The Mandarin Oriental Ballroom – Special Rates
Happy Friday everybody! There is only one thing we have heard about that we are more excited for than a sunny Saturday and Sunday in the city – The Mandarin Oriental’s special September rates.
If you have not yet visited the Mandarin Oriental and are living in, or visiting London, we must put it on your map. The hotel is a regular haunt for our clients – a stunningly decorated, beautifully catered oasis in the middle of busy Knightsbridge.
We sent Hannah to chat with event manager Sarah to find out a little more about what exactly is going on at the hotel and why they are offering such incredible rates for Ballroom hire over the Summer.
Upon my arrival I was greeted by multiple members of staff, guided through the Mandarin’s beautiful entrance hall, and sat in the stunning Rosebery lounge. A waiter sped to my table and provided me with an extensive tea and breakfast menu – each option more delicious sounding than the least. As with all true, luxury companies, the hotel knows how to look after each guest and cater to their every need in a discreet, precise fashion. They are no strangers to high end clientele and are used to even the most outlandish of requests – and what is impressive, is that they do it all with a smile!
The Mandarin Oriental have a beautiful ballroom, which we have hosted parties in on a number of occasions – it’s a very grand space with classic London period features – gold chandeliers, white and gold panelling and floor to ceiling windows. One of the most distinctive features of the Ballroom is that it is overlooking Hyde Park – the windows give a panoramic view, and the space has it’s own beautiful private terrace so you have access to the grounds.
We chatted with event manager Sarah about what it is like hiring this wonderful space for a party, her stand out moments at the Mandarin, and what exactly she means by ‘Special September Rates’.
Sarah, as you probably know, here at Les Enfants we are huge fans of The Mandarin Oriental – we love working alongside you, and a number of our staff have enjoyed their own special events in the hotel. But in London we are spoilt, there is a lot of choice! In your opinion, what makes the mandarin oriental a magical location for a children’s birthday party – what makes it different from other London locations?
I think any child stepping in here would be completely blown away by the ballroom – they tend to get so excited! It’s the grand setting, the decoration, the location, the park view, there are quite a few things that they love. Obviously there are a few hotels as big as us in terms of size, but there are no other hotels around here that have any view of the park or access to a private terrace.
What facilities does the ballroom offer and how many people do you think the space could cater for?
The maximum capacity for a dinner is up to about 200 guests, but for most children’s’ events the numbers lie between 50 children and about 20 adults. It does depend on what they’re doing – we’ve had parties with huge production levels, we’ve even had big pirate ships in there! This obviously limits guest numbers. In contrast, the birthday party I’ve got coming up in September are simply having a kid’s entertainer and a candy-floss machine, so can have a few more people. It’s up to the client really and what they want – I think generally guests like a lot of space for kids to run around and a place where parents can be at one end and out the way.
The ballroom is a stunning space! Could you tell us a little bit about it’s period features and style of decoration?
The ballroom is very classic with its chandeliers and wooden floors, and is lit beautifully with floor to ceiling windows. It has a very classic, luxurious design and the people that book with us like that opulent feel. The private terrace is particularly perfect for Summer events, as you do have that outdoor space – a day like today is perfect! We’re introducing croquet on the lawn so we are also encouraging people to use the garden a bit more.
You must have seen your fair share of fantastic parties! In your time working at The Mandarin Oriental, have you seen any children’s party themes that have really stuck out to you?
We had an Indian client from Mumbai, it was her son’s first birthday and it was huge – the production was massive. She had dressed horses along the drive, it was incredible, like nothing I have ever seen before. I have a party coming up in September that is Princess themed – we’re having the Cinderella Pumpkin carriage on top of the ballroom stairs, covered in roses. It’s very classic. Admittedly it will be a bit of a nightmare logistically getting the pumpkin up the stairs – it’s a proper horse drawn carriage, the kind that people hire for weddings! The parties we host are like mini weddings – whatever you want (within reason!) we can make it happen.
As a lady in the know, we were wondering whether you had noticed any children’s party themes to be particularly popular at the moment?
We often do more classical themes like Mickey Mouse, Princesses, Pirate Ships, Racing Cars, those are all very popular. Harrods actually offer a Princess theme day where the girls get a makeover, so lots of the children go and get that done first and then come into the ballroom. They’ll arrive really made up, with beautiful hair styles – it’s very cute. I think maybe because the mothers and fathers that book here are quite classic in themselves, they encourage their children to consider more timeless themes. The parties are always very classy.
You haven’t had a Frozen Party?!
We haven’t had any Frozen parties! The couple I met the other day are having a princess theme for their daughter. I asked ‘ Is it Frozen?’ she replied, ‘We are trying to get over Frozen, I just don’t want her to have another Frozen party’. We all need to let it go.
Excellent pun. You mentioned Harrods, are there any other local artists that you would recommend to our clients for using at The Mandarin?
We have a lot of preferred clients we collaborate with, obviously Les Enfants, Boo Productions, Twizzle, more the children’s side. Cakes, we would really recommend Peggy Porschen, who is based in Belgravia. Peggy is great for us as she is so local, and we have a great relationship with her. Her cakes are quite extravagant, they have a particular look, she doesn’t necessarily do children’s cakes as such, it’s more the wedding cake end of the spectrum – they are very elegant luxurious looking cakes. That is often what our clients want.
As for theming and lighting – Planned to Perfection are fantastic – we do have relationships with great suppliers and these are the people that we have tried, tested and trust. Obviously the client is free to use whomever they wish but I will always put these people first just because we have vetted and used them several times.
What VIP treatment could you offer clients who hire The Ballroom?
I think, to be honest, all of our clients are treated very equally; they are all treated with a VIP status, that’s the Mandarin way.
Initially parents would deal with someone like myself who is on the sales/contract side. We would plan everything together and I would hand it over to another manager – the experts at getting everything done. Between the event manager, the party planner and the parents there are quite a few people involved. On the day we hand over to an operations manager who oversees the whole party, there are at least ten staff looking after the children and running the flow of the day. Everything is very well pre-planned in advance. We want the parents and the party to come in, and for everything to be done. They can just focus on having a great time.
Speaking of which, it is just as important to us for the parents to have as greater time as the kids – at a lot of these children’s events, the parents end up networking. If I have organised my party well it reflects wonderfully on the parents so I am very conscious of that.
Surely such bespoke service comes with a fairly large price tag? We have heard about your special September rates – could you let us know more?
Usually hire of the Ballroom starts at £5000. With our September rates clients would be looking at £2000 plus VAT for a Saturday/Sunday afternoon. It is quite the reduction. Normally these rates are unheard of! You can get that Mandarin experience, it comes with all the same add ons and standards it will just occur during our refurbishment period.
Surely that means parties will be accompanied by lots of loud drilling and unorganised arrivals of ‘Bob the Builder’?
The event space is completely untouched – the only difference is the front of the hotel. The main entrance is closed for a period, and the ballroom becomes the main entrance. Even then, that is just for the first three months of the year and then after that, everything reopens as normal. So really the event space, particularly at weekends, is completely normal, it’s more during the week that the refurbishment work will be happening. Parties will be completely unaffected.
It really sounds like a fantastic opportunity for existing Mandarin clients, and for people who have not yet experienced how wonderful the hotel is! Finally, as a dab hand at event management on a rather grand scale what would be your five top tips for planning a great party?
- Time! Be organised.
- Think about you theme, and don’t change it. Be consistent. If you’re chopping and changing you’ll get yourself in a complete muddle – if you try to get too clever with your theme it will get confusing. I do have to say to some clients, ‘That’s a great idea but let’s try to simplify it, because it can get quite complicated very quickly’ People have these amazing ideas and they can get a bit carried away. Just be simple and consistent.
- Food is very important – both food and beverages, so get those elements right.
- Pick the right location. Don’t make guests come to East London when you all live in West London, make it easy for people.
- Get your timings and the day of the week right. These are really simple things, but they can go so wrong! You could pick 10 o’clock on a Sunday morning, who want’s to go to that?!
Thank you so much Sarah for meeting with us, we had a wonderful time in The Mandarin’s Rosebery Lounge, and can safely say that The Ballroom is a luxurious, beautiful space that any child (or adult) would be thrilled to experience.
These fantastic September rates open the space up to people that may not have been able to enjoy The Mandarin Oriental before, or for familiar faces to take advantage of a great rate. We really, really encourage you to snap the opportunity up as it will not be available for long!
For more information, or to discuss booking The Ballroom at The Mandarin Oriental for your children’s event, please give our party planners a call on 020 8502 9988 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.