Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Alberta, Canada
The ‘Castle in the Rockies’, Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, with 768 rooms, serves as one of Canada’s most luxurious properties and is situated in the stunning Alberta countryside. Guests come to play golf in the summer and ski in the winter and its award-winning spa is enjoyed all year round.
However, this dreamy rural escape, which is the attraction of incentive groups from around the world doesn’t paint the whole picture. Nope, not at all. The hotel was built more than 125 years ago and reports of terrifying incidents soon made their way across the valleys and are still told to this day by locals in the surrounding towns.
Rumour has it that a former bellman who worked at the hotel during the 60’s and 70’s still fulfils his duties today…from beyond the grave. Guests have reported incidents of the bellman helping them up to their rooms in his same 1960’s uniform, turning on the lights and opening locked doors. When guests go to tip him or start a conversation, he vanishes into thin air ready for the next unsuspecting travellers.
There are even scarier reports of a ghost bride, who fell down a flight of stairs and broke her neck on the day of her wedding when her dress caught fire, dancing by herself in the hotel’s ballroom. The flames have been seen shooting off the back of her dress as she waltz’s across the room.
Why not join her? The Alhambra Ballroom consists of 530sqm of event space and is the hotel’s most grandiose venue, but has a habit of attracting some unwanted guests…
Tower of London, England
The Tower of London’s reputation as one of the most haunted places on earth stretches far beyond the British Isles thanks to its gruesome history of torture and execution. It has played a vital role in British history ever since William the Conqueror built it in 1078 and the victims whose lives were taken inside the castle walls are reportedly still lurking in the shadows.
King Henry VIII’s wife Anne Boleyn was famously beheaded in 1536, and it is her headless body that supposedly roams the Tower’s corridors near the very spot where she met her end.
A lesser-known tale is the one of two mysterious boys who walk hand in hand terrified through the rooms of the castle. The story goes that the two children were once princes that were sent to the Tower by Parliament. That was, at least, until they vanished. Supposedly murdered by their uncle, the Duke of Gloucester, the spirits of the two boys have been seen on numerous occasions in the White Tower.
Groups can learn about the castle’s creepy history and more on tours of the venue and numerous event spaces, including the White Tower itself and The Moat, have capacity for between 12 and 2,000 delegates.
Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
The Edinburgh venue, which casts a gloomy shadow over the city from ahigh, is considered one of Scotland’s most haunted sites and legend goes that its corridors are walked by some seriously spooky characters, including a headless drummer and a spectral dog.
Still suspect? In 2001, the castle’s vaults and chambers were subject to a 10-day scientific experiment. Night-vision equipment, cameras and thermal imaging were placed along the walls while 240 volunteers spent the night at the mercy of the roaming ghouls. Almost half of the participants admitted to seeing ghosts and other eerie happenings included sudden drops in temperature and unseen presences pulling at their clothes.
Still not scared? Well, groups can subject themselves to the mercy of the castle walls where a number of lavish meeting spaces can host a range of events. The Queen Anne Room, in the heart of Edinburgh Castle can hold gala dinners for 120, while 250 delegates can marvel at the Scottish Crown Jewels and Stone of Destiny during an evening reception in the Jacobite Room.
Bran Castle, Romania
North of Romania’s capital, Bucharest, are the Carpathian Mountains, populated by pristine forests, volcanic lakes and plummeting gorges. Overlooking the forests is the 14th-century Bran Castle, which was once an entry point into Transylvannia. Its eerie design inspired Bram Stocker's Dracula tales and the venue now serves as a museum.
Dracula’s character was based on Vlad the Impaler who resided at Bran Castle and was famous for his cruel, violent and unforgiving rule over his people. The tale goes that rather than behead his enemies he would impale them, leaving them to die bloodied and in agony.
The castle’s facilities and stately gardens can be used for private events, including gala dinners and cocktail parties and they have even been used for firework displays. But, the castle’s winding spiral staircases and its frightening resemblance to the Dracula tales will be enough to send shivers down delegates’ spines for weeks after the event.
Old Melbourne Gaol, Australia
In the 1800s, the towering, fortified walls of the Old Melbourne Gaol imprisoned the country's most notorious criminals, including the likes of infamous bushranger Ned Kelly. The National Trust of Australia took the building over several decades after its closure in 1929 and the grounds that saw 131 men hanged can now be used for private events.
As well as meetings and gala dinners, guests can take guided ghost tours of the former prison grounds to explore its dark, yet fascinating history.
• For more breaking news, as well as in-depth features and case studies, sign up to C&IT Magazine's daily Newstracker here