Training venues: A little sporty number

If you’re planning some outside-work training then sporting venues provide unusual and inspiring settings. We look at what eight have to offer.


The Gleneagles Hotel
Perthshire, Scotland

Facilities: Gleneagles offers 13 private venue rooms varying in style, capacity and technical facilities. It can accommodate small boardroom executive meetings, large business conferences and gala dinner events.

Parking: Parking in the grounds.

Accommodation: Gleneagles is a five-star, 232-bedroom hotel.

Rate: Day delegate rates start from £68.51, while a 24-hour conference rate starts at £288.72 per person, per night.

Typical dinner menu: Smoked Scottish salmon, roast of the day and the Gleneagles cheese box.

Sporting heritage: One hour’s drive from Edinburgh and Glasgow airports, the 850-acre Gleneagles estate offers three championship golf courses, including the PGA Centenary Course where the 2014 Ryder Cup is due to be played. It is also renowned for offering some of the best facilities for country pursuits. Trainers can combine a meeting with a teambuilding event based on archery, trout fishing, clay-pigeon shooting, falconry lessons or gundog demonstrations.


Silverstone Circuits

Facilities: The circuit has five buildings of various sizes, including the famous British Racing Drivers Club House, that can host training events. The largest room can accommodate up to 300 delegates.

Parking: Unlimited.

Accommodation: Nearest hotel is the four-star Whittlebury Hall.

Rate: Day delegate rate is £50 (+VAT), including lunch.

Typical dinner menu: A choice of hot or cold buffets.

Sporting heritage: Widely-recognised as the home of British motor racing, Silverstone is the venue for the British Grand Prix, where last year Lewis Hamilton took the chequered flag. The venue offers trainers a host of possibilities when organising a bespoke event, such as combining a conference or seminar with a tour of the circuit or some serious fun with one of the venue’s driving experiences.


The All England Jumping Course, Hickstead
West Sussex (15-minute drive from Gatwick and Brighton)

Facilities: 100mx50m outdoor, all-weather arena with adjacent clubhouse, which seats 60 to 80 people.

Parking: Unlimited

Accommodation: There’s a Travel Lodge within walking distance and a 50-room hotel a mile away. Numerous hotels in and around Gatwick and Brighton.

Rate: Hire of clubhouse starts at £500 (+VAT).

Typical dinner menu: All needs catered for from hog roasts and barbecues to buffets or four-course dinners.

Sporting heritage: Credited with a major role in creating today’s sport of show jumping, Hickstead will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2010. Its centrepiece – the International Arena – has recently undergone a £100,000 overhaul and is widely rated as the best outdoor equestrian facility in the world, receiving as much care and attention as Wimbledon’s Centre Court. The training facilities cater for complete novices up to advanced level. Polo lessons are also available from one of the venue’s three resident instructors.


Aintree Racecourse
Ormskirk Road, Aintree, Liverpool

Facilities: The venue offers a range of facilities from boxes overlooking the racecourse to the Aintree Pavilion, a huge arena that can accommodate up 5,000 people. AV equipment can be hired on request.

Parking: Free for up to 800.

Accommodation: The nearest is a Premier Travel Inn opposite the racecourse.

Rate: Delegate day rates start at £95 a day.

Typical dinner menu: On-site caterers can provide anything from a buffet to a three-course dinner.

Sporting heritage: Aintree Racecourse has been the site of some of the most memorable moments in horse-racing history. Who can forget Red Rum’s third Grand National victory or Aldaniti romping home ridden by Bob Champion? A £35m redevelopment programme has recently been completed resulting in the opening of two new grandstands along with the Aintree International Equestrian Centre. The new grandstands can accommodate up to 600 delegates each, while the Aintree Pavilion has 3,700sq m of exhibition space.


The Liberty Stadium
Landore, Swansea, Wales

Facilities: The stadium has more than 40 function suites. The largest room can accommodate 330 delegates, theatre-style, while the 29 executive boxes overlooking the pitch can hold up to 10 people in each. Standard AV equipment can be arranged.

Parking: 780 free spaces.

Accommodation: Numerous hotels in Swansea.

Rate: The day delegate rate starts at £31.50 (+VAT), including lunch. A special rate for January is £15 (+VAT) per person.

Typical dinner menu: Potato and leek soup, Welsh rack of lamb and a selection of Welsh cheeses.

Sporting heritage: Opened in July 2005, the Liberty Stadium is Swansea’s answer to Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium and offers a first-class, multi-purpose venue. Home to Swansea City football club – The Swans – and Ospreys rugby club, the stadium is also the premier events venue in South West Wales. Catering for both a rugby and football team, more than 60 matches are played at the venue every year. It is also possible to book a stadium tour as part of an event.


Dorney Lake, Eton College Rowing Centre
Windsor, Berkshire

Facilities: The famous Eton Rowing Club boathouse offers meeting and conference facilities, while the 400-acre site provides opportunities for land and water-based teambuilding activities.

Parking: Spaces for about 200 vehicles.

Accommodation: Hotels in nearby Windsor.

Rate: Depends on the activity.

Typical dinner menu: Lobster and tiger prawn salad, supreme of guinea fowl and Belgian chocolate and praline torte.

Sporting heritage: Eton College Rowing Centre at Dorney Lake is a modern, world-class rowing and canoeing centre set in a 400-acre parkland, near Windsor. Opened in 2000, it hosted the World Championships in 2006 and has been designated the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games venue for rowing and flat-water canoeing. A number of triathlons are held here each year, as are dragon boating events, which can be used for teambuilding.


Lord’s Cricket Ground
St Johns Wood, London, NW8

Facilities: Rooms range from the Victorian elegance of the restored Pavilion, which can accommodate up to 300 people, to the contemporary poise of the Investec Media Centre, which seats 70, theatre-style.

Parking: Between 10 and 15 spaces per event, plus additional street parking and local NCP car parks.

Accommodation: Local hotels including the four-star Melia White House Hotel and boutique Cumberland.

Rate: Daily delegate rates starts from £72 (+VAT), per person.

Typical dinner menu: Foie gras, veal wellington and raspberry sorbet.

Sporting heritage: Named after its 18th-century founder Thomas Lord, Lord’s, or HQ as it is known, is the most famous and historic cricket ground in the world. And you don’t have to be a fan of the game to appreciate its magic, as its famous pavilion and modern media centre are landmark buildings in their own right. If you want to knock training delegates for six, coaching sessions in the indoor cricket school and private tours of the ground can be arranged.


The Stadium of Light

Facilities: The stadium can cater for groups of any size – from one-to-one meetings to a large-scale conferences for 600 guests. Many rooms have projectors and AV equipment installed.

Parking: More than 1,000 spaces.

Accommodation: There are a number of local hotels.

Rate: Day room hire rates start at £275.

Typical dinner menu: Asparagus, sirloin steak and Chantilly cream-filled profiteroles.

Sporting heritage: Standing on the banks of the River Wear, the Stadium of Light opened in 1997 and is regarded as being among the top tier of football stadia in Europe. Sunderland, once the largest shipbuilding centre in the world, may be a city without a cathedral but with football being a religion is this area the stadium, which holds almost 50,000 people, provides a spiritual home for its people. And although its design is 21st-century, its bowl-shaped lower deck was inspired by the city’s industrial heritage of shipbuilding.

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