Sandy Krupka, Manager of Travel and Transport’s Events team, recently journeyed to Scotland for a custom-tailored trip for meetings and events professionals hosted by VisitScotland and United Airlines. This trip was designed to give attendees a taste of everything that could be experienced by meetings and events participants in Scotland and fuel their imagination for future planning. The group spent two days touring Edinburgh and then traveled northwest through the Scottish countryside. These were some of the most memorable moments and takeaways for meetings and events planning:
United’s inaugural flight from Chicago to Edinburgh
At the United Club at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, the group was greeted by Scottish bagpipers and then settled into business first class, which offered attentive staff and comfy seats, making it easy to sleep.
Live like royalty or a medieval warrior
Upon arrival in Edinburgh, the attendees enjoyed a welcome brunch on the Royal Yacht Britannia, a decommissioned yacht that’s open to the public, filled with royal paraphernalia, and that offers state apartments or a royal deck that can be reserved for private events. The group also experienced Scottish whiskey at its finest at the Scottish Whiskey Experience, where they toured a replicated distillery and learned how to distinguish between single malt and blended varieties.
They also relived an important Scottish victory in the 1314 First War of Scottish Independence at the gttle of Bannockburn visitor center, about an hour northwest of Edinburgh. Visitors take part in the battle via an interactive 3D experience where participants are assigned roles and learn first-hand about battle strategies, knights and kings.
Historic, yet modern accommodations
The group spent two nights in the Balmoral Hotel, a majestic and prestigious five-star hotel at the heart of the city with views of Edinburgh castle; Sandy loved to open the curtains each day to immediately see Scottish history. Sandy later stayed at the famous Gleneagles Hotel (pictured), the site of the 2014 Ryder Cup being held later this year, just a short one-hour drive from Edinburgh. Gleneagles offers unique rooms, lush, green, grounds, a host of amenities such as a spa and outdoor activities like falconry, horse-back riding and much more.
Exploring a walkable, vibrant city
Sandy enjoyed exploring Edinburgh on foot and observed that with many sites within walking distance, visitors and meeting attendees with a day at leisure can truly experience a substantial part of the city. All museums are free, including the National Museum, with 20,000 items in 36 galleries as well as an auditorium for events. Meeting planners can also schedule GPS scavenger hunts such as Wildgoose, which equips participants with iPads that guide them through the city in order to unlock different clues and learn about local history.
Unique, state-of-the-art meetings facilities
One of the high points of the trip was learning about the diverse array of meeting sites available, including:
- The world-class Edinburg International Conference Centre (EICC) offers a central Edinburgh location. The EICC also boasts state-of-the-art technology, including movable, automated floor planks that can be easily modified from flat to tiers based on the size specifications and needs of a given event. Platforms suspended from the ceiling can suspend 10 cars or even a live band.
- Besides a must-see battle site and royal residence, timeless Edinburgh Castle is the setting for unique events incorporating stunning views, medieval entertainment, an
- Another unique setting is The Helix, an urban parkland with pathways and canals that boasts The Kelpies, colossal sculptures depicting huge, mythical horses.
After learning so much about meetings and events in Scotland, Sandy is looking forward to visiting Scotland again. Next time will be with her family for a relaxing trip.