This month, our review pages bring you reports of three recent Group Travel World fam trips

 

Rupert Williams

Rupert Williams

Rupert Williams

Rupert Williams is a tour operator for Edwin Doran Sports Tours. They specialise in bespoke sports tours both inbound and outbound to/from all over the world. Rupert works on the inbound tours; mainly school groups who always dedicate a few days to London.

“The more excursions I am familiar with around London the better, as I can properly tailor the tour to match the group’s needs. As a passionate Chelsea fan who frequently visits Stamford Bridge, the thought of experiencing a stadium tour and museum visit was very exciting. I know the stadium well but you never get to see the full extent of it on matchday. My colleague Louise and I were fortunate enough to be invited by Group Travel World and we both snapped up the chance (she might dispute this being a United fan).

It was Wednesday 25th September when we met Sam Noble in the museum shop. There was a general buzz around the place before the tour and we were met by a representative – Wesley from Chelsea FC to take us around.

We were immediately taken to the Matthew Harding Stand behind the goal and Wesley gave us a brief history of the club and pointed out the different stands and where various people sit. I was surprised to see the huge flags demonstrating support from Chelsea from all over the world were there even on a non-matchday.

We proceeded to the Chelsea hotel where the club put up recently signed players – one of which decided to stay for several years! Passing Marco Pierre-White’s restaurant we headed into the press room. The original slightly battered table from the mid 90’s which was used to sign the contracts of so many international players stood proudly took centre stage.

My favourite section was definitely the changing rooms. First we toured the away one – roughly the same size as the ones I use in my local Kingston & District Sunday league. It was bare, and designed to be slightly uncomfortable. There were two wooden physio beds and an old white board with the remnants of permanent marker and sellotape all over it. I was surprised to learn that the size of the away changing room was similar to Man Utd’s home. Chelsea’s unsurprisingly was luxurious. It was about three times the size with five specially created padded physio beds. There were fridges stocked with sports drinks and a huge interactive whiteboard. The lockers were vast and all had phone chargers in them and ample room for all types of accessories.

After going pitch side and sitting in Jose Mourinho’s very low bucket seat we headed inside towards the museum. Wesley left us here and we were left to our own devices and free to roam the museum. Stamford Bridge has a long history from hosting FA Cup Finals to England internationals to Speedway and dog-racing. The museum was fantastic and even had a section where you could hone your shooting skills and a reaction board to keep you on your toes. The ever increasing collection of silverware is proudly and beautifully and they have a vast collection of old shirts and memorabilia.

All in all I had a very pleasant experience thanks to Group Travel World, the whole tour lasted about 90 minutes and I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to send school groups around Chelsea based on the experience.”

 

Arthur Rowe

Arthur Rowe

Arthur Rowe

Arthur Rowe enjoyed an interesting and varied career lasting over 30 years in international banking, visiting many different countries – some desirable, some less so! Retirement allowed time for more travel, but in a more leisurely style, and time to take up duties as a GTO. Arthur organises trips for the Barclays Spread Eagle Club. The club has approximately 200 active members and enjoys lunches out (preferably in locations of historic or other interest), annual trips to the Isle of Wight, National Trust properties and an occasional exotic venture such as a recent visit to the Rolls-Royce Aero Engine Works!

“Well, somebody had to be lucky! And that’s the Group Tour organisers who were included in a fam trip to the Medieval Banquet on a Saturday evening in late September.

The venue was well-chosen, as it is located in the Ivory House in the former St. Katherine Docks close by Tower Bridge in London. We enjoyed an early evening stroll on the banks of the Thames by the Tower of London with views across the river, then under Tower Bridge brings one to the yacht basin, surrounded by new apartments, boutique shops and numerous cafés.

Julie Cousins of Group Travel World met us where the Medieval Banquet is located appropriately downstairs, with several alcoves and curved low brick ceilings, all furnished and decorated in the style of the era. Tables arranged to seat 10-12 persons allow groups large and small to seat their members where they prefer.

Pre-dinner drinks soon got the conversation going among the GTOs from different areas as period-dressed wenches invited guests to drink what they preferred. Delicious soup was served, live music started and a lively atmosphere ensued, helped by visitors on other tables as well. The amount of time between courses for more entertainment, drinks and conversation was just right. An excellent chicken main course was enjoyed with a good choice of wines, soon followed by desserts and more entertainment, until some GTOs realised that the evening was passing too quickly (as usual!) and it was time to find their way out into the dark evening and by the yacht basin walkway back into the 21st century.

Many thanks to Julie and colleagues of Group Travel World for arranging this enjoyable evening and in finding such a suitable and interesting venue and location.”

 

Patricia Crooks

Patricia Crooks - Freemans Sports & Social Club GTO

Patricia Crooks – Freemans Sports & Social Club GTO

This fam trip was quite a surprise to me as I’ve never been to a medieval banquet before. The evening began with a private drinks reception, with free-flowing sparkling, red and white wine, non-stop ale and juice for those who do not drink.

While drinks were flowing, we were entertained by a live medieval show, including acrobatics, carousing and dancing from characters including Henry VIII. Each table had their own wench and when drinks ran low, we would all bang on the table and the wench would come immediately to top up.

This was followed by a four course meal, starting with soup which we had to drink directly from our bowls, no spoons allowed in traditional medieval style. During this time we were entertained at intervals by singing, acrobats and our wench, with lots of fun and laughter.

The second course soon followed, a platter of salad and a selection of cold meat. The third course was roast chicken and vegetables, lots of it, and the final course was apple pie with cream.

After dinner was finished, the band ceased to play traditional music, the floor was cleared, and we were brought into the 21st century with modern tunes and everyone having a grand time on the dance floor.

What more can I say, if you have never been to a medieval banquet it’s one that every group needs to try. We would like to say thank you to Julie from Group Travel World and also to our hosts at the medieval banquet for a fantastic evening.
I really look forward to arranging a group booking in the coming months.

 

Sylvia Saxon

Sylvia Saxon - Saxon Group Travel

Sylvia Saxon – Saxon Group Travel

My friend and I travelled from Poole, Dorset by train to spend an evening at the Medieval Banquet, St Katharine Docks, London, courtesy of Group Travel World Magazine. Wow, what a brilliant evening it was, superb food, great entertainment in a wonderful medieval atmosphere with staff dressed in authentic costume. Perfect for any group wanting to spend a fun night in London, I will certainly be booking this for my group, everything was so well organised, a group organisers dream, we can just sit back and enjoy the evening with everyone else. Unfortunately we had to leave while all the dancing was “still in full swing”, definitely worth staying overnight and booking a hotel, to get the full benefit of this wonderful value for money Banquet.

 

Joyce Pollard

Joyce Pollard

Joyce Pollard

Joyce Pollard organises trips for the Cascade Social Group. Dubbed ‘the friendliest social group in Greater Manchester’, it is run by the members, for the members (over 35s). Activities include walking, dining out, holidays, theatre visits, a reading group and tenpin bowling.

“The City Cruises trip was most enjoyable, with delicious food. We very much appreciated the full commentary, as it made the cruise even more interesting, knowing what one was looking at. It is an ideal activity on its own, but taking a leisurely City Cruise along the River Thames is ideal for groups resting up in between hectic London activities while still doing some sightseeing and learning about London. Being able to have lunch or afternoon tea on board also takes the hassle out of having to make another arrangement for eating on top of everything else.”