Monday, 30 March 2020

Pair hold the key to new experience of the regatta

Pair hold the key to new experience of the regatta

EVERY summer the Henley Royal Regatta welcomes more than 300,000 visitors — people who have come from far and wide to enjoy the spectacle of world-class rowing and soak up the unique atmosphere.

With 180 years’ worth of tradition to its name, the event is both a highlight of the sporting calendar and the English social season.

Now a Henley couple who met on the set of the BBC medical drama Casualty are looking to provide regatta-goers with a new way to savour the experience.

Oliver Coleman and Charlotte Salt are the team behind The Hidden Garden, an accessible yet exclusive premium venue that will be making its Henley Royal Regatta debut this July.

Offering elevated views of the racing on the Berkshire bank of the course, the vision for The Hidden Garden was inspired by Oliver’s experience of working in the
high-end events industry.

While Charlotte continues to act, the years following their 2014 wedding have seen Oliver strike out in a new direction.

He said: “I discovered an interest in events and duly worked and trained for arguably some of the best in the business — Last Supper, Urban Caprice and Lillingston.”

Often working with budgets of up to £250,000, Oliver soon learned to manage high-end events.

He said: “I learnt that quality of design and creativity in food should never be sacrificed. I put enjoyment into detail and consider every possibility and that high importance is to maintain the highest of standards of service every guest deserves.

“So when I attended the regatta for the first time in 2018, I envisaged the world-class event that it was presented as — the epitome of summer, British socialising, a real sporting experience — and I quickly realised that I had a vision that I could perhaps bring some of my high-end learned expertise to Henley. Keeping the sporting event as the focus, yet enhancing the event, I wanted to create a venue that offered a balance of accessibility and to offer a ‘change’ for all guests focusing on high-end quality of service, a beautifully designed environment, concentrating on comfort and unobtrusive entertainment that will complement the flow of the day.”

Employing a key motif as its logo, The Hidden Garden invites regatta-goers to enter a surprising oasis of riverside greenery. A spokesman said: “Step away from the hustle and bustle of the busy towpath and see the races from our custom-built terrace, sip on superbly chilled champagne from the comfort of your own sofa, meet and greet guests in your own exclusive private area, then dance the night away alongside our DJ.”

With a range of packages available, you can create your own Hidden Garden experience, but all tickets must be purchased in advance of this year’s regatta, which runs from Wednesday, July 3, to Sunday, July 7. For more information or to speak to a member of The Hidden Garden team, call (01491) 714009 or email

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