A place for “oddfellows,” Greater Manchester is booming with quirky, creative venues and experiences.
Unique experiences anchor the destination into the minds of attendees. And Manchester delivers. “Delegates often report that Manchester is full of surprises and unexpected value,” explains Nick Brooks-Sykes, director of business tourism for Visit Manchester. “They can travel around via our free Metroshuttle buses; they can access free WiFi on the go across large parts of the city, and they can experience free admission to museums and galleries during downtime and between meetings.”
Brooks-Sykes is expecting Brexit and the weaker pound therein to have a positive impact on business in Manchester overall as “greater value for money makes it more cost effective to choose the UK.” In terms of 2017 meetings trends, this year will be a strong one for life science and healthcare conferences. “Remember, Manchester is the where the atom was split and where the modern computer was first programmed. These stories are key milestones in the city’s history and have played a significant role in making Manchester the thriving science city that it is today.”
And now, a few of our top Manchester experiences for uniting the oddfellows in your group.
Odd Accommodations (and that’s a good thing)
Take Oddfellows on the Park, a new boutique hotel opening in 2017 set within a Victorian mansion in Cheadle Village. Just a short trot from “old-fashioned proper High Street,” the city of Manchester and Manchester Airport, the hotel, a.k.a., a former Town Hall, racehorse stud farm and any number of other things, offers attendees of up to 120 a creative meetings haven in the middle of 100-acre Bruntwood Park. The design team’s “restoration rather than conversion” mentality added some pretty interesting eye-candy to the historic building (consider a gothic-style chandelier made out of bike chains or a ceiling dotted by elegant wire mesh geese). Groups can get a mud rub in The Pigsty spa between meetings or hop on vintage bicycles free of charge to explore the area.
Another curious option is Cow Hollow Hotel, which opened in Manchester’s Northern Quarter (NQ) late last year. A rare perk for planners is year-round flat rates, while attendees enjoy considerate amenities such as free WiFi, complimentary evening champagne and antipasti carts delivered to room and Samsung Smart TVs for late-night Netflix streaming.
Groups can get a sense of the NQ’s history during a street art tour of murals and mosaics, while also experiencing some of the city’s most creative restaurants, cafes and galleries. The ‘shopportunists’ in your group will want to check out Afflecks, a 4-floor shopping emporium featuring independent designers, or perhaps hop aboard the new Manchester Water Taxi, dubbed the “waxi,” for VIP shopping trips to Trafford Centre.
On the Verge Venues
Throughout Manchester, new eclectic experiences abound—whether a virtual reality centre for gaming and entertainment, molecular mixology at the Alchemist, cryotherapy treatments at the Ainscow Hotel or a mental and physical team building adventure across four fantastical zones—Aztec, Medieval, Industrial and Futuristic—at the Crystal Maze. The maze has its own events team, and buyouts are available for groups of 32 to 128, with catering, actor engagement and breakout options.