Aquarium guests discover Atlantis

Revellers took the plunge for the relaunch of a popular London venue, coming face to face with creatures from the ocean depths. Report by Chantelle Thorley.

What was the event? The grand unveiling of the all- new Sea Life London Aquarium, following its multi- million pound refurbishment. More than 450 guests from across the event industry were invited to the Return to Atlantis-themed event, which showcased the potential of the 1,000-capacity venue.

How was the brief met? In order that most aspects of the newly refurbished underwater experience could be seen, guests were taken on a mini trail around the attractions. First stop was the shipwreck chill-out area, centred around a huge tank containing several species of menacing-looking sharks. Here guests were served champagne and canapes by staff dressed in togas, while watching divers tackle the unenviable job of feeding the sharks.

When the area had become suitably bustling, organisers opened up the impressive glass Ocean Tunnel, giving party-goers a close look at shoaling fish and turtles. The tunnel also provided a walkway through to the Atlantic Cove, which had been decked out with a choice of food stations, including a Spanish-themed stall and a seafood bar. This was complemented by a selection of bowl food on constant flow from the kitchen.

Atlantis-inspired entertainment took place throughout the evening - including a burlesque mermaid act - and dessert canapes were themed, with mini jelly goldfish bowls served with space dust that looked like fish food. At the end of the night, guests were invited to experience the nail-biting Shark Walk above the shark tank.

What was good? Despite being a little unimpressed with the canapes at the start of the evening - pureed cauliflower isn't really our cup of tea - the food certainly improved as the night progressed. In fact, the bowl food coming out of the kitchen towards the end of the evening was some of the best Event has tasted in quite a while.

What was bad? Everyone being squashed into the shipwreck chill-out area like sardines was one of the low points of the relaunch. Also, we were not able to see the star attraction of the entire event - the Shark Walk - until we were on our way out, because it was still being painted.

ON THE SPOT - Chloe Stafford, events manager, Merlin Events

- What was the biggest challenge?

I would say that making sure the venue was ready in time for the launch posed the biggest challenge for us. This included getting the built-in kitchen completed, installing LED lighting and integrated sound, and preparing the Shark Walk so that people could experience it at the end of the evening. The logistics of getting all the different suppliers into the relaunched venue was another huge challenge.

- What do you think you would do differently next time?

We noticed that there were a couple of 'pinch points' in the reception area, so for all future events we will make sure that we add additional bars to help reduce crowding.

- What did the event achieve?

We reintroduced an iconic London landmark to the corporate market. Over the past few years it had become tired and was in need of some care and attention. More than 450 senior event buyers experienced a showcase that was put together by some of London's top event suppliers.

London Aquarium
(020) 7487 0224

(020) 7231 8304

Prelude Entertainment
(01883) 344300

Designer Flowers
(020) 8961 6844

Digital Paparazzi
(01623) 811467

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