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Events

Five summer incentive destination ideas for business events

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.

elephants in Sri Lanka

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.

porto the city of portugal

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3. Dubrovnik – the Pearl of the Adriatic

Situated on the crossroads between central Europe and the Mediterranean is Dubrovnik, a must-see European city of Southern Croatia known as the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’, with stunning beaches that overlook calm blue waters of the Adriatic, wooded peninsulas and the sea strewn Elaphiti Islands. Imagine gentle sea breezes, beautiful sunny days, rare natural beauty and rows of red rooftops set against the deep blue sea.

Considered as one of Europe’s most outstanding cities, Dubrovnik is known for its distinctive charming Old Town that’s packed with aristocratic palazzi, encircled with magnificently huge stone medieval walls that were built in the 16th Century. Its well-preserved buildings and monuments make up the city’s famous history, from the elegant baroque St. Blaise Church to the Renaissance Sponza Palace and Gothic Rector’s Palace, which is now a history museum. Paved with limestone, the pedestrianised Stradun (or Placa) is lined with cafés, shops and restaurants.

There are lots of group activities to do in the city. Explore Dubrovnik by boat or go sea kayaking, marvel at spectacular views in a cable car ride, take part in a city walls experience or simply delight in regional wine and olive oil tasting. Dubrovnik is also a popular filming location. Game of Thrones and Star Wars Episode VIII were both shot there. You can even take a Game of Thrones tour, which is perfect for die-hard fans! Read more here.

city of Dubrovnik

4.     Mauritius – A tropical picturesque paradise with stunning hotels

If you’re looking for a blissful getaway for your guests, Mauritius is the ideal destination! A tropical paradise with lots to do; Mauritius is one of Africa’s wealthiest destinations. Visit the modern capital city Port Louis, a bustling port with a revitalised waterfront and a busy market. The Rivière Noire is perfect for a spot of deep-sea fishing and the bustling ‘Flic en Flac’ is very popular with scuba divers. A full-day cruise to ‘Ile aux Cerfs’, where you can enjoy lunch, drinks, waterfalls and snorkelling, is also a great day out as part of an incentive activity.

Known for its varied flora and fauna, Mauritius has many species native to the island. The ‘La Vanille Nature Park’ is definitely worth a visit where you can see crocodiles and giant tortoises. It’s a conservation of nature and the welfare of animals in a magical setting. You can even take a tour where you’ll be able to see what Mauritius was like hundreds of years ago.

Another beautiful place to visit is the ‘Pamplemousses Botanical Garden’ or the ‘Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden’ - the oldest botanical garden in the Southern Hemisphere.

Dine out at the eco-touristic ‘Varangue Sur Morne’ restaurant. There’s a spectacular view over the mountainous areas and it’s furnished with rustic tables and chairs made from used Mahogany Railway Sleepers and Palissandre. The restaurant even has its own helipad to give that extra VIP feel to your event!

There’s an array of stunning hotels across the island that offer the ultimate luxury accommodation for your event.

Mauritius and turtles

5.    Saint Lucia – A picture perfect paradise

Ahhh…the taste of the Caribbean! Saint Lucia is a truly awe-inspiring, secluded, upmarket sovereign island country in the Eastern Caribbean Sea. The island is known for its luxurious resorts that drip colour and flair as well as scenic and tranquil waterfalls, forests, volcanic beaches and fishing villages.

The north boasts modern comforts and sandy bays, whereas the south of the island is rich with old plantations, hidden beaches and the geologic wonder of the stunning, photogenic volcanic spires called the Pitons that rise out of the ocean.

Explore the island of Saint Lucia by taking a tropical jeep safari in an open top 4x4 vehicle. You’ll travel through banana plantations, fishing villages and even the rainforest, as you’re guided through the island’s history. Short stops are made at picturesque viewing points. The journey continues to ‘Southfriere’ to see the majestic Pitons and to experience a rejuvenating mud bath in rich black mineral water, heated by the volcano itself! Enjoy a delicious lunch at a local restaurant nestled in the island’s tropical garden setting. To finish off the island tour, a stop is made at the beautiful ‘Torialle Waterfall’ – wow!

Other amazing activities to arrange for groups include whale and dolphin watching, sea kayaking and as rum is the spirit of St. Lucia – a ‘Rhythm of Rum’ tour. There’s even a ‘Hotel Chocolat’ working plantation in the ‘Rabot Estate’ where you can get involved in chocolate making called a ‘Tree-to-bar experience’. You and your guests walk through the estate’s cocoa groves selecting ripe cocoa pods to harvest from the tree, and then you make your own chocolate bar! The tour includes looking at a cocoa seedling nursery, the fermenting room and sun-drying station followed by grinding, mixing and lots of tasting! Perfect for chocoholics!

Our events specialists recommend staying in a luxurious natural harbour resort that is two-thirds of the way up St Lucia’s west facing coast; a narrow inlet that is sheltered by densely forested hills that slope into still emerald water with a density of yachts. The novelist James Michener considers this to be an extraordinary natural harbour with the most beautiful anchorage in the Caribbean. The exclusive Capella Marigot Bay also features elegant accommodation. Imagine fine dining and a world class spa. The marina has a real community feel to it offering chic shops and buzzing bars. St Lucia has an 'off season' where it isn't great to visit between June to October (UK summer time) due to the hurricane season which means very humid, wet weather. It would definitely be worthwhile planning an incentive trip around that!

St Lucia and volcanoes

Are you planning a short haul city break for your group? Or thinking about somewhere more exotic like the sandy beaches of the Caribbean? Talk to our corporate event planners, who can help you create the ultimate, unforgettable incentive event for your group.

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