Sometimes choosing the right venue isn’t always so easy. Some venues are too big and, of course, some are too small. In an ideal world there would be a venue that, despite its physical size, could accommodate a large conference or exhibition without feeling cramped, as well as a small meeting without feeling too big.
By way of coincidence, there does happen to be a well-known venue that fits this seemingly unattainable model: The Jockey Club’s Sandown Park Racecourse.
Sandown Park is to be found in the leafy, stockbroker suburb of Esher, Surrey. The racecourse opened in 1875 and, obviously, has developed into a contemporary, multi-purpose facility over time. Located right next to the SouthWest Trains main line, 25 minutes from Waterloo, and just 10-minutes from Junction 10 of the M25, location is not one of the venue’s weaker areas.
Here we explore what is on offer.
Small conferences and meetings
The Eclipse Triple Boxes, of which there are many, are located in the Eclipse Pavilion next to the main grandstand. The rooms are ideal for small meetings of different sizes, as partitions can be opened and closed to suit your party’s size. Open all-year round, all of the rooms offer views out of the racecourse and across London.
All rooms are equipped with full AV and Wi-Fi.
Theatre: 60 | Classroom: 24 | Cabaret: 40 | Reception: 70 | Banquet: 56 | Boardroom: 30
Large conferences and banquets
Sandown Park has no shortage of large event spaces for conferences and meetings. The Park View Suite, which is located in the Eclipse Pavilion, can accommodate up to 180 delegates in theatre style, while 130 can enjoy the banquet layout.
The room offers views out over the racecourse as well as London, and there’s even a balcony area for breakout sessions. Full AV and Wi-Fi are available.
Theatre: 180 | Classroom: 80 | Cabaret: 104 | Reception: 180 | Banquet: 130 | Boardroom: 50
The Equus Suite is on the top level in the main grandstand and, with capacity for 400, is one the venue’s popular rooms for weddings. At 450sqm, and while commonly used for conferences, the room is ideal for post-conference dinners.
As you would expect, the room overlooks the home straight on the racecourse.
Theatre: 350 | Classroom: 200 | Cabaret: 180 | Reception: 400 | Banquet: 230 | Boardroom: 100
There is no shortage of natural daylight in the Gold Cup Suite which, and there’s a pattern here, overlooks the racecourse. Event bookers will be interested to know that the 590sqm room, a popular choice for conferences, can be split in two owing to a strategic partition. This means bookers can elect to run two sessions concurrently, or use one of the spaces as a breakout room to keeps delegates refreshed.
AV and Wi-Fi are readily available.
Theatre: 420 | Classroom: 200 | Cabaret: 304 | Reception: 420 | Banquet: 360 | Boardroom: 100
The 120sqm Solaris Suite is one of the smaller large conference rooms at Sandown Park. The adaptable space is ideal for theatre-style events, training sessions and teambuilding. There is access to the grandstand seating area with views looking out over the racecourse (of course there is!).
AV and Wi-Fi can be included.
Theatre: 240 | Classroom: 100 | Cabaret: 144 | Reception: 200 | Banquet: 160 | Boardroom: 60
The Royal Box is a room of some significance. This exclusive room is the very place from where Hey Majesty Queen Elizabeth II watches The Gold Cup. How’s that for prestige? Speak to Sandown Park about hiring this room.
Theatre: 60 | Classroom: 20 | Cabaret: 0 | Reception: 60 | Banquet: 40 | Boardroom: 18
Exhibitions and live events
On the ground-floor level of the main grandstand there are two large exhibition spaces that can be combined into one enormous exhibition space. Indeed, combined further with the vast expanse of outdoors space and it becomes quite a large place indeed. Music concerts are also a regular attraction in the grounds.
The list of prominent shows ranges from VolksWorld to the Festival & Outdoor Events Show, while bands from UB40 to Madness and from the Sugababes to Girls Allowed have graced the stage over the years.
The Surrey Hall measures nearly 3,000sqm and, in terms of conference capacity, can deal with up to 1,500 delegates.
Both internal exhibition spaces have excellent access meaning that stand construction is convenient, while both seamlessly join the outdoors space, which is ideal for product launches for all sectors, automotive being a good example.
In 2014, Sandown Park was voted the Best Exhibition Venue under 4,000sqm at the Exhibition News Awards.
Karting | Golf | Skywalking | Dry-slope skiing
Think of Sandown Park and you will obviously associate it with horse racing, and you’d be correct. But you can’t really ride horses on a day-delegate rate. Or at all, in fact.
However, what you can do at Sandown Park is karting, dry-slope skiing, golf (both on the course or at the driving range) and skywalking.
Special business packages have been put together so that those attending events at the racecourse can exploit the other activities on site.
Daytona Sandown Park is one of south England’s leading karting circuits, measuring over 900m. The circuit sits in the infield alongside the five-furlong straight. The 13hp SodiKarts can reach speeds in excess of 50mph, and all drivers are subject to a safety briefing before heading out on to the track. Full protective clothing, including helmets, is provided. Just have a look at how 1996 Formula 1 World Champion Damon Hill got on…
Those who prefer the genteel pace of golf are in luck as an 18-hole course sits in the middle of the racecourse. Take your time to work your way around the par s course or, if you just want to wallop a few balls, take yourself over to the driving range.
The dry-slope ski centre is popular all year round, and starts at the top of the hill behind the Eclipse Pavilion. Suitable for any delegates with sturdy legs, new business packages announced in 2017 mean you can get to grips with it under the tutelage of an instructor.
The skywalking activity is not for those with a fear of heights, but certainly something worth trying.
The above teambuilding activities are part of the Sandown Park Business Adventures meeting package, which starts from £52 per delegate and uses the newly refurbished ‘Owners and Trainers’ meetings suite and includes breakfast, teas/coffees, snacks and meeting facilities. The activities start from just £35 per delegate and the meetings package includes a Pimm’s reception and BBQ on the Summer Lawn to finish the day.
Catering is supplied in-house, and the Jockey Club insist only the best. The menu changes seasonally and can be adjusted to taste and preference. Food is sourced locally wherever possible.
It doesn’t matter if you’re after canapés or a full-on multi-course sit-down banquet, Sandown has you covered.
The nearest hotel to Sandown Park is the Sandown Park Lodge that, as one may guess, located on site. The hotel has 21 rooms and can be block-booked by event bookers whose event may run over multiple days.
All rooms come with TV, Wi-Fi, ironing boards and irons, and breakfast is included.
The Premier Inn Cobham is just a mile down the road. The 3-star venue is home to the 17th Century Fairmile pub and offers views out over Surrey. The nearby Hilton Cobham is just on the other side of the A3.
The Bear Inn in Esher High Street boasts boutique rooms, while two miles up the road in Hampton Court there are several hotels, such as The Mitre Hotel, The Albion Hotel, and The Kings Arms Hotel.
By rail, Sandown Park is located next to Esher station, which is on the SouthWest Trains mainline, just 25 minutes from London Waterloo. From the station it is just a 10-minute walk to main entrance on Portsmouth Road.
Those driving will be pleased to know that there is plenty of free on-site parking. Sandown Park is just 10-minutes from Junction 10 on the M25, via the A3. Leave the A3 at Esher Common if you’re coming from central London.
The are several buses serving Esher, with the K3 running between Roehampton and Esher via Kingston-upon-Thames, Monday to Sunday.