Five-star Sandals resort opens in Barbados

Sandals has opened its first resort on the Caribbean island of Barbados. The five-star Sandals Barbados features new swim-up river suites giving guests access to the island's longest lagoon pool plus private soaking tubs on the patio. Located on Dover Beach where the Caribbean meets the Atlantic, the all-new resort has 280 accommodation options across its Ocean Village, Crystal Lagoon Village and Caribbean Village. Sandals Barbados also includes a new conference room split over two levels which can cater for up to 80 on each floor theatre-style; use of the meeting facilities is free to groups taking more than five rooms. Sandals Resorts also offers private group check-in, complimentary cocktail reception and a private group dinner, and one room is free for every 15 booked from 1 September-25 December in 2015 and 2016.

Royal seal for new Intercontinental

Prince Andrew has performed the topping out ceremony at the new Intercontinental London - The O2. The 452-bedroom hotel is slated to open next door to The O2 on London’s Greenwich Peninsular in September, and the Duke of York took part in the ceremony on the hotel’s roof along with a number of event and hotel industry dignitaries. Once open, the hotel is expected to boast, at 3,100 sqm, Europe’s largest pillarless ballroom (pictured), with capacity for up to 3,000 delegates theatre-style, while the adjoining pre-function space has 4m floor to ceiling windows with breathtaking panoramas of Canary Wharf and the Thames. Other facilities under construction at the £121 million hotel include a 200-capacity dining area and bar overlooking Canary Wharf’s skyscrapers and the river, plus an additional 19 meeting rooms.

Biggin Hill heli shuttle eyes up US market

London Biggin Hill Airport is targeting the US market with the launch of its new London Heli Shuttle service. The dedicated on demand service to the London Heliport in Battersea is the shortest journey time of any business airport in the UK to London. A fleet of AgustaWestland AW109 helicopters, configured for six passengers and operated by resident charter firm Castle Air, whisk arriving business jet passengers from Biggin Hill to London within six minutes. Included in the price is a complimentary door-to-door chauffeur service to the clients’ final destination in London. No prior notice is required to book.

Georgian gem newly available for event hire

Georgian retreat Pennard House in Glastonbury is newly available for meetings and events hire. The family-owned stately home sleeps 12, with an additional five double beds available in luxury handmade 18ft tipis in the summer months. The outdoor swimming pool can be used for barbecues and team-building, while the 130-acre country estate features cider-producing apple orchards and landscaped gardens. The recently converted Coach House’s meeting and conference facilities are made up of an open plan seating area on the second floor and a modern event space downstairs, complete with a fully-stocked bar. The house has Wi-Fi, sound and visual facilities for presentations and catering can be provided on request.

Maritim splashes out on new Mallorca hotel

Maritim Hotels returns to Mallorca in 2015 with the opening of a new four-star hotel in Andratx. The Maritim Hotel Galatzó, opening in March, will boast 172 rooms, an outdoor swimming pool and sun terrace, two restaurants, and a Balinese-inspired chill out zone. The hotel has eight dedicated meetings and events rooms, ranging from 38 sqm to 426 sqm. The largest room has a capacity of 390 people and offers views of the Tramuntana Mountains from its panoramic windows. The hotel also features a 1,400 sqm Mediterranean-style spa, five clay tennis courts, and is located just a stone’s throw from some of the island’s best golf courses. To celebrate opening, the hotel has a special offer on all conference bookings made for March and April.

Luton Hoo unveils new healthy living deal

Luton Hoo Hotel, Golf and Spa has launched a new Delegate Wellness Package, which aims to encourage delegates, bosses and employees to opt for a healthier lifestyle. The package, in partnership with Chillisauce, has two options for delegates to choose from, focusing on healthy living and outdoor exercise. Both options include tea and coffee, a buffet lunch and use of a meeting room for four hours, before delegates then choose between a 5-A-Day Superfood Smoothie workshop or a 1000-acre challenge around the hotel’s estate. Both options require a minimum of 50 people.

A new perspective on London's skyline

The View from The Shard has unveiled Europe’s highest virtual reality experience, comparable to standing 1,000 feet above London. The venue has partnered with virtual reality content provider Visualise to create the experience for Samsung Gear VR headsets, which transports users to the top of The Shard to experience a 360-degree video time-lapse captured over 48 hours. Revealed ahead of London’s highest viewing platform's second anniversary on 1 February 2015, the virtual view is the first of its kind for a UK landmark; those at the venue hope it will appeal to clients in long-haul markets and boost international tourism trade.

Maritim signs up tech firms for events

Maritim has signed up tech firms Kuchem and Braehler to take charge of events technology and technical support at its hotels in Germany. The two specialist firms will provide equipment, offer support for technical planning and supervise events. Joerg Bacher, director of Maritim Hotel & ICC Dresden, said: “The partnership gives us access to qualified staff and the best modern technical equipment while also allowing us to broaden our offering in terms of technology and service. It puts us in a position to meet our customers' needs better, more quickly and with greater flexibility.” Maritim is Germany's largest private provider of convention facilities.

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