As climate change and sustainability becomes a greater concern for businesses around the world, our unique members constantly strive to ensure these fantastic venues are as environmentally friendly and energy efficient as possible.
But how do they do it and why? The team at Dundas Castle can help explain:
“We regularly evaluate our current systems to analyse if they can be updated to reduce our impact. We began this journey a few years ago and already have a number of alternatives in place throughout the Castle and Estate. Our team are always learning new ways to make Dundas as eco-friendly as possible and believe we still have room to improve.”
Here are five ways the venue is contributing to a healthier planet:
1.The company ethos
Dundas Castle is passionate about living greener with each staff member having a conscious mindset outside and inside of work. Small changes such as documents automatically being printed double sided in order to save paper, recycling our ink cartridges and trying to only print when really necessary add up to reduce our office impact. Car sharing is common between employees and procedures are in place to ensure all of our glass, cardboard and plastic are being recycled along with all food waste and cooking oil.
The team recently updated the Housekeeping equipment to adopt ‘smart technology’. This includes washing machines with ‘eco-programs’ that weigh the wash load and only add the necessary amount of cleaning liquid to reduce waste and environmental impact. The on-site tumble driers do not have a timer system, instead, the machine weighs the load, measures the dampness and dries the washing to 30% moisture. This helps the team with the ironing process but also prevents wasted energy by only drying the sheets for the necessary time
2. Energy use
Over the last few years, all of the lights throughout the venue have been converted to LED, helping the estate reduce its energy use. The venue invested in 200PV solar panels in 2012 that cover 325 square meters and produce 50kWp supplementing the Castle’s energy. In addition to this, a state of the art Biomass system was installed in 2015 to provide hot water and heating for resident guests. This is fuelled by recycled wood chips which are locally sourced.
3. Sustainable suppliers
The venue works with a variety of suppliers who are equally as passionate about contributing to a more sustainable planet.
Sodexo, Dundas’ catering partner, take on board food provenance as a priority: chefs source 70% of the food they serve from local producers, in season where possible. In 2019 plastic straws were replaced with paper ones, and the team are now investigating other ways in which the venue can reduce plastic use here.
4. Community and charity work
The owner of Dundas Castle, Sir Jack Stewart-Clark, has embedded charitable values throughout the business. Each year, we support several charities such as; RNLI, Comic Relief and the Princess Trust, through prize donations and allowing a number of organisations to use the Castle for events at a reduced fee.
Sir Jack founded a new charity in 2018, ‘Survivors of Human Trafficking in Scotland’ (SOHTIS), who work in partnership with others to encourage, enable and empower those rescued from human trafficking to rebuild their lives and integrate into society. Dundas Castle also hosts events for the charity to help them raise awareness of the cause and create the funding they need to continue their vital work.
Wildlife on the Dundas Estate is an important part of the venues sustainability. The grounds are home to various protected animals such as; swans, foxes, deer, hares and many different wild birds. The team are committed to ensuring these animals are not disturbed and are able to roam freely with no threat. So much so, that the woodland area is monitored to ensure there is very little pollution and some areas in the estate have even been developed to home some of these species. In particular, the Lothian Amphibian Group have created several small ponds to encourage breeding of the Great Crested Newt.
Planning your next event? Take a look at our quick search tool to filter venues and enquire with multiple locations at once.
Vicky & James’ wedding at Mansfield Traquair was characterised by a lovely autumn-winter theme with beautiful burgundy and dark green details, complemented with little personal details and a relaxed atmosphere. The events team caught up with the couple to ask how they planned their perfect day:
How did you end up choosing to get married at Mansfield Traquair and why?
The main reason we chose Mansfield Traquair was because of their large capacity, we had a big guest list. We also loved the fact that everything was in one space. Also because it’s such a spectacular and unique venue – you definitely feel the WOW factor when you walk in, just stunning.
How did you prepare for your wedding and the whole planning process?
Lots of lists and being organised. I also knew some of the suppliers my sister had used for her wedding 3 years ago and they were very helpful.
What did you find was most helpful about having an Event Planner?
Megan, our event designer was very helpful in answering all the questions about the logistics for the day and being the go-to person for anything!
Did you have a theme? What was it and why did you choose it?
We decided to have an autumnal theme, with burgundy as the main colour, we thought it was a nice colour to have for a November wedding and we thought complemented the venue.
How did you personalise your wedding day?
We went for simplicity, we wanted a really relaxed and chilled day for everyone involved, we mainly focused on the ceremony being the personal part of our day.
Where did you get your inspiration?
Pinterest, Instagram, the venue website and Planet Flowers website.
Describe how you found the process of selecting your wedding menu.
Very easy-going, there were loads of options and again we wanted to go for something easy that would be a crowd pleaser. The food was delicious and very high quality.
Tell us about a favourite or memorable moment.
Walking down the aisle and the ceremony, taking the venue in, seeing all our friends and family, seeing each other, seeing the venue come together with the chairs, lights, flowers, music etc. It was just amazing and loved every minute of it, after being very scared and nervous.
Any words of wisdom for future happy couples?
Try not to get wrapped in what a wedding should be, try not to over think the little details, what will be, will be. Just try to relax and enjoy every minute of it because it goes by so quickly
What are some of the compliments you’ve received about your wedding day?
Flawless service, amazing venue, spectacular ceiling, lights, flowers, the setup, food, drinks ( especially the gin!), music, all the staff – everything was just amazing, thank you.
If you had to describe your Big Day in three words, what would they be?
Unforgettable, spectacular, big party! (maybe 4 x words)
Where was your honeymoon, any big plans?
We went to South Africa, back for our fourth time, absolutely love it!
In this guest blog, Assembly Rooms front of house manager Paul McKerrow provides his top tips to keep in mind when planning your next event.
In this industry, we all strive to host high quality events which ultimately add value for our clients and the attendees. But how do the front of house team help make an event a success?
For us, it’s imperative to have clients work with our staff when planning their event and understand the importance of working with the in-house team. You’ll get the most out of your event by utilising the expertise available – after all, we know our venue best. And there’s nothing we enjoy more than working together to ensure your event is a success.
At Assembly Rooms, we share your vision with the entire team with enthusiasm while clearly communicating what we’re looking to achieve. We believe communication is an essential ingredient to success and that a good team will help breath passion into the planning – and it’s contagious.
When planning, don’t be scared to push the boundaries and ask for something different – different is good for everyone and we love a challenge. At Assembly Rooms, we work on events of all scale and description, from interactive workshops and intimate conferences, to world-renowned festivals and high profile awards dinners.
Events are about creating memorable moments and are shaped to bring people together, whether it’s to educate, motivate, entertain or network. Annual events face a lot of pressure to stay fresh and complacency is often more risky than change. Your delegates are key to an event’s success and if you exceed their needs and expectations, your event will really stand out. We know that every event has a story so let yours shine. We’re not only here to help you tell your story, we’re also ready with ideas to add that little something extra.
A strong front of house team thrives under pressure, resolves problems quickly and can stay calm in even the most high pressure situations. Are you aware of what is going on in the reception area of your meeting while people are leaving the main conference room? Is the buffet ready? Are the stewards able to drive the crowd? Do they know where to direct them?
As a seasoned front of house team, we have the ability to keep calm and focus on the agenda at hand, all while ensuring our client’s head stays securely attached. And with years of experience, we’ve honed resourcefulness to perfection. Whether the custom backdrop arrived a foot short, your PowerPoint has corrupted, or your headline speaker is running late, our team can resolve any problem swiftly.
But success takes more than just execution. In order to understand whether you made the right moves, you need to have SMART objectives – and have these clearly mapped out from the outset. It is very easy to jump to tactics and forget your strategy. With clear objectives, you’ll know what is important during the event and after the event you’ll be able to measure your effectiveness.
Most importantly, and often most forgotten, is to ask that attendees give their thoughts and feedback on what went well, and what could be improved. Service is intangible – but intangible should still mean measurable. Find new ways to measure satisfaction and use the venue’s own channels, such as feedback portals and social media pages, to see how well your event was received. This information can be used as research for your next event, providing invaluable insight over time into the needs and expectations of your target group from their perspective.
My take-away event prof tips:
- Keep your attendees entertained and you’ll have one less thing to worry about. Think of the experiential elements that could help generate excitement and enthusiasm throughout the event
- Face-time is becoming increasingly rare and valuable so use your events as a powerful tool to enhance the relationships and further collaboration between the attendees. But don’t forget to collect your own data capture too
- Always ask for feedback. A key way that feedback can be gathered in real time is via social media. If you promote a hashtag alongside your event, you can then follow what people are saying
To begin planning your next event, explore our venue pages or complete an enquiry form to get in touch with multiple unique venues at once. This blog first appeared on the Assembly Rooms website.
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.