Spo(r)tlight on London
Rebecca Hollants Van Loocke, Regional General Manager of The Ascott UK/Germany, shares the London Olympics experience
Issue: May 2012
London welcomes the Olympics in grand fashion
Photo credit: www.post-gazette.com
London is currently experiencing one of its most thrilling and busy seasons thanks to the London 2012 Olympics. Months before, the entire city was already preparing to welcome the world. Buildings were cleaned extensively, streets and major junctions redesigned for easier navigation and, for me, the most interesting of all, multi-language announcements in our Underground stations. French, Spanish and German have been added to English for our European visitors.
As the Olympics drew near, the excitement within the city was palpable. The Friday the Olympic flame arrived a week ahead of the opening ceremony, there was such enthusiasm because it brought home the reality of the Games so visually. Many of our Ascott properties were along the route of the flame’s seven-day tour of the city that capped a nearly 13,000-kilometre journey around Britain and Ireland. So, we got to see the torch go by. We also gave many staff the day off when the torch was near their area so they could celebrate.
In preparation for the influx of visitors to our serviced residences, we had a pre-Olympics party for the staff to brief them and school them on special information about the events as well as travelling within London. We even made it into a quiz and everyone had a lot of fun. Now, all our staff have an official badge to show our support for the Games.
Hyde Park had many routes for brisk walking, jogging or biking
Photo credit: www.sarajane.info
Inspired by the Olympics
Many of our guests who have come specially for the London 2012 Olympic Games have been out all day watching the various events. All our six properties are conveniently located near most of the London-based events. Some, like Volleyball matches, are literally in the back garden of our Citadines Prestige Trafalgar Square London. We have advised them to take the Underground to avoid traffic congestions. If they can cycle, I tell them to hire a Boris Bike to get around like me. Boris Bikes is a public bicycle-sharing scheme launched in London in 2010 by Barclays Cycle Hire. I find it a relaxing and healthy way to get around.
On that note, I got to see the Road Cycle Races. I had the best seats in the house because the route almost passes my front door. Seeing such powerful, world-class athletes up-close in action was truly inspiring. I will also be watching the Paralympic Games because I won tickets to it.
If watching the international sportsmen in action inspires you, there are several spots in London where you can exercise. Hyde Park is within walking distance of our properties and, in the summer it is a lovely place to have a run or cycle. The Wimbledon and Wembley Stadiums are within an hour’s Tube ride away for tennis and football lovers.
Take Home the Olympics
You cannot go anywhere without finding Olympics-themed souvenirs. There are shops all around our property where you can buy Olympics pins, mugs, cups, teapots, caps, key-chains, umbrellas (which we thought would be best-sellers given the wet weather but lately the sun seems to have returned), and casual wear.
One of the most famous sports shops to carry Olympics-themed items is Ellis Brigham in Covent Garden. It is 10 minutes by foot from Citadines Prestige Holborn-Covent Garden and 20 minutes from Citadines Prestige Trafalgar Square. Another is John Lewis Sports Department in Oxford Street which is just a short bus or Tube ride away.
Capital Hotel’s tea time treats have gotten the Olympics theme spo(r)t on
Photo credit: www.capitalhotel.co.uk
Macaroons with Olympics design on them from Real Food Market Southbank Centre are deliciously pretty
Photo credit: www.realfoodfestival.co.uk
For Olympics-inspired foods, there are Olympics crisps and chocolates and pubs all around London have special Olympics promotions. Capital Hotel has a Top London Afternoon Tea set that has desserts fashioned into Olympics props like cookie medals, passion fruit ganache dumbbells, and Valrhona chocolate with lemon sponge podiums that are almost too precious to eat.
Real Food Market Southbank Centre also stocks macaroons with hand-painted Olympics designs on them. With flavours like English Pear, Ginger and Champagne, they are as yummy to eat as they are pretty to look at.
London is always a vibrant city. But the Olympics has brought with it a buzz that is unparalleled. There is hardly any part of the city that has not embraced the event with aplomb. Given that this is the third time we are hosting the Olympics, we definitely relishing being in the spotlight.
Come stay with us …
Ascott Mayfair London
No 49 Hill Street, Mayfair
London W1J 5NB
Tel: (44) 207 499 6868
Fax: (44) 207 499 0705
Citadines Barbican London
7-21 Goswell Road
London EC 1M 7AH
Tel: (44 20) 7 566 80 00
Fax: (44 20) 7 566 81 30
Citadines Prestige Holborn-Covent Garden London
94-99 High Holborn
London WC 1V 6LF
Tel: (44 20) 7 395 88 00
Fax: (44 20) 7 395 87 99
Citadines Prestige South Kensington London
35A Gloucester Road
London SW7 4PL
Tel: (44 20) 7 543 78 78
Fax: (44 20) 7 584 91 66
Citadines Prestige Trafalgar Square London
18/21 Northumberland Avenue
London WC2N 5EA
Tel: (44 20) 7 766 37 00
Fax: (44 20) 7 766 37 66
St Marks London
No 300 City Road
London EC1V 2PW
Tel: (44 20) 207 253 2039
Fax: (44 20) 207 490 3171