H&E North’s Evangeline Spachis travelled to Salford to explore a picturesque quayside bursting with history and corporate opportunity.
As anyone north of the Watford Gap probably knows, Salford has gone under a bit of a transformation lately. The waterfront destination, previously the site of the historic Manchester Docks, has become a metropolitan marina. The creation of the MediaCityUK which heralded ITV and BBC’s move north joined tourists and delegates alike in recognising the huge potential of the Salford Quays for business and leisure.
I stayed at the AC Hotel Manchester, part of the Marriott hotel development and adjacent to Old Trafford. A sleekly modern hotel with 24-hour fitness centre and library facilities, it is an impressive addition to the wealth of venues in the relatively compact Quays locale. With seven event rooms equalling 5,000 sq ft of adaptable venue space, 142 hotel rooms and knowledgeable planning and catering teams, the hotel is ideally suited for a business meeting or event.
Across the road is the Grade I listed Tudor house and landscaped gardens of Ordsall Hall. For an engaging heritage visit or a peaceful stroll through history, the manor is welcome opportunity to relax and reflect on what will prove to be a jam-packed excursion into Salford.
The hotel’s central location means that there is ample opportunity to survey the leisure offerings in the Quays – of which, there is an abundance. The Lowry Outlet, which first opened its doors in 2001, continues to delight tourists and the occasional bargain-hunting delegate with up to 70% off the retail prices off high street favourites like Marks & Spencer, Gap, Nike, The Body Shop and many more.
Outside the Lowry Outlet is an attractive courtyard lined with an array of food and drink options for visitors, ranging from chains such as Café Rouge, Bella Italia, Nandos and PizzaExpress, to quirky independent eateries like Lime, which my guest and I chose to sample. As both a restaurant and a sports bar, Lime enjoys a bustling yet laid back atmosphere, helped along by a soundtrack of chilled out electronica and a menu of gastronomic favourites from around the world. After a long day networking or team bonding on the waterfront, this hotspot is the ideal pit stop for a leisurely meal or drink with colleague or newly-found contacts. Furthermore, the on-site multi-screen Vue Cinema provides the latest blockbuster entertainment, perfect for delegates who may wish to catch-up with a must-see movie in their precious downtime.
As we wandered over the bridge to the impressive Imperial War Museum North (IWM North), I had to the opportunity to find out more about the extraordinary spaces offer for events. Its award-winning approach to event-creation has positioned the museum as one of the leading venues in the region. Unique to IWM North is the Big Picture Show, an immersive cinematic experience that presents film, imagery and sound you can custom-design with IWM North’s technical team to create your own spectacular backdrop to your event. For daytime conferences and events, the Libeskind Rooms, named after the museum’s architect Daniel Libeskind, and the WaterShard Cafe & Kitchen provide versatile spaces for daytime hire. Delegates will also receive complimentary tickets to experience the 29m high viewing platform, which offers views of Manchester and the new Coronation Street studios opposite.
Back over the curved bridge is The Lowry, a visual and performing arts centre, an established conference, meeting and events venue, offering a unique and alternative venue solution, in a contemporary and inspirational environment. Containing the always popular Lowry Gallery and a word-class theatre, this architecturally dramatic venue provides a fantastic range of spaces and hosts a variety of events from large scale conferences for up to 1,730 delegates in the theatre to a private reception or networking event in the exhibition galleries. A true hub of the quayside, The Lowry is the cultural beating heart of Salford.
Where ever you stroll along the Quays, you can be sure to always catch a glimpse of one of Manchester’s proudest monuments to sport, Old Trafford stadium – a venue so revered that a hotel has been created to honour Manchester United and the sport in general. Building on the city’s proud footballing tradition, Man United legends Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville have developed the first football hotel. Hotel Football is four-star 133-room hotel and features a rooftop five-a-side football pitch which also doubles as an event space, a 185-seat restaurant, conference rooms and an Old Trafford Supporters Club basement bar. The venue, which has recently become HBAA assured, also has Michelin-starred chef, Michael Wignall, on the team, creating football-inspired signature dishes for visiting guests and delegates. And you won’t be surprised to hear that all the rooms have access to Sky Sports and BT Sport channels – perfect for that sports-themed office break you might be planning.
Keeping with the sports theme, the Helly Hansen Watersports Centre is a state-of-the-art watersports and outdoor activities centre right on the bank of the quay. The latest specialist equipment is available and a full programme of courses and team building days are on offer, including dinghy sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, canoeing, powerboating and open water swimming. Close to nearby hotels and leisure venues, the centre is an ideal location to help bring out the best in your team while making unique use of the quayside. For taking more tranquil advantage of Salford’s waterways, how about an unhurried cruise? Available for groups and individuals, City Centre Cruises can take you along the historic canal in two vessels named after local historic figures, LS Lowry and Emmeline Pankhurst.
Stepping out into glorious springtime, it is plain to see that wherever you may choose to host an event, team away break or product launch in Salford, you’ll be able to enjoy stunning views across a calm waterfront, which on this today in particular, glistens under northern sunshine – a far cry from the weathered and grey seascapes of Salford’s most famous artist, LS Lowry. A great range of unique venues are available to hire with packages to suit all requirements, while helpful, friendly staff await to welcome guests across a plethora of venues. Whether it is a conference, team building event or Christmas party, the Quays is an ideal destination for your next event.
With thanks to Mason Williams PR.