Edinburgh’s five-star walking tour company, Mercat Tours recently chose unique venue Winton Castle for an away day with meetings, a barbecue and Highland Games.
Kat Brogan, MD of Mercat Tours said: “The location of Winton Castle was perfect for us. We’re a family-run, Edinburgh-based company and are always keen to work with and support like-minded businesses”
“We were joined by our full, 70-strong Mercat team; our Visitor Services team, Managers and Storytelling guides. The aim of the day was to review the year, discuss new developments and hear ideas from the team on how we can work to be the best we can be. We also wanted to reward the team for a busy season, relax and enjoy each other’s company in a beautiful setting.
“The feedback from guests about the meetings, highland games and food was great! The team got really involved and loved having a laugh at themselves and showing off their 007 tumble skills.
“We were bowled over by Winton’s hospitality, friendliness and open welcome from all the staff. The grounds were so impressive (and not that cold for a Scottish November!) and the castle itself was fantastic.
“The ‘Name, Date, Narrate’ was an excellent activity. It was an Antiques Roadshow style ice-breaker; fun, educational and uniquely Winton – I’d suggest offering this to other guests.”
Lady Dorothy Ogilvy had chosen six antiques from round the castle that helped tell Winton’s 500 year history. The Mercat team presented their interpretation of each objects’ history, then the real history was presented by Lady Dorothy via a video clip.
“It felt like a wonderful behind the scenes experience,” says Kat. “Having exclusive use of the castle meant we had a beautiful environment to explore, relax and enjoy with a real sense of feeling ‘spoiled’”
Winton Castle’s first ever night time Halloween 5K Obstacle Course Race has just taken place. We asked Scott, the owner of Scottish Assault Courses (SAC) based on the Winton Estate, a few questions on how he was able to pull off the successful event.
Why did you choose Winton Castle for your inaugural Halloween 5K Obstacle Course?
“Scottish Assault Courses now has a permanent, purpose-built, one-mile assault course on Winton Estate as part of the Winton Activities Zone. We used this obstacle course for part of the route as well as creating some special Halloween obstacles.
“We wanted to provide a fun but challenging obstacle course for families, as well as one that would appeal to more experienced runners. Challenges included a muddy crawl net followed by a ‘car wash’ where runners squeezed through tyres and over rollers!
“Running in the dark, many of the runners wore halloween-inspired costumes as they ran past flood-lights, disco lights and even fire pits.
“Around 100 runners took part. There were families with kids age 8 upwards, as well as more experienced runners from running clubs and obstacle course race (OCR) groups, with lots of participants from Edinburgh and East Lothian, as well as from all over central Scotland.
“The music and DJ were provided by Lasertech Disco and Karaoke, and runners could enjoy food at a BBQ laid on by Winton.”
Did your first ever Halloween 5K meet your expectations?
Scott Smith from SAC Edinburgh continues: “We got some great feedback from the runners on both the route and obstacles. They loved the course with its steep hills and lots of obstacles. The water tunnel was a favourite.
“The number of people who came to our first Halloween 5K was fantastic and it was a great sight to see all those head torches moving in the distance.
“The terrain on Winton Estate is excellent and vast, with a varied route through woods, across fields and over water crossings. All finishers were rewarded with a skeleton medal! I feel the event went very well.”
Paul Nixon from Winton Castle concludes: “Our Halloween Run was a huge success, especially as it was our first ever night time run. We’ll be hosting it again next year and expect many more runners will take part. There will be new obstacles, and runners will have to jump over a real fire trench near the finishing line!”
Edinburgh is a well-connected city, with easy transfer via tram or bus to the airport, and two central train stations offering frequent connections to Glasgow and London. As your guests arrive in the capital, make it as easy as possible to reach their destination by choosing a convenient city centre location. But, convenience shouldn’t mean compromising on quality. We’ve suggested five unique meeting rooms near Edinburgh Waverley that are sure to impress.
A K Bell meeting room at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery
Boardroom style capacity: 18
An adaptable space right in the heart of Edinburgh, the A K Bell meeting room at the National Galleries of Scotland’s Portrait Gallery is ideal for meetings, presentations and small seminars.
Situated within the historic Scottish National Portrait Gallery on Queen Street, this beautifully restored venue benefits from state of the art AV equipment, including an interactive white board and full technical support from the in-house team.
The Commissioners’ Room at the Signet Library
Boardroom style capacity: 26
Take a short hop from Waverley station to the Royal Mile to find the Signet Library nestled beside St Giles Cathedral on West Parliament Square.
Filled with antiquarian books from the WS Society’s collections, the oak bookcases that line the walls of the Commissioners’ Room create an impressive and cosy setting for board meetings and private events. Even better, once you’ve finished up with business, head to the Signet Library’s Colonnades to sample Edinburgh’s finest afternoon tea.
The Blenders Room at the Scotch Whisky Experience
Boardroom style capacity: 16
Suitable for small boardroom meetings, lunches, workshops and seminars, the Blenders Room at the Scotch Whisky Experience is an obvious choice for those looking for an entertaining meeting venue. The room’s intimate size provides the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the tutored whisky tastings offered by the venue.
The large south-facing window also offers excellent views across Edinburgh’s old town and Grassmarket, towards the Pentland Hills. This room also benefits from two skylights which create a bright and refreshing space.
One venue you won’t be able to miss as you emerge from Waverley Station is Edinburgh Castle.
The castle’s nineteenth century Gatehouse Suite offers a luxurious location for small meetings and seminars. Available during the day, attendees should take full advantage of the suite’s private terrace with views over Edinburgh and the Pentland Hills. The main meeting room also features a breakout room, allowing for flexibility.
One of Scotland’s more discreet treasures, the Merchants Hall, can be found hiding just a short five minute walk from Edinburgh Waverley train station on Hanover Street. Built in the nineteenth century, this venue combines the best of art and architecture to create a grand and distinctive atmosphere.
With portraits by Allan Ramsay and Raeburn hung above mahogany-panelled walls, the Court Room is an impressive setting for private meetings conveniently located within Edinburgh’s New Town.
Did you know you can enquire about all of the meeting rooms above in one simple click with our quick search form? Simply add the venues to your enquiry, write a short message detailing your event requirements and hit submit to contact multiple unique venues at once.
Today, most companies operate in teams and this is how all the important work gets done. To help your team accomplish anything they set their minds to, we’ve compiled 5 powerful tips that will keep your employees motivated to do their very best on the job.
Giving your team the respect and recognition they deserve can go a long way. Who doesn’t like to be told they’re doing a great job? If you show your appreciation and gratitude to your team, you can be certain that they will go above and beyond for you and the company.
Our top tip? Make time for each team member, get to know them as individuals and be specific when you’re recognising their contribution to the team’s efforts.
Showing your gratitude doesn’t always have to cost you money – even giving your team an early Friday finish can inspire a positive start to a Monday morning.
Provide opportunities for self-development
We know from numerous studies that individuals are more valuable to your company when they’re constantly developing both personally and professionally.
Providing your team with opportunities for self-development isn’t just limited to teaching them new skills that benefit the role they’re in, but also in supporting the development of habits and traits that help improve their personal and their professional life. Training sessions, courses, workshops, webinars and mentoring programmes are all fantastic ways to help develop your team.
But also make sure you’re listening to them and what they need, because sending them on fancy training sessions they don’t need won’t help anyone – and certainly not your wallet!
Set clear goals
We all know the importance of communication for the success of every company and its people, but surprisingly many leaders fail in this vital skill. You can only inspire your team when you build and maintain clear lines of communication with each member.
If you’re the leader, it’s your job to work with each individual to set clear goals. Once you make sure everyone knows exactly what their goals are, what their relative priority is, and what the team’s role is in reaching them, you’ll have an inspired team in no time!
Avoid unnecessary meetings
We’ve all sat in meetings before, staring at the clock and panicking about the mounting list of tasks waiting for us at our desks. This feeling can really impact on the work day, leading to a less productive team, so leaders should avoid long winded meetings that waste time.
The average professional wastes 3.8 hours in unproductive meetings each week. Maintain a productive and inspired team by creating an agenda which you share with the team in advance, inviting relevant team members only, starting the meeting on time, and then ending it as quickly as you possibly can.
Your team will thank you for it – trust us!
Inspiring work environment
You don’t need to provide a ‘Google-esque’ work space, but remember that everyone wants to work in a stimulating office environment that makes them feel happy and inspired. Employees who find joy in their work make excellent role models for their team members, encouraging them to also enjoy their work.
An inspiring work environment has multiple benefits; a positive atmosphere, increase in staff retention, higher profits and company growth and higher productivity.
There are many ways to create a stimulating and motivating work environment, but it is most important to ask your employees what they think would improve the workspace.
Remember – inspiration comes from a consistent behavioural change from management that makes your employees feel that they matter and that you genuinely care.
With so many Edinburgh venues gearing up to welcome couples to open days, fairs and events, it would seem there is no better time to be in the midst of wedding planning. The wide range of options can be daunting, but do not fear. We have rounded up key dates for the diary that will help, whatever stage you find yourself at whilst on the way to your big day.
Wedding Open Days at Edinburgh Zoo
Multiple dates in November & February
The events team at Edinburgh Zoo invite couples to be to save the date ahead of an open night and wedding fairs at Mansion House. The Zoo is probably the wildest place in the capital to get married but the elegance, impeccable service and delicious catering options ensures that couples and their guests will have a truly memorable experience. The next event is on Sunday 18 November, 11-3pm, followed by the February event on the Sunday 24th, 12-4pm. For more information, please click here.
Wedding Open Day at Gilmerton House
Saturday 8 September, sorry this event has passed. Check out the venue page for more info.
Situated in the heart of the picturesque countryside of East Lothian, Gilmerton House will host a Wedding Open Day on Saturday 8th September, 12pm – 4pm. Couples to be can take this opportunity to see the stunning and historical mansion house set for a wedding amongst the beautiful 1,000 acre estate and learn more about the exclusive use venue. To book your place or visit on the day, please click here.
Wedding Fair at the Botanics
Sunday 23 September, sorry this event has passed. Check out the venue page for more info.
Prospective couples are invited to join the Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh on Sunday 23rd September for their annual wedding fair. Attendees will be given the opportunity to visit the Caledonian Hall and view this unique wedding venue, discuss the latest theme ideas with the industry’s best suppliers and learn of exclusive offers, available only on the day. The fair is free to attend and will be held between 12pm-4pm. For more information or to get in touch before the day, please click here.
Dundas Castle Wedding Open Afternoon
Sunday 23 September, sorry this event has passed. Check out the venue page for more info.
Recently engaged couples dreaming of a fairy tale castle wedding are invited to visit luxury Scottish wedding venue, Dundas Castle, between 2pm and 5pm on the 23rd of September 2018. The exclusive-use venue, with its atmospheric, 600-year-old Keep and 18th century house with 17 sumptuous bedrooms, five-star Dundas Castle is the ultimate location for fairy tale weddings. The expert team will be on hand to walk couples through their special day and answer all of their burning questions. As this exclusive wedding open afternoon has limited spaces available, those interested in attending will need to register their interest in attending here.
Open Evening at the Signet Library
Friday 28 September, sorry this event has passed. Check out the venue page for more info.
The perfect location for an elegant and romantic wedding, the Signet Library on Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile invites couples for a Wedding Open evening. Event designers will be on hand to show off this unique venue and answer any questions. This is also a great opportunity to talk to some of Scotland’s best wedding suppliers who will be there too! Simply pop in to meet the teem between 6-8pm on Friday 28 September. For more information, click here.
Luxury Scottish Wedding Show at Hopetoun House
Sunday 7 October, sorry this event has passed. Check out the venue page for more info.
Hopetoun House will open its doors to prospective couples for The Luxury Scottish Wedding Show on Sunday 7th October. The elegant and engaging show, which features an inspiring collection of luxury wedding exhibitors, offers prospective couples a relaxed environment in which to plan their special day. The show, which will take place from 12pm-4pm, is a unique opportunity for couples to meet with hand-picked wedding professionals, who can assist in the planning of wedding arraignments. For a full list of exhibitors, see here.
Once you’ve tasted the canapes and met the experts, it’s time to lock down a date and start the countdown to the big day. Wrap it up easily with our simple and quick enquiry form, allowing you to choose your top venues and get in touch in one simple click.
Team-building experiences are well known for delivering a wealth of workplace benefits; enhancing collaboration and communication to name but a few. And with the warmer weather now upon us, what better way to boost team morale than a venture out of an over-heating office? For those looking for an exercise more memorable than the cliché company picnic, we have rounded up the most out-of-the-box team building ideas Edinburgh has to offer:
‘Blend Your Own’ with The Scotch Whisky Experience
This one-of-a-kind experience begins with a guided tour of the World’s Largest Collection of Scotch Whisky and is followed by a sampling session. Participants then put their new found Whisky wisdom towards blending a personal 100ml bottle, with the guidance of a whisky expert. This creative take on team-building is perfectly suited for teams who need to work together more, offering a fun way of promoting office interaction. This is also an activity that can be enjoyed irrespective of how questionable a ‘summer’s’ day Edinburgh is experiencing. Tour, Tutored Tasting and Blending (10+guests): £56 per person
‘It’s a Knockout’ at Hopetoun House
Hopetoun House’s take on the iconic TV game show is guaranteed to put even the slickest working team to the test. After all, what situation would challenge your team’s cooperation skills better than a tug of war, followed by a race over an inflatable-slip-in-slide all completed in a penguin costume? Hopetoun offers a fully tailored experience so whether you wish your day of outdoor activities to include a survival course, treasure hunt or archery, you can guarantee your team-building requirements will be fulfilled. Price upon request, get in touch with the team.
Animal Handling at Edinburgh Zoo
Edinburgh Zoo offers the opportunity for your team to get up close and personal with some fluffy and some not so furry friends. In this session, your team’s ability to stay calm and collected under pressure will be challenged as you handle a selection of small invertebrates and animals. No to-do list will ever appear as daunting after this experience, though it’s a guaranteed winner with lovers of small creatures.
Laser Tag at Winton Castle
When better to hone your team’s leadership and collaboration skills than whilst pacing around vast woodland on a mission to stop an imminent zombie apocalypse? In a game of Laser Tag at Winton Castle, team members will be fully kitted out with flack jackets and authentic infra-red weaponry before being thrown into a scenario that can only be best compared to a real-life video game. Choose from a range of different game scenarios including domination, capture the flag and zombies. This fast-paced activity is destined to ensure your team’s ability to think on their feet but we can’t promise things won’t get competitive. Email the team at Winton Castle for further information & prices.
Highland Games at Dundas Castle
Summer in Scotland is instantly associated with the age-old tradition of the Highland Games and the sprawling lawn of Dundas Castle offer the ideal location for your team members to get stuck into a miniature, replica of the games. Let your colleagues take on the classic cable toss, tug of war or shot put, all for the glory of being crowned the strongest or most agile. This activity truly offers something for all members to enjoy, plus who doesn’t like switching up their usual work-wear for a little tartan? Price upon request, for further information visit the website.
Croquet on the lawn of Gilmerton House
Why not take full advantage of the British summer in your next team building exercise, with a truly civilised day of croquet on the lawn of one of Edinburgh’s finest stately homes. Not every team appreciates a day of exerting, physical challenges and the more gentle game of croquet might be just the ticket to ensure your team returns to work refreshed and ready to achieve success. The game is, however, notorious for devious means and tricks, so might not be quite so polite as you expect! Prices on request, contact Gilmerton.