- 17 May 2011

Obama…next big thing to hit Westminster

Since I last blogged I have been away on holiday in India but felt fully in touch with the Royal wedding build-up thanks to the good old BBC. There was something a bit odd looking at people camping out on Westminster pavements from a hotel room in Shimla – I suppose I felt a bit like I’d never really got away.

When I settled back into an armchair on my first day back in the UK to watch the great event I was fully up to speed. Wasn’t it a perfect occasion, really flawless? Those responsible for putting together this great spectacle really did a fantastic job. Even the gossip we read in the press about differences of opinion about glitter balls in the Palace’s Throne Room must have been overcome given the happy expressions on guests faces as they went on their merry ways in the early hours of Saturday.

At OGGS there was some serious work and planning being done in the run up to the same weekend as we had one of our own weddings taking place on Saturday 30th. The team had to keep on top of news regarding road closures which affected not only deliveries prior to the big day but we were also concerned about how soon after the Royal wedding normal access would be restored. Any unforeseen security issue could also have caused disruption for our own wedding couple. Fortunately the meticulous planning this end paid off and wedding number 7, of 25 confirmed so far this year, was a royal success.
Thought I would share a photo, sent in by one of our OGGS fans and taken outside our building (on the right) on the day of the Royal wedding showing the Scots Guards marching back to Wellington Barracks.

Although this scene took place on the very special Royal Wedding occasion it is not uncommon to see similar scenes at this time of year with the forthcoming Queen’s Birthday Parade when the Colour is trooped on Horse Guards Parade to mark the Monarch’s official birthday. Shortly before this of course, there is the State Visit of President Obama who will be staying down the road at Buckingham Palace between 24th and 26th of May. Expect to see and hear more ceremonial activities including marching bands and flagpoles along The Mall and Horse Guards Road draped in Union flags. The Star Spangled Banner will of course also be here, there and everywhere. Don’t forget too that the height of the summer means that St James’s Park, across the road from us really looks at its best with flowers of glorious colours, clipped grass verges and beautiful trees.

Naturally we are ideally located for top notch hospitality dinners and receptions for those considering corporate hospitality in the run up to and including Trooping the Colour For example:
Beating the retreat: During the Week preceeding the Trooping the Colour on Horse Guards parade (less than 5 min walk from our door where the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Beach Volleyball will take place) on 7, 8 and 9 June. Why not consider combining this with a small private dinner or drinks Reception with us. Visit http://www.trooping-the-colour.co.uk for information on events and tickets.

Full dress rehearsals take place for Trooping the Colour on Saturday 28 May and Saturday 4 June: Why not buy your tickets while there are still some going to attend the trooping of the colour and make up a corporate hospitality package by combining with a lunch and drinks receptions.

If you just want to watch what’s going on from the roadside during the week, consider combining your day out with lunch in Brasserie One. To reserve a table please call 020 7665 2340.

Money may still tight (except for those in the recent Sunday Times rich list!) but London has so much to offer, particularly in the summer months and much of it is free.

The phone’s ringing……..got to go……Customer has to come first!

- 09 May 2011

Our own Prince William lunching in our Brasserie One!

You have probably already seen it but I have only just actually seen the T-Mobile spoof Royal Wedding video on YouTube. If you are one of the last in the world (like me!) it’s a must see, watch it via the link I have included.

I have to say that I was amazed at the uncanny likeness of some of the participants, not mentioning any names, dont want to end up in court! The creators of this video appeared to have had some insight into the clothing choices of some….? It turns out that look-alike Prince William is actually a Civil Engineer and member of our parent organisation, the Institution of Civil Engineers. He is a loyal OGGS visitor and is next coming in for lunch on the 24th of May.

We have always known that our Brasserie One lunchtime restaurant produces food, wine and service fit for a king :-), could you feel that pun coming? When we asked him more about it, Simon commented: “My mentioning that I am in fact a civil engineer has been getting quite a reaction because people just cannot believe that my normal job is so different from the look-alike work!”

If anyone would like to find out more about our lookalike Prince William or book him before he jets off for his Caribbean honeymoon, you can visit his Prince William lookalike website for more details.

That’s it from me for today but keep your eyes peeled as my head is buzzing with ideas for my next blog update about the new round of Westminster ceremonial celebrations coming up.

- 12 Apr 2011

Welcome to light sunny evenings and royal celebrations

Well here we are in the new financial year with all the tax changes for us as personal taxpayers and businesses. Many of us will have forgotten about the extra National Insurance that was planned during the last administration but will surely notice it by the time we get paid at the end of the month. This plus the VAT increase to 20% and the looming cuts in tax credits and changes in excise duties on alcohol have left us all feeling poorer. Clients are looking for greater value and better deals whilst suppliers strive to meet those challenges in a marketplace with lots of capacity and less business as the public sector continues to leave a hole in revenues for many businesses and so far that hole not having been sufficiently replaced by the private sector, if it ever will be.

It’s not all doom and gloom though as the nation gets Royal Wedding Fever and gears up to celebrate the marriage of Prince William on 29th when most if us will also benefit from an extra day off. Located in the heart of Westminster as we are, you can feel the build up to this great event happening all around. The other night as I stood outside the Westminster Arms in Storey’s Gate enjoying the first warm sunny evening of 2011 and wondering by how much a pint had gone up after the budget in what must be already one of London’s most expensive pubs, I noticed that the TV camera platforms had already erected opposite Westminster Abbey as they have in front of Buckingham Palace and other preparation are taking place apace as we get nearer to the big day. Whether you’re a monarchist or not, you’ve got to say thanks for extra days off! We have our own wedding here at One Great George Street the very next day. This year has proven to be a record for our wedding business, probably encouraged by the royal event.
While we are on the Royal Family, Prince Philip was here for dinner two weeks back. I was amazed at how sprightly and upright he is at almost 90 years old. His Royal Highness is an Honorary Member of the Smeatonian Society which was founded in 1771 by John Smeaton and some of his professional acquaintances and is the oldest engineering society in the world. HRH is also the longest serving Honorary Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, our parent organisation and as such has been a regular visitor to our premises for over half a century.

Enjoy the long holiday weekend!

- 10 Feb 2011

Kate & Wills Westminster Wedding

Hello everyone,

You are no doubt pleased like me that Spring has finally arrived and the evenings are much lighter.

To add to my general mood lift, the countdown to the much anticipated Royal Wedding is well underway! I read in the press recently that it is to be viewed by in excess of 1 billion people around the world. I remember too clearly the wedding day of The Prince of Wales in 1981. At the time, I was working for Government Hospitality, part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and we were organising a lunch at the Bank of England, hosted by the then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher for overflow wedding guests from the wedding at St Paul’s Cathedral. On the very same day we also organised a reception for 800 wedding guests in the evening at Banqueting House. I had never seen so many crowned heads in one place at the same time and remember the late Princess Grace of Monaco and Nancy Reagan arriving only minutes before the end of the function as if they were in competition to be the last to arrive. What was really perfect too was seeing the Prince and Princess of Wales drive through Horseguards Arch which is immediately in front of Banqueting House as they journeyed in an open top carriage on the way to the station to set off on their honeymoon.

Although it was unfortunate to have to work on such a momentous day, lets face it, I too would have liked to join in the evening street parties myself. However with our offices based in a Grade I listed house in Carlton Gardens overlooking The Mall we were right in the ‘thick of the action’ and given the work we were doing we managed to probably to see more than many others that were not at work.

Anyway, 30 years on and with a bit of luck, I may just be able to enjoy this momentous occasion from the comfort of an arm chair at home as I am fortunate to have a very able and experienced team who will be running the events and weddings over that weekend as we allocate a dedicated Event Co-ordinator to every event.

I recently supported our Sales and Marketing team with a photoshoot and updating the content of our website’s Private and Fine Dining pages where I tried to influence and capture the spirit of our great venue and ability to host superb corporate hospitality functions. The Sales team tell me that they have had a number of enquiries already for celebration canape and drinks receptions on the actual day of the wedding, private screenings and to act as a back of house base for news stations and media companies. Our Storey’s Gate entrance, with a clear view to Westminster Abbey is literally under a minute’s walk away. If you would like to see my stab at marketing speak, you may wish to take a look at our updated Private and Fine Dining pages by clicking on either or both of these links.

Very exciting times ahead, really looking forward to the 29 April 2011. It is going to be a day to be remembered for some time.


- 10 Feb 2011

Eclipse Presentations appointed at OGGS

Being well into the New Year already, I can hardly believe that it is mid February already.

The 3 month competitive tendering process for the letting of the new 5 year Audio Visual contract finally came to a close on the 31st of January 2010. There were 3 good, albeit different bids each with pros and cons and evaluating each bid in great detail led to Eclipse Presentations taking the lead. Eclipse Presentations have been around for 21 years providing audio visual solutions both in the UK and overseas.

Seven years ago they started to set up their venue partnership service both as sole and preferred suppliers and are now on-site at over 18 leading London area venues.

In case you think my hair has grown really long since Christmas, the photo above is clearly not of myself. Let me introduce you to Martin Devenport, Eclipse Technical Services Manager who has been based here at OGGS for 5 years and supported by two other long serving team members, Terry Corrie and Ferenc Nagy.

For the larger productions, Martin and his team are able to call on the services of Eclipse’s outside production team that are able to advise and create tailored solutions and production services based on their already expert knowledge of the building.

There is never a dull moment in my role as Events Manager, with so many events booking at the last minute these days, it helps to know that we can rely on the back up of a large and well established provider such as Eclipse. During the heavy snow period at the back of last year for example, we took an all day meeting booking after midday. It was due to start at 9am the very next day and some delegates were not able to get here due to the flight chaos. Martin immediately contacted Geneva to advise and coordinate the video conferencing requirements at both ends.

Anyway, much as I have enjoyed updating this blog, better get on with the day job and deal with some bookings.

Keep your eyes peeled as I plan to post another blog on Kate and Wills’s decision to ‘tie the knot’ quite literally on our doorstep in the near future. Exciting times for Westminster.


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