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Early January 2019 the Mercure Brandon Hall Hotel and Spa commenced an exciting £2.5m refurbishment program, the extensive refurbishment is set to last six months completing early summer 2019. 

Phase one of the investment saw the first sixteen bedrooms in the main house fully refurbished, the bedrooms were totally stripped back to the floorboards and refurbishments included new windows, electrical wiring, new flooring, plastering and redecoration complete with the addition of stylish new furnishings.  Situated in the original building many of these rooms offer views over the grounds and gardens, some of which boast original features such as fireplaces and tend to be unique in their shape and size. The next two phases of the project saw forty classic bedrooms completed, similar work was carried out with a more classic design in wallpaper and furnishings.  All 120 guest rooms will be completed by the end of June, a corridor at a time is being closed limiting any distribution to guests in house, ensuring business as usual.

All of the public areas and meeting and event rooms within the hotel are also being redecorated replacing flooring, carpets, curtains and furnishings.

The investment is progressing well and the newly refurbished areas are being very well received by all guests so far.  Mercure Brandon Hall Hotel and Spa are looking forward to welcoming guests, both existing and new, to experience the exciting changes.



Second year Events Management student at the University of Huddersfield, Lauren Thirsk, is looking forward to adding to her event experience as a student volunteer at the Conference & Hospitality Show (CHS19) for the second year running, next week.

The CHS Group has welcomed students to take part in its volunteer programme for almost 10 years, as part of its continued commitment to ensure the industry can be relevant and an attractive career choice for millennials.  Seasoned student volunteer, Lauren Thirsk shares her view.

This is your second time as a member of the student volunteer programme at the Conference & Hospitality Show, what are your reasons for doing it again this year?

“I have volunteered for other events, but they’ve been at the University, so last year I took part in the student volunteer programme to get me out of my comfort zone, it was the first opportunity we got to work in an actual conference environment.

“I really didn’t know what to expect but as a show-maker, I got to do a lot of work on stage and the wider arena, and it really helped me to understand what working in large-scale events can be like in a real conference situation.  This year I volunteered because CHS18 was so friendly, I enjoyed it hugely, and it has really helped me with my studies.

“I’m able to refer back to real-life situations and experiences as part of my coursework and understand how to apply the theory into actual practice.  Nicky Wilkinson and the CHS team made us feel so welcome and it was fantastic to get to meet attendees and understand from them, what makes a great event, and what they want and expect from CHS.

“On my course now, it is easy to spot those who have taken part in actual events and volunteered at large scale conferences, you can see what they have gained from the experience, and everyone who didn’t take part, wishes that they did.  There’s an element of being thrown in at the deep-end, but if you want to work in conferencing, having an ability to react quickly and effectively and apply that theory to real-live situations, is an integral skill.  We’re covering MICE this year and the experience of CHS has been invaluable in that respect too.”

You’ve clearly gained a lot from your experience last year, what are you hoping to get out of CHS19 and the tenth anniversary?

“I’m working with another coordinator on the welcome party and on the day I’m on AV registration and the demonstration stage, but as you know, that can easily change on the day so it’s about keeping on my toes and being ready to react.”

Are you looking forward to taking part in CHS19?

“I can’t wait, I’m really looking forward to it and it’s a nice break from revision as it is exam season soon.”

Has this experience helped you to decide if you want to work in conferencing and events as your future career?

“Yes, it has made me more determined than ever to get into this industry, I have already organized a position in New York for my placement year and the experience I gained at CHS really helped me to understand what this will entail.”

Based on your own experience, what would you say to other students unsure about volunteering?

“I would recommend anyone studying events to get as much experience, volunteering or otherwise, as you possibly can.  You must see if for yourself and understand if this is the industry for you.  If you haven’t volunteered, or experienced it, how can you possibly know.  I would strongly recommend anyone involved in events, or who wants to consider it as a career, to get involved.  You’ll never know until you try it, and once you have, you won’t look back!”

Emma Cartmell, Chief Executive Officer at CHS Group, said: “We have a close working relationship with the University of Huddersfield, and it’s a joy to see students gain valuable experience and confidence taking part in CHS.  Lauren is one of the many outstanding students to come back as part of the CHS team.  It is great to see their passion grow for the industry and the invaluable skills that they learn as volunteers, that help them to become the event pros of the future.”

The show, held at Leeds first direct arena, will take place on Tuesday 30 April and will see over 200 national suppliers exhibiting. The one-day showcase event will provide attendees with the opportunity to discover a diverse range of academic and independent venues, hotels and event suppliers. 

CHS19, Tuesday 30th April, Leeds first direct Arena.



Global corporate housing provider, SilverDoor Apartments, has hosted its first US industry networking event at its new office in Denver, Colorado.

Held on behalf of the Corporate Housing Providers Association (CHPA), the Denver Network Connection brought together over 50 business travel professionals from across the country.

The evening featured a Q&A session with leaders from the relocation industry which allowed attendees to gain further understanding of the challenges facing global mobility.

SilverDoor Apartments opened its Americas office in January 2019 and Regional Head – Americas, Rafaela Baraldi, has been thrilled with the warm welcome that she and her team have received:

“We’ve been here for a few months now and I’ve been overwhelmed by the warm reception we’ve received from the wider industry for our innovative approach to corporate housing solutions.

“People have been so supportive and we’ve already welcomed a number of new operators to our community of property partners.

“Thanks to the CHPA for giving us the opportunity to host such a prestigious event and thank you so much to everyone who joined us for what we hope is the first of many SilverDoor hosted industry events.”

CHPA CEO, Mary Ann Passi, commented: “It was a fantastic turnout for this CHPA Denver Network Connection, showing the tremendous growth in this market.

“Thank you to SilverDoor Apartments for coordinating a great networking event with the added bonus panel of relocation professionals sharing their insights.”




HBAA will be hosting a non-profit event, open to the industry on 15 May during National Mental Health Awareness Week (13-19 May) as the latest initiative in the HBAA’s mental health campaign.

This is a commitment not only to raise awareness of the huge scale of mental health issues in the hospitality and events industry but also to enable members and non-members to help themselves in their wellbeing, take action to prevent problems and address them ahead of when they occur.

The event at the Holiday Inn London, Kensington Forum, starting at 1.15pm, will feature an inspiring keynote speaker, Vikie Shanks, and experts providing advice on many aspects of wellbeing and mental health.

Open to all hospitality and event industry professionals, including non HBAA members, it will raise money to train even more HBAA members to become Mental Health First Aiders.

Key note speaker Vikie Shanks, sponsored by Wyboston Lakes, will deliver a presentation based on her own inspirational life story. Left to raise seven special needs children alone after her husband tragically committed suicide, Vikie will document her own journey to ‘normality’ as she tirelessly campaigns for greater awareness of autism, mental health and suicidality.

Recognised experts will provide advice on wellness in events, nutrition, breathing support and tips on how to get a better night’s sleep. The Samaritans will be discussing their great work and attendees are encouraged to come in activewear to participate in a spinathon. A health MOT provided by Nuffield Health, the largest non-profit provider in the UK, will also be providing a free goodie bag containing NEOM organic products, water bottles and other wellbeing products. 

Raffle prizes, including spa breaks, will be available to win on the day. 

Spaces for the event are limited to 60 and to help maximise funding for more HBAA Mental Health First Aider training places, donations in lieu of attendance can be made by visiting the justgiving page.  

This latest initiative forms part of HBAA’s comprehensive campaign which began in February, when the association’s Executive Committee and board completed training as Mental Health First Aiders.

To help tackle this growing problem, HBAA has created two open courses to enable both members and non-members to train their staff to become qualified Mental Health First Aiders. The first two-day course will take place on 2 & 3 May at the Macdonald Windsor Hotel and the second will be at the Macdonald Burlington Hotel in Birmingham on 20 & 21 June.

Full details of the event and how to book are available here.

Leigh Cowlishaw, HBAA past Chair and Board member who is leading the HBAA Mental Health Awareness campaign says; “From a recent survey; one in three people in the hospitality and events industry will experience a mental health issue and the sector is ranked in the top three sectors for stress and mental health problems. This latest initiative is one of several being implemented by the HBAA, and is designed to empower all those working in hospitality and events by providing tools and guidance to support them in their professional and personal lives.

“We want everyone to understand that ‘It’s OK Not To Be OK’, and that there is plenty of support available to them. This support and self-care is to enable you to look after your wellbeing maintenance and not just to be activated when you need to take time off sick, or visiting the doctors – it should be used as part of your daily routine to look out for yourself and others around you.” 

An interview with Leigh Cowlishaw about this topic and event can be viewed at

For more information, please visit



The Barbican has appointed Jenny Waller as head of sales. The expanded role will see Jenny managing the Barbican’s growing sales team, which includes a renewed focus on international and association markets. Jenny will be supported in her role by the newly appointed deputy head of sales, Charlie Smith.

Jenny has been promoted from the role of senior account manager within the Barbican team, where she has already achieved a number of significant wins for the world-leading arts and conference venue. These include major corporate and association events due to take place over the coming 24 months. Prior to working at the Barbican Jenny spent four years developing industry knowledge and expertise at Park Plaza Hotels.

Charlie returns to the Barbican, where he worked as an account manager for two years between 2016 and 2018. Other experience includes time developing sales skills at both Dreamland and HMS President.

‘The Barbican is going from strength to strength,’ comments Jackie Boughton, head of business events at the Barbican.  ‘Last year we opened and showcased our new cinema offering, comprised of two cinemas and supporting food and beverage, as well as exhibition or networking space capable of seating up to 150 for conferences, meetings and private screenings. When added to our wider offering it makes the Barbican one of Europe’s most comprehensive venues. This in turn has led to an increase in both association and international bookings. Jenny has been instrumental in that success over the last year and was therefore the perfect choice to take on the demanding role leading our sales team. It is also a real pleasure to welcome Charlie back to the team – his in-depth knowledge of the venue is already having a significant impact on new business development.’

Jenny responded by saying: ‘This is a new and exciting challenge for me. Over the course of the next year I am particularly looking forward to working alongside our association specialists as we develop that market, whilst supporting our work with a strong presence at major international trade shows and events. The UK of course remains our core market and we are delighted by the ongoing support we receive from domestic clients booking direct or via our agency partners. However, there is still significant opportunity for us to develop internationally – particularly given our ability to partner with the Barbican International Enterprises team to deliver truly inspiring content and theming. The addition of Charlie to the team ensures we have the ongoing experience and depth of knowledge needed to deliver to the highest standards for our clients.’

Further information about events at the Barbican can be found by contacting the Business Events Team: +44 (0)20 7382 7043 |


The four-star Macdonald Burlington Hotel in Birmingham City Centre has unveiled the first phase of a £750,000 renovation of its meeting and events spaces.

The investment marks the repositioning of the hotel’s conference facilities to become a standalone multi-purpose events venue.

To date, a total of 16 meeting rooms have undergone refurbishment to refresh the interiors and install the latest technology. Rooms have been fitted with 75” flat-screen LCD screens and state-of-the-art ClickShare connectivity. Designed to encourage collaboration, the technology allows delegates to connect their devices to the main presentation screen and share content at the click of a button.

The hotel’s largest function room, which can host over 500 guests, is also due for refurbishment, with work scheduled to commence later this year.

The modernisation of the hotel’s facilities comes in anticipation of a busy summer calendar of high-profile events, which includes the official launch of the first phase of refurbishment later this month. A further event is planned for September when the hotel’s largest function room – the 500-person capacity Horton Suite - is completed. 

Regarded as one of the city’s leading conference venues, the hotel was awarded the BDRC VenueVerdict Gold Standard Accreditation in 2018 for outstandingly high levels of customer satisfaction.

Tim Sparrow, General Manager of Macdonald Burlington Hotel, said: “Macdonald Burlington Hotel has developed a reputation for being one of the leading conference venues in the city.

“This renovation project represents a significant move to modernise our facilities and provide the best possible experience to our business guests. We are targeting becoming the number one multi-purpose events space in the city and believe by enhancing our offering we’ll be able to achieve this goal.”

The four-star Macdonald Burlington Hotel which is close to both Birmingham Airport and New Street train station combines Victorian splendour and stylish interior design.

For more information on Macdonald Burlington Hotel please visit



HBAA has created a Next Gen Board to shadow its Board and Executive Committee as the first implementation of its central theme for 2019 - supporting ‘the Next Generation’ of event professionals.

Olivia Woolley, National Account Manager at Hotel and Travel Solutions Ltd, Ryan Doyle, Sales Manager at the Park Regis Birmingham and Anthony Kwokori, Business Events Account Executive at the Barbican, took part in the recent HBAA Board and Executive Committee Meeting at the Radisson Blu East Midlands Airport.

The initiative is designed to provide young professionals with first-hand boardroom experience to help accelerate their careers and prepare them for future roles in the HBAA.

Describing her experience, Olivia Woolley said “I found the event to be very inspiring! This is a great opportunity to bring the next generation’s ideas to the HBAA, as well as a great opportunity to develop personally in my career and to help others of a similar age bracket. HBAA is a great association to be part of! I’m very excited about the next 8 months!”

Echoing Olivia’s comments, Ryan Doyle commented “As an industry, we struggle to attract and retain younger talent and being part of the HBAA Next Gen Board, I am committed to giving a voice to the younger generation and providing feedback how we see the industry moving forward”.

Ryan concluded “The committee meetings are a valuable time to examine association objectives for the next 12 months and to discuss how these aims will be achieved. I am keen to promote the industry as the exciting and diverse employment sector that it is.

HBAA Chair Angie Mason says “The Next Gen Board shadow programme represents the first of many initiatives that we are planning to inspire young professionals and to equip and support them with the skills to progress into leadership positions in the organisations they work in, as well as in the HBAA”.


For more information, please see



Robinson College has appointed Nicole Parker as its new Conference & Events Manager.

Nicole joins from the Museum of London, where she was events manager, and has held similar roles at Royal Museums in Greenwich and the RAF Museum. She has also worked as a lighting technician and has a degree in Classics from Royal Holloway, University of London. At Robinson she will oversee the conference team, including dealing with enquiries, ensuring clients get the best rooms to suit their needs, creating the events and running it on the day. This also includes residential conferences, summer schools and dinners.

Commenting on the appointment Alexis Moreau, Head of Conference and Catering Services at Robinson College, said: “We’re delighted that Nicole has joined us in this role. Her experience in museums, where it’s very much about creating fantastic client experiences, will be invaluable here at Robinson.”

Soniya Savant has also joined the team, as a maternity cover in the events sales coordinator role. She previously worked in sales for Waldorf Hotels.

Robinson College’s award-winning purpose built conference facilities have operated alongside the college’s academic side for more than 30 years. Facilities include an auditorium for 270, Umney Theatre for 120 and the new Crausaz Wordsworth Building offering cabaret or classroom style for 96 or 80 delegates. It also has a number of meeting rooms.

Robinson is one of the newest colleges in the University of Cambridge. It was founded with a donation by the entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir David Robinson and formally opened in 1981. It has 80 Fellows and around 400 undergraduate and 200 graduate students.



The Edinburgh Collection is pleased to announce that it has acquired the luxurious Princes Street Suites as of today’s date, bringing a touch of luxury to the eclectic accommodation group.

The Princes Street Suites is an award-winning aparthotel that won the 2019 Scottish Hotel Awards’ Family Hotel of the Year category in Edinburgh and the Lothians for the second year in a row. 

The 37 one, two and three bedroom apartments enjoy an unrivalled city centre location with a striking roof terrace commanding views of the city skyline and Edinburgh Castle.



Ricky Kapoor, Managing Director of The Edinburgh Collection said:
“Edinburgh is a robust market where we are long term investors with a good mix of corporate, leisure and event business.  The Edinburgh Collection is well placed to cater to this with each of our Edinburgh properties offering its own unique character, appealing to a different kind of customer.  The Princes Street Suites offers a luxurious edge to our portfolio and our team are looking forward to marketing it effectively from within our group.”

The Edinburgh Collection is passionate about keeping the same high standard of customer service at the Princes Street Suites which previously was managed by RBH. Princes Street Suites will retain existing staff and will bring in-house the outsourced housekeeping staff, with the 22-person team led by GM Alain Martzolff. 

By coming under The Edinburgh Collection group, Princes Street Suites will now benefit from collective local marketing expertise and group promotions with branding consistent with the rest of the group.

Whilst the suites were recently refurbished with fully equipped kitchens and spacious living areas, The Edinburgh Collection will substantially improve the walk-in and welcome experience by expanding the reception area with a 24-hour Bar & Coffee Lounge.  The apartments will be upgraded to include smart TV’s, USB charging points and provide a Handy Smartphone Companion in each apartment providing a complimentary guest amenity offering free unlimited data and calls with content such as destination guides and google maps. These additions are in keeping with The Edinburgh Collection’s drive to provide user friendly technology. This, combined with improved meeting room accommodation, is part of a move to attract local companies to use its facilities for day lets of the suites for meetings of 8 to 12 delegates, which will also be actively promoted. 

Sheetal Kapoor, Group CEO of The Edinburgh Collection also commented: 
“The acquisition of Princes Street Suites enhances The Edinburgh Collection’s portfolio in the city with a full range of accommodation options from the affordable business class Haymarket Hub Hotel; the historic Old Waverley; and the 4-star Holyrood apartHOTEL just off the city’s Royal Mile. The group now owns in excess of 440 bedrooms across Edinburgh, employing over 120 staff across the four properties. The group has seen positive growth in profit and turnover in the last financial year and with the acquisition of Princes Street Suites the group looks forward to continue this trend”. 



Her Majesty The Queen and The Duchess of Cambridge visited King’s College London to open Bush House in March 2019. The royal party were there to meet with staff and academics and to have a tour of the recently renovated Bush House (previously the home of the BBC World Service) which now features an auditorium, various tiered lecture theatres, meeting rooms and the stunning 8th floor event space with rooftop terraces. The Queen and the Duchess both remarked on the “impressive” view across London.

The visit ended in the new auditorium where the Queen, who is patron of the university, unveiled a plaque to formally open Bush House.

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