A lake side venue with a versatile luxury lodge and space for a multitude of outdoor structures and activities.
Targeting the corporate business event market, the team at Amber Lakes has created a breathtakingly beautiful ‘outdoors in’ conference and events space while encouraging guests to make the most of the estate’s natural assets, including 120 acres of fishing lakes. We talk to venue manager Helen Giles.
When did you start your venue business and what is its history?
Amber Lakes sits on the same site as one of the UK’s premier fishing destinations, Wraysbury 1. Its beauty has been known to the fishing world for some time but it is only since Summer 2017 that we started hosting corporate and private events.
Tell us about your location and site
Amber Lakes truly is a unique setting. Once a quarry in the 1920s that was filled with natural springs, the area remained untouched for decades. It is now a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) with many unique species of plants, insects, amphibians, reptiles and birds making their home here.
Just a 15 minute drive from Windsor and Slough, 30 minutes from Reading and 45 minutes form the centre of London, the venue is in an enviable position, Heathrow is only a 10 minute drive away yet we are set within 450 acres of stunning grounds and 120 acres of lakes which make up fishing destination Wraysbury 1.
The lakes used to hold the British carp record – a fish weighing a whopping 60Ibs in weight – and other points of interest include Dredger Bay where a 100 year old piece of quarry equipment still remains after the deliberate filling of the site in 1900.
The lakes even appeared in James Bond classic A View to a Kill. Look out for the scene where Roger Moore’s Rolls Royce Silver Cloud is pushed into the lake to catch our big moment on the silver screen.
What facilities do you offer?
At the heart of Amber Lakes is a luxurious cedar, oak and glass lodge designed with a Scandinavian feel. Breathtaking views are framed by expansive windows, creating an unbeatable setting for conferences, away days, corporate dinners and more. This unique venue boasts complete exclusivity and privacy for high end luxury events ideal for both the corporate and private market.
The lodge features a double-height ceiling, oak flooring and a marble-topped bar, and the views of nature, trees and gardens that spread as far as the eye can see give the space a sense of retreat and calm.
The expansive open plan space is perfectly suited to hosting senior management events, as well as dinners and parties. The lodge can accommodate up to 250 guests.
Outside, the venue’s 450 acre grounds make it hard to beat when searching for a country venue within easy reach of Slough, Reading and London. The venue’s extensive terraces, lawns and gardens are particularly impressive during the summer months. All events come with our very own Amber Lakes boat (Red October) and captain, allowing guests to explore the venue on water or even fish.
The vast site can be used to host activities, games and outdoor receptions in the summer months. The grounds can hold marquees and other temporary structures, with the potential to increase the venue’s overall capacity to 500 if required.
The Amber Jetty and Pier is a sprawling slate terrace surrounding the lodge and the perfect vantage point from which to soak up the site’s atmosphere.
For conferences we can set the lodge to accommodate a range of set ups with or without screens and staging, up to 140 seated theatre style and 80 cabaret style. We are popular for product launches and also have parking for 100 cars, air conditioning and on site AV.
What services do you offer?
Amber Lakes is offered on a dry hire basis with a preferred list of caterers, AV companies, marquee suppliers etc. It’s the job of the events team to know the businesses we work with inside out, enabling us to make recommendations and introductions to suppliers matching the client’s style and budget.
How do you work with your customers to make their events unique?
It is true that every event we have hosted at Amber Lakes since launching last year has been completely unique. The preferred suppliers list allows client to pick and choose businesses that truly match their vision, and our team is here to make sure this is achieved as seamlessly as possible.
How do you publicise yourself?
Most of the events so far have been through word of mouth. That being said we have exhibited at a number of event expos, and taken out advertising in magazines such as PA Life. We also ran a festival-style showcase in March with many of our preferred suppliers helping us produce the show to which we invited event planners.
How would you describe your ‘style’ or unique selling point?
Amber Lakes is a luxurious venue finished to the highest of standards overlooking beautiful lakes and greenery. Yet it is a space that also achieves a sense of retreat and calm.
Have you worked with any consultants, and how have they helped you?
At the very beginning we worked with a consultant who was invaluable in putting together a business model to get us started. From there we used the 15+ years of experience in our events team to help us steer the business in the right direction.
What are your plans for next season?
2019 is promising to be very busy with lots of events for corporate fishing days, summer parties etc. coming in. For us, as a venue so focussed on the outdoors, we really rely on a successful May–October. The fantastic weather we all enjoyed this summer will certainly help!
Describe your average day mid-season
On an event day it really is all hands on deck to make sure the client is happy and everything runs to plan. It’s also important to us that our suppliers are comfortable and get everything they need.
What do you enjoy about the business and why?
Members of the team at Amber Lakes feel very lucky to be able to come to work here every day. Seeing a client’s or guest’s face when they first see the space is a reminder of quite how lucky we are to work in such beauty.
What other outdoor hospitality sectors do you operate in?
At the moment we offer the venue primarily for exclusive use, and with a link to the recreational side of fishing or sailing. We include within the venue hire use of a small fishing boat and captain so guests can take to the water in style and try their hand at catching one of the lake’s hidden treasures!
What are you most proud of?
For us it’s all about the client’s feedback after the event. Coming together to make someone’s wedding day for example is something that is a true privilege to be involved in.
What advice could you give to someone coming into the industry?
Get as much experience as you can. Plenty of businesses now offer fantastic internship programmes which will give you hands on experience on what being in events is all about.
Folly Hire – www.follyhire.com