Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Fumbling in the dark!

We took a group of runners and their friends to Luxembourg a week or so ago. The three day, two night weekend centered on the ING Night Run in Luxembourg - a fantastic event which attracts a high quality field of athletes as well as thousands of social and club runners looking to take part in a fairly unique event. Runners have a choice of three races - the marathon, the half marathon or a 4.4K mini marathon and the atmosphere in the city and, in particular, in the Stadium is simply electric!

Take a look here and sample something of the atmosphere at the finish.http://www.finisherclip.com/en/previews/index/10/F13183/DSL/links

The event is scheduled to become one of the best of its kind in Europe - the organisation is good and the city really embraces the runners and their friends to create a vibrant and friendly atmosphere. And because the city also hosts a Samba Festival over the weekend of the Marathon, the course is littered with bands, singers and dancers.

It is without a doubt one of our favourite trips of the year - and we never fail to have 100% satisfaction from our guests and clients. One of the reasons for this is our selected hotel partner in Luxembourg. We stay at the 4 star Mondorf Parc Hotel in Mondorf-les-Bains, close to the German and French borders. This hotel is simply stunning! Set in acres of woodland, close to the wine growing area of Remich (home of the fabulous Cremant wines) on the banks of the Moselle, the Mondorf offers a range of health, beauty, wellness and sporting facilities that is difficult to match. Swimming pools, saunas of every conceivable kind, gymnasiums, massage facilities, tennis - in fact, you name it - it's probably at the Mondorf!

It's because of hotels such as the Mondorf Parc, combined with the low prices in the country, that Luxembourg is such great value for conferences, meetings and events. Meeting facilities are great at this hotel - and there are numerous opportunities for teambuilding and other group activities.

The problem is, I suppose, that Luxembourg always seens to be further away than it should be but the journey is well worth it. Not only is the country beautiful, with fabulous restaurants, good shopping and pretty sights to see, but their renowned and friendly fiscal regime in the allows for some great deals - thanks to those low taxes. Hotels offer superb value for money and eating and drinking out is comfortably within most budgets - "More to the point" as one of our guests, with his priorities firmly in place, pointed out "you'll find the cheapest mini bars in the world in Luxembourg"! Not sure about that claim - but the last time I saw a beer in a 4 star hotel mini bar priced at £1 was before I could even drink the stuff!!

So what else has Luxembourg to offer?

Well, first of all you do have to get there - and, to be fair, it isn't the easiest place to fly in to - flight choices are limited in comparison with other near-European capitals. But it isn't a bad journey by road, with a good Executive coach taking a shade over 4 hours from Calais. With a stop for a break en route, it makes the country quite accessible - no airport queues, check-ins or security! For the return journey, a stop in Bruges for lunch and some shopping is usually popular.

Once you get there you'll be struck by the size of the country - after all, it is possible to have breakfast in Germany, lunch in France, dinner in Belgium, and still be home in time for a nightcap in the bar (incidentally, we do have a lovely restaurant that we use in Germany!). The capital is a 1000-year-old fortress city with some impressive old ramparts - colloquially known as "Europe's most beautiful balcony".

The main centre is compact and best seen on foot - cobbled streets, historical buildings, museums and art galleries blend with contemporary boutiques and outdoor cafés, to give the place a unique charm. Luxembourg's parks and gardens spill out from the Old Town and make this an ideal walking city -especially the stunning Pétrusse Valley -200 feet lower than the main town.

So, why not have a look at Luxembourg - for your next meeting, conference or event? And, if you'd like any help or advice - you know who to talk to! eMail me on info@nice-work.org.uk

There's no place like ..... Montreuil-sur-Mer

We've said it before and we'll say it again - one of the most beautiful places in Northern France is but an hour's drive from Calais.
We visited Montreuil-sur-Mer once again this month - this time it was to take a group of runners, their friends and families to take part in the Ramparts 10K. This popular road race takes place in and around this walled town and its ramparts and traditionally attracts very few British runners. However, since Nice Work began taking runners to this lovely town we've noticed an increase in the number of Brits turning up to run - a number of whom are there thanks to seeing our advertising of the event!

This year we enjoyed lovely weather, a fine meal at le Coquempot, with who we dine a number of times a year - and then our traditional Sunday morning 10 mile walk to lunch in Etaples!

Montreuil is great for wine and dine weekends, for wine tastings, for golfers and their partners - or simply for those who like to sit and watch the world go by.

You should visit.

Let us know if you need any help or advice!

London v Paris - no contest!

April saw us take in the London Marathon - but not, this time, as spectators but as particpants. That gave us a unique opportunity to compare the London Marathon against the Paris Marathon - and I'm afraid that there's just no contest! London beats its French rival hands down I'm afraid!


Organisation, crowd support, atmosphere - you name it, the French just can't come anywhere near London for the ability to put on a world class event!

For a mile by mile report on this year's London Marathon, why not visit our old friend Ron?http://www.ronhillsalterego.blogspot.com

Passionate about teambuilding

We are passionate about encouraging teamworking and developing teambuilding skills.

We have undertaken team building assignments for many clients over the last fifteen years but one of our regrets is that the phrase 'teambuilding' has been hijacked and, to many, means a day away from the office with a spot of go-karting!

Teambuilding is much more than a day behind the wheel of a vehicle - and a good job too, with the prices of these corporate days now making a serious dent in budgets. We much prefer to concentrate on helping our clients achieve a positive and more beneficial relationship between staff, particularly those from the geographically disparate parts of the organisation - without the need to spend thousands. But that's not to say our teambuilding exercises are not fun!

For any business unit, particularly those working to tight deadlines or seeking to achieve targets, the ability to work effectively as part of a team is an essential skill. The successful development and adoption of team skills will also enhance the knowledge base of the organisation and will encourage individual professional development.

The key to the success of any teamworking exercises is that staff are made aware of the positive benefits of certain practices, agree to adopt them and are then made to assume responsibility for maintaining and advancing these practices within their respective teams.

The aim of our teambuilding programmes is to convince staff of the need for team skills and of their own personal responsibility in applying them within their own team environments by:

1. Motivating staff and demonstrating the importance of effective teamworking

2. Providing practical examples of how teams should work together

3. Imposing responsibility for maintaining good team practices

4. Providing a reward structure to demonstrate the value of good team practices

5. Helping staff develop examples of good practice and tricks-of-the-trade

The heart of a teamworking initiative is an attempt to encourage staff to take pride in what they do by focusing not just on their own individual performance but, primarily, on the needs of their customers and others who may be affected by their work performance – such as colleagues in other sections/departments.

We have developed a series of unique teambuilding exercises that focus on performance - by incorporating drama and theatre. Teams are set an assignment to produce a short ‘corporate’ film to show to prospective new business clients - a film that reflects not just the needs of the organisation – but also its strengths and its ethos.

Few parameters are set for teams – but those that are set are vital components and are crucial both to the delivery of the finished film and to how the film is judged. these include:

1. A strict limit on the length of the film – no more than ten minutes

2. A theme. Each team is allocated a theme or genre and the finished product must reflect this. The genre could be generational so that films would reflect changing values and habits. One team could therefore look to produce a Silent Movie; a second team look at producing a film in the style of the 1950’s; a third look at producing a film reflecting modern day attitudes; and a fourth team look to produce a film set in the future. An alternative would be for films to be produced in the style of particular genres – so we could, for instance, have a Spaghetti Western, a James Bond, a Simpsons, a West End Musical or a Humphrey Bogart theme! A third alternative would be to encourage teams to reflect the theatrical nature of their surroundings and look to produce from a particular theatrical style such as Shakespeare or Pantomime.

3. A need to incorporate certain core messages in the film.

The exercise should have as its core objective a desire to promote the values of the organisation underpinned with a need to consider the overall business objectives. The initial – and probably most important – part of the exercise is the planning, with teams encouraged to fully document the content of their film, the objectives and the logistics (scripting etc) of the production. We encourage a formal approach using techniques such as storyboards to allow all team members input into the creative process.

Teams are encouraged to be as creative as possible and include traditional cinema or theatrical techniques such as props, location, music and scripts to produce an entertaining end-product.

We acknowledge that not everybody is comfortable 'performing' which is why there are key roles to play in these exercises for the 'behind camera' crew - direction, production, props, scripting and so on. So there really is a role to play for all team members.

Feedback and comment on the finished product is by way of an Oscar ceremony with all team members present - preferably in a social environment - with a screening of the videos and awards being presented not just for Best Film but for Best Actor, Best Screenplay, Best Music, Best Costume etc.

We supply some props and all the necessary Oscar paraphernalia – including a red carpet for that photo opportunity – with delegates encouraged to dress for the Oscars!We've used these exercises with great success with a large number of clients - and the feedback has always been excellent.Effective, fun and rewarding team-building - and team building that fits all budgets!

Get in touch if you'd like to know more!

Frankfurt - one big traffic jam?

To Frankfurt for a trade fair. No matter when you visit this city - or for what event - the place always seems gridlocked!

To be fair most of the major European capital cities suffer from congestion but there's something about this place that really seems to grate! Apart from the odd place around the old part of the city, Frankfurt just seems to reek of Finance and Business - there's none of the Joi de Vie of, say, Paris or Barcelona. It's just business, business, business.

The problem is that whilst everybody seems intent on rushing from one place to another for that next meeting - they can't because the flippin' place has ground to a halt! Shuttle buses from the main Exhibition site in the city to the hotel district were taking up to an hour to cover a distance of no more than a couple of miles.

However, our stay was brightened by the service we recieved from our hotel hosts for the couple of days we were there. We stayed at the NH Frankfurt City hotel (left) and also enjoyed a fabulous dinner at the newly refurbished Frankfurt Rhein-Main hotel (below) just outside the city. NH are rapidly becoming one of our favourite hotel groups - but to be honest we've had few opportunities to use them - but we have managed at last to match a group with them and we'll be using their Arnhem hotel in November.

We've now stayed with NH in Germany, Holland and the UK - and it's difficult to fault them. If you'd like any information on their services for conferences, meetings or incentive groups, we'd be delighted to tell you more.

But if it's Frankfurt you're looking for - best make your stay as long as you can to cope with that flippin' traffic!