Since 2012 the White Hat Ball has been held at the stunning mid-century Royal Lancaster Hotel at Hyde Park. Regular attendees of the Ball will attest to the strong partnership between the hotel and the Ball, as the event has grown into a sell-out gala of over 650 guests in the Cyber Security industry.
We caught up with Royal Lancaster’s Deputy Director of Events William Harding, and Business Development Manager Petya Lazarova, who are working with the NSPCC and the White Hat committee to shape a stand-out White Hat Ball 2022 in these unfamiliar times.
Hi William and Petya! Thanks for joining us. What has the impact of the pandemic been to the hotel and has the reopening been a success?
Petya: The pandemic had a huge impact on the hospitality and events industries as a whole and it has taken patience and resilience to get where we are at the moment. Royal Lancaster London closed its doors during the first lockdown and re-opened in August 2020. Although we were unable to support individual business and leisure guests due to the lockdown restrictions, we were happy to accommodate those who needed us during this time. We also implemented a 50% NHS discount to support our key workers.
From events point of view we quickly adjusted to the new normal. We were very lucky to host several Virtual/Hybrid events in line with the Government restrictions, which helped us not to lose momentum in the industry!
Will guests notice any new developments at the Royal Lancaster since the last White Hat Ball in January 2020?
Petya: We are constantly working on raising the bar at the hotel! During the first lockdown, all of our contracted events were cancelled and we took the chance to build a XR Mixed and Virtual Reality Studio in partnership with our in house AV provider – 4Wall. We became the first 5 Star hotel in Central London to be able to offer this high end equipment and supported several clients reaching to large audiences all over the world. On the way back to live events, we are working on permanently positioning our XR studio to the 19th floor!
How are you ensuring the safety of guests at the hotel in these unprecedented times?
Petya: The health and safety of our guests and team members is our top priority. We have reviewed and updated all our operational procedures to ensure the risk of infection is minimized. Some of the actions we have taken are – hand sanitizers are distributed all over the hotel, all team members are being tested twice a week and our temperature is checked on arrival. We are also taking the temperature of guests checking in. In order to reduce the touch points during a stay with us we have become cashless hotel and each guest can use a digital key for their bedroom. We have ensured that we have plenty of PPE available and even more regular cleaning of our common guest areas.
William you have hosted the White Hat Ball for many years- what is your personal highlight of the event?
William: Meeting Esther Rantzen and also working with the amazing team at the NCPCC!
Thank you for speaking to us
Bookings are now open for the White Hat Ball 2022 on the 29th January at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, in aid of Childline.
Royal Lancaster Hotel facts
- The hotel opened in 1967 and was initially called “Royal Lancaster”
- The brand new “Royal Lancaster London” hotel crest features a stylized rose, the symbol of the House of Lancaster.
- The hotel’s “Nine Kings Suite” is yet another nod at history, referring to the line of nine English kings that followed immediately after John of Gaunt, first Duke of Lancaster
- The “Westbourne Suite” takes its name from what’s underneath the hotel… the small river Westbourne! Originating in Hampstead Heath, this brook used to flow into the Thames. It entered Hyde Park at what is now the Serpentine – which was formed in 1730 by building a dam across the Westbourne on the wishes of Queen Caroline, wife of George II, to beautify the royal park
- The iconic mid-century tower was originally built as an office block to house the Rank Organisation- a huge British entertainment conglomerate of film-makers
- The tower was designed by the famous architect Richard Seifert (1910 – 2001), who was extremely prolific during the 60s and 70s. No other architect is responsible for as many buildings in London (not even Sir Christopher Wren!).
- The block was repurposed as in the 1960’s London had scarce hotel space that could not keep up with growing numbers of tourists. The UK Government therefore decided to award £1000 grants for every new hotel room built, and the rest is history