s been done very, very well.  A seamless link between the old Manor House and the signature event rooms is impressive all of which have been updated with a blend of bespoke articles and the clever use of colour in the form of a rich palette of copper, brown and blue shades. Lucid’s aim was to create revitalised and engaging spaces that were both functional and adaptable to suit changing moods.  All this with a modern flavour and a nod to the history and grandeur of the hotel. 

In recent years it’s perhaps fair to say that Hanbury had lost out a bit too would be “pretender venues” particularly when it came to hosting meetings and events.  But that’s all changed thanks to the careful re-design and particularly the major investment made in the meeting room technology.  There’s not many places where literally at a touch of a button white wall notes can be digitally captured for future use, delegates can share their lap top screens instantly for all to see, or a conference facilitator can immediately pull up on screen a range of online Apps and web links before erasing everything with a hand!  Plus, you don’t have to be a tech wizard to make it all work.  

But Hanbury isn’t just about the meeting scene.  Fine food and beautiful surroundings make this a great venue for award ceremonies.  Informal BBQs on the Terrace in Summer linked to team building activities are also popular.  And incentive partner weekends have the best of so many different worlds with the chance to use the extensive spa facilities, play a round of golf or simply kick back and relax in the atmospheric Oak Hall. 

And to make everything run like clockwork?  The friendly, helpful staff!  They are rightly proud of their new surroundings and this is reflected in so many small but noteworthy ways, highlighting clear and important attention to detail, critical for any high-profile meeting or event.  It’s as if they can anticipate your next move, need or request with no obvious crystal ball in sight.  The replenishment of tasty snacks in the Assembly Hall right on cue.  The assistance of baggage and boxes when you wonder how you’re going to get through the doors with just one pair of hands.  Credit to the GM and the Ops Team who deliver exactly what the Sales Team have promised. Win-win all round.

WHY SO SPECIAL?

You can’t fail to be impressed as you drive up to this former 17th century country retreat.  And it’s not just the many overseas guests who say “wow” as they are greeted in reception and move in to the Oak Hall complete with high ceilings, panelled oak walls, beautiful tapestries and creaking floor boards. Moving through on the corridor journey from old to the new, traditional meets contemporary with a sympathetic twist.  The Cedar, Pine and Willow meeting rooms perfectly embody this, with the original floor to ceiling shaped windows and church pews, moved from the old chapel next door.  What would the nuns say? 

Hanbury Manor Board Room before and after

It’s easy to move around and not get lost.  A square design around a central courtyard means that delegates always come back to the central Assembly Hall a warm meeting haven where the smell of coffee wafts invitingly.  It’s a natural flow, but if you’re still not sure on where to go, just simply check out the brand-new digital photo screens and rolling real time messages which can be updated easily to reflect any last-minute changes to event arrangements. 

Once inside your designated meeting area be it the 200-seater Thunderidge Suite or the classy Boardroom for 12, it’s time to be wowed by the presentation equipment.  All rooms have been updated with innovative technology thanks to permanent installations or the mobile giant 72-inch touchscreen which glides between some of the smaller rooms.  Clevertouch main presentation screens are great for training courses with the seamless integration of different media.  Smart “Write on Walls” make paper flip-charts seem so 20th Century, particularly as all those key thoughts and ideas can be digitally captured, stored and actioned when back at the office.  Popular with many is the ClickShare connectivity. A strategically placed dongle within seconds allows delegate laptops and MacBooks to be shared for the benefit of all. Impressive?  Certainly, and equally importantly all the whizzy stuff works because of significant investment into the IT infrastructure, with positively little chance of the Wi-Fi falling over at a crucial point

Special note must go to two dedicated meeting and event areas and again the Lucid team have been ahead of the game. Their designers have recognised that as lifestyles change and technology evolves, there is a certain inevitably that the way we conduct meetings and events must adapt to suit. They’ve cleverly done this by creating a variety of formal and informal seating, opening up the Assembly Hall to become the heart of the event space.  There’s a real buzz and interaction with the polished and carpeted floors including a deconstructed rose design in honour of the 19th century rose garden built by James II for Robert Hanbury in 1865. 

The Hall has the capacity to hold informal group meetings and has space for delegates to unwind over lunches or breaks with laptop high tables proving to be a big hit.  A completely different night time feel is created for pre-diner drinks before guests move into Poles Hall the beautiful chapel of the original manor house. Vaulted ceilings and the minstrel’s gallery create a unique group dining experience for 120/140 with atmospheric lighting, bespoke chandeliers and concealed LEDs creating a timeless space that will look beautiful for many years to come.  

Business concluded, delegates and guests can enjoy the world-class Jack Nicklaus II designed golf course, regarded as one of the best in the country.  But if golf is not your thing, what about checking out one or two of the 8 treatment rooms and spa relaxation areas? For those with more energy a well kitted out gym and weights room may be of interest or join one of the regular spin, pilates and yoga classes which can be booked onsite, complete with virtual instructor.

GOOD TO KNOW!

  • The Garden Court Summer House and Conservatory offers further space options.  Elegantly set overlooking the original Grade II listed Walled Garden, up to 160 guests can be hosted. But don’t forget that the Summer House can equally be used for smaller meetings, with exclusive options available as 27 bedrooms are available just next door. 
  • Private dining options abound across the resort.  Poles Hall is referenced above, but a number of other Manor House alternatives are possible. 
  • The Terrace is the perfect place for a BBQ with expansive views across the golf course with bonus nearby wet weather options if it starts to rain. 
  • The breakfast choice is one of the most extensive you’ll see at any corporate conference venue.  Well prepared and not suffering from “hot lamp dryness”, the fresh omelette station is a nice touch.  Get your order in early.

BEAR IN MIND…

  • There are perhaps easier places to get to.  The local traffic in rush hour can create delays despite distances on a map appearing to be a relatively close by. 
  • Hanbury Manor has plenty of Car Parks.  But driving in the dark through the estate to the designated main car parking areas for delegates and guests can be a little confusing and does require a short walk to main reception.  Take advantage of the valet parking would be our top tip. 
  • Only 16 bedrooms have been fully refurbished. There are plans to complete the role out, but it’s fair to point out that whilst perfectly serviceable, clean, tidy and containing all you need, they are not quite to the standard of the newly refurbished meeting area.  This not a problem for the vast majority of people attending events who use them just to sleep. 
  • Some of the carpets in the in the main house meeting area and in the breakfast restaurant are “interesting” designs from yesteryear.  Look up and all will be well.

ANYTHING ELSE?

  • If things are likely to hot up during your event, head out into the cool Courtyard which in the Summer has canopy cover and offers a contrasting change to life inside.  Strategically positioned foods of the world stations work well and prove popular. 
  • Wanting to refresh and recharge? Feel free to wander around the 200 acres of stunning parkland where wildlife abounds or find a quiet spot in the manor house and curl up.  
  • If you have time don’t miss the legendary Hanbury Manor Afternoon Tea with freshly baked scones and fancy French pastries served in the majestic baronial setting of the Oak Hall. 
  • Start the day the bright way. Breakfast on the Terrace highly recommended.

IT’S A WRAP – SERVICE IS THE SECRET

Reading the digital signage boards outside each meeting room quickly shows the Hanbury Manor is highly popular and at the top of its corporate meeting game.  You don’t attract and more importantly keep top pharma’, media, finance and retail household names if the service level and facilities aren’t there.  A walk around the Assembly Hall finds happy delegates, who comment positively about their experience and the hotel staff.  It’s good to see members of the Hanbury team when they spot something not quite right, take a note and then let the General Manager know of what action needs to be taken. Continuous improvement and a desire to improve are evident.  The Management Team are fully aware that they can have the best all singing and dancing technology and refurbished meeting rooms in the world, but it counts for nothing if the staff aren’t customer focussed and willing to offer a standard of service to reflect the high-quality meeting environment.  The good news from what we saw is that everyone “gets it” which is probably why you’ll be hard pushed to find space in the diary for a large event on a popular date in 2019.  Ah well, there is always 2020…