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Following their recent assessment as a serviced apartment operator, Prestige Apartments is proud to be recognized by the scheme as having met ASAP’s high standards for core compliance and quality requirements.

ASAP is the acronym for the serviced apartment industry’s leading trade association, the Association of Serviced Apartment Providers.  Originally established in 2002 to represent the views of a small number of UK based operators, they’ve grown rapidly and currently represent 131 members who have over 100,000 apartments in 9 countries, a total which includes 14 agents and 30 sponsor partners.

ASAP Quality Accreditation therefore aims to ensure that members who have been accredited are compliant with core legal, and health & safety practices as well as providing the industry with a means of measuring and comparing the quality of Serviced Apartments.

Every member of ASAP displaying their Marque will have participated in the Quality Accreditation Programme and will have successfully achieved accreditation.

The Association of Serviced Apartment Providers unveiled a new logo for this highly successful Quality Assessment (QA) programme at their annual conference in 2014. And it was while speaking at this conference that ASAP managing director James Foice indicated that the new logo was a milestone for the QA project.

“We’ve assessed 90% of our members during the last 12 months and are now planning to roll out the programme abroad, including the USA and Europe. The new logo will be a springboard for ASAP to actively promote our members and the valued proposition they bring to the market, and we are very excited by the opportunity to establish a standard accreditation model throughout the industry, both in the UK and potentially around the world.”

Read more about ASAP's Quality Assessment program here.

Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC) has achieved the Investors in Young People (IIYP) Accreditation, the only people management standard that focuses on an employer’s recruitment and retention of young people.

IIYP looks at how companies realise the potential in people and give them the opportunity to succeed. The award looks at the good practice that supports the organisation in recruitment, retainment and development and offers recognition for those that are already doing this.

AECC’s mission statement is ‘A first class team dedicated to delivering world class service’ and the accreditation of IIYP demonstrates that the company live and breathe this mission across all employees. As a company with over 60 full time members of staff and around 300 casual staff, AECC’s dedicated team are what keeps the company moving forward and delivering the high level of service they are renowned for which, in-turn, keeps their clients returning year-on-year.

HR Manager at AECC, Louise Mackie, “This accreditation represents a true commitment by AECC to all the employees and demonstrates a solid foundation of the training and development of young people and will boost AECC as an employer of choice for young people.”

Interim Managing Director at AECC, Graeme Cumming, commented on the accreditation, “We at AECC believe in realising the potential and value of young people in order to build a dynamic and productive workforce, building on the creativity and skills of the younger members of staff. Having already achieved Bronze Investors in People in 2014 and now Investors in Young People, gives us the chance to show our commitment to our staff and we are delighted to be showing this by being a Living Wage Employer, irrespective of the age, to all of our employees from 1st April 2016.” 

Peter Russian, Chief Executive of Investors in People Scotland, said “This is a fantastic achievement for AECC and I and the whole IIYP team would like to wholeheartedly congratulate them. The Investors in Young People framework not only recognises and supports organisations in the employment of young people, but marks them out as an employer of choice.  I envisage that many more organisations will wish to follow in the footsteps of AECC and demonstrate their commitment to young people by working with the Investors in Young People framework.”  

The HBAA Technology and Innovation Committee (TI) announced its industry predictions for 2016 at the HBAA Members Meeting at Leicester Tigers conference and events venue on 15th March.  The predictions were delivered in a presentation by TI Committee Chair, Caleb Parker (CEO,  The presentation also highlighted current technology and innovation updates by NH Hotel Group, QHotels and Village Hotels.

“Now is an exciting time for our industry,” said Caleb Parker. “We’re seeing a lot of change, which can create fear for some.  But most of the innovation we’re seeing enables a better guest experience and will ultimately grow the market.  To me, that’s something we all need to embrace in order to adapt to the changing business environment.”

Parker presented thoughts on the “Sharing Economy”, contradicting recent media coverage, Parker pointed to a Jefferies financial report to demonstrate the significance of sharing economy leader, Airbnb, and its effect on the hospitality industry.  According to the report, the room sharing industry could reduce hotel revenues by 5-10% by 2020.  The sharing economy will be on the HBAA’s radar to ensure members have the support needed to be proactive and implement new processes and technology to stay competitive.   

On current Industry Innovation he highlighted that NH Hotel Group’s video collaboration and remote connectivity, along with holographic projection for 3D presentations and live streaming for remote delegates was the most impressive technology and innovation updates.  Also mentioned was QHotels £2.2M Wi-Fi upgrade and Village Hotels replacement of their legacy PMS with a new cloud platform.

Parkers Predictions for 2016:

  • Proliferation of free Wi-Fi - To meet millennial expectations, Parker predicted free WiFi will become the norm in hotels, regardless of star rating.
  • Remote Connectivity - Venues will update their ability to host more virtual and hybrid meetings.
  • Increase Demand for Small Meetings – 73.69% of enquiries last year were for meetings with less than 30 delegates according to  Entrepreneurship is on the rise; at 50% of the 5.5M UK SMEs do not have their own office space.
  • Small Meeting Online Booking Tools – Venues will embrace online booking tools to support the increase demand for small meetings.
  • Venue Websites will get personal – Taking a page from the Airbnb book, venues will create a personalised look and feel which in turn will give guests the feeling they are engaging the local team instead of a static brand.
  • Considering Airbnb as a distribution channel – Serviced apartments and hotels will look to Airbnb to drive bookings.
  • Airbnb for business – Agents, TMCs and in-house travel managers will include Airbnb accommodations in their list of offerings.

HBAA Chairman Leigh Cowlishaw, commented “ As Technology continues to dominate the way in which we interact, book, view, feedback and compare business travel and meetings; it is increasingly important for the HBAA to serve up and share with the Association and wider industry; technology developments that will change and enrich our experiences and support our choices and behaviours.”

Guests of the Grand Harbour Hotel Southampton are now able to plan their stay via the hotel's new Guest Information Website:

Using this new site guests can play their stay prior to arrival by reserving a table for dinner in the hotels Boardwalk Restaurant, or perhaps booking an Afternoon Tea to enjoy on arrival.

In addition the site features event listings for the hotel, city and surrounding area ensuring guests are never left looking for something to do.

There is also a Virtual Tourist Information Centre with information on many local attractions all just a click away, including Beaulieu Motor Museum, the Sea City Museum, the New Forest National Park and much more.

The Grand Harbour Hotel offers complimentary WiFi to all guests meaning those with mobile access can continue to benefit from the site once they have arrived at the hotel with a section dedicated to Guest Information covering such practicalities as car hire, taxis and guest supplies.

When announcing the new site Laura Roberts, General Manager, said: "We are thrilled to be one of the first hotels in Southampton to offer a Virtual Tourist Information Centre for our guests to help them get the most out of their stay with us.

There is so much to do in Southampton and the surrounding area, we hope our guests will enjoy discovering all that is available during their stay."

For more information about the Grand Harbour Hotel Southampton, visit

Following another positive financial year for Topland and Topland’s expanded hotel portfolio and five months after the new Hallmark Hotels brand was unveiled; March 2016 sees the portfolio expand by 40% as it welcomes the Feathers Hotels Collection into the group. The integration of the additional eight hotels brings Topland Group another step closer to fulfilling its objective to build a £1bn hotel business.

Lionel Benjamin, Director of Hotels, at the Topland Group comments "Topland Group’s investment into the North of England’s hotel industry supports the Northern Powerhouse’s efforts to improve economic growth for the area. The expansion of the Hallmark Hotels portfolio within this specific region brings with and supports employment, both for hotel teams, suppliers and partners whilst also driving demand to the destination both for leisure and business travellers.”

The news sees Hallmark Hotels group widen its offer within the North West of England, to provide accommodation, combined with meetings and events space within Liverpool, Preston, Chester, Wrexham as well as an additional hotel in Manchester.

The uniting of the portfolio brings the number of nationwide Hallmark Hotels to 28, with a total number of rooms offered across the UK up to 2700. Over 16,000 square metres of space across 171 individual and purpose built function rooms will now be available by Hallmark Hotels, many of which offer a variety of genuinely unique sites for both leisure and business use, weddings and events.

Robert Alley, Hallmark Hotels Group Sales and Marketing Director comments: “Feathers Hotels bring with them a strong reputation in their local markets for originality and service culture. A popular choice for social events, they are a perfect fit into the enlarged Hallmark Hotels portfolio where progress has been made to establish the portfolio as one of the leading independent hotel brands in the UK.”

The eight former Feathers Hotels will receive investment from Topland Group, with a significant number of bedrooms across the properties scheduled to receive a complete refurbishment, including an interiors refresh, whilst continuing to retain their unique individual characteristics and architectural charm. The hotels will also undergo a name change to the following:

Best Western Premier Hallmark Hotel Preston Leyland
Best Western Hallmark Hotel Warrington Fir Grove
Best Western Hallmark Hotel Manchester Willow Bank
Best Western Hallmark Hotel Liverpool Alicia
Best Western Hallmark Hotel Liverpool Feathers
Best Western Premier Hallmark Hotel Chester The Queen
Best Western Hallmark Hotel Chester Westminster
Best Western Hallmark Hotel Chester Llyndir Hall

Topland has already injected substantial investment across the group, from bedroom and function suite refurbishments, to leisure club facility upgrades including state of the art gym equipment and improvements to the golf courses of its two golfing hotels, Hallmark Hotel The Welcombe and Hallmark Hotel Cambridge.

Additional investment has, and will continue to be made in new technology, enabling guests to enjoy complimentary high speed Wi-Fi across the group whilst all restaurants adopt the new Hallmark Hotels F&B. This will include the introduction of the new breakfast standards being rolled out across the group in early March2016.

Topland’s extended Hallmark Hotels portfolio offers business and leisure guests’ good quality accommodation and food, in a wide range of locations from City Centre’s, rolling countryside, manor style houses and well-placed airport locations. The Hallmark Hotels portfolio is solely owned by the Topland Group of Companies. Day-to-day activities across the portfolio are overseen by Bespoke Hotels.

The Hallmark Hotels Portfolio now comprises:

Hallmark Hotel London Chigwell Prince Regent
Hallmark Hotel London Croydon Aerodrome

South Coast
Hallmark Hotel Bournemouth Carlton
Hallmark Hotel Bournemouth East Cliff
Hallmark Hotel Bournemouth West Cliff

South East
Hallmark Hotel Cambridge
Hallmark Hotel Flitwick Manor

South West
Hallmark Hotel Gloucester

North West
Hallmark Hotel Manchester Airport
Hallmark Hotel Carlisle
Best Western Premier Hallmark Hotel Preston Leyland
Best Western Hallmark Hotel Warrington Fir Grove
Best Western Hallmark Hotel Manchester Willow Bank
Best Western Hallmark Hotel Liverpool Alicia
Best Western Hallmark Hotel Liverpool Feathers
Best Western Premier Hallmark Hotel Chester The Queen
Best Western Hallmark Hotel Chester Westminster
Best Western Hallmark Hotel Chester Llyndir Hall
Yorkshire and the Humber
Hallmark Hotel Hull

Hallmark Hotel Birmingham Strathallan
Hallmark Hotel Derby Mickleover Court
Hallmark Hotel Derby Midland
Hallmark Hotel Stourport Manor
Hallmark Hotel The Welcombe, Stratford-upon-Avon
Hallmark Inn Derby

Hallmark Hotel Aberdeen Airport
Hallmark Hotel Irvine
Hallmark Hotel Glasgow

Topland Group owns The Royal Crescent in Bath, five Thistle hotels in London and one in Edinburgh, Hilton Glasgow, Hilton Brighton Metropole, and Ramada London Gateway. Topland is jointly developing a new build Holiday Inn Express adjacent to Events City in Manchester, by the Trafford Centre.

Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC) is delighted to welcome the two-day Topsides UK conference and exhibition, which opens at the venue today.

Founded by Aberdeen based Xcite Media, Topsides UK is Europe’s first and only oil and gas event focusing solely on topsides installations.  The show will tackle some of the challenges facing the industry, shining a spotlight on the supply chain community and presenting opportunities for unlocking value from ageing topsides infrastructure in the North Sea.

With an integrated conference arena and exhibition space, Topsides UK will give attendees a powerful opportunity to debate and interact directly on hot industry topics such as production enhancement, cost efficiencies, education and career progression. Industry lead discussions on workforce and skills development as well as panel discussions exploring the challenges facing the industry within the skills and competency area will are some of the topics which will be covered at the invaluable conference sessions.

Gavin Esslemont, Director of Aberdeen based event organiser Xcite Media, comments: “Topsides UK is the first of its kind in the UK and Europe. Here in Aberdeen, we have an incredible opportunity to bring industry professionals together to interact directly to discover and establish realistic opportunities for smarter working to the benefit of our economy – both in Aberdeen and further afield. This approach is of particular value to businesses and individuals this year given the current industry climate.”

“The conference and exhibition has already attracted many high profile endorsements from across the industry, and we are delighted to have signed a three-year deal with the team at AECC, taking us up to March 2018. This positive response has further highlighted the need for something like this in the UK and European oil & gas industry.”

Graeme Cumming, AECC’s Interim Managing Director, commented: “This is an exciting new show for Europe and we are pleased to be the first venue to host the event. Topsides is brought to the venue by Xcite Media, who we already work closely with on other shows in their portfolio, including the Scottish Home Show which will is now in its fifth, very successful year.”

Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa has re-vamped its award-winning restaurant. The Hotel has invested over £80,000 to create a beautiful new setting, which includes the addition of a wine and champagne bar, resulting in a more relaxing space for all-day dining.

Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa’s 2AA Rosette Squires Restaurant prides itself on serving contemporary dishes and giving customers a modern dining experience. The new darker wall colour, low-lighting and rich, textured furniture supplies the perfect background to complement the tantalising food on offer.

Noel Byrne, Chief Executive of Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa, commented: “It is important that we continue to upgrade the look of our hotel to ensure we are always offering our customers the very best.

“The new restaurant setting combines luxury with a relaxed environment, providing a space where people are able to enjoy drinks and delicious light snacks, or a sumptuous three-course meal.”

The Hotel’s award-winning chef, James Fairchild, has created new menus to complement the updated look. The menus include a range of starters and share plates to suit all palates, alongside a robust grill menu and an extensive seafood and shellfish offering. The kitchen team also now creates a weekly menu incorporating the very best seasonal and local ingredients.

James Fairchild, renowned for creating mouth-watering modern creations from traditional dishes, commented: “The format of the new menus allows us to explore a range of dishes, whilst maintaining the first class quality of the food we produce. The weekly menu option enables us to inject new flavours that highlight the local, seasonal produce we love to use, and ensures returning clients always have something new to try.”

Byrne added: “We wanted to create an inviting atmosphere whilst protecting the integrity of our chef’s cooking expertise, we look forward to welcoming new and returning guests to the new restaurant.”

Ashfield Meetings & Events is delighted to announce the opening of the new US hub headquarters in Ivyland, Pennsylvania.

The move follows a string of new SMMP client wins and the expansion of the creative and production teams.

The new space in Ivyland has been designed to reflect the open and vibrant design of the UK headquarters. The space reflects both the Ashfield Meetings & Events and SPARK THINKING brands. Much like the UK office, the SPARK THINKING brand is prevalent to encourage collaboration amongst employees and to give them the space to feel empowered to foster creativity and fresh thinking.

The US office has also taken on the UK’s rational and has encouraged the senior team out of offices and into the main office space. The UK has seen great value from the same move, a more cohesive team often abandoning the rigid hirerachical structure, allowing employees voices to be heard and the development of employees through secondments and team collaboration.

Gavin Houston (CEO Americas) commented on the recent move: “We had simply outgrown our office space and so we utilised the opportunity to create something engaging for our employees. It was important that the space reflected both brands but remained true to the heritage business. We haven’t moved far from the Ashfield divisional business, in fact we still share the same car park. I hope having our own space will give our employees the feeling of growth and will encourage development and fresh thinking amongst them all.”

Gavin added: “We had a fantastic grand opening on Friday 4 March but now it’s time to get to grips with the new space and start back to work in our wonderful new office.”

A YORK hotel chef has made it into the top three of the national prestigious Chaine des Rotisseurs' Young Chefs Competition, alongside a chef from London's The Ritz hotel and a Sussex chef.

Sam Willis of the five-star Grand Hotel & Spa, a HBAA venue, competed in the national final on March 3, but the exact order of the winning trio will not be announced until the Young Professionals Awards dinner at the Dorchester Hotel in London on March 18.

The Grand's head chef, Craig Atchinson, said: “Sam certainly deserves this success and recognition. He is committed to developing in this tough industry and has put in the hard work and long hours to get to where he is today – to say he has a passion for his work would be an understatement.”

Sam is pictured third from left with the other finalists below.

Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK) will bring their 2017 annual conference to the North-east following a successful, sold out 2016 conference in Manchester.

The three-day conference will be held at Aberdeen Exhibition & Conference Centre (AECC) on 13th 15th March 2017 and will welcome dementia researchers from across the UK and beyond. The conference is the perfect forum for researchers to hear the latest findings – from discoveries in the laboratory to clinical perspectives. The Alzheimer’s Research UK Annual Conference has become a staple in the conference calendar, renowned as the perfect opportunity to share new insights and forge diverse collaborations. 

ARUK funds the very best biomedical research to further our understanding of the causes of different dementias and to improve diagnosis, prevention and treatment.

Professor Bettina Platt, local conference chair for the ARUK conference and Chair of Translational Neuroscience at Aberdeen University, will be working closely with local organisations including Aberdeen Football Club Community Trust (AFCCT) who have a dementia friendly wellbeing initiative across the city of Aberdeen, University of Aberdeen Public Engagement with Research Unit and NHS Grampian who hold an annual dementia care conference to deliver the public engagement element of the conference.

ARUK received additional support from the VisitScotland Conference Bid Fund which helps attract more business tourism to Scotland and increases Scotland’s competitiveness within the international conventions market.

Local conference Chair, Professor Betinna Platt said, “This is the first time the annual ARUK conference is coming to Aberdeen. We are hoping that this event will inspire not only scientists but also the general public to engage with a topic that affects all of us. We are certainly looking forward to presenting exciting new research and providing a platform for challenging discussions and networking!”.

The annual ‘PhD Day’, which kicks-off the three day conference, is designed to give students an opportunity to meet and present their work to peers in a relaxed environment, along with a careers session to help navigate their academic career.

Jane Elsom, Research Projects Manager at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said, “The first Alzheimer’s Research UK Conference had 12 delegates and it’s fantastic to see the event go from strength to strength, now attracting nearly 500 researchers a year. Dementia is our greatest medical challenge and scientific collaboration is critical in the hunt for desperately needed treatments. Our annual conference provides the perfect opportunity for researchers from across the world to meet, share and debate new ideas, and forge new partnerships to accelerate dementia research. We look forward to coming to Aberdeen in 2017 and working with researchers across Scotland to develop a stimulating conference programme.”

Associations Sales Manager at AECC, Steven Daun, said “The announcement of the ARUK Conference is a strong addition to the Association conferences in Aberdeen and AECC over the coming years. It has been fantastic working with Professor Platt and her team at University of Aberdeen to help bring this conference to Aberdeen.  The pioneering research funded by ARUK is fantastic and they truly are making a real difference to people’s lives.”


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