I recently attended the Travel 2 & Gold Medal ‘Great Tee off vs Cook Off’ day in Cheshire on behalf of the Axis client Florida Keys and Key West. Held at the Carden Park luxury golf resort on 21 July, the annual event has become a highlight on the UK travel trade calendar. Set in more than 1,000 acres of rolling countryside and overlooking Welsh hills in the distance, the hotel was the perfect setting for the some 200 guests. This was the first time that I had attended the event, and given Travel 2’s and Gold Medal’s reputation for throwing a party, I knew I was in for a great day.
Around two thirds of attendees opted to play golf while the other guests had signed up to take part in what was billed as a ‘Cook Off’. Thankfully it was forecast to be a beautiful day with warm temperatures, little change of rain and a light wind….the perfect weather for a round! The day kicked off early with the first golfers out on the course before 8am. Every hole was sponsored by an airline, hotel group or tourist board; each of which provided golfers with a different drink and snack. Players had to pace themselves with wines, cocktails, beers and shots as they made their way round the stunning 18 hole course. What’s more there were some pretty incredible prizes on offer for the best golfers, ranging from champagne, hampers, flights, vouchers and even a holiday.
The Florida Keys and Key West were sponsors of the Cook Off. Situated in a large marque in the resort grounds, about 60 attendees took part in a fast pace cooking competition. Each team was made up four or five participants and were set a series of canopy making challenges. Thankfully my team mates included Karan Hopkins and Marie Vaughan, two travel agents that were not only very skilful cooks but also very forgiving of my abysmal sushi rolling attempts! Rushing against the clock (but still finding time to enjoy a few ice cold ciders) we raced to prepare five different canopy types before arranging our food in the most innovative and presentable way possible. It was a really fun experience but sadly my team were not declared the overall winners on the day. However, while our food may have lost marks for presentation; we could not be faulted for our effort!
After the Cook Off we enjoyed a fantastic BBQ out on the golf course courtesy of the lovely people at Etihad Airways. And when I say ‘on the golf course’ I literally mean tables and chairs set up on the green! During the lunch I took the opportunity to speak with attendees about the fantastic tourism product on offer in the Florida Keys and Key West. It was a great chance to provide information about the tropical destination’s world-class accommodation, shopping, cultural attractions and buzzing dinning and nightlife scenes.
That evening all of the guests attended a wonderful gala dinner at the hotel where prizes were presented to participants for either their golfing prowess or for their cooking ability. Organisers also took the opportunity to thank attendees for a great day and for all the support they give to Travel 2 & Gold Medal throughout the year. After a delicious three course meal, entrainment was laid on, with a DJ and dancing well in to the early hours!