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Tara Sanchez discusses Cheltenham and the Cotswolds as an events destination

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PA Life met up with Tara Sanchez from Cheltenham & The Cotswolds Convention Bureau ‘Meet in Cheltenham’ to find out what the beautiful and vibrant Cheltenham and the Cotswolds region has to offer as a meetings and events destination.

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1.Can you tell us about your role within Meet in Cheltenham?

I have been working at Meet in Cheltenham (part of Marketing Cheltenham) for four years and it’s an incredibly varied and exciting role. Previously, I worked in a variety of venues and hotels, ranging from boutique hotels to country houses. I have a huge passion for all things events, and of course Cheltenham! I work with our local venues, hotels and hospitality businesses in Cheltenham and the surrounding Cotswolds area to promote the region as a unique events destination.

We offer a FREE venue finding and accommodation booking service for PAs and other event organisers looking to host meetings and events in the Cheltenham and Cotswolds region. I also attend events nationally such as the CHS Events to promote Cheltenham and the Cotswolds as a beautiful place for meetings and events working with our partner venues.

This year, two of our gorgeous venues have undergone extensive refurbishments – Cowley Manor and  Greenway Hotel & Spa and both are perfect for away days, corporate retreats, team building and even exclusive use events. Cheltenham is known as The Festival Town and in 2024 is celebrating a number of key anniversaries: Cheltenham Festival 2024 is celebrating 100 years of the Gold Cup across the week of racing, 150th anniversary of the famous composer, Holst’s birth who was born in Cheltenham and the 75th anniversary of the Cheltenham Literature Festival, the world’s longest-running literary festival.

2.How can Meet in Cheltenham help PAs who are looking to bring their event to the Cotswolds area?

Let us do the hard work and simply send us your event brief, we then try to find out as much as we can about what you are looking for so that we can find that perfect venue for you. We then send your brief with our notes to our venue partners, collate availability and responses which is then summarised in one proposal for you to review.

We also offer an accommodation booking service, this can be for group bookings that you contract yourself or provide an easy-to-use personalised booking website for your event where delegates can book their own rooms. Both services are completely FREE of charge to PAs and event organisers. We are also on hand to assist with other elements such as corporate gifting, transport arrangements or social programming.

3.Travel and location are key to a PA planning an event. How easy is it to travel to Cheltenham?

Cheltenham is super easy to travel to due to its location at the heart of the UK, and is a gateway connecting the Southeast, the Midlands, Southwest and the North. With direct access to major motorways, including the M4 and M5, plus mainline railway stations and nearby international airports, Cheltenham is easily accessible whether you are travelling by road, rail, or car. Our central Cheltenham Spa railway station is one of the busiest in the Southwest and is less than 2 hours from London and under one hour from both Birmingham and Bristol.

We have a partnership with Great Western Railway to provide clients with discounted travel fares on the GWR network making it even easier, cost effective and sustainable to travel to Cheltenham by train. Standard return travel between London Paddington and Cheltenham Spa is now available at a reduced rate of £36 on any service, including peak-time trains, whilst First Class travel between London and Cheltenham is just £70 return. Take a look here to find out more about this incredible offer.

4.What tips do you have for any new PAs and event planners?

For those who are new in the event industry, planning events can be quite time consuming whilst also carrying out your day-to-day PA tasks. This is where a venue finding or accommodation service such as Meet in Cheltenham can assist, we can do all the legwork for you from researching and liaising with venues for availability and quotations through to planning your site visits and even assisting with travel arrangements and things to do for the delegates whilst in the area. We have the local knowledge to find the perfect venue for your event working to your event brief and requirements.

To get started with your event planning, simply fill in the form below with your venue requirements, and we will get back to you with options, free of charge.

5.Can you provide a suggested itinerary for an away-day combined with team building to give our PA readers inspiration for their next event?

Absolutely! If travelling from London, for example, I would suggest arriving the night prior or midmorning of the event day, checking in to the venue such as Queens Hotel, an 18th century spa to modern boutique hotel located at the heart of this charming Cotswold town. Depending on group numbers, we can coordinate a group activity such as a walking tour of Cheltenham town centre with one of our tour guides where delegates can enjoy stories around the history and heritage of this beautiful Regency town.

For larger numbers, head off to the famous Ian Coley Shooting School. It was the first in the UK to offer corporate clay shooting and has over 40 years’ experience in hosting events for companies large and small. Corporate clay shooting is a fantastic way to build relationships with clients or reward staff, and makes a great teambuilding activity. With just the right mix of fun and competition, they aim to ensure that the experience is fun for all.

In the evening, guests can enjoy a private dinner offsite at nearby Cheltenham Ladies College, the stunning architecture of this venue provides the perfect backdrop with a selection of historic event spaces including the breath-taking Princess Hall with gothic pine woodwork. Cheltenham also has an exclusive use rooftop fine dining restaurant, The Nook on Five which overlooks the Cotswold Hills and is perfect for numbers of around 100.