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Aston Villa FC (AVFC) has launched its new hospitality and events space, the high premium ‘Directors Club’, last month with a new team and vision for the business. The new space is a result of a £1 million investment, following the club joining the Lime Venue Portfolio earlier this year.

The investment has seen the redesign and refurbishment of a number of spaces within the Trinity Stand, the main stand at Villa Park. The Directors Club is designed for premium hospitality and events, with a contemporary and luxurious new design, furniture and state of the art AV. In addition, the room has its own open kitchen, bringing the new quality of food and drink to life for visitors.

While the main space is capable of hosting up to 150 delegates, it also includes the ‘Directors Boardroom’ for smaller boardroom meetings, private dining or as a breakout space within The Directors Lounge. Both areas are designed with luxurious marble, contrasting with warmer colours in keeping with the club’s long heritage.

“It was important to us that we offered both high quality and premium options for conferences and events. After this brilliant refurbishment we’ll shortly be announcing a new team to bring everything to life, so the future for conference and events at Aston Villa looks really exciting” commented Laura Johns, Head of Sales, Conferences & Events at AVFC. “Since joining Lime Venue Portfolio, we’ve seen an uplift in the amount of business coming from across the country, and we’re looking forward to working with them to further drive awareness of our new facilities.”

Other refurbishments within the stand include a redesign of the ’82 Club’, which now has a capacity of up to 250 delegates, as well as a refresh throughout the venue’s meeting and events space. The club will be hosted a series of VIP taster sessions on the 26th September as part of the launch of the Directors Club.  

SWIFT (The Society of Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) has appointed Grass Roots to provide a range of delegate management services for Sibos, its annual conference and exhibition for the financial industry, until 2021. Grass Roots will provide these services for Sibos’ annual events in Toronto 2017, Sydney 2018, London 2019 and Boston 2020.

Julie Yorke, Operations Director at Grass Roots, commented “We are delighted that after a rigorous tender process, Sibos has once again chosen to work with Grass Roots.  We will provide a full range of services for the conference and exhibition including pre-event registration, sourcing, housing management, onsite delivery and post-event analytical data insights.

Sibos brings together over 8,000 of the leading figures from the financial industry and it requires us to deliver a range of complex solutions to facilitate the excellence associated with these events.  It’s a real testament to our development team that they have continued to advance our bespoke technological solutions and ensure that we remain in front of our competition.”

Head of Sibos, Sven Bossu, added, “Grass Roots has been our partner of choice for 15 years. We know that we can trust them to deliver operational excellence but it was important that they could also demonstrate real purpose, direction and vision around their technology for our future events and deliver this at a competitive price.”

David Taylor, Managing Director, Grass Roots Meetings & Events, is delighted with the appointment.  “Over the last 12 months, we have put much of our focus and investment into developing our delegate management solutions and it’s great to see this decision being endorsed by Sibos.  We very much look forward to working with them and continuing to deliver this premier business forum for the global business community.”


Loughborough University is creating a dedicated 4-star Elite Athlete Centre and Hotel (EAC) comprised of 44 bedrooms.  The facility will be run by Imago Venues – Loughborough University’s dedicated hotel, conference and events provider.

It will provide a unique sports hotel that promotes rest, relaxation, and the pursuit of excellence. Set in the heart of Loughborough University’s world-leading sports facilities, this inspiring high-performance environment offers aspirational space for athletes, businesses and fitness enthusiasts to be the best they can be. 

With 20 specially designed altitude rooms, eight dedicated accessible bedrooms, a nutrition lounge, café and athletes’ relaxation area and seminar space for 30, the inspirational facility is a European first. Packages will include access to the UK’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff; it boasts the country’s largest concentration of high quality sports training facilities and is an aspirational backdrop for businesses and individuals wanting to improve their performance.

Loughborough University’s Executive Director of Sport, John Steele comments: "The Elite Athlete Centre is an outstanding addition to Loughborough's already excellent sporting heritage and combines with existing facilities to provide a truly world class venue for high performance athletes and teams."


  • The altitude rooms allow athletes to “live high whilst training low”.  This prepares their bodies for competition by improving their oxygen carrying ability as well as maximum oxygen take-up.
  • In additional to the eight designated wheelchair accessible rooms, all of the EAC’s 36 other bedrooms can be converted to accessible rooms.
  • The Nutritional Lounge and café will provide hospitality services with health, wellbeing and training in mind.
  • Quiet Zones and Passive Zones will provide areas to relax or take part in activities such as yoga and pilates, whilst the Active Zone will include a climbing and bouldering wall.
  • The flexible and scalable seminar space for up to 30 athletes can be expanded into the Nutritional Lounge, providing opportunities for larger events.


“The EAC is not just an exciting addition to our portfolio, it is also an opportunity to further demonstrate our position as a global leader in the provision of inspiring and aspirational accommodation, conference and events spaces,” comments Emma Boynton, Head of Sales and Marketing at Imago Venues.  

“Loughborough University has the confidence in Imago Venues to operate the new facility; not just because of our historic commercial success but our ability to deliver exceptional customer service to each and every individual that walks through our doors.”

Imago Venues and Loughborough University are developing a host of packages available to athletes, teams, businesses and individuals that include use of the EAC, as well as the University’s other world leading sports and event facilities.  These can be combined with leading coaches, sports scientists, nutritionists and experts in the physical and mental needs of competitive activity.

The EAC will open in Autumn 2018.  Bookings and enquiries can be made from November 2017.

£1m of the EAC’s build cost has been funded by Sport England as part of UK Sport's £200m masterplan to host a decade of the finest sporting events in the international calendar, starting in 2020.  

The SSE Hydro shone bright on the banks of the River Clyde last night as it was lit up turquoise and coral in aid of World Obesity Day. It comes as part of a wider series of events held across the campus in line with its Healthy Venue initiative.

During the day, staff at the SEC participated in various initiatives aimed at encouraging people to take small steps to improving their health including #NoSalt which reminded people of the risks of too much salt, #HealthyChoice which saw on-site eatery, Clydebuilt, provide a range of healthy food options and free fruit, and finally, #OnYourBike, where staff were invited to workshops on the Glasgow-wide NextBike scheme which is a free staff and delegate benefit.

This comes as the industry focuses in on health and wellbeing at events, a theme which has been woven in to the programme at IMEX America this week.

The previous week, the SEC hosted their own ‘Best Health Day’ which saw a huge variety of nutritious food and drinks being offered throughout the day, a badminton competition at lunch time and circuits class in the late afternoon, hosted by an external fitness expert.

The SEC achieved the world’s first Healthy Venue accreditation early in 2016. The venue worked with the World Obesity Federation to develop the initiative and received the silver award, closely followed by venues in Vancouver and Dublin.

Kathleen, Warden, Director of Conference Sales, continued: “Health and wellbeing is key focus point for the industry just now, and it should continue to be going forward. It’s also a central part of what we do here at the SEC and initiatives such as our Best Health Day keep us all in check!

“We are exceptionally proud of achieving Silver status of the World Obesity Federation’s Healthy Venue programme and are continuously striving to find ways to ensure our delegates have a healthy experience here at the SEC.”

The previous night, The SSE Hydro was lit up pink in support of World Mental Health Day, showing solidarity against more than just physical health and wellbeing.

Business visits and events are set to play a crucial role within the UK tourism industry’s submission for a sector deal as part of the Government’s emerging post-Brexit Industrial Strategy.

In an extensive document agreed by the Tourism Industry Council, increasing Britain’s global market share in business visits and events is cited as one of the key activities in boosting productivity by extending the tourism season year-round.

Proposals are also included for the building of a national programme of events to showcase Britain’s business and cultural excellence and expertise. Direct action and support would be strategically planned with the Business Department (BEIS), Foreign Office (FCO), Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Department of International Trade (DIT).

The tourism submission acknowledges that Britain currently lags behind its competition and that a full review of Government financial support and new, longer term planning operating cross departmentally is critical to future resilience and success.  Additionally there is acknowledgement that business visits and events support other key sectors and boost Britain’s image overseas.

The submission also suggests that a best practice programme could help to make Britain the most attractive destination globally within 10 years. Business visits have successfully increased the season in competitor markets and boosted overall productivity. Furthermore the submission urges the Government to facilitate cooperation and coordination between UK Visas and Immigration, DIT, Border Force, DMOs and airports to meet the demands of major events and conventions.

Amongst other areas dealt with in the submission is a 10 year tourism and hospitality skills, campaign, the creation of tourism zones and a significant improvement of connectivity to make it easier to travel to destinations and explore more of the UK.

Chairman of the Business Visits and Events Partnership, Michael Hirst OBE, said:

“The process of putting forward a sector deal for tourism has put business visits and events right at the heart of the Government’s industrial strategy. This is a major step forward in recognising the importance of our industry as a major contributor to productivity, trade and economic benefit. We are not a “nice-to-have” sector but a “must-have” provider of competitive advantage to Britain plc”.

Representatives from the business visits and events sector were very much involved in the consultation process. Michael Hirst, Chairman and Simon Hughes, Vice Chair of the BVEP both participated in the Working Groups that contributed to the final proposals, which were co-ordinated on behalf of the Tourism Industry by VisitBritain.

The next stage will see the proposals considered by the Business Department with a response as to whether UK Tourism receives a Sector Deal in November.

For more information about the process and the full submission:

The continuation of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the UK Events Industry (APPG) following the summer recess has been formally confirmed by the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

The core members of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the UK Events Industry (APPG) remain the same, following the group’s AGM earlier this year.

Those holding formal positions on the Group are confirmed as:

  • Chair                      James Heappey MP (Conservative)
  • Vice Chair            Christian Matheson MP (Labour)
  • Vice Chair            Viscount Waverley (Crossbench)
  • Officer                  Chris Davies MP (Conservative)
  • Officer                  Nigel Huddleston MP (Conservative)

Welcoming the continuation of the APPG, James Heappey MP said:

“I’m determined that the APPG will continue to keep the concerns of the events industry high on the Parliamentary agenda at this important time for the sector. I know this coming Parliamentary year will be a busy one for all of us and I’m delighted that so many of my colleagues have stepped up to the plate and shown their enthusiasm in keeping the group going. But we have no limit on our numbers so if you want your local MP to join our group and support your work, drop them a line and encourage them to sign. I look forward to hearing from as many people as possible about the opportunities for keeping Britain’s event businesses as competitive as possible – both now and into the future”.

The formal purpose of the cross-party APPG is:

  • To represent the UK events industry in Parliament;
  • To highlight the value of the industry;
  • To engage with politicians and industry representatives; and
  • To ensure that the UK benefits from the success of large internationally prominent events.

Communications and marketing agency Davies Tanner will continue to be the official registered Secretariat and Special Advisors to the APPG. A new programme of meetings for the forthcoming Parliamentary year will be confirmed shortly.

The Principal York has announced the new appointment of Tracy Harrison as its new General Manager.  She has joined the hotel – a Grade II listed, 155 bedroom and suite grande-dame set just outside York’s historic roman walls – from Macdonald Hotels and Resorts where she held the position of Regional Managing Director.

Tracy previously worked for five years at the Malmaison & Hotel du Vin Group where she held the positions of Housekeeping Manager and Deputy General Manager at Malmaison Birmingham and subsequently General Manager at Malmaison Reading, receiving the award of General Manager of the Year in 2010. Tracy has also held management roles at a number of hotel groups, including Village Urban Resorts and Marriott Hotels & Resorts.

Tracy’s appointment marks a return to her childhood home of York where she grew up and, at the age of 15, first cut her teeth in hospitality with a weekend job at Swallows Hotel. In a career-defining role, Tracy was made Housekeeping Deputy Manager at the age of 17, leading a team of 20 staff.  

Tracy said, ‘It’s an exciting time to join The Principal York – the team has just won a series of accolades, including Best Hotel Interiors in the UK for, Hotel of the Year at the Visit York Tourism Awards 2017, and a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence.

“I am thrilled to be returning to the city where I grew up, and I am looking forward to working with the hotel team to build on all its amazing recent successes.

David Taylor, COO of Principal, commented, ‘I’m delighted that Tracy has joined our senior team and am sure that her strong work ethic and experience, combined with her passion and knowledge of the city of York, will be a huge asset to the business.’ 

Originally The Station Hotel, The Principal York opened on its current site in 1878 and features an impressive Italianate façade of Scarborough brick and Tadcaster stone. Situated adjacent to York station, The Principal York can be accessed straight from the platform as well as by a short driveway to the front of the building. The hotel, once a stopover for Queen Victoria en route to Balmoral Castle, can now be reached in less than two hours by train from London’s King’s Cross Station.

The Principal York is one of the original hotels for PRINCIPAL, a collection of ‘local at heart’ landmark hotels in UK city centres that launched in November 2016 with hotels in Manchester and Edinburgh in addition to York.  A second hotel opened in Edinburgh, on Charlotte Square, in September 2017, and The Principal London will open this winter.

The Principal York is also home to The Refectory Kitchen & Terrace, the hotel’s conservatory-style restaurant, adjacent to which is the lively Chapter House Bar serving local craft beers, spirits and cocktails. The hotel’s elegant Garden Room, next to the main lobby and its sweeping grand staircase, is where guests can enjoy traditional British afternoon tea whilst looking out across manicured lawns to York Minster in the distance.

With a purpose-built events centre, The Principal York offers eleven meeting and event spaces as well as a gym and indoor pool.

HBAA congratulates our members who were winners at mia List 2017:


The Leadership title was awarded to Alastair Stewart, managing director of etc. venues

The Rising Star award was presented to Tom McMillan, deputy meetings and events operations manager at Park Plaza Victoria.

The Conference and Events title was presented to Petar Sotirov, events C&B outlets operations manager at Luton Hoo Hotel and Spa.

Judges also awarded a Highly commended for Conference and Events to Charlotte Best event manager at the QEII Centre in London.

Winner of the Sales category was Emma Hayes, head of event sales at Whittlebury Hall. 

The Marketing award was won by Richard Kadri-Langford, head of marketing at Lime Venue Portfolio.

From a shortlist of five teams for the Agency Team award, Inntel Ltd was voted the winner by peers in an online poll. 



Featuring three unique dining experiences, Southampton’s first destination rooftop bar, a luxury spa and health club, private cinema, state-of-the-art meetings and events facilities and breath-taking marina views

Harbour Hotels has officially unveiled its new Southampton Harbour Hotel & Spa, now open at Ocean Village Marina. The highly anticipated new hotel introduces five-star luxury to the city, transforming the setting with its striking super-yacht inspired design.

With its doors now officially open, the £25m development marks an iconic milestone for both the city and Harbour Hotels; introducing a landmark hotel to Ocean Village, making it one of the most desirable marina locations in the UK.

Featuring stunning contemporary design, alongside the Group’s award-winning restaurant and spa brands and the city’s most exciting new rooftop destination bar, the 85 bedroom hotel’s unique luxury yacht inspired design reflects Southampton’s thriving marine culture and offers a gateway to the beautiful Solent.

Councillor Simon Letts, Leader of Southampton City Council, says of the city’s new addition: “It’s fantastic to see the Southampton Harbour Hotel & Spa now open at Ocean Village Marina. The yacht inspired design draws on our maritime heritage and is an example of the high quality construction we welcome in Southampton.

“Catering for the luxury end of the market, the hotel will meet the needs of visitors to the city who are looking to indulge themselves, being the only 5 star venue in Southampton. Offering an outstanding opportunity to take advantage of the unique views across the world-famous Solent, this top-end venue at Ocean Village is certainly set to become one of the most unique destinations in the UK.”

Mike Warren, Managing Director of Harbour Hotels comments on the new opening: “We are thrilled to unveil our spectacular new Southampton Harbour Hotel & Spa development at Ocean Village, introducing five star luxury to the marina. Attracting tourism and providing a number of fantastic dining experiences, an indulgent spa and Southampton’s first destination rooftop bar for locals to enjoy, we are very excited to officially open our doors.”

On the ground floor, The Jetty, the Group’s award-winning restaurant concept, drifts out onto an extensive outdoor decked terrace, featuring relaxed seating to take in the marina setting. Headed up by the Group’s renowned Chef Patron Alex Aitken, with a philosophy of “fresh, seasonal and local”, expect fantastic seafood and an eclectic wine list.

A further large open plan lounge provides the perfect setting for informal meetings and cosy afternoons.

The top floor features ‘HarBAR on 6th’, a spectacular rooftop destination bar, kitchen and club – offering a skyline playground all year round. With panoramic marina views, the vibe will shift throughout the day; from brunching to long lunches, a break from shopping or a sundowner to get the party started. With a weekly calendar of live music, DJs, and sunset moments, head here for great cocktails, relaxed dining and the most stunning views.   

An expansive outdoor terrace features fire pits and a wood fired oven; there is even a retractable heated canopy to guarantee that the space can be enjoyed throughout the year.

On the first floor, the hotel features the city’s most impressive events space – perfect for weddings, meetings and events. With walls of glass to soak up the marina views, the hotel’s exclusive function space features stunning contemporary design and capacity for up to 200 guests. There are also a number of smaller, flexible spaces featured alongside, all set in contemporary and stylish surroundings.

With the Group’s unique HarSPA brand featured across its hotels, guests can enjoy luxury facilities alongside indulgent treatments. Featuring an indoor pool, sauna, steam room, hydrotherapy pool, relaxation areas and a relaxed juice bar and café, locals can enjoy membership options, with full use of the spa, fitness classes and exclusive offers.

Located on the ground floor, the hotel even features its own cinema for up to 21 people. With daily showings of the latest films and cult classics, alongside complimentary popcorn, guests can simply sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

Set to become the hotel of choice for those cruising to and from Southampton, guests are encouraged to start their voyage early, with the hotel creating the feeling of being on-board a luxury yacht and all 85 bedrooms featuring views across the water.

The hotel will feature a further six apartments for families and guests looking for a relaxed and spacious stay. 

Creating over 120 local jobs and driving tourism, this is an exciting time for both Harbour Hotels and Ocean Village; making it  a destination of choice for both locals and visitors to the area.

Experienced hoteliers Andrea Baron and Samantha Byrne have joined the first dual-branded hotel under one roof in the north of England.

Boasting 328-rooms the dual-branded Crowne Plaza and Staybridge Suites - known as a ‘double pack’ concept - will open to the public early next year.

Andrea has become Sales Manager of the first Staybridge Suites to open in Manchester – after joining from The Lowry Hotel.

And Samantha has landed the Crowne Plaza Sales Manager role after leaving the Holiday Inn near Piccadilly train station.

The 19-storey building sits on Manchester’s bustling Oxford Road Corridor - with Crowne Plaza guests set to occupy the first 11-storeys and longer term Staybridge customers the upper eight floors.

Andrew Fletcher, General Manager of the dual-branded hotel, described Andrea and Samantha as crucial hires.

“Samantha was heavily involved in the opening of Holiday Inn and has worked at The Malmaison, Hilton Manchester Deansgate and the National Football Museum, while Andrea boasts experience in serviced apartments too, having been part of the SACO Piccadilly ApartHotel team,” said Andrew.

“We feel they are the perfect fit for each brand and are delighted that they have come on board during what is a truly exciting period as we continue to near our opening date.”

The dual-branded double pack concept isn’t something that has been offered to people staying in Manchester before.

While the Crowne Plaza will contain 212-rooms, a 120-cover upscale restaurant, seven meeting rooms catering for over 200 delegates and a gym. Staybridge will have 116-rooms directly above it and offer a warm, social and home-like environment through a mix of studio and one-bedroom suites.

The dual-branded hotel is located on The Oxford Road Corridor, an innovation district running south from Manchester city centre that is home to 70,000 students and a workforce of 60,000 people.

It sits opposite The Royal Northern College of Music hotel and forms part of the University of Manchester’s Campus Masterplan, which includes the wider redevelopment of Alliance Manchester Business School.

Both brands are part of the IHG portfolio.

Staybridge Suites Sales Manager Andrea said: “The double pack concept is truly unique to Manchester and I’m already enjoying being part of a growing team.

“I have worked in sales for 16 years, have both hotel and extended stay experience which is quite unusual and have previously worked with my now Director of Sales and Marketing Melanie Thompson.”

She added: “There is so much opportunity to do new business on The Oxford Road Corridor and I believe we can carve a niche for ourselves and capitalise on the growth of the city and the Corridor.”

Samantha, Sales Manager Crowne Plaza, said: “Having opened the Holiday Inn in Manchester city centre not too long ago, another brand that is part of the IHG portfolio, I know just how brilliant it is to be heavily involved at this stage of the process.

“Crowne Plaza is my primary focus, but I’m also excited to work alongside Andrea and learn about the extended stay offering, market and industry.

“The next few months are going to be hard work but also enjoyable, ahead of opening early next year.”


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