Meet Gillian Scatliff and Tess Stokes the founders of G&T Weekends. They create very unique weekend breaks designed for those who love to travel, seek adventure and revel in meeting new people. Ever fancied going to a Swedish Crayfish Party or perhaps New Year in an Icelandic Lodge is more your style? Read our interview to find out more.
Please tell us a little bit about yourselves and how the idea for G&T came about.
Gillian and I have known each other for about 3 years now. We met hiking and kayaking the Norwegian Fjords. We bonded instantly over our love of travel, food, good wine and sense of adventure.
Gillian was leaving London and we wanted to throw one last hurrah in the countryside with all of our friends. I volunteered to help plan everything. We knew our time poor friends needed everything done for them so we made sure to plan everything to the last detail. We decided to charge everyone a set fee, which included transfers to and from London, accommodation (at a super luxe mansion in the Peaks district), catered meals by a chef and champagne that flowed all night long. The Country weekend went off without a hitch and our mates kept asking us when the next “event” would be…….. the demand was there, things escalated and within six months G&T was formed and we had 40 people partying in a Tuscany Italian manor!
The parties you’ve organised to date are hugely varied and highly unique – where do you find inspiration for such interesting themed parties?
Gillian and I have always loved a dress up party or a themed event so it was a natural progression for us. We always keep our ear to the ground to make sure we hear about a fun new local event or festival. We like to make sure our events are doing things like the locals would. Our next party is a Crayfish Party in a Swedish Lake House and we got the idea for this from a Swedish friend who made the whole event sound superb and very traditionally Swedish.
We also love to use Pinterest as this is a hub of INSPO! We’ve just recently created our G&T Weekends board and Gillian and I are now non-stop pinning!
The G&T proposition is based on offering an active (and unique) holiday or short break with great luxury appeal but without the luxury price tag. How do you achieve this?
We love to make sure our guests get the full experience of every location they are visiting so we spend a lot of time researching the local area, unique properties and of course the local and traditional customs. We spend a lot of time going through the properties ensuring that they have all the finer elements that we love and know our guests will appreciate. A lot of the properties we use aren’t ones that you can hire out with a few of your friends so this also makes the weekends more appealing.
We also spend a lot of time sourcing great wines and incredible chefs. We want to make sure the experience isn’t let down by the food and drinks that are served. But it’s important to us that we experience the local cuisine and all that it has to offer.
Another big part of our weekends are the activities. We want to ensure our guests can do as little or as much as they choose over the weekends. We’ve all done the hard partying years of our 20s and want a holiday that has more experiences. Particularly experiencing the local culture and all that it has to offer. In Italy last year we had wine tasting and cooking classes, France there was horse-riding and champagne tasting, Sardinia we had snorkeling and diving. There’s always plenty to do on the properties as well!
The next party weekend is a ‘Crayfish party in Swedish Lake House’ – sounds amazing fun. Tell us what guests can expect from this experience.
We’re throwing a traditional Swedish crayfish party (schnapps included) in a house on a lake in Sweden this summer. Picture dips in the natural lake right in front of our house, shooting practice, fishing and the most beautiful views as far as you can see. There will be plenty of exploring the natural beauty of the surrounding area too. The main event of the weekend will be a long table with crayfish lunches shared around on outdoor picnic tables on our front lawn with a Swedish Toastmaster guiding us through the day.
Describe your typical party guests. What do they seek from their G&T experiences and what do they feedback they’ve enjoyed the most?
Our typical revellers, as we like to call them, are done with their hard-partying years of the 20s. They want more from a weekend and want to experience a little of the local culture too. They are done with staying in hostels with bed bugs and want more than just a raging pub crawl through the local town. They like a little luxury. We’re lucky that we firmly sit in this category, so it makes it easier for us to almost plan these weekends as though they were for ourselves!
Most people who come on our trips are seeking more than just a holiday from their weekend away. They want to get in touch with the locals. They are also looking to do something that they couldn’t plan themselves and don’t have time to either.
We didn’t realise that a lot of our guests would make such fantastic connections. So many friendships have been forged at G&T Weekends.
Most of our guests are returning guests. We like to offer referral discounts and early bird specials to our guest lists to incentivise them to come again and bring their friends! We are planning a reunion party later this year to get all of our revellers back together and reminisce on the G&T Weekends that everyone’s had.
Who would be your dream party guest (anyone ever to have lived) and why?
I know they haven’t really lived but I always wanted to be a part of a Jay Gatsby’s parties (from the Great Gatsby, of course!). He threw the most incredible parties! I’m still dying to do some sort of ice sculpture or vodka flume. As well as fireworks, every good party needs fireworks!!
Where is your dream party location and why?
Italy is a fantastic location for any party (cliché I know) as the food is always fantastic, the staff are always the friendliest, the wine is incredible and there are the most beautiful surrounds. There’s also significant diversity in the types of places that we can hold our parties. From luxury catamarans in Sardinia to villas deep in the heart of Tuscany. We’ve done two events in Italy now and we can’t wait to get back there again.
What does the future hold for G&T Weekends?
We’re in an exciting phase for G&T, we’re still sourcing the best locations. We are constantly seeking out different events and working out what works and what doesn’t. Our next six months will be jam packed. We have a gorgeous Riad booked in Morocco for Easter, the first May Bank holiday will be in the hills of Barcelona and Sitges beach, and second May Bank holiday will be in a huge beachside villa in Mykonos.
Top tip for anyone considering a G&T weekend.
Don’t be afraid to come alone. We are constantly surprised at the amazing bonds that are formed amongst our revellers. We like to make sure everyone gets to know each other really well by adding personal touches, such as organising name tags at dinners and lunches. New friendships have been forged, business relationships begun and even the odd relationship here and there!
If your initials hadn’t represented a world-renowned drink what would your company be called??!!
We were actually given the name G&T by Tess’ dad long before we even had G&T Weekends as a full concept. It’s stuck since then and I can’t imagine us as anything else. It also adds to the element that we want people to feel like they are coming to our party or home so hopefully it feels more welcoming.