Kent is home to more experiences - from food and drink to health-based - than you might imagine. Take your partners, colleagues or delegates out to enjoy a motivational and memorable experience that will be spoken about across the desks and in emails for months to come! Below are case studies and inspirational features that will guide you around planning your next trip to the county so read on to see what's on offer.
Find a little more out about our Kent businesses and why they're great choice for your next away day or team event.
Case study: Tansy In the Wild
Maximum group size: 30
When Tansy Jane Dowman swapped life in London for Kent, the beauty of the countryside around the new family home inspired her to launch a business to reconnect people and businesses with nature.
For corporate clients there is a vast body of evidence-based research on the health and wellbeing benefits of getting away from the office for a few hours or more with mindful walking proven to lower blood pressure, heart rate and stress providing the perfect canvas for an improved, motivated, focused 9-5.
And that has formed the basis for Tansy in the Wild, which since 2017 has successfully tapped into demand from businesses of all sizes seeking ways to boost the wellbeing of their employees or find new ways to inspire their decision making.
We asked Tansy to tell us more about her business and to provide a taste of what corporate clients can expect when booking their away day or team event with her in Kent.
What packages can you offer corporate clients?
I offer several packages to my corporate clients, including:
This can be delivered online or in person at a workplace with a short practical session on mindfulness and a guided exercise on how to feel more grounded and centred.
A 30-minute engaging presentation followed by a walk where attendees have the chance to put into practice what they have learned.
This includes a welcome introduction and brief talk on forest bathing before heading out into the woods, finishing with campfire tea and snacks and a closing circle where everyone gets to reflect on their experience.
For an extended experience, Tansy has links with several high-end venues with extensive grounds that provide the perfect space for mindful walking, forest bathing and walk and talk group coaching sessions for creativity and problem solving. Bespoke itineraries including meeting space, food and beverage and accommodation, can be arranged if required.
How could this help my business?
Getting teams out walking and talking together out in nature, not only boosts their well-being, but It can also enhance their performance. Walking has been scientifically proven to improve cognitive function and increases the ability to be more creative, problem solve and boost confidence.
Employees likely spend a huge amount of time at their desks in a static position which excludes the body from any thought process or decision making. When you walk and talk the body contributes to the thinking process and enhances it. Blood flow to the brain increases, positive hormones are released allowing for more creativity and expansive ideas. Oxygen intake increases and conversations are energised and flow more freely.
What is forest bathing?
The Japanese are very poetic with their language. The term comes from the words ‘Shinrin Yoku’, which directly translates as forest bath. It’s this idea that you bathe in the atmosphere in the sense of it being immersive.
We can all go for a walk in the woods but like I said, we might not be fully present. With forest bathing, we slow right down. We have what are called sit spot moments where I hand clients a mat and they go off and find a place to sit by a tree on their own. I might say for 10 minutes simply look at what's in motion or close your eyes and listen to all the different sounds that you can hear. What happens is over the course of that time, the body just goes to this amazing transformation of dropping down out of that sensation of fight or flight.
By being in the moment, there's this real sense of inner peace and tranquillity. It's not like they must learn anything. There's no complexity to walking. You've haven’t got to breathe a certain way. You've haven’t got to a chant a certain thing. You haven’t got to have this or that essential oil. You've haven’t got to stand in this or that position. With, forest bathing it’s as simple as walking and sitting in the forest, observing what’s around you and allowing yourself to be without having to do anything else.
Can you share a recent example of a corporate booking?
I recently took 25 lawyers out into Dene Park Woods near Tonbridge in Kent for a morning forest bathing session. One of the biggest takeaways that kept being mentioned was, you know, just the power of slowing down. And in that moment of slowing down, realising how fast their life is, how much they're always trying to pack in. They couldn't remember the last time that they had just sat and simply observed nature. A lot of them said, “You're right, you know, when I go for a walk, I see a walk as being a means to an end, whether it's getting my steps in, taking the dog for a walk, listening to a podcast, that I never, I never realised that that a walk could be something so powerful, that it would actually really nourish me and make me feel so much better.”
What else can people expect when they book with you?
Most people understand on an intuitive level that Nature is good for their health.
I share all the reasons why and can physically get teams out of their office to put the teachings into practice. I understand that people like to know the facts and I seek to de-bunk the belief that nature connection is weird or alternative by bringing in neuroscience and biology.
Along with my skills and training in nature connection, I am an internationally accredited life coach, so I have had a vast amount of experience coaching individuals and groups for personal development and well-being. In my view, nature connection workshops can be insightful, educational and relaxing. They offer a fresh perspective on how to stay well
Tansy is an internationally accredited Personal Evolution Coach, Certified Forest Bathing and Natural Mindfulness Guide with training in meditation, foraging and somatics.
To find out more about the corporate experiences, day retreats, forest bathing workshops, one to one wellbeing walks and life coaching she provides, visit: www.tansyinthewild.com
Click below to explore a range of unique venues and experiences across Kent.
Case study: Gusbourne Estate
Location: Appledore, near Ashford
Maximum group size: 20
Theme: Food and drink
Gusbourne, the award-winning Kent winemaker, has long been a destination for discerning businesses from London’s Square Mile, in search of a luxurious spot to impress clients or reward colleagues.
Located just an hour from the capital in the heart of the Kent countryside, this prestigious wine estate in Appledore near Ashford has become something of a destination since they first opened their cellar door in 2017. Their first vines were planted back in 2004 and today, Gusbourne produces some of England’s best sparkling and still wines.
Gusbourne Estate supplies many leading restaurants in the UK and can even be enjoyed aboard the Belmond British Pullman and Cunard cruise ships. Their wines are exported to over 22 countries around the world. Easily reached from all parts of the county as well as a short cab ride from high-speed rail connections to London St Pancras, the location couldn’t be more accessible.
With beautiful views here, surrounded by 150 acres of vineyards and lovely views across the estate and out over Romney Marsh, this isn’t a place to rush things, providing a relaxed environment to experience good wine, food and conversation.
We caught up with Matthew Hope, whose role includes hosting corporate tastings and wine tours at Gusbourne, about their unique offer, expansion plans for 2023 and reasons why this corner of the Garden of England isn’t just for London wine connoisseurs. It’s the perfect destination for Kent businesses seeking a day away from the office too.
What can you offer corporate clients?
Our experiences tend to be focused, at least currently, around team away days or businesses looking to impress their clients. That’s not to say we can’t host meetings, it’s very much down to what is asked of us. At present, that focus is very much on tours and tastings, but we have plans to increase our offer in 2023.
Describe a typical Gusbourne welcome?
We can provide a welcome drink on arrival with canapes when clients arrive before taking them out into the vineyards. If the weather is nice,
Depending on the time of year they visit us we can then try wine out amongst the vines. Sometimes with our limited-edition wines, we know exactly which vines that wine has come from so we can enjoy a glass next to the grapes that produced that particular wine.
We've got some lovely spots out on the estate where we can do those tastings, including decking and marquee areas amongst the vines. There's lots of options for those little special moments that we like to add here.
There's also the winery, of course, where we can try some base wines together early in the year, or freshly pressed juice if guests are visiting during harvest. Again, there are lots of extras that we can add in to make the day extra special.
What meeting spaces are there at Gusbourne?
Our tasting room and cellar door, The Nest includes two spaces that can also be booked for meetings - the mezzanine room that overlooks the public space below and The Hide, a more private area, perfect for more confidential discussions. Each has capacity for up to 20 guests, with lovely views out over the vineyards and into winery.
Are there plans to increase your corporate offer?
Yes, that’s something we’re exploring at the moment. We’re at the early stages of discussions on a new space that will expand what we are able to offer corporate clients.
This will have the potential of adding capacity, giving us a lot more freedom both on numbers and what we can offer clients, including more private rooms.
What else can you offer corporate clients?
We can do extended tastings of some of our older library wines, which aren't even available to the public. We can also provide lunch with wine pairings included. So, a full package for the day might include a vineyard tour, winery tour and tasting- and of course lunch to finish things off. The whole experience from arrival to finish is around four hours.
If clients are interested in having one of our tasting rooms for a meeting and then a tour, we can do that. If they just want to have a tasting or the vineyard tour alone, that’s fine, we can adjust any elements to the client's requirements.
If it's in the winter months, we might not spend as long in the vineyard. We might then focus more on the tasting and the food. So, there's lots of ways of adapting the itinerary to meeting the client's needs and what they want from their visit.
Gusbourne is the only three-time winner of the International Wine and Spirits Challenge English Wine Producer of the award. The estate has won over 250 awards at competition. To find out about corporate experiences on the estate, visit: www.gusbourne.com
Click below to explore a range of unique venues and experiences across Kent.
Case study: Port Lympne
Location: Lympne near Hythe
Maximum group size: 160
Theme: Unique venue/Heritage venue
There aren’t many corporate event venues where you can combine a meeting in a listed mansion with feeding a giraffe or building an oversized climbing frame for a gorilla – but then you haven’t been to Port Lympne.
Set in 600 acres of parkland with views over the English Channel to France - this is a place for adventure and a stunning, inspirational location for engaging and rewarding away days, team building, corporate volunteering and more.
We caught up with three of the Port Lympne team to find out more about what this important wildlife reserve has to offer as a corporate events and experience destination,
Tell us about the spaces available for corporate events?
The historic Port Lympne mansion, regarded as one of England’s finest country houses, is where most of our meeting bookings take place. It is steeped in history, having entertained royalty, aristocrats, prime ministers and celebrities for over a century, welcoming everyone from Charlie Chaplin to Winston Churchill. The mansion’s largest meeting room has capacity for up to 50 people.
The Orangery is our newest venue and, with a capacity of up to 160 seated guests, is perfect for larger bookings for corporate clients.
What else can clients experience when booking a meeting?
We're not just your standard venue with a nondescript meeting room and boardroom set-up. We do the boardroom set-up, of course, but within a truly unique setting with the perks of a vast outdoor space, private safaris with your group and once-in-a-lifetime animal experiences.
Volunteering is also something that we like to promote. We often welcome companies in to do an hour or two of volunteering, followed by their meeting afterwards, or vice versa, finishing off the day with either a safari or animal experience.
At Port Lympne, we're not just offering your standard four walls, projector and a screen. When you come here for a meeting, you’re within a beautiful mansion full of history and atmosphere. Some of our meeting rooms have stunning hand-painted muralled walls: the whole room is covered in animals from floor to ceiling!
When the meeting is over, there’s a whole park to explore, including acres of gardens and the reserve itself. Additionally, when the weather is good, there’s space for lawn games and summer barbecues.
Why should corporate clients choose Port Lympne?
We’re just so unique, in a glorious area of Kent countryside where you can engage with fascinating endangered animals and learn about the conservation aspect of the parks as well. With our animal experiences, numerous conference facilities, team building and beautiful dining, there’s so much here all in one location, providing a real choice for any corporate activity.
Corporate bookings also support the work of Port Lympne, including helping to pay for food, enclosures, enrichment and vet bills for the animals.
Can you share some examples of the activities corporate visitors can enjoy
We offer so much more than basic team building with a flip chart. We recently had a group of teachers, 45 in total, who built a playing platform for a lion enclosure (like a cat scratching post but on a much larger scale!) Not only did they get to create something but had the added reward of being able to see it in action, knowing it was something the lions will continue to use and gain enjoyment from. Another corporate team painted safari trucks, then joined us in the mansion for a very productive meeting.
Port Lympne Hotel and Reserve near Folkestone in Kent offers several added incentives to companies booking their daytime meetings, private dining and other corporate events., These change monthly, but can include complimentary drinks on arrival, safaris and – in summer – barbecues.
To find out more, visit: www.aspinallfoundation.org/conferences
Click below to explore a range of unique venues and experiences across Kent.