The home of golf, Rob Roy, Edinburgh Castle, haggis, shortbread, Robert Burns, and some of the most stunningly rugged scenery in the world, Scotland has much to offer meeting and incentive executives. With a rich culture, friendly people, sophisticated cities, exceptional special event venues, and a large variety of accommodations, the most northern part of the British Isles has something for everyone.
In the past, Scotland was often combined with trips to London and was considered more of a pre- or post-destination for incentives and meetings. But much has changed, and more often than not, Scotland stands on its own. Hotel standards are very high, the cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh are truly cosmopolitan, and Aberdeen, the oil capital of Europe, has prospered and grown.
Edinburgh Edinburgh, Scotland's capital, is a majestic city steeped in history. Its most famous landmark, the 12th century Edinburgh Castle, rises 250 feet above the Old Town. Through Historic Scotland, planners can now arrange a dinner and a private viewing of the Crown Jewels of Scotland. What stories those walls could tell! The city is rich in culture and is home to a royal palace, three national art collections, five major theaters, and more than 60 art galleries and museums. Each August, Edinburgh hosts the internationally acclaimed Edinburgh Festival, which attracts performers in opera, ballet, classical music, and theater from around the globe. At the same time as the Festival, there is the famous (or infamous) Fringe Festival, less reverent and more avant garde, as well as the International Film and Jazz Festivals. Although hotel rooms are at a premium, incentive groups will find this period to be particularly magical.
There are a number of incentive-quality hotels in Edinburgh, ranging from the Sheraton Grand, The Balmoral, Caledonian, George Intercontinental, to the more intimate Bonham and The Howard. For something completely different, consider the art deco Malmaison, with its sister property in Glasgow.
Edinburgh has excellent special venues, the newest of which comes on board this month--the recently retired Royal Yacht Britannia. Available for cocktail parties and dinners, the yacht offers participants a taste of the British monarchy's lifestyle. They can stay in rooms slept in by kings, queens, presidents, and members of the Royal Family. Other exceptional venues include the Royal Museum and the Scotch Whiskey Heritage Center on the Royal Mile. For an exhilarating day ofand fun, Cluny Clays, just across the Firth of Forth, offers clay pigeon-shooting, off-road driving, and falconry.
Glasgow Since its tenure as European City of Culture in 1990, Glasgow has continued to build on its well-deserved reputation as one of Europe's great cultural destinations. Famous for its art and architecture, Glasgow has been chosen as the U.K. City of Architecture and Design in 1999. To herald this achievement, a new conference facility, The Lighthouse, will open in early 1999. Designed by one of Scotland's most celebrated architects, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the building has been extensively renovated, and will play a major role in the millennium preparations. Another Rennie Mackintosh design, House for an Art Lover, has just been completed and is ideal for private entertaining. As more neighborhoods are renovated, new venues continue to develop. Some of the more spectacular locations include the Burrell Collection, featuring more than 8,000 artifacts housed in a gallery in scenic Pollock Country Park. Another popular venue is the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, located in a red brick, Victorian-era landmark building. The Glasgow Film Theater, Museum of Transport, and The Piping Center are other examples of unusual special venues.
Like its close neighbor Edinburgh, Glasgow has a varied selection of accommodations. Ideal incentive and meeting properties range from the Glasgow Hilton (whose Grand Ballroom can accommodate up to 1,200 guests), to Glasgow Moat House (close to the Scottish Exhibition & Conference Center), to the smaller properties of One Devonshire Gardens and Gleddoch House Hotel.
Aberdeen Aberdeen, Scotland's third-largest city, is renowned for its floral beauty, having won the prestigious Britain in Bloom trophy 10 times. Its ancient university was established in 1494, and much of the original character is still retained. There are fine museums, art galleries, and concert halls. Located in the northeast of Scotland, Aberdeen is recognized as Europe's oil capital and the revenues earned from oil have been very beneficial to the city's development--road, rail, and air connections are all excellent.
Ardoe House Hotel, the Marcliffe at Pitfodels, Stakis Craigendarroch Hotel, and Thainstone House Hotel & Country Club are fine examples of upscale country-house hotels that are ideal for meetings and incentive programs around the Aberdeen area.
Royal Deeside, located to the west, offers a plethora of castles, historical sites, whiskey distilleries, and amazing views. The summer Royal Residence of Balmoral, selected as the Royal Family's holiday home by Queen Victoria more than 100 years ago, is nearby.
Aberdeen is a haven for the sports enthusiast. Golf courses, catering to players of all levels, are in abundance. In addition, visitors can participate in any number of sports, from the exhilaration of hang-gliding, mountaineering, river-rafting, go-carting, and buggy-racing, to the more placid pastime of fishing. For organized teambuilding programs, consider companies such as Howie Irvine Sporting Factors, which can provide the ultimate in experiences: driving a tank, picking up an egg in the jaws of an industrial digger, quad biking, clay-pigeon shooting, and much more.