We gave eight DMCs in eight of our favourite destinations the same brief and challenged them to come up with an enticing proposition to showcase the best of what’s on offer.
Our trusty partners were tasked with devising a short incentive programme for 20 couples. Our imaginary group were looking for a couple of activities to take part in, as well as some exciting new options for drinks and dinner.
Proposals are on the table for Sicily, the Algarve, Paris, the Côte d’Azur, Provence, Amsterdam, Mallorca and Prague. Here’s what the DMCs proposed, but which is your favourite?
#1 Sicily & Club Med Cefalù, by Studio ITER
The crystal-clear waters around Sicily have to be seen to be believed, so Studio ITER propose a morning of sailing out to the nearby volcanic Aeolian islands. With all that sea air, stomachs will be rumbling so once back on dry land it’s time to hit the kitchens in the old town of Cefalù where they’ll learn how to make Arancino, a typical Sicilian street food of fried rice. Afterwards, the sportier members of the group can jump on quad bikes for an excursion out to the spectacular Madonie Nature Reserve whilst those who wish to relax can hit the spa at the Club Med or sign up for inclusive sporting activities such as SUP or kayaking. Topped off with an evening of fine dining in the resort’s Palazzo Gourmet Lounge.
Studio ITER are represented in the UK by STAR Your World
#2 The Algarve & Club Med da Balaia, by TA DMC Portugal
The Algarve is also famous for its beautiful beaches, so TA DMC Portugal recommend a morning of exploring its dramatic coastline on board catamarans. There’s an open bar service, so this is a really fun morning where the group can relax and get to know one another. After a quick pit-stop for lunch at the Club Med, our group will head out in jeeps for a half day of exploring the countryside and some local specialities. Did you know Cliff Richard owns a vineyard in the Algarve? Well, he does, and that’s where our group are heading next to taste a selection of Cliff’s white, red and rosé wines. By now, this well-oiled day is beginning to feel like we’re all going on a summer holiday, and what better way to wrap up the day than sundowners by the beach followed by a seafood dinner by the water’s edge.
TA DMC Portugal are represented in the UK by STAR Your World
#3 Paris & Maison Astor Paris, by Ikebana
It’s hard to ignore France’s world-beating cuisine when you visit Paris, so the team from Ikebana propose a very foodie itinerary. And rather than just learning how to cook, our group will have to hit the markets first to buy all the ingredients they need to prepare their own lunch. Hopefully it will be délicieux, but in case they can’t handle the heat of the kitchen, Ikebana will have no problem getting our group a table for dinner at the world-famous Buddha Bar, or other top restaurants such as Manko or Maison Blanche. This proposal is action packed (would you expect anything less in one of the world’s most exciting cities?), with our group taking part in urban street art, learning how to fashion hats and also escaping the city out to the famous Palace of Versailles, without which a trip to Paris is pretty incomplete.
Ikebana are represented in the UK by DMC Advantage
#4 Côte d’Azur & Hôtel la Pérouse, by Raising Stones
A morning exploring the winding streets of the old town is a must when visiting Nice. Handily, Hôtel La Pérouse is right next door so there’s just enough time to drop your bags before heading out en ville aboard Segways. After a hearty lunch of Socca (washed down with some delicious Côtes de Provence, for sure), it’s time to head back to the Promenade des Anglais where our group will find a fleet of iconic Citroën 2CV cars waiting for them. Hopefully they can handle driving on the wrong side of the road, because they’ll be heading out along the coast and up into the mountains behind Nice. This trip includes a couple of stops to play pétanque (boules), and create their own perfume at the world capital of perfumeries that is the town of Grasse. A bit of free time back at the hotel before dinner at Le Plongeoir, a truly unique restaurant that’s located on a pillar of rock in the sea, and at the base of a vintage diving board. Has to be seen!
For more information about Raising Stones, visit www.raising-stones-events.com
#5 Provence & Le Mas des Herbes Blanches, by Team Nature
Blessed with its own helipad, a helicopter is the best way to arrive or depart the luxurious Le Mas des Herbes Blanches. So after a quick check in at the hotel, Team Nature will have our group up in the air, whisking them up and above the rolling Luberon Valley and over to the ancient hilltop town of Gordes that sits clinging to the rocks more than 300m above the plains. For lunch, there’s a quick transfer to the cookery school at La Mirande in Avignon, and at the right time of the year this involves our group foraging for truffles before learning all about how to prepare this valuable delicacy. Afterwards, it’s time to head off to Château de Beaucastel which is one of the largest wine estates in the nearby Chateauneuf-du-Pape region. There’ll be plenty of opportunity for the group to familiarise themselves with the 13 different grape varieties that are cultivated here, before heading back to the hotel to snooze it off in the sun, grab a few lengths in the pool or make the most of the incredible spa with its endless views of the Provençal countryside. After an exhausting day, our group will appreciate a relaxing 6-course tasting menu with paired wines on the hotel’s terrace.
#6 Amsterdam & Apollo Hotel Amsterdam, by Performance Travel
Fingers crossed that our group have a head for heights, because at the end of an action packed morning in Amsterdam that involves whizzing around the city on e-choppers and lunch in a 100-year old warehouse, Performance Travel will literally be pushing our group over the edge at the 19-storey ADAM Tower. But those brave enough to take part will be rewarded with an incredible 360-degree panorama of the city. Performance Travel have put a strong focus on sustainability, with a trip to an artisan furniture workshop where all the pieces are fashioned from recycled plastic as well as a visit to some cutting-edge sustainable homes made from cardboard. After a quick freshen-up back at the Apollo Amsterdam and drinks in the hotel’s brilliant Harbour Club bar, it’s time to head over to the brand new WesterVilla restaurant that opened last October; it’s set amongst the greenery of the city’s Westerpark, and being close to the city, it’s easy to head back in to town to experience Amsterdam’s famous nightlife.
Want to know more? Performance Travel are represented in the UK by DMC Advantage
#7 Mallorca & Lindner Golf Resort Portals Nous, by Voqin’
The Lindner Golf Resort in Portals Nous is just 15 minutes from Palma Airport, meaning that within an hour or so of touching down on Mallorca, our group can be checked in, bags dropped and ready to go. Following a morning of exploring the turquoise bay of Palma on board a catamaran (with optional ocean dips), our group get all aboard the iconic vintage train that runs from Palma Station up to Soller, where it’s time for a lazy lunch in the sun at Sa Figuera. Later, our group will be going underground (25 metres underground to be specific) at the famous Drach caves near the town of Porto Cristo. After a tour of the famous caves, Voqin will lay on a special private concert where the acoustics must be heard to be believed. There’s just enough time to freshen up back at the hotel, before hitting some of Palma’s hottest spots, starting with dinner at the trendy hangout Purobeach Palma.
Want to know more? Voqin are represented in the UK by GMC – Global Marketing Connections
#8 Prague & Lindner Hotel Prague Castle, by AIM International
Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in Central Europe, and AIM International have an itinerary to show it all off! First up, and after check-in at the Lindner Hotel Prague Castle, our group will be buckling up behind the wheels of a fleet of vintage Skoda cars that will whisk them out to the countryside for a competitive rally ending up at Zbiroh Castle for lunch. In the afternoon, there’s time to relax on a two-hour cruise along the Danube that takes in the city’s most famous sites and after a quick freshen-up at the hotel, it’s time to work up an appetite with a beer tour around the city’s famous drinking halls. For dinner, AIM recommend Ginger & Fred on top of the famous Dancing House, or for something more traditional U Fleku that has its own brewery (just in case our group haven’t already drunk enough Czech beer). The next day, it’s out to the nearby National Park where our group will compete to find treasures hidden in the forest before heading back to the UK.
Want to know more? AIM International are represented in the UK by Destinations Unlimited