So this week I'm taking a break from discovering new venues in London. That's not to say that I'm not discovering new event venues though. I'm in Sardinia, an island I'd never been to before. In fact, all I'd really heard about the island was that my grandmother had been here "on Joey's yacht" back in the 70's. The 'Joey' she's referring to is the late (and very great) Joe Cyril Bamford, founder of a business you've probably heard of? It builds big yellow things that go by his initials, JCB. Here's an interesting fact - he's the only person who's initials are featured in the Cambridge English Dictionary as a word. Try to think of another! How Joey Bamford built up his father's small (but locally successful) Staffordshire agricultural machinery business into one of the biggest, most recognised and most successful brands in the world is another story altogether. Two fundamental factors, though, were that he wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty (quite literally - he was a great engineer who could actually build a JCB with his own hands and, on one occasion, was also happy to roll up his sleeves to unblock granny's drains without hesitation) and he didn't like to waste money either (with an obsession for turning off lights in people's houses when they weren't needed).
Anyway, this glamorous, jet-set, vision of Sardinia stuck with me and now that I'm finally here it all makes perfect sense! This place is amazing. Especially if you have a yacht of course, because the coastline is so interesting and beautiful! This must be a fact because, after countless summers in Mallorca as a child, I'm simply astounded by the lavishness (and sheer size) of the yachts here in comparison. Most of them are British too (although registered in Monaco or Jersey, as you'd expect). But, even if you can't count yourself amongst the uber rich, it's okay because Poltu Quatu (translating literally as the 'hidden port'), nestled in the foothills of some pretty 'Disney-esque' mountains), faces a small group of islands, collectively known as the 'tropic of the Mediterranean sea' and there are plenty of boats of all shapes and sizes available for hire at a moment's notice. Joseph Cyril Bamford
On the recommendation (and with the contacts!) of some great friends, we're at what is recognised as the top hotel on the island, The Grand Hotel, Poltu Quatu. And it's beautiful. With amazing facilities, everything you could possibly need (in a village-like environment of restaurants, cafes and boutiques, not to mention a magical setting to rival anywhere else on earth on the famed northern Sardinian Costa Smeralda), Poltu Quatu is a world-class getaway. I can't help thinking that this place would have been close to perfection, BC, though (that's before children!). The hotel may be beyond screaming kids bombing into the (very picturesque and very central to all the rooms!) pool but, from a corporate point of view, the facilities and possibilities are excellent (perhaps when we're not here!) There's even an executive jet, Ferrari and Rolls-Royce hire booth in the lobby, and there's always someone booking God knows what every time I walk past!
The Grand Hotel may be a classic five star, with impeccable service and immaculate, meticulously manicured surroundings, yet, somehow, in the context of the lavish flesh-pot location, masterfully upheld by the super-yacht set, it's friendly and accessible. Let's face it, if you had a yacht like that, then helicopters, jets, houses and almost anything you can imagine would have come first and that's because the super yacht has to be the ultimate cash-burner - a sure sign of a world class destination, because they're not going to zigzag the Atlantic to anywhere less than spectacular, are they? It's a long way and a lot of fuel to burn! Check out JCB's exquisite 'Heron Bay' on Barbados which proves the point - the most palatial holiday home I've ever visited, that's for sure and, remember, he didn't believe in wasting money. If you can do all of the above without 'wasting money' (ie. on the interest of the interest of the cash in the bank - another one of Joey's mantras), then it's well and truly justified! And, as Steven Tyler of Aerosmith once said, "If something's worth doing, it's worth OVER doing!"
Heron Bay, Barbados
So, back to Sardinia. It's beautiful, stylish, sophisticated and exclusive. However, the atmosphere here at Poltu Quatu is relaxed and cosy with an immaculate setting (the lobby even smells wonderful, like an Abercrombie store (as do I most of the time being and A&F Fierce devotee!)) and is, I imagine, excellently suited to doing business. I would strongly recommend this place for small (or even larger) business get-togethers, for three to four highly inspiring and productive days. Their dedicated on-site meeting and conference centre (or Centro Congressi, as they call it here) is stunning. With the main room comfortably holding any number of delegates up to 200 and full access to drive a car in through the front door (Alpha Romeo recently launched their new car here) its a great place for the ultimate corporate incentive trip, press launch, exhibition, conference, training day or getaway. Similarly, if you're celebrating a success, closing a major deal, hosting an away-day (or three!), or simply holding an off-site event for senior executives, at one hour, fifty five minutes by EasyJet from London, The Grand Hotel Poltu Quatu would be an excellent and accessible choice. In fact, GlaxoSmithKline were just here with 150 executives for a very productive three days in which they used all that was available to them very effectively. With a wide variety of group activities to hand, from a day-long boat trip (with lunch and snorkelling) around the five beautiful islands opposite, to whale watching or even Hummer Jeep tours of the mountains (coupled with a good half day of doing your own thing) it really is the perfect multi-faceted, unforgettable corporate excursion of a lifetime. The fact that the conference facilities are so well designed (complete with lamps made of reconstituted Murano glass, salvaged from old Venetian buildings and inspiring sculptures created by the hotel's Swiss architect) means that the work aspect of the trip is always going to be productive. The perfect work hard, play hard, reward-yourself environment!
The Grand Hotel conference rooms
Anyway, having been to so many great places all over the world (mainly as an oblivious and somewhat ungrateful child, unfortunately!) , I can wholeheartedly recommend this place if it's an idyllic, inspiring corporate (or private) escape you're after. And there are big boy's toys at every turn. Oh, and if you'd like an amazing deal, let me know because I now know the lovely Marketing Director, Ornella, who will look after you Royally and a man in Switzerland who can sort it for you at a great price! And here's a little secret that networking expert, Andy Lopata once taught me - It's not what you know. It's not who you know. It's who knows you!
Right, where did I park that yacht....?