Residential Conference in Sorrento, Italy

Brief: To create a fun and social four day conference for a UK-based cooperative of around 100 people. The event needed to include airport transfers, multiple business sessions, excursions and two creative and unusual evening events. The group know each other well and some bring family members along, so it needed to be child-friendly too. 

Location: Hilton Sorrento Palace Hotel, Sorrento, Italy

Solution: This is a well-travelled group who like great food, great views and a bit of sunshine, so this beautiful hotel overlooking the Bay of Naples was perfect for them. Having worked in Sorrento on several previous occasions, we already knew the hotel well and were able to use its most beautiful function rooms to create events with real wow factor. We also used our existing relationships with a local destination management company and a local production company to ensure that everything from airport transfers and excursions to lighting and entertainment was handled seamlessly. We hosted both the Welcome Event and the Gala Dinner in the hotel, and the coffee break and lunch were located outside in the Hilton’s citrus orchard, making the most of the beautiful spring weather and the stunning views. 

Sunset over Mount Vesuvius

Entertainment: For the Welcome Night, we gathered the group in the hotel bar, and then a traditional Italian brass band led them down into the hotel gardens for a drinks reception amongst the lemon trees. Unfortunately it was too cold to eat outdoors, so we then moved inside to the beautiful Le Ginestre room – complete with classical frescoes and a swimming pool hewn from the rock - for dinner. The evening was rounded off with a stunning performance of LED juggling including the logos of our client and the sponsor. The Gala Dinner was black tie, and for this we had chosen a room with floor-to-ceiling windows on the second floor of the hotel. The reception was held on an outdoor terrace, and guests enjoyed the sounds of a live saxophonist whilst gazing at the sunset over Mount Vesuvius. Then we drew back the curtains and surprised the attendees with a cabaret-themed room, complete with custom-designed menus, handmade cabaret lamps on the tables, live music and a unique stage backdrop which maximised the views. After dinner was over, the client held a charity auction, and then everyone enjoyed a silent disco until midnight. 

Welcome Night in Sala Le Ginestre  LED jugglers against fresco backdrop  Gala dinner  Lightbulb backdrop

Challenges: As usual with a long and complex residential event, there were plenty of challenges along the way. The Welcome Night was delayed by a large group arriving very late from the airport due to terrible traffic, and the cold weather meant that we had to use our wet weather option for the first dinner, moving the whole set up indoors. For the Gala Dinner it was impossible to buy the cabaret-style table lamps we had in mind, so we had to not only make but then figure out how to transport 19 extremely fragile and delicate blown glass lamps from the UK to Italy. However, the biggest challenge was during the set up for the red and black-themed Gala Dinner, when we realised that the hotel’s bright green curtains and green stage sections were disrupting our décor completely. The hotel staff were absolutely amazing. They not only took down all the curtains, but they also re-carpeted the stage for us! It all helped to make a spectacular event absolutely perfect – it’s always the small details that make or break a theme, and having the full support of the hotel made all the difference.  

Recarpeting stage sections

Favourite moment: We planned to have a silent disco at the end of the Gala Dinner because the room had a lot of hard surfaces, so we felt the acoustics would be difficult for a live band. We also knew that part of the group would just want to sit and talk quietly whilst others would want to dance. In the end, the silent disco was fantastic. People of all ages took part, and they were dancing at their tables and on the terrace as well as on the dancefloor. It was all we could do to separate the attendees from the headphones at the end of the night!

Silent disco

 

 

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