When planning a successful summer incentive event, there's a huge list of amazing, breath-taking destinations to choose from, giving you lots of ideas for your business event. We look at five summer destinations for 2017, handpicked by our corporate event planners.
1. Sri Lanka – Say hello to stunning picturesque beach views
Hanging like a tear-drop from the southern tip of India, Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) is one of the most beautiful countries in the world known for its natural beauty. From tropical sandy palm-fringed beaches with unspoilt nature and balmy waters, to mountainous land roamed by elephants and leopards as well as cool highlands that grow the country’s famous tea plantations – these are just some of the reasons why you should add Sri Lanka to your travel bucket list! The Venetian merchant traveller and writer Marco Polo once described the country as: “the finest island of its size in the world”.
The Sri Lankan climate is tropical and includes distinct wet and dry seasons throughout the year. The best time to go for beach weather is between January and April or mid-July to September. The country is famed for its spiritual and ancient Buddhist ruins including the 5th-Century citadel ‘Sigiriya’ with its palace and frescoes, plus it’s rich with temples and holds many religious festivals. It’s a place where the original soul of Buddhism still flourishes. The city of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka's ancient capital, also has many ruins dating back more than 2,000 years.
There’s so much for incentive groups to do in Sri Lanka including a ‘turtle hatchery experience’ where you can visit 18 hatcheries found along the Southern coastline to try and spot some of the five different species of marine turtles. Another fantastic activity is a river boat trip along the Madhu River, where you cruise down the stunning lagoon and see hundreds of tiny islands - an idyllic journey with many authentic traditional settings. Watch out for the monkeys eating fruit within the trees or lizards that glide through the water. On an evening cruise you can see local fisherman in their canoes lighting lanterns to attract shellfish into their traps.
With fantastic hospitality as well as spicy food, exotic fruits and sweetmeats found nowhere else in the world, this country is great for groups who want to get involved with culture and take in many stunning picturesque views. It truly is magical.
2. Porto – Enchanting and famous for its port wine
Known for its stately bridges and for producing rich port wine, the vibrant and fascinating Porto is a historical coastal city in Northwest Portugal, offering some amazing sites for your group. Gaze at the beautiful Douro River and have a picnic by the D.Luis I Bridge. Make a visit to the medieval World Heritage Ribeira (riverside) district, where narrow cobbled streets wind past merchants’ houses as well as a great variety of restaurants and cafes; so you and your guests can enjoy some traditional Porto dishes and tapas.
Stroll up the streets of the centre of Porto which are rich in history, legends and architecture such as the magnificent churches and remains of Roman city walls and fortresses. A great place to take guests is the 19th-century ‘Palácio de Bolsa’ in Infante D. Henrique Square (also on the World Heritage Site), which used to be a stock market known as a ‘Stock Exchange Palace’; built in a Neoclassical style to impress potential European investors.
The São Francisco Church in particular is known for its lavish baroque interior with ornate gilded carvings so it’s definitely worth bringing your camera! The Lello Library is also a must-see; regarded as the third most beautiful library in the world and it’s rumoured that J.K. Rowling took her inspiration to write Harry Potter from there.
If you and you guests fancy something more sociable, take advantage of the peak season’s open-air festivals, beach days and alfesco dining. Oh, and don’t forget to visit a port wine cellar! Across the Douro River near the South Bank is ‘Graham’s Port Cellar’, one of the finest port wine producers in all history of port wine. You’ll get an overview of the history of port wine while enjoying a panoramic view of the city.
Porto offers great value for money and there’s an array of venues that would be perfect for a Gala Dinner event, offering a taste of culture and tradition.