Despite the winter weather taking hold a little early this year in the UK, I've been looking abroad to my favourite winter destinations for incentives that work whatever the weather!
Whether you're looking for a short-haul option or something further afield, there are some great destinations that will suit any budget and any group. And just because you're visiting the snowy alps, it doesn't mean you have to ski. There's plenty of activity that won't even involve the ski lift – great for partner programmes where not everyone wants to hit the slopes.
A word of warning though, you'll need to book early to avoid disappointment. Cliché it may be, but ski resorts quickly reach capacity and rates will soar. Larger groups will find it increasingly difficult as the season progresses and you may find you have to split guests across a number of hotels making logistics a lot more complex.
Here are my top three...
My Top Choice
St. Moritz is, without doubt, the best ski destination I've ever worked in. Stunning scenery, excellent skiing and quality hotels make it the perfect choice for the high-end client. My recent experience exceeded expectations, and served only to strengthen my enthusiasm for this destination. St. Moritz does suit clients with a bigger budget, but you definitely get what you pay for and more.On a recent event we ran there, guests flew to Zurich and were transferred to St. Moritz by a chartered Belle Epoque train. Guests dined onboard and were able to soak up the stunning Swiss countryside in luxurious surroundings. They loved it!
St. Moritz also boasts a fantastic choice of high-end hotels which can accommodate groups of all sizes, unlike many other resorts. We chose the Badrutts Palace which offers a relaxed yet traditional setting with service that is second to none. Other excellent hotels in the area include the Kempinski and the Kulm - both of which I would highly recommend.
"As this was a partner programme, and some guests were not skiers, off-the-slope activities were a must! A visit to the spectacular Roseg glacier and sleigh ride around the picturesque frozen lake provided a fabulous opportunity to experience the snowy scenery - no salopettes required!
A Close Contender
Tremblant provides an excellent option for winter sports incentives outside Europe with good flight access particularly with the new Mont Tremblant International Airport, just 30 minutes from the resort or alternatively, fly to Montreal and a 90 minute transfer. The resort itself, a lively pedestrian village, offers good quality hotels, an abundance of nightlife and ski and non-ski activities on the desirable powder snow.
However, this destination is not only perfect for leisure. Tremblant offers 44 flexible meeting spaces with all the equipment you'd need for a mid-sized conference or business meeting.
Currently you'll find availability easier to source at this long-haul destination and prices comparable to event costs in Europe.
Not to be Missed
Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland is a winter destination with a difference and really lends itself to a multitude of non-ski activities that include snow mobiles, reindeer sleigh riding, husky dog sledding, traditional dinner served in an igloo and you can even throw in the Christmas theme with a trip to see Santa! The only downside to this destination is the lack of direct flights, the route goes via Helsinki and the area only offers a 4* hotel product.
Despite this we ran a very successful event there for a financial client who required an event that would deliver an 'experience' rather than just a destination.
The partner programme involved 230 guests, the four-day programme was packed with optional activities as above and finished with a lumberjack-themed farewell dinner and awards ceremony which was held at the traditional Porohovi Lodge – a perfect theme for a chilly destination.
The client loved it too.