From event-friendly restaurants and rooftop bars to restored sites, buyers are always on the search for venues that inspire. By Kristie Thong

The ever-discerning event planner today is on the search for unconventional venues that can bring their events to the next level. Familiar with spaces confined within four walls with high-tech AV and exceptional services, they are always on the look-out for beyond the ballroom concepts that offer the same quality of service and technology. These much-desired spaces often contain a distinct personality and edge, be it through breath-taking views of a city skyline, signature F&B, or live entertainment to transform meetings into exceptional experiences.

Encompassing magic

Some of the most sought-after beyond the ballroom spaces come with a rich incentive and entertainment offering. The Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, with the theme park, two hotels, a dedicated conference centre, and multiple outdoor options, already offer a comprehensive package for event planners and corporate groups. Adding to this is a variety of event-ready spaces within the theme park, allowing for uniquely-themed dinner events and more.

“Our inventory of unique event-ready venues has grown with the opening of three new themed areas – Toy Story Land, Grizzly Gulch, and Mystic Point, all of which provide exclusive access to event groups as part of our land buy arrangements,” Hong Kong Disneyland Resort business solutions and events director, Martin Leung, says.
Alongside entertainment ranging from musicals, marching bands and on-site catering, companies can piggyback the resort’s seasonal calendar of activities to add another layer to the experience.

“Our Halloween celebrations (for example), where we created plenty of spooky fun and entertainment, allowed corporate guests to be the first to preview the seasonal attractions. As a result, our most recent Halloween celebration in 2013 delivered a three-fold increase in the number of companies choosing to host their events during this season,” Mr Leung says.
While park buyout events are commonplace for the resort, these arrangements allow corporates to engage staff and clients in a truly memorable way that is hard to replicate in venues elsewhere in the city.
“We received both local and international corporates from various sectors, including insurance, finance, telecommunication, retail, and catering,” he adds.
Sustainability is another hook at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. Mr Leung feels the resort’s environmental commitment has indirectly made it a better partner for corporate clients who are looking for venues that inspire.

Adhering to the Walt Disney Company’s fundamental ethic to think and act with the environment in mind, the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort has incorporated the commitment through functions ranging from landscaping and waste recycling to a rainwater collection system and energy management. Also a founding member of the Hong Kong Green Purchasing Charter, the resort is committed to using sustainably manufactured resources such as postconsumer-recycled plastic shopping bags, wood furniture made of timber from well-managed forests, recycled or FSC paper for printing, and chemical-free cleaning fibers in hotel housekeeping. Meeting amenities such as notepads and pencils are also made from recycled materials, and sustainable seafood is available upon request.
Mr Leung comments: “As companies are becoming increasingly aware of the need to reduce their environmental footprint in business, our corporate clients appreciate our efforts to improve our environmental performance and are inspired to also act accordingly.”

Brew works

Tucked in a secluded western corner of Singapore is Tiger Beer Brewery, home of the local beer that has grown in stature over the years. The Asia Pacific Breweries-owned brewery comprises a brew house where six brands – ABC, Anchor, Barons Strong Brew, Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, Heineken, and Tiger – are brewed locally, a beer packing gallery, a tavern, and visitor centre. It is popular among corporate groups, with guided tours available for those interested in the beer-making and packaging process.
Besides educational tours, the Tiger Brewery provides an out-of-the-norm experience for events. Tiger Studio, a spacious meeting venue that can accommodate different seating arrangements, has a maximum capacity of 120 pax theatre-style and up to 100 for a five-feet roundtable seating arrangement. With a high ceiling and full AV equipment, the studio is popular among corporate groups looking for a different venue in Singapore with a unique touch.

“A full-day meeting could end off with a Brewery Tour and a beer appreciation session,” a spokesperson for the brewery says.

Planners can also opt to use the Tiger Tavern for evening networking sessions, or for groups to unwind with food, drinks, and entertainment. Designed as an old English-style tavern with dark hues, lush green leather and polished brass rails, it can take up to 100 people and is also equipped with a karaoke system, pool table, dart board, and a basic sound system with two microphones.
“The Tiger Tavern is a perfect venue for corporate dinners and social gatherings, a timeless place, decorated in rich wood and leather, exuding an old-world charm,” the spokesperson adds.

Old charm

Some event planners are attracted to older venues that have been restored while keeping to their historical or cultural charm. In this instance, the recently-restored Grand Postal Building in Bangkok may do the trick now with IMPACT chosen by Thailand Post in August 2013 to manage the historical building.

Located on Charoen Krung Road in Bangrak district, the building remains a centre for post and telecommunication services but also serves as an event venue. Offering over 3000 sqm of events space over two levels, the Postal Heritage Hall on the ground floor spans 1054 sqm with a seating capacity of 576 classroom-style and 440 banquet-style. Three mid-sized meeting rooms from 99-144 sqm – The Postcard, The Postal Theatre, and The Letter – are located on the third floor.

At the front of the building is a 1000-sqm outdoor area also available for events. IMPACT has completed work on the Manorah Thai Restaurant on the ground floor, which seats up to 80 and caters for private events. Apart from authentic Thai cuisine prepared by a professional Thai chef, IMPACT also offers F&B services at the venue.
IMPACT Exhibition Management Co., Ltd managing director, Paul Kanjanapas, said investment pumped in will reach more than 100 million Baht (US$3.2 million) over the next few years.

The space is ideal for “corporates, the government, and private individuals in or nearby the city centre who are looking for a ‘different’ experience in a convenient location for a venue option”, Mr Kanjanapas says.

On new waters

 

Existing venues aside, countries are always paving the way for new spaces. In Sydney, a leading events and hospitality firm Dockside Group recently received development consent to build an event venue on an anchored floating pontoon in the heart of Darling Harbour. Opening in mid-2014, the Dockside Pavilion at Darling Harbour is part of a business activation strategy due to a redevelopment plan that will see the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre shut for three years.

The Pavilion, with an anticipated sleek and contemporary design created by internationally-renowned fabric architect Warwick Bell of Fabric Structure Systems, will be able to cater for up to 1440 seated guests and 2000 standing.
Dockside Pavilion will be a unique venue to watch, especially during the closure of the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre as it fills the gap in the market prior to the opening of ICC, Sydney, the ICC Exhibition and Theatre in 2016.
Dockside Group managing director, Christopher Drivas, says: “With capabilities to host numerous and diverse events, including conferences, business events, charity gala events, festivals and public events, the Dockside Pavilion will offer event organisers an exciting new option.”

Venue with a view

Venues situated on building rooftops or high altitudes are also in great demand when they allow for private events with the right mix of F&B and entertainment. The panoramic views add to the exclusivity of these spaces. Macau’s SKY 21 is one such venue. Located on the 21st and 22nd floors of AIA Tower, it offers event planners a variety of spaces boasting breathtaking views with upmarket Asian and authentic European cuisines.

A SKY 21 spokesperson says: “Since opening [more than a year ago], we have catered for over 100 events, including gala dinners, team-building activities, product launches, and seminars.”

The 21st-floor Kitchen in the SKY, with a Zen-inspired interior with a sleek and intimate design, offers a pan-Asian menu from executive chef Daniel Brolese. The space can take up to 150 cocktail-style and 100 seated guests, along with a private 14-seat room. On the 22nd floor, the SKY B upscale bar lounge can take up to 200 for cocktail receptions, while SKY Life, ideal for after-parties, can take up to 75. m

Key Contacts:

Hong Kong Disneyland Resort
www.hongkongdisneyland.com
Tiger Brewery Tour
www.tigerbrewerytour.com.sg
Grand Postal Building
www.impact.co.th
Dockside Group
www.docksidegroup.com.au
SKY 21 Macau
www.sky21macau.com