Chris Burton, Co-Founder of All Things visited Wyboston Lakes
Don’t sweat the small stuff, we’re told. Personally, I’m a big fan of the small stuff. The little things that make a big difference. The little touches that show attention to detail, thoughtfulness and care.
When I was invited to Wyboston Lakes in Bedfordshire, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d heard the name, but despite it being located just outside the county, I never had a reason to go before. Now, I’ve got lots of reasons to go back, and it’s all because of those little things.
Let’s start with something big; the site. Set in 380 acres of countryside, the scale of the training and conference facilities took me by surprise. Two pretty lakes present an elegant backdrop to meals, and become part of the fun for team building activities. Large open areas offer plenty of space, while 406 bedrooms and 64 training rooms show Wyboston Lakes is serious about business.
The resort is family run and I came away with impression that all the staff I met enjoy being part of the team. Wyboston Lakes was ranked 28th in the Sunday Times Top 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2017 and from the warm welcome, smiles and knowledgeable staff we met, it’s clear they’re proud of what the venue has to offer.
Training & Conference
Lakes are split over two purpose built venues. The Executive Centre and Training Centre cater to different audiences, but both offer excellent facilities across a range of spaces, from 10 person meeting rooms through to training rooms and two large conference rooms that comfortably seat up to 270 people.
There’s attention to detail here. Thought is given to the flow of people, particularly important for exhibitions, but equally so for moving guests between training sessions, breakout areas and meals. Options are provided around visitor registration, signage is good and the layout provides a central reception area that is always easy to find. The venues offer a surprising amount of outdoor space with attractive courtyard gardens, most attached directly to rooms for easy access. Bedrooms, restaurants and bars on-site at each venue keep guests together and provide everything they need during their stay.
The investment in technology is clear and welcome. Presentation equipment is appropriate for each space, with ample connection options.
The Executive Centre’s centrepiece conference room offers the most gadgets, with touch screen controls, a logo lamp to project your branding, a subtle colour wash around the room and repeater screens to ensure every guest has a good view. A dedicated room for trainers with computers, printer and mini fridge is another nice touch.
The free Wi-Fi is exceptional, with high speeds and availability across the entire Wyboston Lakes site. The decision to offer internet without requiring a registration is refreshing and I hope other venues follow Wyboston Lakes’ lead here.
After all the hard work, it’s important to have a little fun. With large grounds and access to the lakes, the resort is ideal for corporate days and team building events. If you have your own event partner, Wyboston Lakes can provide the venue and facilities, or if you’re looking for ideas and an experience that’s ready to go, Ride Leisure has a permanent base on site from April to November.
From a purpose built complex on the grounds, Ride Leisure operates a wide range of activities over land and water from wake boarding to hovercrafts, quad bikes and off-roading 4x4s. If you’ve ever seen YouTube videos of people ‘flying’ with water jetpacks, you can try that here. And for those who enjoy Wipeout on TV, there’s a new floating obstacle course.
A good team building event combines fun with learning, and packages can be customised with up to 8 activities to suit your team and business goals. The venue has changing facilities, hot showers, a bar and restaurant, large marquee, plus indoor and outdoor seating areas for BBQs by the lake.
Hotel, Spa & Restaurant
In addition to bedrooms at each of the conference venues, Wyboston Lakes Hotel has 103 newly refurbished rooms to accommodate guests including those enjoying the spa, restaurant and 18-hole golf course.
The rooms are attractive, comfortable and well sized, with big beds and plenty of little touches; USB charging points by the bedside, a wireless touch screen tablet for ordering treatments, room service and even watching Netflix in bed. A capsule coffee machine in the room was very welcome, as was the fresh milk delivered from reception. Luxury toiletries help make it special, while a laptop sized safe is something I wouldn’t have thought of but shows the attention to detail here.
The Y Spa managed to do what I thought was the impossible, it made me feel comfortable walking around in public in a dressing gown and slippers (credit to the team who were very welcoming). I have to admit, this was my first spa experience so there was a lot to take in. Our time was spent in the Thermal Spa, with experiences that were invigorating, relaxing and surprising in equal measure. With room names like Softy, Salty and Some Like it Hot, it was a journey of discovery. Many packages include food which was a relaxed buffet of hot and cold foods at The Fountains restaurant. My one regret of the visit was not sampling the selection of cheeses on offer here.
The outdoor hydrotherapy pool was a highlight, big bubbles, enjoyed by people drinking more bubbles, it felt opulent. To be relaxed to the point of snoozing, the worries of the world drifting away, I can see why people come back again and again. I’ll certainly be back, the soft lights, the variety of treatments, it’s all too tempting and an experience I’ll want to relive again and again.
After a G&T appetizer at the bar, we enjoyed a three course meal at the appropriately named Waterside Restaurant. Sporting an AA Rosette for Culinary Excellence, I had high expectations and wasn’t disappointed. A wood pigeon starter with duck leg bon bon, beetroot and candied almond was the standout dish. Everything was tasty, well presented and the service was excellent. At one point I had to stop myself stealing my husband’s mushy peas as he was close to causing a scene.
In summary, the small things matter. They’re the difference between good and great. Wyboston Lakes is a big site with a spa, hotel, training facilities, golf course, gym and even serviced offices. But more importantly, it’s a venue staffed by people who enjoy where they work, who put a lot of thought and care into the guest experience, and are happy to work with you to be flexible around your needs.
So, when will I next visit Wyboston Lakes? Will it be at a product launch or meeting in one of the conference rooms, perhaps a team away day? Maybe a meal and a spa break. I’m not sure, but I do know I will be back, and soon.
P.s. It will probably be the spa.