Over the April Bank Holiday weekend, Katherine Staples, Groups and Events Consultant was lucky enough to have been invited by Moulden Marketing and GOAL Events to visit Latvia’s lively capital Riga, to see what the country could potentially offer our MICE clients. The itinerary was actioned packed from the minute she landed! See below blog article of her experience of the energetic Baltic city.

My highlights of the trip:

Most memorable aspect - 'Going to the airport on the back of a motorbike in convoy with 15 other Harley Davidsons, we definitely arrived in style'.

Why would it be good for MICE clients? - 'Riga has a fantastic variety of hotels, activities and conference facilities that can cater for all size events. The airport is close to the town centre and there are great connections from across the world. There are endless amounts of things to do in Latvia from relaxed team building to adrenaline filled activities. I personally like that Riga is only 30 minutes away from the beach and 1 hour from the National Park.'

DAY 1

Flights from London Gatwick to Latvia are less than three hours, and we flew with Air Baltic direct to Riga. Once we had landed our first stop was the Atta Centre for a site inspection. Located in the heart of the city, Atta Centre is one of the largest venues in the Baltics for conferences and events. Anything is possible here with spaces to suit all needs with inhouse AV, underground parking, catering etc. It was an impressive start to the trip.

Second stop was a city tour including Black Balsam tasting, which is a traditional Latvian herbal alcoholic liqueur. We met with a knowledgeable local tour guide who showed us a few sights within the city and took us to try Black Balsam at Black Magic bar. This venue is perfect for small groups looking for a private tasting with a historical overview. Within the cafe/bar there is a basement which can seat about 30 people, here you can try three varieties of the drink - it is not for the faint hearted, it was very strong!

We checked into the Radisson Blue Latvija Conference and Spa Hotel. This modern hotel has a total of 571 bedrooms, high quality spa treatments and conference facilities for up to 2,500 people in various rooms. My room was on the 14th floor with magnificent views over the city, making it the perfect location for reaching all sites in the city.

That evening we visited the wonderful 3 Chef's Restaurant, where we dined on fantastic locally sourced food with a starter created in front of us on the table in a very creative way! This great restaurant is within walking distance to the hotel and can accommodate group bookings. Last stop, the Skyline Bar at the top of the Radisson Blu Latvija Hotel. A lively venue which can accommodate large groups in a private room or can privatise certain tables/area of the bar. An ideal option for delegates who would like to sample a snippet of the nightlife without leaving the hotel.


DAY 2 -

We started the day with a short walk from our hotel to visit the Hotel Pullman 5*  in the Old Town of Riga. The historic building was built in 1789, however it has been respectfully updated with a modern structure and feel inside, designed with an equestrian theme to match its history as a former boarding house for Baron Munchausen horses. The hotel offers eight meeting rooms, spa facilities and 155 rooms. From there we walked to Hotel Neilburgs for another site visit. The family-owned hotel has 55 bedrooms with a real homely yet modern feel. Conference rooms, restaurant, fitness room and spa.

From the hotel we then walked to the Central Market, Riga is lucky enough to have Europe’s largest market with the historic structure listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. We were met by Chef, Martin Syrmais from 3 Chef's Restaurant where we ate the previous night, and he introduced us to more local food sold in the market. It was delicious!

After lunch we travelled to Gauja National Park, which is around an hour's drive outside of the city, which is a great options to escape to the countryside. Here, we boarded a pontoon whilst we floated down the river, we enjoyed a freshly prepared BBQ lunch which was cooked in front of us while we enjoyed the scenery. Once we disembarked, we set off for our ice sculpturing class. In three teams we designed, carved and created our masterpieces out of ice. We took it in turns to use the chainsaw and carving tools, my team attempted a flower design. The activity was a lot of fun and a great for team building.

Our last evening, on the way to dinner, we walked through the Art Nouveau District and stopped at a restaurant called The White House. The restaurant had a fantastic reception hall, dinner or meeting facilities with access to a large outside terrace overlooking the park. Once we left this venue, a fleet of classic cars awaited us when we turned the corner! A lovely touch to take us for a quick drive around the city and transfer to the restaurant. Dinner was at Garage Restaurant and wine bar, a modern take on Latvian cuisine and with a great atmosphere.


DAY 3 - FINAL DAY -

Once we checked out of the hotel, we walked to Rigas Cirks. The circus is a multifunctional art centre for Riga Circus school, productions, events and shows. It is currently undergoing long term renovation and revamping to make the most of the space. It is still being used for events and is a great large space for gala dinners. 

Another surprise, after the site visit, we were met outside the venue with a fleet of old Pan Cars individually spray painted with crazy bright designs. Little did we know that we were about to embark on a 1 hour driving challenge across Riga to the beach destination of Jurmala. Along the way we completed challenges and check points...I was designated driver for my team! This was an extremely fun activity to be up against the clock navigating your way through the city. Ideal for any size group, cars seat 4 people comfortably including the driver.

Once we arrived, we had a quick tour around the Jurmala open-air museum, we tried our hand at traditional Latvian dancing and tried locally sourced smoked fish provided by a local artisanal supplier before having lunch at 36 Line Grill RestaurantThe beautiful restaurant overlooked the white sandy beach, a perfect spot to relax before our flight home and a great restaurant for groups either as a first or last stop before exploring the city or heading home. After lunch it was time to meet our transfer to the airport. This time our transfer wasn't in a minibus...around the corner came 15 Harley Davidson bikes, we were then told to pick our ride! In convoy we zoomed along the motorway to the airport, of course turning heads as we arrived at departures. What a fantastic way to end a FAM!

Huge thanks to Moulden Marketing and Goal Events DMC for organising a truly memorable trip.

 
If you are interested in organising a similar experience in Latvia for your next incentive or group travel trip, you can contact me directly This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
OR speak to another member of the team on 01892 571197 
 

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