Malta (an ever-evolving destination) has so much to offer. My destinations blog is based on the two islands I visited - mainland Malta and Gozo. I am fortunate to represent one of Malta’s top DMCs, ECMeetings Malta as our elite partner in Malta. Their superior, local knowledge, professionalism and ability to meet the needs of the incentive & conference market are hard to match. You can contact Mark Gatt from ECMeetings Malta, whose knowledge of the island, the hotels and the venues is incomparable.
The Maltese Islands are tiny, yet amazing and unique. Set at the heart of the Mediterranean and packed with history and architectural gems, Malta is cosmopolitan and trendy; beautifully combining old and new. Add amazing Mediterranean food, 300 days of sunshine, great flight connections, state-of-the-art meeting facilities, an extensive world class hotel selection, island hopping activities, great nightlife & unique, trendy and historical venues and you’ll easily see that Malta is your ideal meeting spot. Malta offers great value for money, especially for food and accommodation.
Air Malta flies from London Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dublin and Belfast City Airport. Other Airlines servicing the UK include British Airways & low-cost carrier Ryanair.
5 STAR HOTELS
Our group stayed at The Hilton Malta - a luxurious, five star hotel situated at Portomaso and is a short walking distance from the bars, cafes and clubs of St. Julian’s. The Hilton Malta has 410 Rooms & suites, 21 meeting rooms and a self-contained Conference Centre.
Other hotels I visited: -
Westin Dragonara Resort - 340 guestrooms and has its own dedicated conference centre with the main conference room seating up to 600, either theatre style or as a reception. There are also a further 10 syndicate rooms.
Corinthia Hotel St. George’s Bay - 250 rooms, including suites, set overlooking St. George’s Bay and the Casino. The self-contained conference and events halls, which incorporate the Business Centre, cater for conferences of up to 550 delegates, as well as banqueting and reception facilities for up to 1500 persons.
Radisson Blu Resort St. Julian’s - 252 rooms and suites, all- sea facing. It is situated in a quieter area of St. Julian’s, only a short walking distance away from the vibrant centre. Radisson’s business meeting facilities include a Grand Ballroom, accommodating up to 550 delegates theatre-style or up to 700 persons as a reception, as well as smaller meeting rooms. The ballroom has a large terrace which can accommodate many people – weather permitting.
Grand Hotel Excelsior 439 guestrooms, including Deluxe Rooms, Executive Rooms and Suites spread over ten floors. The hotel holds conference and banqueting facilities with thirteen separate setting designs to choose from.
Intercontinental Malta - 483 bedrooms that include 33 suites, 3 club Inter-Continental floors and 2700 square metres of Conference and Meeting facilities as well as an additional 1700 square metres of meeting/banquet space available.
Marriott Hotel & Spa Malta - 330 rooms including suites, the 1800 sqm conference centre is situated on one all-purpose floor featuring an amphitheatre of 141 seats. There are also 11 syndicate rooms catering for 8 to 350 people and a large landscaped terrace which is perfect for coffee breaks, lunch, dinner or receptions for approximately 500 persons.
The Xara Palace Relais & Chateau - 17 individual designed suites and a separate boardroom for 10 persons. This special boutique hotel is a must-see when in Mdina.
Domus Zamittello – Is a boutique Hotel with 21 room and it is possible to have a complete takeover of the hotel.
The Phoenicia Malta - 136 rooms and suites based in Floriana and set within 7.5 acres of gardens at the entrance to Valletta. The hotel is within walking distance of the island’s best shopping and top attractions, as well as the bustling restaurants and cafes of the waterfront.
4 STAR HOTELS
Sister hotel of Corinthia Hotel St. George’s Bay and located next door to the Corinthia Hotel St. George’s Bay. The property offers 200 rooms, including 10 suites, all with a sea view. This hotel would be more suitable for incentive groups. Facilities can be shared by guests of both hotels; care should however be taken as the two hotels differ in class and style.
The George Urban Boutique Hotel
This boutique hotel located in the heart of Paceville is creating much talk and hype in the area. With a total of 112 rooms which include suites, studios and penthouse suites, the hotel is a good sized 4* property. It also offers a main meeting room along with smaller syndicates.
The New Dolmen
Situated in the north of the island close to St. Paul’s Bay, the hotel offers 413 rooms, including suites. The property has a self-contained conference complex with a conference room catering for up to 1200 theatre style. It also has a further conference room for up to 200 theatre-style, plus 5 syndicate rooms. The leisure and conference facilities make this a popular venue for sales conferences, as well as any lower budget incentive groups.
The Mediterranean Conference Centre (MCC)
Located on the edge of the historical city of Valletta and overlooking the Grand Harbour, this venue is a 16th century building formerly known as the ‘Sacra Infermeria’ the former Hospital of the Knights of St. John. Offering versatile opportunities for unique events, gala dinners and conferences in a historic setting. The MCC features a total of 10 halls and 9 syndicate rooms over an area of 7,000 m². Seating Capacity: 1000 indoors / 650 outdoors. Themed Dinner Knight Ceremony video
The Hilton Conference Centre
Set in Portomaso Marina in St. Julian’s and with a direct internal connection to the adjacent Hilton Malta, the Hilton Conference Centre offers the combination of a Mediterranean setting and state of-the-art-facilities. The conference centre is spread over 4 levels with plenty of syndicate rooms, pre-function space and has a main conference room which can accommodate 1056 persons theatre style. The HMCC also has its own dedicated loading bay to transfer goods in and out of the building.
The Malta Fairs & Conventions Centre – MFCC
The Malta Fairs & Conventions Centre (MFCC) is Malta’s largest international conference and exhibition venue and offers a blank canvas for creating any kind of event. The 7000 m² tension fabric structure can host any type of event ranging from large scale conferences to gala dinners, a concert for 10,000, through to motor exhibitions, fashion shows and the like. MFCC has 3 moveable arches that will facilitate the rigging of production and set infra-structure and furthermore a flexible decking system that can create a stage of any size.
Intercontinental Arena Conference Centre - IACC
Completed in late 2003 and fully refurbished in 2015, the IACC offers the largest uninterrupted floor area, as well as a significant amount of non-core space, in this area. The IACC’s strongest point is the flexibility that an empty hall provides. There is no hindrance of fixed stages, tables or chairs, therefore each event may be tailor made to each requirement and to the smallest detail. Space. It comprises of 1660m2 of uninterrupted space. The high arched ceiling (5.7m – 8.9m) can be utilized to your advantage and allows you to display visuals for your product or service according to your specifications. Non-core area includes 1110 m2 of break out area. Dimensions of 50m x 28m.
Razzet L-Abjad Farmhouse & Vineyard
300 year old farmhouse set in an orange grove surrounded by a vineyard, you can sample traditional wine and food, enjoy a lunch or evening Maltese Extravaganza, with total indoor or outdoor seating for up to 400 people. Improvements have been made to enhance the ambience and character of the place making this an ideal venue for any conference or incentive group.
The old saluting battery occupies one of the most strategic locations in Valletta, from where complete command of the Grand Harbour can be achieved. It stands on the lower part of the St. Peter & St. Paul’s Bastions, at the foot of the Upper Barrakka Gardens and overlooks Fort St. Angelo and the Grand Harbour. This venue makes an ideal location for any dinner.
Set in a beautifully restored stone quarry the Limestone Heritage & Park. The landscaped grounds boast indigenous trees, peacocks walking freely, a traditional Maltese farmhouse and an impressive waterfall. Also known for its lemon trees what better venue than to enjoy a demonstration of how the homemade Limoncello is produced finishing with ice cold shots. Seating Capacity: 600 outdoor / up to 300 inside.
In the 19th Century this stunning venue was acquired by a noble family who set about embellishing it into a stately home holding various Italian and Maltese treasures. Capacity: Up to 600 pax outdoor/ 130 indoor. EC Meetings Event Video
There are plenty of great restaurant options throughout Malta, from the lively St. Julian’s and the Spinola Bay area, to the charming, sophisticated Capital Valletta and even to the Mystical Silent City of Mdina. You can be sure to find a restaurant to suit any group. The food tends to reflect the location of Malta with strong links to the Mediterranean, Sicilian and North African cuisine.
The Barracuda Restaurant stands majestically on the shoreline, in the picturesque Balluta Bay. The menu amongst other items, offers a variety of Mediterranean fish and shellfish specialities. (Seating capacity: Front Terrace: 22 persons (summers only), Side Terrace: 40 pax; Inside: 90 pax, Parapet: 25 (summer only)
Set atop Mdina's centuries-old bastions, within the Xara Palace Relais & Chateaux, the De Mondion offers a unique fine dining experience, with panoramic views of the island from the terraces. The menu offers a mix of Mediterranean, Italian and French dishes. (Seating capacity: 50 inside, Upper Terrace: 44; Lower Terrace: 30)
Palazzo de Piro
The Palazzo de Piro offers excellent views and the building has been lovingly restored to serve as an exclusive multi-functional venue.
The Medina Restaurant
The Medina restaurant consists of ancient alcoves and arches and a couple of fire-places. The menu is typically Mediterranean with a combination of Maltese, Italian and French cuisine.
Chophouse is situated in the Tigne Point area in Sliema. Not only does this restaurant have possibly the best view of Valletta, but it is also an all-time favourite for excellent Mediterranean dishes, meat cuts and great wine. Capacity: 180 seated / 300 to 350 standing.
Cafe Del Mar
Offering stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea and St Paul’s island, Café del Mar is situated on the water’s edge... an ideal place to relax, have a swim, and enjoy lunch/dinner and a drink. The trendy design is all about the sea and Mediterranean sunsets. The venue offers extensive possibilities on exclusive or non-exclusive basis. Seating Capacity: Indoors: Up to 160 / Outdoors: Up to 160
Malta is blessed to have 300 days of bright sunshine and pleasant weather a year. With this in mind, most of the activities are outdoor activities where clients can have fun in the sun, be it for team building, cultural experiences or simply leisure. Activities range from simple city challenges to abseiling, jet-ski and sailing yachts, to snorkelling adventures in the crystal-clear waters.
Whilst in Malta we took part in several activities, such as sailing to the hotel on a traditional Maltese vessel. We toured around the harbour and then departed to our hotel which was a great surprise, as well as took part in Battle of the Seas, which is an exhilarating and fun event for groups Battle of the Seas Video
Another great way to see the whole of Malta, Gozo and Comino is to do the 360 Malta challenge which ECMeetings Malta have created. This activity involves racing around the island in teams via different modes of sea transport. For example, you would go to the first base on jet skis, second base in speed boats, third base in traditional Maltese boats and so on and so forth. A truly unique experience that only an Island of this size can offer.
The place to be for nightlife in Malta is without a doubt, Paceville and the area has a large number of bars and clubs, which always welcome a great crowd of people set on enjoying the night. The clubs vary in the music they play, so everyone can find a bar or club playing their sort of music. Malta isn’t all manic clubs and bars though, for those who prefer to sit and enjoy a drink, many of the bars have small seating areas outside.
Malta also has a number of small tranquil wine bars. For a venue with a difference, these little hidden treasures are ideal for clients who want the group to stay together. The guests can be served premium wines and canapés while mingling between themselves in a more relaxed ambience.
Gozo, the sister island offers beautiful nature with deep valleys, rugged cliffs, crystal clear sea, beaches & coves. Life on the island is original and revolves around agriculture & fishing, offering unique experiences, from high-adrenaline activities in unspoiled nature to very local experiences of culture, tradition and cuisine.
Kempinski Hotel San Lawrenz – Gozo
122 rooms, virtually all-suites, offers a variety of options for sports and activity. The Resort caters for business conferences and incentive meetings of both large and small size. In fact, apart from the main conference hall, which accommodates 300 seats, the hotel also has access to 3 syndicate rooms.
Hotel Ta Cenc
The hotel offers 83 guestrooms including double rooms, suites, bungalows and family apartments. Hotel Ta Cenc has 5 conference and incentive meeting rooms which can hold up to 180 delegates at its disposal and the Palazzo Palina, which is a medieval castle where any type of function can be organised.
ACTIVITIES IN GOZO
Again, similar to Malta, Gozo’s activities offer similar choices to the likes of Malta, including adrenaline filled activities, leisurely activities and exploration activities.
An ideal way to discover the island is in the new colourful Tuk-Tuks, so why not enjoy a journey through untouched nature with many experiences around tradition, culture and culinary delights.
Another activity we took part in involved two jeeps, two cameras and two maps! Oh and of course two teams! We took part in a simple, fun, teambuilding exploration task in which, both teams had to race each other across Gozo whilst making a film of our choice. The catch was we had to include 4 different parts of the island in our film. Ours was a documentary and it did produce some laughs when we watched it and saw what the teams got up to! A great teambuilding activity!
For something different, transfer back to Malta on power-boats that take you, via the famous ‘Blue Lagoon’. Or even the more leisurely “Luzzu” (Traditional Fishing Boat) via the Blue Lagoon in Comino, where a brief stop can be made for swimming in this aquamarine lagoon.
An authentic restaurant in the Citadel, for lunch we had delicious platters, which included cheese, bread, tomatoes, capers, olives and homemade ravioli which was paired deliciously with the owners' Gozitan wine. Rikardu produces his own wine and cheese from his vineyard and farm, selling the produce in his shop/restaurant in the Citadel.
For a rustic farmers lunch, visit an authentic Gozitan cheese farm. The farmer will show how the Maltese Gbejna (goats’ cheese) is made.
Overall Summary of the Maltese Islands
Malta is destination that has been developing for many years and the infrastructure has got to an impressive standard, but at the same time it hasn’t overdeveloped. It most certainly still has the charm of a Mediterranean island, with beautiful architecture, warm temperatures, delicious foods, fascinating history and just a feel for that relaxed way of life. Also, the range and quality of the hotels is comparable with any other major destination and can satisfy the most discerning incentive or conference group. Added to this, is the extremely reasonable cost of food and beverages. Malta is now a quality destination in every respect and deserves the support for having worked so hard to provide the industry with exactly what it needs. For anyone having previous doubts about the island we would urge them to try Malta and are sure that you will be pleasantly surprised.
This visit was brought to you by our DMC, ECMeetings Company Ltd
Warsaw’s thriving capital was virtually destroyed during WWII mainly in 1944, with more than 85% being left totally dilapidated but over a twenty year period was completely rebuilt - an amazing feat in such a short time. The best face of Warsaw however is the Old Town and the Market Square where historical buildings and palaces were detailed reconstructed and where now cafes, bars, restaurants and shops bustle with activity. Along with its parks and gardens, the rich cultural life and most of all the friendliness of its people, all make Warsaw a cosmopolitan city.
We travelled with LOT Polish Airlines and I was really impressed, LOT operates a 3-cabin concept: LOT Business Class, LOT Premium Economy Class and LOT Economy Class is available on all international flights .LOT’s short haul fleet consists of modern Boeing 737 New Generation and Embraer 190 aircraft whilst our long haul fleet is exclusively operated by Dreamliner 787, 800 & 900’s with fully lie-flat seating in Business Class. There are no hidden costs checked baggage and seat selection is included in standard and flexible fares.
On arrival we enjoyed lunch at The Alchemist Gastro Pub before heading to our hotel for the weekend Radisson Collection Warsaw. Dinner on the first night was at Stixx Bar and Grill the quality of the food was matched by the buzzing atmosphere and after we visited a secret, hidden bar known to Mazurkas DMC. Could I find it now NEVER.
Listed below are the many beautiful and amazing venues we visited:
The National Theatre Opera House
Warsaw Technical University
Life under communism Museum
After lunch at Warszawa Wschodnia Restaurant we enjoyed some fun option for groups including Vodka tasting at the Polish Vodka Museum, and chocolate decorating at E.Wedel’s Chocolate Emporium as well as a unique trip by vintage Nysa vans or 1970’s “Cucumber” Buses.
The Palace on the Isle - the summer residence of last king of Poland Stanislaw August Poniatowski full of antique décor with a total capacity for up to 130 for banquets or 200 for cocktails. Individually the Ballroom holds 90 and 120 respectively.
A speciality in the historic surroundings of the Lazienki Royal Park Palaces is to host a feast in genuine royal chambers with music, poetry, ballet and service in costumed outfits from the King Stanislaw era, of old Polish recipes from the King’s.
The Belvedere is a multi-faceted restaurant situated in Lazienki Royal Park. The Restaurant Belvedere offers banquets for up to 50 persons in the main restaurant, 80 persons in the Orangery and cocktails.
Our final evening was at the traditional, fine dining restaurant Dom Polski this restaurant captures the essence of Poland in its menu and its décor. After dinner we headed to The View nightclub. As the name suggests, this venue boasts incredible, 360 degree views of the city.
Poland is a surprising country. Viewed, generally by those who have not visited the country, as a dull, grey former Eastern European satellite, Poland has over a 1000 years of history, impressive historical buildings, beautiful scenery, an age old tradition of hosting international events and excellent accommodation.
This of course does not totally guarantee a successful event – the missing factor is your partner in Poland – the DMC. Mazurkas Travel Poland have proved their understanding of overseas markets and run very much as a hands-on operation it has successfully developed conference and incentives into Poland.
From an incentive and conference point of view it is has the necessary infrastructure and knowledge to successfully handle this type of business, my recent visit to this destination certainly opened my eyes to the potential Warsaw has for conference and incentive groups.
This visit was brought to you by our DMC, Mazurkas DMC Poland
We had the pleasure of staying at the Ritz Carlton which has 171 guest rooms, 29 suites and is a short walk from St. Stephen's Basilica, Erzsébet Square and the River Danube. The hotel presents modern luxury with a tint of tradition and we enjoyed dinner at the Ritz’s fantastic restaurant DSK Wine & Grill Restaurant.
If you want incredible views across the Danube your best choice would be Budapest Marriott Hotel and the Hilton Budapest in the Buda Castle.
The Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest, is an exceptional property within very close walking distance of the heart of the city.
Other hotels to consider for your events are as follows: New York Palace and Corinthia located 700 metres from each other, or the InterContinental and the neighbouring Sofitel, which are ideal for large groups that have to be split. If it’s a 4 star you require there are several Novotel and Mercure or the Continental 4 star superior (with over 200 rooms) could be ideal for bigger groups of 100+ rooms. Additionally, the Prestige or the newly opened Barcelo Budapest could be ideal for smaller groups.
Our DMC, AIM Group International can help with your event from arranging a nostalgic train, champagne tram ride along the Danube, a Trabant rally for up to 200 pax or Tuks Tuks are another fun way of seeing the city.
We travelled by Tuk Tuks to Buda Castle, which is where Katie Perry recorded the video Fireworks a beautiful Castle which reminds me of Disney. Here we did a team building programme which involved iPads and VR technology for learning the history in a fun way, unfortunately my team lost.
In the city, the Market Hall is an excellent place to host an event; it fits 1000 pax (privatised) in the summer and AIM Group International can arrange for the shops to be kept open. Groups could do this as part of tour or even a cooking experience where they can then taste Hungarian specialties in the upstairs restaurant that seats up to 50 people.
Budapest holds the title "City of Spas" since the year 1934, as it has more thermal and medicinal water springs than any other capital city in the world. There are 118 springs in Budapest, providing over 70 million litres of thermal water a day. Spa parties (also known as sparties) can be organised; and Rudas can be privatised for special groups. The Szechenyi Baths is one of the largest thermal spa baths and they have a new private room purely for groups to enjoy lunch or to use a relaxing area away from the hustle and bustle of the locals.
For large meetings or conferences, the Whale building would be perfect. It’s actually shaped like a whale and fits 450 pax in its main room, plus there is another level and small terrace. Did you know that the film ‘The Martian’ used this as a film set? This all adds to its quirkiness! Also, the new congress centre of Hungexpo Budapest is another great option.
If you looking for a private dinner venue with a party atmosphere? Have you considered being right on the Danube? ‘Spoon’ is a floating restaurant that has varying capacities throughout its rooms and event spaces; and its own private dock for the added glamour!
Nightlife is great in Budapest and a great option is the Ruin Bars, we enjoyed an evening at Dobaz Bar with a private area reserved for our group. Ruin bars are in Budapest's old District VII neighbourhood (the old Jewish quarter) in the ruins of abandoned buildings.
Budapest offers great value for money and is very popular for the UK market, airlines flying to Budapest include British Airways, EasyJet, Norwegian, Ryanair and Wizz Air.
This visit was brought to you by our Hungarian DMC, AIM Group International DMC
Welcome to the Algarve!
What springs to mind when you think of the Algarve? Let me guess; sun, beaches, golf and fun nights out?! You’re not wrong, but having just had the privilege of experiencing the destination first-hand, I’ve discovered that the Algarve has so much more to offer (as an incentive destination) than meets the eye!
XPTO Events & DMC are experts in the Algarve. It is refreshing to visit hotels where they know many of the staff personally and it’s great to see that they have a fantastic relationship with all suppliers; built on great friendships.
On arrival I met with Anabela and Isabel from XPTO Events & DMC and enjoyed a lovely dinner at the Akavit which accommodates groups up to 120 pax. The restaurant specialises in international cuisine and it is situated at Vilamoura Marina.
I was fortunate to stay at the Anantara Hotel which was refurbished in April 2017; it is a beautiful resort with a personal touch, you are welcomed by your name when you arrive and taken to a private lounge for check-in. Breakfast was amazing! You are given a hand towel and fresh juice when you arrive and the resort is right next to Victoria golf course which is used for the Portugal Masters.
The Anantara has 280 rooms and suites, 5 swimming pools and our DMC can arrange cooking workshops on resort for smaller groups at the Spicy Spoon (up to 10 pax) or a tile painting experience can be set up in at the hotel. Their signature restaurant is Emo, specialising in gourmet cuisine and the Ria restaurant has just opened specialising in seafood. On departure the hotel presented me with dried flowers (similar to lucky heather) to bring me fortune and good luck, which was a lovely gesture!
Best places to stay?
You are very lucky in the Algarve as the hotels are all of a very high standard and you have a fantastic choice of 5* hotels. 4* properties are more difficult to come by.
Vila Vita Parc
Part of Leading Hotels of the World and set on 54 acres, the resort is great for small incentive groups as it offers an array of possibilities and things to do. Situated in a relaxing area, and away from the hustle and bustle, it’s ideal if you want to do everything in-house as there are no bars / restaurants in walking distance of the resort. The nearest town is Armação de Pera which is a 5 minute drive. Groups tend to stay in the main building area which has 74 bedrooms. They have a clubhouse with restaurants and bars and a ballroom with meeting space up to 350 theatre / 250 gala.
The resort also own their own farm which is 1 hour and 30 minutes away, where they grow their own vegetables and make their own wine which they use in-house.
Tivoli Marina Vilamoura
The Tivoli Marina Vilamoura is a great choice as it has 383 rooms, set right on Vilamoura Marina. I didn’t get a chance to visit the meeting facilities as they are currently refurbishing their event space, but it will certainly look amazing when finished (later in the year). The hotel also has a dock for boats to pick guests up for fun at sea; ideal for those who enjoy boat parties!
I loved the Conrad Hotel based in Quinta Lago, which is very high-end with 154 rooms. You can privatise wings of the hotel for groups and the property is a short distance from the golf resorts. The food and cocktails in Gustos are to die for and the making of each cocktail is explained to you by an expert. The presidential suite and its accompanying terrace can be used for meetings / dinner / BBQs and drinks.
Pine Cliff Residence
Recently renovated, this is an amazing resort which was refurbished last year in a modern / classical style, and has 217 rooms. The main meeting room can hold 200 people theatre-style and has a terrace outside for coffee breaks. There are many private areas to host an event; Tabu is a large open-air space which the hotel is very popular for and Lemon Square is great as an outdoors space for lunch / dinners and cocktail receptions. Aldar is also a great venue with a Moroccan theme in which you can arrange a band, disco, or whatever you fancy. Also popular is the beach party option with DJ, BBQ or buffet till 3 am.
Places to eat?
Buzios Beach Club
I had lunch at Buzios which is located on the Marina Beach in Vilamoura; Búzios Beach Club is a restaurant / bar with fabulous sea views and specialising in meat and fish. Capacity pax 45 inside / 65 pax outside
Bovino brings the best in steakhouse dining to Quinta do Lago. In a bespoke setting, created by one of Europe's most acclaimed interior designers, Bovino combines striking décor with prime beef cooked to perfection. Capacity 350 pax
Specialising in fine French cuisine and coloured with delicious Mediterranean influences for a memorable fine dining experience. The restaurant also has a beautiful outside terrace with a pool which can be used for cocktails for groups. Capacity 60 pax
I had the pleasure to eat at Paixa - a cool and trendy restaurant in Vale do Lobo, it seats 70 comfortably inside and specialises in Portuguese Tapas. The main restaurant is open-plan and has a small outside seating area. Capacity 70 pax
Need a venue with a difference?
Great concept similar to Nikki Beach which is used for groups; it offers 2 venues under the same name. The Beach side on the Vilamoura Beach that creates a perfect relaxing atmosphere combined with Puro’s offering and its live music from the resident DJs. It has a capacity for 50 inside and 150 outside. Another option is the Lakeside in the gardens of the Tivoli Marina Vilamoura where guests can experiment with a more social-oriented offer during the night and this can hold up to 3000 people for cocktail parties and 480 people for dining.
Casa do Lago
Situated in Quinta Lago by the lake, Casa do Lago is a great restaurant to take over exclusively. It has an outside pool and the restaurant has a fisherman’s theme. The venue can accommodate 200 inside and 200 outside. This is a great option for drinks on the balcony area beside the pool after visiting the water sport centre for groups, as it is next door and can be used exclusively.
Also in Quinta Lago you can enjoy a bike ride through the Nature Reserve “Ria Formosa”, it is made up of 18,000 hectares of tidal marshes protected by a spectacular 60km long system of sand-dune islands that separate the land from the ocean. Bike ride groups up to 200 pax. Watersports which include wind surfing, paddle boarding, sailing, canoeing. Groups up to 120 pax. After water sports you can take over the balcony area at Casa do Lago.
Other options for your next Incentive trip:-
Sunset party on catamaran
Please get in touch to find out how XPTO Events & DMC can create your next and BEST incentive!
This visit was brought to you by our DMC, XPTO Events & DMC
March 2017 offered myself and the destinations UNLIMITED team a short trip to Bucharest, Romania, for an introduction to the event facilities and a taste of the town.
We arrived in the evening so traffic was light on our journey into the city centre taking 25 minutes.
Our accommodation was at the luxury 5 star Radisson Blu Hotel which offers 487 rooms and suites with contemporary design; and we were lucky enough to enjoy our stay in a Business Executive suite. Walking through the hotel I was taken aback by the funky and modern look, with indoor water features and the purple lighting theme throughout the hotel. My room was spacious, furnished with a desk, free fast wi-fi and everything you would expect. The view from the room looked into the courtyard overlooking the outdoor spa pool. In addition the Radisson Blu is in a superb location which is around a 15 minute walk to the old town.
The Radisson Blu hotel has 11 meeting rooms (50m² each) and an expansive ballroom which can accommodate 650 delegates for a reception with cocktails and up to 500 people for a theatre set-up.
Staying on the Business level I also enjoyed the use of the inclusive business lounge; here you can help yourself to a variety of drinks, food and papers. Each guest is entitled to allow an extra person meaning this could be an ideal place to hold ad hoc meetings. With a couple of internet enabled terminals, complete with a printer you should have everything you need to prepare for the day.
The hotel’s main bar sits in the middle of what looks like an under floor river; the town is rich with cocktail bars, but anyone staying at the Radisson really should try their innovative mixology cocktail range. They taste good but the presentation is what sets them apart. There's one for every sign of the zodiac and these are presented as a series of tarot cards at a great value price of just £10.00 each.
We also viewed the Athénée Palace Hilton (located opposite the Radisson Blu) which was is very different from the Radisson Blu with a traditional & historic feel and offering 272 rooms: 147 guest rooms, 38 executive rooms, 45 junior suites and 20 suites.
Le Diplomate Ballroom can accommodate up to 350 guests and offers a perfect venue for conferences and banquets. They also have 4 additional meeting rooms which can host 20 people in each.
Bucharest town features some stunning buildings; including the National Museum of Art, located in the former Royal Palace in Revolution Square, which is an excellent venue for a gala dinner, conference, product launch or meeting; and they have two special events rooms: The Royal Living room at the basement can accommodate 150 persons and The Thone Hall at the first floor can accommodate up to 180 persons.
The Romanian Athenaeum is a concert hall, and Accent Travel & Events can organise conferences for 600 persons and cocktails for up to 500. Both venues are within walking distance from both the Hilton and Radisson Blu Hotels.
When spending money I very quickly realised that the pound goes a long way in Bucharest. You can expect a good meal to certainly cost no more than 35 lei, which at the current exchange rate is no more than £5. The drinks were equally as cheap even in the more up market bars.
I found the night life in Bucharest to be vibrant, friendly and fun. A few of the pubs we visited were The Druken Lord, La Bonita, Shoteria, Laborator de Cocktailuri, to name but a few, but if you want a good dance with a party atmosphere we had smiles all night at a bar called Times. If you want to go to a night club they tend to be on the outskirts of the old town and you will have to get a taxi. Fratelli’s is the place to go and it is a 25 minute ride in a taxi costing around £10.00 to get there.
Taxis are very cheap at 1.39 Lei per km and we did a lot of walking around the town centre; even at night I felt safe.
I really enjoyed a feast at the Caru’ cu Bere – Meaning the beer cart; this restaurant is excellent for large groups, especially with its long tables, warm, medieval feel, Romanian dancing and hearty meals. Due to the inclusivity of the dancers & staff and the laughs that ensue; this venue would be perfect for an ‘ice breaker’ meal, especially for clients who don’t know each other so well. Capacities: 600 pax seating
Crama Domneasca - This quirky and highly traditional restaurant is great for incentives, especially with its fun, Medieval and spooky feel to it, plus underground cellar for large groups. It has space for 110 pax in the main restaurant, 80 in the adjacent function space and 70 in the cellar. This restaurant has a great atmosphere at night, with entertainment in the form of a band and for a more low-key affair; the courtyard is perfect for just a beer or a lunchtime ice breaker!
Curtea Berarilor has a great atmosphere as well as great food and beer. The beer is served in various ways: lined up on a long tray, on a wheel, in big or small pots, or in a bottle. The food is was great, huge servings and the value for money was amazing.
Outside of Bucharest
Certain themes immediately standout such as ' Beauty and Beast' or 'Dracula Man and Myth' showing the adventures of the real Vlad the Impaler / Dracula and his mythical namesake.
Bran Castle is actually a 3 hour drive but you can also use helicopters which are around £1000.00 to take guests there.
PRAHOVA VALLEY / BRAN / TRANSYLVANIA Prahova Valley is well known for the medieval castle of Dracula (built 1377.) It was turned into a summer residence for Queen Mary in 1922. Surrounded by an aura of mystery and legend and perched high atop a 200-foothigh rock, Bran Castle owes its fame to its imposing towers and turrets, as well as to the myth created around Bram Stocker’s Dracula. The Castle is perfect for a half-day of sightseeing and fits well into most incentive programmes. Clearly the Castle is the perfect back-drop for a Halloween inspired event and Accent Travel and Events are well versed in accommodating such requirements.
In summary, with a guided stay in Bucharest you can eat and drink like a king whilst conducting business with ease away from home. I'm already planning my next visit, intending to visit Dracula himself.
This visit was brought to you by our Romanian DMC, Accent Travel & Events DMC
The Land of Fire and Ice
Iceland is a destination like no other. The land of fire and ice has a population of just over 320,00 but in 2016 tourist numbers peaked at just over two million - and with good reason.
Whilst the name itself conjures up images of snow covered mountains and glaciers, there is much more to see, learn and do throughout this country. You can enjoy long summer days of nearly 24 hours’ sunshine, but that is followed by short winter days with only a few hours of daylight.
Iceland is home to some of the largest glaciers in Europe, plus the world’s most active volcanoes and geothermal wonders. Iceland is not your normal European destination and that’s its USP.
I went to learn why Iceland has become a rising destination for meetings, events and incentives, or just for getting away from it all...
Despite its proximity to the Arctic Circle and frosty reputation, average winter temperatures in Iceland are similar New York. However even in summer, temperatures average at around 12 degrees and with much of Iceland's activities based outside, it is best to layer up and be prepared. Iceland is just a three hour flight from London and there is no time difference during the winter and only 1 hour in summer, making it the perfect short-stay getaway.
What to do?
We had a packed itinerary during our three day visit with our DMC Atlantik, beginning with a day exploring the Geysir geothermal area and Gullfoss waterfall, or 'The Golden Circle' as it is often known.
These areas are best explored with a guide, who can explain how these natural phenomena occur, although they are certainly striking enough to be appreciated without.
Incentive delegates can play golf, go skiing, hike the mountains, trek through wilderness, go snowboarding, try whale watching, marvel at geysers (which help generate 99% of the island’s electricity from renewable sources) and last but not least, swim in the spectacular Blue Lagoon and not have to queue for any of it. That’s one advantage of Iceland being one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world.
Here’s our list of things that should make it on to your itinerary:
Geysir Hot Springs
Definitely a site to see with the geyser ‘Strokkur’ erupting every few minutes, shooting columns of piping hot water up to 10m into the sky. It’s a great picture opportunity and naturally occurring, which is now quite rare.
Gullfoss is one of the most visited attractions in Iceland. The views are incredible with the waterfall demonstrating the true power and beauty of untouched nature. The waterfall is located in South Iceland and can be seen as part of the Golden Circle tours. The freshest seafood is another appeal when visiting the southern part of the island.
Snowmobiling on the Glacier
An unforgettable experience! Suit up and ride into the glacier on a snowmobile, where you will encounter the vastness and beauty of the open landscape that is Iceland. Meet your guide at base camp and venture into the wilderness, or opt for an alternative pick-up point such as Reykjavik and extend your tour to incorporate multiple sites.
Into the Glacier
Langjökull Glacier: enjoy walking through man-made ice caves which travel deep into the glacier; these are the only ones in the world of their kind. These are the largest glacier caves in the world at 500m, with the next largest following at only 80m long.
As well as a unique travel experience, areas of the caves have even been excavated to create working meeting and events rooms, with many weddings and receptions having taken place there in recent years. For a completely different viewpoint, we also explored Langjokull on snowmobiles, which can be rented along with a guide, who will take you through the surreal and stunning landscape above the glacier.
Hraunfossar and Barnafoss Waterfalls
The Hraunfossar is a spectacular yet unusual natural wonder as the water flows through the lava in streams to create the waterfall and rapids that descend into the river that is a stunning glassy blue. This was my favourite ‘site’ as the water was so vibrant and full of life.
A short drive from Reykjavik you will find the meeting point where your ATV tour will begin. These self-drive vehicles are great fun, taking you over the lava fields and through the mountain valleys to the sea front.
A trip to Iceland is not complete without a visit to the famous Blue Lagoon. Floating in the mineral rich water is the perfect way to end a trip to Iceland, with an opportunity to try the natural silica mud mask and even enjoy a drink at the swim-up bar. The outdoor spa has been developed so that it is surrounded by the rugged natural landscape and it is an experience not to be missed when visiting the country.
Another activity (although one that is more difficult to plan and which proved elusive during our trip), is seeing the Northern Lights. These are best seen from September to mid late March and a number of companies offer boat trips and excursions to give the ultimate way of experiencing this spectacular light show.
Getting in close encounters with the whales, a whale watching tour with Whale Safari from the old Reykjavík harbour is a fantastic way. They offer amazing tours on RIB boats which accommodate 12 persons each. The RIB boats can not only travel fast, but also approach the whales without disturbing them too much. The season is from 15 April to 31 October.
Where to Stay
Canopy by Hilton
We stayed at the Canopy hotel, which recently opened under the lifestyle brand by Hilton Worldwide. It is ideally located in the centre of Reykjavik at just a short walk from iconic attractions such as Laugavegur (a street known for its shopping), eateries, pubs, Harpa Concert Hall & Convention Centre, as well as Old Reykjavik Harbor, which offers incredible views of Mount Esja and the landmark Hallgrimskirkja Church.
Each Canopy hotel is designed to incorporate the local feel and traditions of the city they are based in. With comfortable accommodation and multiple social areas, Canopy is ideally suited to incentive travellers, but it does offer space to host a small business meeting if required.
For a true taste of rural Iceland, located out in the countryside, 90 minutes north of Reykjavik, the Husafell hotel is the perfect retreat away from the vibrancy of the city. Surrounded by mountain ranges and open stretches of land, the hotel offers tranquillity and an escape for any guest wanting to recuperate after a day of activities in the glacier.
In the hotel you will find the onsite restaurant which offers local cuisines with a modern take (I sampled the BEST vegetable puree soup I have ever eaten). The hotel also has its own geothermal pool which is open throughout the day and evening. Just float and watch the northern lights dance overhead. When staying at this hotel you may also see the Northern lights on average a 3 times a week during the winter months.
Harpa Concert Hall
The Harpa has among others an event space called Björtuloft, distributed over two levels with each section catering to 130 people. The space is typically hired out as one room and divided by a staircase. This is a fantastic space to host a conference followed by dinner, or a dinner and drinks reception, as the lower level also has a terrace space if required for additional networking space.
The space is surrounded by glass and has a beautiful panoramic view over Reykjavik.
Additional exhibition space is also available at the entrance of the conference hall and can then continue to flow alongside the ground floor to first floor stairs.
The venue is one of Reykjavik’s greatest landmarks, located by the picturesque harbour in the city centre and with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the North Atlantic Ocean. Harpa offers conference rooms of various sizes, the largest, Eldborg seats 1,200 guests.
In terms of nightlife, Reykjavik has a lot to offer. Bars are often packed, particularly on weekends, and nobody raises an eyebrow if people start dancing on tables or playing instruments along with the songs. Restaurants and cafes also tend to offer live music, turning into nightclubs as the evening draws on. Although it is easy to stumble into a great bar or pub, with, with many hidden gems, some of the most renowned venues are Kaffibarinn, Hurra, Club Kiki and Olstofan.
Where to entertain your clients or top sales people? Look no further. Here’s our list of the best places to eat....
Unsurprisingly, fish forms a large part of most Icelandic restaurant menus; however lamb is also a popular local dish. Fish and Chips serves hands down the best fish and chips in Reykjavik, the family owned restaurant serves up fresh, sustainably caught fish, fried in airy spelt and barley batter. For a truly Icelandic experience try Frakkar which serves the likes of Minke Whale and Catfish. Vegetarians and vegans will find plenty on the menu at Bergsson Mathus. A particular highlight during our visit was the restaurant at Hotel Husafel, for amazing food in a spectacular setting.
Enjoy truly exquisite cuisine that caters to everyone’s palates in this rustic and comfortable, yet sophisticated underground restaurant; and be entertained by pianists while you dine. The restaurant uses fresh ingredients and flavour combinations that would not be described as traditional, but undeniably they light up all the senses for a truly enjoyable dining experience.
Kolabrautin at Harpa Concert Hall
Traditional Icelandic produce with an Italian flare, Kolabrautin is located on the 4th floor of the Concert Hall with views over the city and ocean. This stunning restaurant is set in a stunning location and offers fine dining for individuals or groups, and is also available on an exclusive hire basis.
If you would like to learn more about Iceland please contact me. Iceland will not disappoint any incentive group but due to being such a popular destination you will need to plan a year in advance.
This visit was brought to you by our DMC, Atlantik DMC
Arinex Australia’s Business Development Manager Katie Beer travelled to Perth in Western Australia to discover firsthand Australia’s ‘new city’ with Crown Hotels and Perth Convention Bureau.
Perth offers a fresh perspective on business events with space for delegates to be inspired, think and connect. Extensive million-dollar infrastructure projects are currently transforming and changing the face of the city, so now is the right time to experience Perth.
We arrived into Perth and took an easy 20-minute transfer to our luxury accommodation, Crown Towers. This stunning hotel has everything under one roof from state-of-the-art conference facilities, acclaimed restaurants and The Enclave which is where you find the lagoon pools… and pool bar.
Crown Towers are set for groups with a private check in area at the Crown Towers lobby, so from arrival guests are made to feel like a VIP.
Today we enjoyed an intimate, roving lunch in one of the hotels suites, and at one of Crown Towers' most exclusive venues with breathtaking views of the city. It was the perfect start to our time in Perth.
We began our evening on a relaxing cruise along the Swan River into Perth city whilst sipping Champagne and taking in Perth's beautiful surrounds. Upon arrival, we were transferred to Lamonts Bishops House. Here we were treated to a private dinner in the open-air courtyard.
The courtyard was elegantly themed with one long table set with bentwood chairs, arrangements of fresh roses and festoon lights overhead. We enjoyed some of Perth’s best produce with local wines to match.
A big day ahead of us we enjoyed the breakfast buffet at Epicurean. This sophisticated open-kitchen dining experience has prime position overlooking the resort's lagoon pools and won’t leave guests feeling hungry. You can’t walk past the restaurant’s chocolate fountain feature without being tempted to take a quick sample of the sweets on offer.
We then worked off our breakfast with a site inspection of Crown Perth. The precinct is home to three iconic hotels, each showcasing unique, yet unified accommodation, with the unsurpassed opulence of Crown Towers, the contemporary luxury of Crown Metropol and the stylish and relaxed Crown Promenade. It was great to see firsthand and there is something for everyone.
Now with our ‘work’ done for the day done, we transferred to South Perth Jetty for a Seaplane Scenic Flight to Rottnest Island. Landing on the Rottnest airstrip we took a luxury transfer to Kingstown Barracks where we met Segway Tours WA. A Segway Tour is the best way to get around and see the entire island and is a whole lot of fun!
We enjoyed a casual ‘Aussie’ lunch with amazing views across the Indian Ocean at Hotel Rottnest. Before departing Rottnest Island, we had some time to seek out the island's adorable Quokka's to capture the famous #quokkaselfie!
Tonight, we dined at some of the Crown’s onsite restaurants including pre-dinner drinks and canapes at Nobu, the world's most recognised Japanese restaurant, followed by dinner at Bistro Guillaume, which offers a menu abundant with French classics and modern, French provincial surroundings with spectacular outdoor views.
We started the day with Breakfast at the Crystal Club Located on level 15 of Crown Towers before heading out to wine country. The Swan Valley is Western Australia's oldest wine region, which sits just 25 minutes' drive from Perth.
First, we took a behind the scenes tour of Mandoon Estate, where we got to learn all about the brewery followed by a private beer tasting. We then walked to Sandalford Estate for a Wine Blending Class where we go the chance to be a wine maker for the afternoon and developed our own personal blend. We spent the rest of the afternoon at Sandalford Estate enjoying a two-course lunch and matching wines.
Tonight’s dinner was top secret! We met in the Crystal Club for pre-dinner drinks as the sun set over Perth's iconic city skyline before we were then escorted to one of Crown Perth’s hidden venues, The Mansions. From the private driveway and gated entrance, to the dramatic double height front door that opens onto the grand two storey foyer, we finished our last night in Perth in absolute luxury.
After exploring the space (Which had once been occupied by Adele and Justin Bieber) we all moved to the large outdoor terrace with an undercover dining area that overlooks the magnificent infinity pool and Perth city skyline. Our own private chef cooked for us in the outdoor kitchen right before our very eyes.
An early start today, it was time to check out and head home. We left with extra luggage, and kilos from the amazing food and drinks, but lots of unforgettable memories!
Arinex - How can we help?
Let us create a bespoke programme to help you stage an unforgettable business event in Western Australia. Reach out to Katie Beer to learn more about this program and other exciting initiatives in the region.
This visit was brought to you by our DMC, Arinex
Welcome to Miami!
In the words of Will Smith; ‘Party in the City where the heat is on, all night on the beach til the break of dawn’......and this is exactly why you must make Miami your next incentive destination!
What springs to mind when you think of Miami? Let me guess; sun, gorgeous white sand beaches, Muscle Beach, Miami Vice, and rollerblading down South Beach? You’re not wrong, but having just had the privilege of experiencing the destination first-hand, I’ve discovered Miami has so more to offer (as an incentive destination) than meets the eye! Here are just some of the many reasons why:
Ocean Drive has the largest concentration of Art-Deco buildings in the world and is about 1.3 miles long. Clevelander is an Art Deco bar on the Drive and offers both entertaining and varied shows at their outside stage, but is famously known for their epic weekend pool parties. Another fun venue is Mango’s, which is renowned for its Caribbean and South American carnival theme and its nightly variety show with acts ranging from Salsa & Merengue to Michael jackson impersonators and dancing bartenders. We went to cocktail heaven in Ocean’s Ten, South Beach, where they make great ‘Lageritas’ that contain two bottles of Corona and frozen Margarita.
Best place to stay?
South Beach is considered to be at the forefront of Miami, with a vast array of hotels, bars, and restaurants all within a stone’s throw away from the white sandy beaches. However, the downtown areas of Brickell and Biscayne, located just 5 minutes away, are fast becoming the new hotspots!
Need a venue with a difference?
You can head to the Wynwood District, the new hub of food and culture in Miami, which offers your guests something very unusual! Wynwood is a local graffiti area where mural artists pay 30K to have their artwork on the walls.
Wynwood 5th Avenue Bar has a cafe, bar, clothing store, sushi bar and live music; and can accommodate 600-1000 people. You can have your own street party with handcrafted cocktails, live music and artisan food trucks.
Or alternatively you could try Wynwood Walls Park; a large graffiti park for the most eclectic backdrops possible, and available for exclusive hire for smaller groups and budgets. Or if you’d simply prefer the authentic Miami experience, time your trip around the Second Saturday Art Walks and hang out at the best street festival in the South.
Nikki Beach is great for brunch or an afternoon / evening of partying and can accommodate 2600 pax for a meal / buffet or 4000-5000 people for drinks. You can also arrange crab racing, or even have a sandcastle built with your client’s logo on, which can be lit up at night.
Pearl is a fabulous nightclub overlooking Nikki Beach which is only open to the public on Sunday nights, it is extremely popular and can hold 450-550 people.
The Versace Mansion’s official name is The Villa Casa Casaurina, and has 11 suites decorated typical Versace style. Giannis Restaurant is a must for a group offering a blend of Italian and Mediterranean food and can hold up to 30 pax exclusively. This hotel definitely has the wow-factor and offers something very different! Ideal for small groups and this is one of the only independent event venues on Ocean Drive.
Fancy sightseeing with a difference? Then head to the Little Havana, which is a group of neighbourhoods with a Cuban influence and with an abundance of Cuban bars and cigar shops.
Explore the rhythmic sounds, rich flavours and thriving centre of Miami’s Cuban community! Experience the authentic hearty cuisine, hand roll your own cigars, and try the freshest coffee; the ‘Café Cubano’.
We stopped at Guantanamera Cuban coffee and cigar shop and were given a talk on handmade cigars. You can even have ‘Cuban Pete’ to escort you around Little Havana and provide real insight into the pastimes and traditions of this colourful heritage.
We also visited the Cubaocho Bar & Art Gallery; an art gallery with a twist, with a true Cuban feel. It has a very relaxed feel with art worth over $2 million dollars hanging on the walls of the bar.
The Ball and Chain is another backstreet Cuban Bar thats was first established in the 1930's as one of the very first nightlife spots in Miami. Ball & Chan has a great atmosphere and hosts regular live acts and shows all day long.
Also located in Little Havana, Maximo Gomez Park a.k.a. Domino Park is a social club where anyone over 55 can come and play dominos; there are around 15 tables where all the locals gather.
Enjoy drinks on the Caribbean Spirit catamaran, which you board from Bayside Marketplace in the downtown area, for a two hour sail and the best sunset you’ve ever seen. Client logos can be displayed on the main body of the Intercontinental Hotel building, which you pass by on the way back in from the cruise. Luxury yachts are also available and would work well for groups of approximately 100 people or more.
Dinner with the Wow factor? Head to the River Yacht Club; a new waterfront restaurant nestled in the heart of the Miami River District. This has a capacity for 2000 pax and is an amazing al fresco restaurant on the river, with a very high quality feel. The restaurant is suitable for both large and small groups and guests can be transferred to the restaurant via Catamaran. Try to book a table on the water’s edge for the best atmosphere.
October usually has the highest rainfall in Miami. Most events need a wet weather back-up. July & August tend to be the cheapest month, but the ideal time to visit is really November to May.
So, put aside your current perceptions of Miami and get in touch to find out how we can create your next and BEST incentive! After all, the lyrical genius Will Smith himself said; ‘ain't no city in the world like this’!
This visit was brought to you by our DMC, The Corporate Experience Company
I had the pleasure of visiting Salzburg for 2 days on an agency Business Development visit with Stephanie Kubik from ROBINSON Resorts (represented by the lovely Kai Schömann at Hotel Republic) and Carina Schuck at our Salzburg represented DMC Weichlein Tours + Incentives, who organised the fabulous ground programme.
Although this tour was to Austria, WEICHLEIN TOURS + INCENTIVES DMC is based in Munich, covering the main cities, such as Heidelberg, Cologne, Stuttgart and the region of Bavaria. Weichlein Tours + Incentives DMC offer personalised arrangements for meetings, conferences, events, incentives and special interest groups including the coordination of transfers, entertainment, onsite staff, exclusive dinner experiences, hotel reservations, multilingual guides and interpreters.
Deep in the heart of Austria, Salzburg has culture like none other with culture and vibrancy to be reckoned with.
Well, what can I say about Salzburg From the moment you arrive you are whisked into sceneries of beauty; and whether you’re a Sound of Music fan or you’re there for the culture and architecture, or just up for sampling some excellent food and drink; there’s something for everyone in Salzburg.
From a MICE perspective, the destination certainly does not disappoint! For example, why not explore Salzburg by horse and cart – a veritable way to sightsee without the boredom factor! Our carriage fitted 8 of us, which is great for a group who wish to bond, or break the ice a little, or another option was a smaller carriage for up to 4 that was open-top and perfect in the warm September weather.
Did you know that the film Knight and Day was filmed here? No? Neither did I, but I’m glad I know now; as being armed with that knowledge could be the difference between your client (who has a passion for movies) booking the destination, or him not booking it.
Other connections to are Red Bull, Mozart and the creator of Ultrasound, though clearly not in that order! I guess you could say that each of these could help to open the destination up to an array of markets; namely Sport, art and pharmaceutical.
After building up an appetite on the sightseeing tour, we were then very fortunate to enjoy lunch overlooking the city at an amazing place called The Stiegkeller. If you’re lucky enough to have an early lunch there, you can sip a beer on the veranda while listening out for the midday war siren that sounds on a daily basis! Their beer sampling options are another great way to unite a group and the restaurant has some lovely fresh, local cuisine on offer as part of their menu. Not to be missed is their amazing pudding (called Nockerl) which is well worth a try!
Although there is a minimum spend at this restaurant, there is no hire fee whatsoever, which means it could be perfect for large groups needing private hire! As well as being able to utilise the amazing, and spacious terrace for an event, groups will find that there are 2 indoor function spaces; the larger of the 2 accommodating up to 250.
So, our DMC did us proud with the quirky transportation and the fantastic restaurant located right in the centre of Salzburg. Now onto the surrounding areas to see what ROBINSON can offer to groups…
The first of the ROBINSON Resorts we had the pleasure of staying at was the ROBINSON Club Ampflwang. One thing that was really refreshing (after transfers of an hour or so) was the arrival drinks; an interesting array of cocktails served outside, literally next to where our bus parked, with the loveliest selection of canapés. They checked us in quickly in to our rooms and how nice to be served by such friendly staff that were more like a caring family?! The Receptionists don’t just work on reception; they wait tables, they entertain guests; they serve food - they do it all; and are the very heart and soul of the hotels. They are each called Roby (followed by their christian name) and we got to know them by name and were made to feel very welcome.
The resort itself is on a few levels, as it’s been built into the beautiful, rolling hills. The bedrooms are very modern with contemporary bathrooms and amenities. Emphasis has really been placed on the ‘outdoors’ vibe; and the resort offers incredible active programmes that change on a weekly basis; with activities like golf, archery, volleyball, hiking & cycling (included) as well as Horse riding (extra).
During the afternoon some of us made the most of our free time resting at the outdoor pool (which was very welcome after our 4am start!) This area is very much a combination of fitness and wellness activities and amenities, all within a very pleasant environment.
In the evening we started out on the Club’s amazing rooftop, enjoying cocktails as the sun went down. This is a relatively new space and clearly perfect for sundowners; and if it was a little warmer maybe a small, intimate dinner. With its ultra-cool lighting, I personally think this would also be a great location for an Ibiza-style, mini white party!
Next, we sampled typical Austrian cuisine as part of their buffet. Everything on offer tasted great, but it was a buffet with a difference, as wine was available on an all-inclusive basis with table service, while you dined in the elegant restaurant.
After dinner we watched the amusing ‘glow-in-the-dark’ show; in which we re-met the ‘cast’ of the show. Remember the guys in reception?! Well, they showcased their other abilities with great passion! Later on we danced in the bar area. Did you know that the ROBINSON Staff have their own dance, in which you must participate, whether you work in the bar or are in MICE Sales?! Which Stephanie so kindly (and of course very proudly) showed us!
For MICE groups the resort have a vast array of meeting rooms (9) overlooking the grounds; and both the huge activity centre and tennis courts can accommodate large functions, such as gala dinners.
This is the biggest club in Austria, as if offers 200 bedrooms in total. In addition, the main restaurant (overlooking the beautiful scenery) can accommodate up to 378 and the indoor theatre can also accommodate 250, meaning that this resort is perfect for large groups!
The next ROBINSON Resort that we had the pleasure of staying at was the ROBINSON Club Amadé – a very different hotel to the previous one. I would say I personally preferred this resort of the two, as I’ve never been skiing before and had always wanted to see a ski-resort type of venue, even out of season. The sceneries are just breathtaking and the hotel is beautiful. We had lunch on arrival and there was so much choice available via the buffet that it was hard not to over-eat; especially knowing we had a hike to participate in afterwards!
After our short uphill hike to an area about 10 minutes walk from the hotel, we found ourselves ready to participate in the Flying Fox, which is not for the faint hearted! This activity is zip lining with a difference – suspended high above a ravine, not only will you zip line from point to point, but you will also need to work as a group to overcome some challenging elements – namely rock climbing (while harnessed of course!) and balancing on cliff ledges! An exhilarating activity offered by the hotel, but I repeat, only for those that have the courage and upper body strength to participate.
During the evening (after we’d all recovered from the crazy Flying Fox activity!) we had dinner in the main buffet restaurant. We were in a separate part of the restaurant to where we had lunch, which felt like our own private dining room; and again, despite any pre-conceived ideas of ‘buffets’; the food was amazing and at each of the live cooking stations it gave the staff members a chance to demonstrate their flair. Each one greeted you as if you were an old friend, which set a really lovely tone for the evening! After dinner we watched the hotel’s ‘Crazy Mix’ Show, and as the title suggest it was crazy, but totally worthwhile and entertaining! We then spent the rest of the evening dancing in their spacious bar and then a visit to their night club, where some of us attempted to hammer nails into some sort of stump while drinking beer! They ‘nailed it’, if you’ll pardon the pun!
And now back to the fundamentals of meetings… If you visit during ski season, then obviously skiing and sledging take over, but if like me you visit out of season there’s still so many fantastic activities to choose from nearby, such as biking, hiking, rafting and football.
In the winter, you automatically get a ski pass included within your stay. What’s more, you can do Sleigh rides from the mountains that overlook the resort – just amazing! Here’s a crazy fact for you; the resort can do artificial snow for groups if it’s out of season; and if you need the hotel exclusively they are very accommodating.
Apparently it is possible to drive cars into the indoor theatre meaning that this property is great for car launches! Capacity-wise Club Amadé has 3 main meeting rooms; and the theatre seats 220 and the main restaurant seats 370, though apparently the preffered optimum group size for an event is around 50 pax.
Here are some other ideas of things you can do within the hotel for groups: Austrian costumed galas, painting workshops, midnight sauna with fruit etc and oils etc, cooking events in the panorama bar plus cut your own herbs from their herb garden. The hotel can also arrange for a private aperitif reception at the pool bar in the early evening and the large sports hall can be carpeted and used for events, plus you can book nightclub exclusively for functions.
In summary ROBINSON Resorts offer quality accommodation and meeting spaces to the MICE Market, but with a difference; being that each of their resorts is so different from the next, so I’m sure it’ll make you want to visit each and every one! They even find out when you’re leaving and ensure to wave you off in style with your country’s flag?! Did you notice that I keep typing in capitals whenever I mention the word ROBINSON?! Well, that’s their branding – so while I say I don’t mean to shout at you, maybe in fact I do, as their hotels definitely give me something to shout about, especially with the proactive approaches and can-do attitudes, friendly staff, and unlimited possibilities for groups.
Last but surely not least, having our DMC Weichlein Tours + Incentives to support them made our fam trip even more memorable! The fact that Munich (where Weichlein are based) is so close to Salzburg makes both destinations so accessible and of course desirable for groups wishing to twin them up.
We didn’t have time to visit the Salzburg salt mines unfortunately, but the DMC can offer this tour to your clients. This is well worth a visit; you can visit just for fun, utilising the mine train and the crazy slides that go through the tunnels; or for a more refined affair it’s a great location for gala dinners! Their expertise doesn’t just stop there though; if it’s Bavarian Olympics you want, or something related to Oktoberfest, then they are your go-to guys!
All in all Salzburg was an intriguing and unique destination to visit, and I wouldn’t hesitate in going back… like tomorrow!
This visit was brought to you by our DMC,
Welcome to Krakow!
Myself & Nikki Mitchell hosted a Business Development Trip to Krakow with Mazurkas DMC Poland.
Arriving at the airport, we took our transfer from the airport to Krakow and a mile down the road we found ourselves stranded in the snow after the bus ‘breaks down’! After around 10 minutes of the driver trying to fix the coach an entire convoy of trabants arrived and we were driven to Stara Zajezdnia Brewery and enjoyed some beer tasting, sampled their awesome cuisine and a had show-round of their adjacent and amazing gala dinner venue.
After lunch we visited a variety of venues that are a must-see, especially for those organising larger groups with conference or gala dinner requirements. We saw Hall F of the Engineering Museum, the Aviation Museum and the EXPO and ICE Krakow Conference & Congress Centre.
That evening we had a dedicated check-in at the Sheraton Krakow Hotel and then some leisure time before our welcome cocktail and hotel presentation. The meeting rooms all had different capacities, making it great for medium sized groups. I liked the open-plan style of the hotel, where the bedrooms all looked over the main bar / restaurant; and we visited this chic little ‘snug’ type bar where we enjoyed cocktails. Also, the hotel had a very cool rooftop bar with awesome views.
Later we walked through the main square of Krakow and then found ourselves at the very quirky Morskie Oko Restaurant for a Polish feast! We proceeded downstairs to an eccentric, log-cabin style room, complete with highland band! The atmosphere in here was electric and it all really brought the group together; and the tapas-style Polish meats and cheeses.
After dinner, we enjoyed the Polish Vodka Academy experience at the Baroque Cocktail Bar & Restaurant. This venue was intriguingly quirky and the staff were helpful and entertaining during this interactive activity. We had a bit too much fun here, but regardless of the early start, we were all eager participants!
Day 2 happened to be THE day for the fun-factor! After breakfast, we discovered the city, the Wawel Royal Castle and the legend of the Dragon by playing some fun games, solving clues and getting creative, while utilising different modes of transport: namely horse and cart, an elongated golf cart / land train and a tram!
We had our very own Pierogi Party lunch, where we learnt how to make the Polish traditional dish at the Kogel-Mogel Restaurant, which is perfect for groups. Also, in terms of creativity, we experienced a stained glass art Workshop at Krakow's Stained Glass Museum making our own little stained glass window.
After a bit of free time we then departed for dinner and went to the trendiest district of Krakow – Kazimierz. I mentioned earlier the different modes of transport; well, transport number 4 a party bus, complete with disco lights, music, a pole for dancing and champagne to toast! This was one crazy experience, but if you have right group with you, you can really start your evening off with a bang!
In Kazimierz we had dinner at the Plac Nowy 1 Restaurant, which was a modern restaurant, serving the craziest ice cream I’d ever tasted – basil flavour! It was also the best ice cream I’d ever had! Our next venue was Le Scandale, which is also well worth a visit and we took part in cocktail making!
Day 3 we visited the Wieliczka Salt Mine where we donned our interesting mining outfits, complete with hardhats and mining lamps! The Salt Mine is a fantastic place to visit and our group took part in mining activities from the days of old. For groups, a visit to the mine is not complete without a tour of the fabulous underground event spaces which would make for the most amazing Gala Dinner Venue.
I’ve constantly mentioned the ‘fun factor’ throughout my above findings but for this next part, I’ll respectively take a moment for reflection…. On this educational trip we had some spare time on day 3 and so opted to visit Auschwitz – I honestly don’t know what to say about this; I mean, how can you describe such a location? The feelings you get walking through are intense and, I guess the best thing to say is you must see if for yourself (your experience will be a different one to anyone else’s). When I got back to the UK I watched The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and it certainly helped even more to put things into perspective.
For our final evening we took a walk to the Old Town for a farewell dinner at Wierzynek Restaurant, the oldest restaurant in Krakow, dating back to XIV century. I thought the main restaurant downstairs was beautiful and opulent, we were lucky to have dinner upstairs in a board-room style room at a long, ornate table overlooking the Square. The food was beautifully presented, tasted wonderful and the service and atmosphere were second to none. Overall an experience I’d totally recommend, especially for high-end groups.
Day 4 We enjoyed breakfast at The Stary Hotel, which is a chic, boutique hotel with simple, perhaps even monastery-style, bedrooms. The hotel had an amazing roof terrace, plus underground cavernous spa. We also viewed two other hotels – Pod Różą and Copernicus. All 3 hotels (similar in style) belong to the LIKUS holding whom apparently have the most luxurious boutique hotels, restaurants and shops throughout the main cities of Poland.
If it’s an intriguing incentive you’re looking to organise, with great value for money then do not discount this awesome destination! Krakow certainly did not disappoint! On the other hand, if you have been briefed with finding great conference options, Krakow could also be ideal. But don’t forget that Warsaw has so much more to offer in the way of conference options, especially in that it has a huge congress centre; and the destination is just a couple hours’ train ride away from Krakow!
This of course does not totally guarantee a successful event – the missing factor is your partner in Poland – our DMC MAZURKAS TRAVEL have proved their understanding of overseas markets and run very much as a hands-on operation and have has successfully developed many conferences and incentives into Poland.
This visit was brought to you by our DMC, Mazurkas DMC Poland
The first thing that strikes you about the island when you arrive, is what calm, relaxed yet efficient people the St. Lucians are. Even the customs officer is polite and everyone seems to take genuine pleasure in making sure you enjoy yourself.
The climate doesn't radically change averaging between 80-90° year round, it rains nearly every night and the sun shines nearly every day, paradise! With enough choice of hotel properties, interesting sightseeing and good restaurants to offer a combination of relaxation and activity to please most, if not all, clients, the idea of a Caribbean paradise is to unwind and recharge your batteries for your return to the UK.
I may be biased, but I feel that the understanding of the needs of our market shown to me by our DMC, Barefoot DMC St. Lucia would make me feel very confident and very relaxed about recommending St. Lucia to even the most demanding client. Enjoy my Destination Update my trip to St. Lucia - Destination Update
This visit was brought to you by our DMC, Barefoot DMC St. Lucia
The warm and welcoming city of Dublin and its beautiful surrounds is home to an amazing range of event spaces, venues, hotels and private dining options not to mention a great infrastructure and world class service and facilities, as well as a great mix of truly unique and unusual spaces and experiences to really give your event, trip or occasion the wow factor.
If it’s hosting a conference or an event or planning a luxury get away or incentive trip and you need an amazing venue in a great location with easy access and a truly memorable experience for your attendees Dublin has you covered!
In a city that has everything to offer and of course that famously renowned Irish hospitality it is easy to see why Dublin is increasingly a top choice for events, business travel, groups, leisure travel and incentives.
When it comes to high end luxury business and leisure travel and events Dublin and Ireland should be top of your list!
Dublin and its surrounds have a wealth of stunning and unique wow factor event spaces perfect for all types of events from conferences and incentives to gala dinners and workshops there is a venue to suite all types, tastes and budgets.
The fantastic EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum located in Dublin’s Docklands, you won’t find leprechauns or pots of gold here, but you’ll discover that what it means to be Irish expanding far beyond the borders of Ireland through the stories of Irish emigrants who became scientists, politicians, poets, artists and even outlaws all over the world.
With their high-tech, interactive exhibitions and impressive galleries and event spaces offering a stunning backdrop for hosting your guests and clients. Catering for up to 800 guests, it’s the ideal location for breakfast briefings, client and staff entertainment, team building, networking and corporate events.
Whether you’re planning an exhibition, product launch, brand activation event, awards ceremony, networking or corporate event, EPIC’s one-of-a-kind, awe-inspiring spaces are sure to impress!
Luxury 5 Star Accommodation
Dublin and Ireland is full of stunning of 5 star luxury accommodation options to really bring a truly special experience to your trip or event from city centre hotel and beautiful resorts to magnificent manors combined with renowned hospitality and world class service and facilities.
Check out the beautiful Carton House, A Fairmont Managed Hotel.
Link : Carton House, A Fairmont Managed Hotel – YouTube
A Luxury resort in Ireland, Carton House re-opened to guests and visitors earlier this month following an extensive restoration and luxury redesign. With more than 75 locations around the globe, Fairmont is known for its grand and awe-inspiring properties, many of which are steeped in history and are a focal point of their local regions. We are sure you will agree that Carton House fits this description perfectly, and our hotel will be the most historic property in the prestigious Fairmont collection.
From the moment you arrive at Carton House, you will discover a guest experience which has been completely reimagined. There are a number of exciting new dining experiences to enjoy including The Morrison Room which has been transformed into a fine dining restaurant and Kathleen’s Kitchen serving a true taste of Ireland with the finest locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. A new bar, The Courtyard Bar will also serve a daily coffee and pastries menu by day with premium spirits, fine wines and cocktails providing guests with an indoor and outdoor destination to relax and unwind.
GOLF like a Pro in Ireland
With world-class courses in some of the most spectacular locations on the planet, Ireland’s credentials are sky-high when it comes to golf. Did you know, that some of the world’s best golfers hail from this fair isle, including Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry, Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell, Paul McGinley and Padraig Harrington?
But that’s not all: the truly great thing about golfing in Ireland is that there’s far more to a golf trip than just the challenge of the fairway! In Ireland, we blend exceptional golfing with wonderful off-the-course experiences.
Link: NBC Golf Channel - You Tube
Amazing activities and attractions
This bold and vibrant city is perfect for an amazing group incentive trip offering a great range of fantastic dining experiences, exhilarating team building activities, high end entertainment and a variety of interactive tour options to give you a truly memorable experience.
Explore the home of Guinness and pull your own pint, walk on the stadium roof at Croke park, learn how to Irish dance, tour a whiskey distillery or try your hand at some GAA sports like Gaelic football or Hurling.
This visit was brought to you by our DMC, Wallace Travel Group
Thank you Panoptic Events for your great blog on our Business Development visit to Belfast.
Belfast possesses an abundance of riches. Beautiful landscapes ~ history & culture ~ world class golf ~ vibrant nightlife ~ great shopping ~ a wonderful modern tourism infrastructure... and offers a warm friendly welcome to a safe destination!
Ireland is made up of fact and fantasy, beautiful countryside, quality city and country hotels, superb cuisine, an amazing choice of drink (there is so much more than just Guinness), extremely hospitable people and as for the fantasy – well, you just can’t believe all the ‘blarney’ you hear, as much as you would like to!
Enjoy a few top ideas for your next event.
1. Take a Trip into the Mystical World of Westeros
Game of Thrones Studio Tour
Be transported from Belfast city, beyond the wall and into the heart of Westeros.
This self guided, immersive experience walks you through each of the 7 kingdoms while you explore the authentic props, costumes, real life sets and earliest ideas and designs. You’ll be lost for words as you get a look into how GOT was brought to life on screen at the authentic filming location of Linen Mill Studios!
The ultimate day out for GOT fans to experience ‘behind the scenes’ of where the magic happened!
2. Journey through the Troubles and the Path to Peace
A History of Terror DC Tour
Learn all about the history of Ireland and Britain as your group is walked through Belfast city centre by an expert guide who brings the ‘Troubles’ to life by telling the chilling stories of the horrific attacks and their own personal experiences.
This tour opens your eyes to a different side of Belfast, giving its guests a deep appreciation for how far the fabulous city has come since the Good Friday peace agreement in 1998. Whilst giving first hand insight into how the dark days of conflict still impact the people of Belfast today.
3. Get Your Hands Dirty With Award-Winning Chefs!
Waterman House Cookery School
This interactive cooking experience is every food lover’s dream! There is something for everyone, from beginners to experts, with over 40 classes to choose from!
Learn how to make classic french style dishes to recreate for your friends and family at home, the class makes gourmet cooking seem easy as you’re taught by award winning expert chefs that are there to give you tips along the way.
Their practical classes are a perfect bonding experience and can be tailored for hosting team building events, corporate events and private classes for celebrations!
4. Explore the Famous Irish Legend!
Giants Causeway Tour
Discover Ireland’s geological wonder, only an hour from Belfast! The Giant’s Causeway was formed almost 60,000 years ago and is made up of over 40,000 huge black columns that tumble down into the sea like stepping stones.
Stand on the cliff edge with the wind in your hair and watch the Gaelic mythology come to life…
legend has it that the Giants Causeway was formed when the Irish giant ‘Fionn mac Cumhaill’, was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant ‘Benandonner’. Fionn accepted the challenge and built the causeway across the North Channel so that the two giants could meet.
5. Discover the Untold Parts of the Titanic’s Story – Where it All Began
This iconic exhibition has been named the world’s leading tourist attraction, it tells the story of the RMS Titanic and was built on the site of the former shipyard, where the famous ship was built.
The building hosts 5 spectacular event spaces for parties of between 200 to 800 people. Each space boasts a unique themed interior inspired by an area of the Titanic, creating a truly memorable experience for your guests!
Room features include; a replica of the Titanic’s famous Grand Staircase and a room in the shape of the captain’s bridge, with floor to ceiling windows along the angular points showcasing views of the slipways below.
6. Get Lost in a Wonderland of Delicacies
Belfast’s Oldest Deli was established in 1897 and has always been a staple in Belfast ever since, it even supplied the Titanic with Olives, cheese and more!
It’s famous within Belfast for being the Aladdin’s Cave of culinary delights, stacked floor to ceiling with fantastic luxury groceries from all around the world alongside the finest and freshest Deli counters including Seafood, Meats and cheeses.
They also have a gourmet Deli Bar. Why not sit out and enjoy a fresh gourmet lunch and then pop across the street to Belfast’s walk-in humidor Cigar World?
7. Tag along with the local Musicians!
Belfast Traditional Music Trail
Dive into the Irish music scene with this truly unique experience, where your group will be guided through cobbled alleyways by professional musicians, on a private pub crawl in some of Belfast’s oldest buildings!
Enjoy a drink at each stop while you soak up the passion of the musicians as they perform for you and walk you through the history of Irish music and instruments. The intimate ‘session’ allows you to ask questions and even get involved in some Irish dancing taught by a professional Irish dancer! It’s good ‘craic’ from start to finish!
8. Steak and Wine in the City
Situated in the heart of Belfast city centre, this Michelin star restaurant uses only the finest ingredients for their mouthwatering steak, succulent chicken and fresh seafood dishes.
The restaurant is renowned for its warm and relaxing atmosphere making it a perfect location for hosting catered events or private dining experiences!
9. Historic Belfast Turned Quirky Modern Beer Garden
The Dirty Onion and Yardbird
The dirty onion is housed in Belfast’s oldest building dating back to 1780, it has been renovated and now includes an indoor pub, a beer garden and an upstairs rotisserie chicken restaurant.
It is a traditional pub with a modern twist, its brick walls and wooden beams keep its historic charm alive while the extensive range of live bands brings the place to life every night. Enjoy a drink in true Irish style – in a relaxed and fun atmosphere, surrounded by captivating live music.
10. Have a Drink and a Dance with the Irish!
Top 3 Bars in Belfast
1. Kelly’s Cellars
Belfast’s Oldest Traditional Bar, live music, traditional music sessions.
2. The Crown Bar
Live Jazz every night, art deco interior, French bistro menu, luxury cocktails.
3. The Dirty Onion
In Belfast’s oldest building, live music, traditional music sessions, huge beer garden (with firepits!)
Top 3 Nightclubs in Belfast
World class DJs, Luxury basement club, VIP booths, members lounge and catacomb vault rooms.
Concerts by world famous acts, Live DJs and bands, a terrace, and Themed club nights.
3. Alibi (Open Friday & Saturday)
Guest Ibiza DJs, Themed nights, fire breathing performances and a terrace.Fancy finding out more about Belfast for your next event?
From the above information it is evident that Belfast succeeds as a Conference and Incentive destination, especially with its fantastic mix of countryside charm versus its city chic contact for help planning your next unique event with the help of Wallace Travel Group.
This visit was brought to you by our DMC, Wallace Travel Group DMC
It’s often said that in Copenhagen they don’t just talk about sustainability, they just do it. It’s so deeply ingrained into their culture and way of life, that it is mostly second nature to them.
The facts more than speak for themselves – ranking 3rd in the Global Destination Sustainability Index, over 70% of the hotels are eco-certified, a lot of the city’s energy is generated from its surrounding wind farms and has one of the most ambitious net zero goals worldwide.
As a destination with such strong sustainability values, we at Zentive had to go and check it out. And as it so happens, we were lucky enough to be invited to the Danish capital by Copenhagen Convention Bureau, Idea Nordic and Destinations Unlimited to experience the gastronomy, festive spirit, and hygge it offers.
Upon arrival, we took a quick train ride straight to the city centre before a short walk to our first stop and Green Key Certified home for the next couple of nights: the Marriott Copenhagen. After dropping off our bags, we were taken up to the seventh floor to visit the Royal Suite overlooking the city where we were greeted by culinary delights and bubbles. A perfect precursor to our upcoming bike tour.
Being one of the world’s most bikeable cities, it only made sense for the group to grab a bike and cycle to our next stop, the 25hours hotel. An unapologetically creative hotel with real character, its meeting rooms are named Style, Opinion, Doubt and ‘F** Everything’, which is often my thought process when deciding what to wear in the morning. The hotel, of course, has a number of sustainable initiatives in place. Some of our favourites include planting a tree if guests skip housekeeping and providing donations to ‘Viva con Agua’, an organisation that supports third world countries in building wells and educating locals.
After cycling back and wrapping up extra warm, we took our trusty two-foot mobiles (we walked) to an out-of-this-world event venue – the Planetarium. It’s a magical venue where you can experience starry skies, galaxies, and planets up close. The star of the show, the recently refurbished Dome theatre, can host up to 282 attendees and is the perfect place to put on immersive meetings, large conferences, corporate parties, or product launches. The new 8K audio system and projectors are second to none, making any presentation a unique experience. After being torn away from the interactive galaxy displays, we were treated to a seven-course sustainable dinner with views of Copenhagen lakes in the Gemini fine dining restaurant. The menus are designed to change with the season, so you always have the absolute best locally sourced ingredients. This also means working closely with local suppliers and producers to ensure that 90% of produce come from Danish farmers. After an evening of indulgence, we rolled our way back to the hotel before having a nightcap and dreamed about all the food we had eaten and the carbon we had saved.
The next morning, we were up early for a spot of winter bathing in the harbour. A tradition sworn by Copenhageners to invigorate the mind, body, and soul, as well as helping to alleviate any hangovers. Casual as it may be for them, it involved a couple near cardiac arrests for our group of Brits, but most of us can now safely say we did it. I must admit it did feel quite good afterwards, especially when we were safe and sound in a sauna and away from the freezing waters of Kalvebod Bølge.
After warming up, we took a quick walk to Villa Copenhagen, a luxury hotel that focuses on conscious hospitality as much as it does wellness. Able to accommodate 1200 people, its main meeting space, Square, and the adjoining eight studios, provide a sense of history and importance when hosting everything from big events, conferences, or intimate meetings. Fun fact: Villa Copenhagen has partnered with sustainable furniture designer Mater and have up-cycled 2.2 tons of ocean waste plastic and turned it into 800 conference chairs.
We then joined BeerWalks on a craft beer walking tour through the city. I know what you’re thinking, that sounds a bit early for a craft beer walking tour? Yep, we thought the same thing. Luckily, our guide Christoffer was so heart-warmingly friendly and the beer so refreshingly tasty, we were soon in high spirits. And before we had a chance to feel hungry again, we were escorted to CPH Cooking Class to learn how to create a Danish Pastry called a Kanelsnurrer (Cinnamon Swirl). Delicious.
One of the many benefits of Copenhagen is that it is very walkable and bikeable. Private transport is rarely needed to move delegates around the city, whether it be between activities during an incentive trip, or from venue to venue throughout a conference or meeting.
Lunch was served at Cap Horn, a traditional Danish restaurant where we were served an organic Christmas lunch of the highest quality. This was finished off with a selection of snaps accompanied by the Danes’ snaps song (if you know, you know). It gave us the perfect boost to move on to our next destination – Moltkes Mansion. This venue offers historical and visually stunning halls which are a perfect surrounding for hosting medium to large-scale events. It is currently in the process of attaining Green Key certification which it hopes to receive in March 2023.
Our afternoon ended at ‘Hjælp din Næste’, a heart-warming organisation who help homeless people during the festive season to experience a warm and friendly Christmas, particularly on Christmas Eve. This can be offered as a CSR activity to groups during the festive period. This is another element that reflects Zentive’s values as we always try to encourage CSR activities during incentive travel programmes. Find out more about our CSR initiatives, here.
In the evening, we took a 10-minute walk to the world-famous Tivoli Gardens where we discovered the luxury Nimb hotel. We were impressed and delighted to hear that by October 2023, all consumed electricity in Tivoli, including Nimb, will be from renewable solar energy, as Tivoli has made an agreement with a local solar producer on Lolland, an island in Denmark. After a tour of the hotel, we experienced a traditional Danish Christmas dinner and drinks with suppliers we met and we’re going to meet from our trip. This was a great way to have more informal conversations about the properties and venues they represented. This culminated in an extended game of pakkeleg, a Danish game involving dice and present stealing, which escalated into a near riot turning the evening even more Christmassy, if that was even possible.
There were no signs of slowing down on our third and final day – we still had a lot to see! Starting off at the new Scandic Spectrum Hotel, which recently opened in June 2022. As with all other Scandic Hotels in Denmark, Scandic Spectrum have the Nordic Swan Ecolabel, and The Organic Bronze Cuisine Label, which means 30-60 % of all the F&B it uses is organic. This is taken up a notch on the 6th floor, where its fine dining restaurant, ‘Ansvar’, serves predominantly plant-based food and has The Organic Silver Cuisine Label, which means 60-90 % of the F&B used is organic. We then walked to Ny Carlsberg Glyptoteket, a stunning museum which offers a great space for gala dinners and welcome receptions.
Hotel Manon Les Suites, part of Guldsmeden Hotels was up next. Described by our guides as one of the most ‘Instagrammable’ hotels in the world, it was easy to see why. It was as if we left the snowy streets of Copenhagen behind us and were transported to the tropical rainforests of Bali. One of the top sustainable hotel brands, Guldsmeden Hotels has been far ahead of the competition, working with sustainability since its beginning in 1999. As long as 12 years ago, they had close to 100% organic F&B, green energy, climate-friendly recycled stationary, bio-degradable cleaning products, sustainable bathroom amenities and more. Now they have a whole host of certifications including Green Globe, The Organic Gold Cuisine Label, Green Key, GoGreen Denmark and more.
It was only inevitable that all this hotel viewing had built up an appetite, so luckily, we made our way over to Torvehallerne, a high-end food market, to taste local produce, straight from the market to table. This is a perfect place to take an incentive group to try delicious cheeses, chutneys and apple wine accompanied with an informative guide who can coherently explain the Danes’ love for food. And while we’re on the topic of food, we then made our way to our final stop for a farewell lunch at the award winning Almanak Restaurant, situated within the Opera House. Fighting back the tears, we enjoyed a delectable meal overlooking stunning views of Copenhagen before saying goodbye.
We knew Copenhagen was going to be a fantastic sustainable destination, but what we discovered was the vast range of activities, hotels, venues, restaurants, transport that were all created with sustainability in mind. We discovered the fun and charm of the local people. We discovered the food made from love. We discovered a home away from home. Copenhagen isn’t just a sustainable event city – it’s the sustainable event capital.
Of all the venues, hotels, and restaurants we visited, nearly all of them had a sustainability policy in place with a detailed list of sustainable initiatives. If you want to know more about any of them, feel free to drop us a message on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Arinex not only have you covered in Australia, but they also plan incentive groups in New Zealand; and Project Manager Sara Halbwirth travelled to Auckland to discover where city style and natural beauty go hand in hand.
Auckland is a world‐class destination; a multi‐cultural city set in a natural paradise – vibrant, modern, and sophisticated and with a lifestyle rated among the world’s very best. From sparkling harbours to native forests, stunning beaches and the tranquil islands of the Hauraki Gulf; Auckland truly has it all.
We arrived into Auckland and transferred to the Cordis, Auckland’s newly refurbished
hotel from Langham Hospitality Group. The rooms are modern, with neutral tones and splashes of colour.
Tonight, we headed 53 floors above Auckland City for a culinary experience in one of the city’s most renowned restaurants - Orbit 360. Orbit offers a modern dining experience in a relaxed environment, with a delicious kiwi-inspired à la carte menu that features the best local and seasonal produce.
By the time we left, satisfied and content, the sun had completely disappeared, and the Southern Lights were sparkling above our heads. The lighting inside was subdued to make the most of the gorgeous 360 view.
With America’s Cup coming to Auckland in 2021 it seemed fitting to get out on the harbour and try our hand at sailing. I took to the helm and tried steering the yacht while the team managed the sails as we skimmed across Auckland’s Waitematā Harbour. But if you don’t feel like getting in with the action it is also lovely to sit back and relax as you sail away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
We disembarked at Waiheke Island and spent the afternoon exploring and wine tasting. Waiheke is a haven of beautiful vineyards, olive groves and beaches; and is acknowledged by Lonely Planet as one of the top five places to visit in the world. Not only was it amazing from below, but also from above as we got to experience a helicopter ride back to Auckland. This is a must for anyone as the views were just spectacular!
Dinner tonight was at the Sugar Club in Auckland’s Sky City for an amazing dinner. Awarded Two Hats in the 2018 Cuisine Good Food Awards, The Sugar Club kitchen focuses on flavours and texture, whilst the dining room and bar are an experiential destination with breath-taking views of Auckland City and the Hauraki Gulf. We enjoyed fine food, creative cocktails in a relaxed and chic atmosphere.
We started the day off at La Cigale & The French Market. Voted Auckland’s Best Food Market by Metro Magazine for the last 8 years, La Cigale French Market is held every Saturday and Sunday.
We found an amazing selection of top-quality products from both New Zealand artisan producers and growers and from overseas. You can buy fresh produce in abundance, fresh breads and pastries hot from our oven, French cheeses, smoked Akaroa salmon, extra virgin olive oils, manuka honey, pâtés and terrines, jams and chutneys… and lots more. And, as in any French Market, the aromas of roasting chickens in the rotisserie and paella cooking waft through the air.
When we finished shopping, we sat at one of long communal tables and enjoyed a coffee with something delicious from one of the counters – our eyes were much bigger than our stomachs!! But it was the perfect energy boost before an afternoon of site inspections.
We finished off our time in Auckland with a dinner at Auckland War Memorial Museum. What a venue! The Grand Foyer was built in 1929 (a time known for grandeur and luxury) and the Grand Foyer's majestic neo-classical design means you'll need little decoration. Beautiful stonework, soaring columns, spectacular stained-glass and led lights create an inspirational backdrop.
The evening wouldn’t be complete without a Haka performance. The haka is the most widely known performance as used by the All Blacks (New Zealand's national rugby team) to challenge their rivals. Today, haka are still used during Māori ceremonies and celebrations to honour guests and show the importance of the occasion.
An early start today, it was time to check out and head home. We left with extra luggage, and kilos from the amazing food and drinks, but lots of unforgettable memories!
Arinex - How can we help?
Let us create a bespoke programme to help you stage an unforgettable business event in Western Australia. Reach out to Katie Beer to learn more about this program and other exciting initiatives in the region.
This visit was brought to you by our DMC, Arinex
I loved Australia! It is a year-round destination which is perfectly suited as an ‘events’ location and can be undertaken within a week. The quality of the hotels, venues and restaurants are second to none making it perfect for groups and high end event programmes.
Sydney is such a diverse, cosmopolitan city with fantastic facilities for meetings, with the largest natural harbour in the world; and of course the Iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House. It is amazing how many different attractions can exist in one city - a harbour, forests, parks, urban areas, the famous Bondi Beach and not forgetting the fun city life with fantastic shopping.
Over Fifty years ago a young Danish architect, dreaming of Bennelong Point, designed a masterpiece which pushed the boundaries of creativity and science and put Sydney on the map forever. Tours can be arranged at the Sydney Opera House for groups and a private Aboriginal performance and talks can be arranged to showcase the history of Aborigines.
Situated in the smallest sail of the Opera House is Bennelong Restaurant, run by Peter Gilmore who has been the enigmatic Executive Chef at Quay restaurant in Sydney for the past 15 years. The different levels within the World Heritage-listed Bennelong, provide the opportunity to offer guests several different function spaces. With The Venue, The Circle dining room and The Table available for exclusive use, Bennelong is arguably one of the most impressive Sydney event venues available today. Exclusive use for 100 seated.
For the ultimate WOW factor for groups, hire the Joan Sutherland Theatre exclusively with a private performance from Opera Australia. The Joan Sutherland Theatre is the second largest venue with seats for more than 1500 guests. It is also the largest proscenium arch theatre with an orchestra pit accommodating up to 70 musicians.
Enjoy this 3½ hours or 1½ hour experience climbing to the top of the world-renowned icon – the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Accompanied by an experienced leader, a small team will cross the catwalk to the pylon and walk up to the summit of the Bridge’s upper arch - 130 metres above sea level. Harnessed to a static line for the duration of the climb, be treated to spectacular 360-degree views across one of the greatest harbours in the world. Number of People Depending on your exact numbers and chosen Climb, we would split your team into groups of 14 people with each group departing every 5-10 minutes.
There is no better way to get up close and personal with the living history and heritage of Sydney than on foot. Explore through hidden narrow alleyways, charming cobbled lanes and into shady courtyards, linger by quaint terrace cottages and visit a gothic church. The Rocks may be Sydney’s oldest neighbourhood, but it’s lost none of its zest for life. Experienced guides will entertain guests with lively tales from the district’s colourful past while encouraging them to enjoy the ambience of the vibrant present. Number of People: The Daily Tour is a maximum of 25 pax or an exclusive tour can be organised for up to 250 people over a day.
Experience the world’s oldest living culture on a guided walking tour of the Gardens where the original inhabitants of Sydney gathered plants, seeds and roots for food and medicine. Also discover how Aborigines produced a honey drink from the Banksia, roasted seeds from the Moreton Bay Chestnut and made fishing line from the bark of the Bolwarra tree. Number of People: For the Aboriginal Heritage Tour there is a maximum of 90 people in a 1.5 hour session time, split into 3 x 30 groups. They can fit as many sessions into a day as you’re comfortable with (within garden open hours), so long as there is a 30-minute break between sessions to allow staff a quick breather
Three of Sydney’s leading tour companies have combined forces to bring the ultimate way to experience all that Sydney has to offer on the back of a Harley Davidson motorbike. Blue Thunder only hires the best riders.
Your group is personally picked up from across Sydney suburbs and large or small groups will be able to experience Sydney together in a team bonding exercise. With the help of Blue Thunder DownUnder, your group will have the ride of your life, or take you where the party or conference is in style. Number of People: Harley Rides would operate for groups of 30, based on the use of use bikes, trikes and side cars, including 3 passengers on the trikes.
Sydney Seaplanes can be used for a scenic flights or a fly/dine experience to allow you to enjoy views over the harbour and Northern beaches and you will fly to award winning restaurants. This experience takes around 4 hours.
Taking off from Rose Bay, it is hard not to be amazed by the Ariel view of Sydney Harbour! Enjoy the stunning sandstone cliffs and when you reach world famous Bondi Beach the pilot will ensure to manoeuvre the aircraft so your group has a great view of the scores of surfers waiting for the next big wave.
From Bondi you head back into the harbour and climb to 1000 feet and then track to the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. On the descent back to Rose Bay the pilot points out the beautiful houses of the rich and famous in the area. You can enjoy a 15-minute or 30-minute scenic flight. Number of People: this can vary from 2-10 depending on the type of plane. Scenic flights would operate for groups of 34 (4 seaplanes).
Our group enjoyed sailing around Sydney harbour and were given the chance to try it themselves. This is a great team building experience for groups of up to 250. Guests transfer to Rushcutters Bay to join the flotilla of yachts waiting to head off across the harbour in the race for the winners’ cup.
Skippers take guests through the safety check before launching the vessels. Guests can partake in as much activity as they would like, or just relax and cheer on the team. Coloured caps identify the teams as they swing around the buoy’s and sail back across the bay.
This is both challenging and great fun, involving plenty of cheering and whistling as the boats creep up to each other and purge through the waterways. Once the winner crosses the line its time for the boats to go back to the jetty and the prizes are handed out – lots of fun and laughter, hand-shakes and pats on the back to the winning team.
An Oz Jet ride is way more than just a jet boat ride. It’s an amazing and unique sightseeing adventure. Red Shark boats adventure begins at Circular Quay in the shadow of the Sydney Opera House. It’s from this historic site, where the first Europeans landed in Australia in 1788. You will come face-to-face with the stunning sights from the world famous Opera House, to Clark and Shark Islands, the harbour-side mansions that are Australia’s most expensive real estate, Taronga Zoo and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. There’s also a thrilling element to the rides - spins, slides, power-break stops and fish-tails, a totally amazing experience! Number of People: there are three boats that each take 23 pax.
Surfing at Bondi Beach
Bondi continue to capture hearts all around the world. Home to Australia’s oldest surf lifesaving club, funky beach vibe bars and restaurants, urban-style shops, hip markets, Lets Go Surfing and Bondi is an experience not to be missed. Australia’s greatest surf experience on Australia’s Greatest Beaches! Awaken the surfer within you during this 2-hour introductory surf lesson. Even if this is your first time around a board, we’ll have you safely up and onto your first wave before you’ve had time to worry about falling off.
The Squires Landing
Australia’s newest James Squire brewhouse located in one of Sydney’s busiest cultural junctions, Circular Quay. Developed in collaboration with Mantle Group Hospitality, The Squire’s Landing tells the legend of James Squire; a convict on the First Fleet but perhaps more importantly, Australia’s first brewer. An upstairs restaurant and a downstairs brewhouse has been architecturally designed and includes phenomenal views of Sydney Harbour. When hired exclusively. The Squires Landing can seat up to 650 guests.
The Australian Hotel was originally located on George Street and opened for business on 12th August 1824, making it the oldest continuously licensed pub in the City of Sydney. When the plague hit Sydney in 1900, many of the buildings were pulled down to prevent further outbreaks, including the Australian Hotel.
The Australian Heritage Hotel still has many of its pre-existing features such as the metal awnings, etched signage and saloon style bar doors and is a great place to enjoy a beer and pizza. The pizza menu is extensive from Kangaroo to the good old Margherita. Capacities: 96 seated and 190 for cocktails
Flying Fish Restaurant and Bar situated at the northern end of Pier 21, Jones Bay Wharf Pyrmont is a spectacular venue to host a range of private or corporate functions or group bookings. With views of Sydney Harbour, Flying Fish has been constructed from this original heritage wharf site The Flying Fish team offers warm, friendly and professional service and can assist with individually tailoring your event exclusively to meet your needs. Capacities 150 seated and 199 for cocktails
Rockpool Bar and Grill
Rockpool will celebrate its 30th birthday in 2019! Over the years it has consistently been highly recommended by food critics throughout Australia and the world. Rockpool’s reputation is due to Neil’s passion for perfection.
Neil Perry is one of Australia’s leading and most influential chefs. Neil’s passion and the importance he places on quality produce are evident in all his dishes and the business projects he undertakes. The numerous awards and accolades won by the restaurants that make up the Rockpool Restaurant Group are a testament to this. Capacities - Various dining spaces in the venue up to 20 guests can be seated for private dining.
Café Sydney captures the essence of Sydney, from its amazing location on the rooftop of Customs House at Circular Quay with spectacular harbour views, delicious food, an outdoor terrace, cocktail lounge and a relaxed, contemporary interior. Cafe Sydney is one of Sydney's most stunning private dining rooms with terrace access and views of the harbour. Capacities 140 pax seated and 325 for cocktails
Doyles on the Beach is located on the promenade of Watsons Bay. Doyle’s family business started in the early 1800s when a small hut was built on the current site to sell freshly caught fish. This later became a small eating room to sell cooked fish before building the business into today’s famous Doyles Restaurant. Capacity 110 pax
A sophisticated urban playground for grownups, Ivy bar is purpose-built to entertain. The Ivy’s world-class design, impeccable service and great food ensure the perfect night. Launched in 2007, it is Sydney’s only rooftop pool bar and has with numerous event spaces.
They Ivy venues include: Palings Kitchen and Bar, Ash St. Cellar, Felix, Uccello, Pool Club, Changeroom, The Royal George; and the events spaces include: ivy ballroom, ivy sunroom, ivy penthouse, The Den and The Terrace; and eleven ivy retailers include: Lorraine’s Patisserie, Brad Ngata Hair Direction, CLEARLY, Elsewear, lululemon athletica, Peter Alexander, The Bottle Shop, The Cupcake Bakery, Tommy Bahama, Zimma Tailors and Suncorp Bank.
Overlooking one of the world’s most stunning harbours, with the central business district and city attractions on its doorstep, is InterContinental Sydney. Built around the heritage-listed 1851 Treasury Building, the hotel is a Sydney landmark, combining unique charm and ambience with the highest levels of facilities.
Located next to the Royal Botanic Gardens and Circular Quay, InterContinental Sydney’s 509 contemporary guest rooms and suites are designed along classical lines - but with a new, urban feel.
Overlooking Sydney Harbour, Four Seasons Hotel Sydney puts guests near the city’s vibrant shopping and business centres. The 531 rooms and suites feature some of the most luxurious interiors in Sydney. The three-level atrium-style lobby is the gateway to the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney experience: award-winning restaurant and bars, comprehensive day spa and fitness centre with sauna and heated outdoor pool and plenty of meeting and function spaces
Outer Reef Cruises
Outer Reef Cruises is a once-in-a-lifetime experience; your group is given the option to dive or snorkel to explore the stunning reef and marine life that the Great Barrier Reef has to offer. Another advantage of the boat is its unique underwater viewing platform and underwater observatory enabling passengers to view marine life. Whatever your group has chosen, it’s a guarantee that you’ll take a lifetime of memories from this living natural wonder. Max capacity 270 guests
Great Barrier Reef Helicopter
Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Helicopters is the one of the largest and most experienced helicopter operators in Tropical North Queensland. We were picked up from the Great Barrier Reef and flown to our hotel; it was an amazing experience travelling over the reef and when we landed at the Sea temple Hotel, canapés and champagne were waiting for us. An experience of a lifetime. Capacity for groups 12 people at any one time.
Flames of the Forest Restaurant is 10 minutes away from Port Douglas and a world away from the everyday.
It is Australia's only rainforest-based unique dining experience; and your unique rainforest adventure comes alive at night combining local produce with the stunning beauty of the surrounding forest! Beside the flames of the bonfire, two local Aborigines play the didgeridoo, pausing to allow guests to listen to the sounds and sights of the living forest around them. Caters for groups 10 to 950 guests for dinner.
At Hartley Lagoon you can tour the wetlands on a boat cruise and also watch a crocodile lunge out of water during pole feeding, as well as view a live demonstration of the crocodile death roll and head shake. For groups, you can arrange for a keeper to talk about the Koala habitat and the group can enjoy time interacting with a Koala. There are various event spaces and you can arrange a fun cocktail function with the Kangaroos for 80 pax.
Pullman Port Douglas Sea Temple Resort and Spa
I really loved this hotel - the Sea Temple is beautifully located on the beachfront of a four-mile beach, just five kilometres from Port Douglas’ Town Centre. It has a large lagoon pool and 194 beautifully detailed guest rooms including studios, 2 and 3-bedroom apartments and villas.
It also features the Sea Temple Golf and Country Club, an internationally recognised 18-hole Links styled course located directly adjacent to the resort along with housing the newest, most luxurious day spa in Port Douglas.
All rooms feature king or queen-sized beds surrounded by sandstone, timber, flowing fabrics and glass combined to create an atmosphere of calm and tranquility. The Pullman also has good Meeting Facilities for groups.
Sheraton Grand Mirage Port Douglas
The Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas is a resort in North Queensland with a four Mile Beach, nestled between two World Heritage listed attractions - The Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. Set on 130 hectares of tropical landscaped gardens, it offers a championship 18-hole golf course, plus 2 hectares of magnificent swimmable saltwater lagoons. The Sheraton Grand Mirage boasts superbly appointed rooms, suites and private villas.
In summary, Australia has the ‘wow’ factor from diving at the Great Barrier Reef with transfers back to the hotel by helicopter via breathtaking rainforests, dinner overlooking Ayers Rock, climbing the Sydney Bridge and Harley Davidson Bike ride around Sydney; these are just a few highlights of this amazing destination.
You can fly from six airports in the UK, and arranging a Visa to Australia, is easy. I cannot wait to go back!
This visit was brought to you by our DMC, Arinex
On arrival at Calgary airport we were greeted by Mounties for a White Hat Ceremony and received a certificate and cowboy hat. Travelling to Banff took around 1 hr 30 minutes and en route we stopped for a beer and visited the Boundary Ranch located in the Kananaskisi Valley. Here many activities can be arranged including a BBQ, Dog Sledging, Horse Riding, or even your own Wild West Rodeo private Show!
Banff is the gateway to the Canadian Rockies, with some of the finest mountain sceneries you’ll find on the planet and you will never tire of the most beautiful views. Throw in outstanding chances to see wildlife (bears and elk in particular), and loads of activities to keep you busy during the day, followed by everything you could dream of for your next events; and you have a great reason to bring your clients here!
Lake Louise is a natural feature that is impossible to describe unless you have been there; the lake is vibrant and turquoise in colour and is surrounded by mountains as well as the Victoria Glacier.
A variety of hiking trails exist around the lake. Some of these trails are open to mountain biking, horse riding and of course you can canoe and kayak on the lake during the summer months. The lake can be used for ice fishing and ice-skating in winter, while the surrounding area offers settings for snowmobiling, dog sledging, snowshoeing and ice climbing.
Calgary is a cosmopolitan Alberta city with numerous skyscrapers and has rapidly grown to become the centre of Canada’s oil industry. However, it’s still steeped in the western culture that earned it the nickname “Cowtown,” evident in the Calgary Stampede, its massive July rodeo and festival that grew out of the farming exhibitions, once presented there. Not forgetting the film Revenant was also filmed there.
Here’s our list of things that should definitely make it on to your itinerary:
Donut tent located 10 minutes from Banff. Great event space for groups and can hold 300 in one tent and 200 in the other. BBQs or buffets can be arranged and you can enjoy an exhilarating Gunfighter Show, Line Dance instruction or First Nations Ceremony Dance to name a few activities. Outside lawn games including Horse shoe throwing, Bocce Ball, giant Jenga, and checkers can also be arranged.
In winter months its total capacity is 500 pax & 1000 pax in the summer, as outside space can be utilised.
Experience a winter adventure! This incredible experience includes a 20 minute heli-tour of the white capped Rockies, a guided back country snowshoe, and a little warm up with Bailey's hot chocolate before hopping back on the heli to base.
Enjoy a helicopter adventure ‘off the beaten track’ and take in the sights & sounds of nature. We flew over Rocky Mountain peaks, enjoying the views of glaciers, rivers, lakes, and waterfalls. After we landed on the top of a mountain we snow-shoed in the middle of the wild backcountry and stopped for a picnic & champagne in the snow an experience I will never forget.
Journey to the top of the Banff Gondola to see a whole new side of Sulphur Mountain and the Canadian Rockies. The mountaintop experience has been completely rebuilt, offering an inspiring ridgetop boardwalk 2900 ft. above Banff complete with new restaurant called Sky Bistro, as well as a 360-degree rooftop observation deck.
I really enjoyed the Segway tour in Calgary taking in the sights along the City’s river. The Segway instructor was excellent and the training session usually takes about 30 minutes. You’ll have the chance to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the river valley. Smaller groups of 8 to 12 pax.
The group enjoyed a fantastic hike through the beautiful Johnston Canyon which is only a short 25-minute scenic drive from the towns of Banff or Lake Louise, Alberta. The creek has cut through the limestone rock to form sheer canyon walls, as well as waterfalls, tunnels, and pools. We were taken on a tour with a great guide from Discover Banff.
We visited the lower falls which are 1.1 kilometres along the trail, taking around 30 minutes. Not to be missed is the short tunnel through the canyon rock to a viewing platform a couple of metres from the falls - just don’t be surprised if you get misted with water! After a photo opportunity we enjoyed hot chocolate and biscuits.
This was one of my favourite days; we spent the afternoon here and we had so much fun. A few of us had ski lessons and after we partied for a few hours in a true Apres Ski style with DJ and the place was buzzing! Unfortunately, we did have to leave although we could have carried on for hours.
Where to Stay?
We stayed at the beautiful Rimrock Resort where it felt like you had just walked into a scene from Narnia with snow scattered across the tree’s but you cannot explain the feeling and beauty of the Rimrock unless you actually stay there.
The Rimrock Resort Hotel is an AAA/CAA Four Diamond and has 343 guest rooms, plus Convention Facilities over 18,000 square feet. The Wildrose Ballroom can accommodate groups of up to 600 and separately into three salons.
An amazing Ski resort 7000 feet above the heart of the Canadian Rockies, if you are looking to hold your event in a Ski Resort. The Sunshine Mountain Lodge is the only ski-in, ski-out hotel in Banff National Park. It offers casual and fine dining, the area’s largest hot tub and they now have new West Wing rooms with in-floor heating, jetted tubs, large-screen HD TVs, all in a rustic mountain theme. They have 84 rooms in total & 24 Waterfall rooms.
Located one minute from downtown Banff is the brand new 4 star hotel property which was finally completed in 2016, the Moose Hotel & Suites. The design of the hotel is Mountain elegance with warm, rich, natural materials. The Hotel features 174 guestrooms, with a combination of one and two Bedroom Suites and hotel rooms. Amenities include the Meadow Spa & pools with 10 treatment rooms and private outdoor hot pool, indoor swimming pool and exercise room on the 3rd floor, and 2 spectacular rooftop hot pools with views of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The largest meeting room is (approx 2,000 sq ft) & Darch Suite (approx. 750 sq ft). After our hotel inspection we enjoyed canapés & drinks in the corner house one of Banff’s original mining dwellings, dating back to the early 1900’s.
Located in the heart of Banff National Park, the world famous Fairmont Banff Springs hotel has 764 guestrooms and is a landmark in the picturesque alpine town of Banff, Alberta. Canada's "Castle in the Rockies", has been providing legendary hospitality for more than 125 years. Fairmont Banff Springs is a year-round luxury mountain resort that offers a championship golf course during the summer, unparalleled skiing in the winter and the award winning European-style Willow Stream Spa. The hotel has more than 76,000 square feet of meeting space for groups between 20 and 900 for meetings. We enjoyed dinner at the hotel’s 1888 Chophouse restaurant and after dinner we had fun in the hotel’s bowling alley which was is a great way of bringing people together.
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise features breathtaking views of Lake Louise, Victoria Glacier and the surrounding Rocky Mountains and is located in Alberta's Banff National Park. It is recognised globally for progressive environmental stewardship and responsible tourism and has a total of 552 rooms and 50 suites, as well as 36,000 sq feet of meeting space.
Many outdoor activities can be arranged, including hiking, canoeing, horseback riding, fishing, mountain biking and river rafting in the summer; downhill skiing and snowboarding, cross-country skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and horse drawn sleigh rides in the winter.
Hotel Art is the ultimate urban escape. Experience a blend of modern luxury in Calgary's boutique-style hotel. Located in downtown Calgary, the heart of the city's emerging arts and entertainment district and just steps from Calgary's business centre, Hotel Arts gives you access to fabulous shopping, theatre, spas, dining, convention facilities and the world-famous Calgary Stampede. Hotel Arts features 185 rooms and suites, each appointed with its own chic contemporary decor.
On each floor the Hotel Arts has original art, from spectacular sculpture to paintings and hand-blown art glass light fixtures.
Hotel Arts recently opened its new 9,500 sq ft ballroom as part of the Arts Complex expansion which will include new retail boutiques.
We enjoyed lunch at the hotel’s Yellow Door Bistro restaurant specialising in bistro-style dishes with modern and seasonal twists.
Where to entertain your clients or top sales personnel? Look no further. Here’s our list of the best places to eat....
Banff’s newest steakhouse promises an “Alberta Beef Experience”. Named after the owner’s dad, Chuck’s sources its wide range of beef (including top grade Canada Prime and wagyu cuts) directly from Alberta farms. Flavour and tenderness is enhanced by the only on-site dry aging room in Banff, grilling over a hardwood and mesquite fire, finishing in an 1800°F broiler and basting in butter. This stylish ranch-inspired saloon and dining room is surrounded with mountain and the Bow River vistas and an open-to-view beef aging room, dark wood panels, a fireplace and large tables for groups.
The only restaurant in Banff with its own distillery in a Canadian National Park (free tours run daily at 3:30 pm) they serve campfire-inspired meals and house-made spirits. Main courses from the wood-fired grill and rotisserie are served on tin platters and patterned crockery; while spirit-infused sauces come in metal camping mugs.
Park Distillery’s contemporary ‘alpine hut’ décor features tree trunk accents, antler lighting fixtures and other outdoorsy touches. Grab a bite to eat at the bar or people watch from windows that (on nice days) completely open onto Banff Avenue. Two patios offer mountain views, and there is a liquor and gift store on-site.
This visit was brought to you by our DMC, CTI Destination Management
Fiji may be known as a quintessential tropical island destination but as a recent educational trip showcased, it is also a place where a luxury escape can support meaningful social and environmental sustainability.
Australasian event management company Arinex hosted seven international incentive representatives on a six-day educational trip covering resort areas on the main island of Viti Levu and nearby private islands.
“Fiji is a destination that excels in ecotourism. It is not only home to some of the world’s leading luxury resorts but also has impressive sustainability initiatives that help maintain the pristine natural environment and support local communities,”
“Our educational trip showed that a luxurious island experience can deliver on the environmental, social and human pillars of sustainability to ensure attendees leave feeling rewarded and rejuvenated but also more knowledgeable about Fiji’s culture, unique ecosystems and the importance of conscious travel.”
Event planners gained insight into traditional Fiji culture with a Sigatoka River Safari tour to one of the local village communities that welcome visitors. They gifted the community with books for the children, received a tour of the village and participated in a kava ceremony before enjoying a lunch of local food along with traditional Fijian singing and dancing.
The sustainability theme continued with an overnight stay at Six Senses Resort on Malolo Island, offering luxury accommodation and a visit to the resort’s Earth Lab. Participants learned about the many sustainability initiatives at the property including the largest off-grid solar system in Fiji that uses Tesla batteries to power the resort and facilities.
Another highlight was a visit to Kokomo Private Island Resort. After arriving by seaplane, the group explored the private villas and residences before Kokomo’s Executive Chef led a tour of the resort’s 5.5-acre farm featuring herbs, fruits, vegetables, bees and free-range chickens.
Participants learned more about Kokomo’s sustainability strategy including coral planting, community support and manta ray conservation. Guided by the resort’s marine biology team, the group snorkelled the Great Astrolabe Reef and came away with a better understanding of how the Kokomo Manta Conservation Project works to protect Fijian mantas.
Also featured on the six-day program with a commitment to both sustainable practices and superior incentive experiences were the Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa, the Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa, and the exclusive private-island Malamala Beach Club.