In January of this year, we invited some of our Group Organisers to join us on a Familiarisation Trip to London, to coincide with Excursions at Alexander Palace. The idea behind the trip was to showcase one of the fabulous hotels we use on our tours, as well as some of the interesting attractions that are available to see.
25th January saw all participants be picked-up from home, using our popular Door-to-Door service and transferred to either Birch Services or Stockport Bus Station. Groups Manager, Pam, was on board the coach to welcome everyone. Everything ran smoothly and we were on schedule as we began our journey. We made a quick comfort stop at Sandbach Services on the M6, and our Driver Brent was on hand to serve teas & coffees on board the coach. Next stop was at the market town of Banbury, the coach dropped us right by the famous Banbury Cross, right in the centre of town. An important centre for wool trading in the 13th Century, Banbury is now a lively and thriving town with charming streets and historic buildings alongside new developments. Many of our guests made their way to Wetherspoons for lunch, although 2 intrepid explorers went in search of The Reindeer – no not an actual reindeer but Ye Olde Reine Deer Inn, a traditional English pub dating back as far as the Medieval period! After a short stop here, we continued to Gerrards Cross and The Bull Hotel, https://www.sarova-bullhotel.com/ , our home for the next 3 nights. Dinner was taken in the Restaurant, a delicious 3-course ‘Carvery’ style buffet. Although it’s self-service, there are always plenty of staff on hand to help those with mobility difficulties. We were joined by Paul Targett, MD, and Heidi Phipps, our Taxi Co-ordinator.
26th January, after a hearty full English breakfast, we left the hotel and headed for Alexandra Palace for the Excursions Show. Our Organisers got the opportunity to meet face-to-face with over 300 attractions, destination partners and Tour Operators from all over the UK to discover, discuss and plan future trips. As VIP Guests of Tourism South East, we were welcomed by the Town Cryer and treated to a complimentary glass of wine! We left ‘Ally Pally’ after time for lunch and made our way to The RAF Museum London - https://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/london/ . We enjoyed tea/coffee on biscuits on arrival before the group split up into 2 smaller groups for very interesting and informative guided tours of the museum. The Museum can tailor make a tour to your group’s specific interests, remember to ask when making an enquiry. Highlights here include three new innovative galleries exploring the first 100 years of the RAF, a themed outdoor play area for under 11s and a new restaurant Claude’s. We returned to The Bull for another delicious dinner.
27th January saw us make our way to Windsor where we met our guide, Tony Howe, who took us on a tour of the Chiltern Hills. We drove through many towns & villages many had only heard of, and passed Chequers, the official country residence of the Prime Ministers of Great Britain. We stopped for lunch in Henley-on-Thames, one of the most beautiful towns in England. Henley’s riverside location, surrounded by a Chiltern landscape, lends itself to long lunches and quirky shopping. There’s a pub where Charles I drank, a Chantry house, a butcher that smokes his own meat and independent shops still offering the personal touch. We returned to Windsor to join our French Brothers cruise along the Thames - https://www.frenchbrothers.co.uk/ . We enjoyed a fantastic Afternoon Tea during the cruise, which was a little cold but thoroughly enjoyed by all. Back to the hotel for dinner. We said goodbye to Paul & Heidi who had a long drive ahead of them back to base!
28th January we bid a fond farewell to The Bull and travelled to Blenheim Palace - https://www.blenheimpalace.com/ - birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. We were met on arrival by Cathy & Ulrika and treated to Blenheim Cake & Coffee before being given our tickets to tour the Palace at leisure. The Audio Guides are excellent and allow the visitor to learn as much, or as little, as required. Back on the coach following our visit for the journey homeward, making a comfort stop on route. We arrived back at Stockport & Birch ahead of schedule and all taxis were waiting to transport our guests home.
We got some really good feedback from the trip:
Joyce said ‘I must say I was impressed by your organisation, very successful. We had an enjoyable and informative Fam Trip.’
John said ‘Please accept our thanks for a wonderful weekend. I can’t imagine how much effort and work were involved but it was a fabulous time in great company and the events were superb. Well done!’
Peter wrote in to say ‘A quick email to thank you most sincerely for a thoroughly enjoyable weekend. Everything was excellent.’
So, if you look after a group and are looking for assistance or ideas of possible group trips, then give us a call.