When in Rome…

When in Rome…..

According to legend, Rome was founded in 753 BC by twin sons Romulus and Remus who were raised by a giant she-wolf. The symbol of the two boys kneeling under her belly suckling can be seen repeatedly when wondering the quaint cobble stoned streets. It’s history is rich in stories of struggle and triumph, from the Iron Age Hut Village from where it has its humble roots, through the rise and fall of the Roman republic then Empire, to where it is today… a beautifully Romantic bucket list destination boasting astounding architectural design with buildings dating back to the mid-15th century where for over 200 years, was embellished by the greatest artists of the Renaissance and the Baroque eras.

 

As an Incentive destination Rome flaunts a variety of superb hotels and must do activities. With some careful and personalised planning, early visits to the Vatican and Colosseum by-pass the regular tourist crowds providing a more exclusive insight into the depth of history and the influence of Christianity and the Roman Catholic Church. Vespa & Segway tours and Gelato making workshops indulge participants into the every-day life of the Italian culture engrossed by “la dolce vita”, a culture focused on high fashion, good fresh food and remarkable red wine.

  

On our second evening, participants were invited to take part in a pasta making workshop set under the shade of Olive trees in the family owned Santa Benedetta Wine Estate. A charismatic wine maker and his animated wife made for perfect ingredients to what can only be described as a comical, stomach crunching laughable experience. The evening ended with a mouth-watering display of traditional Italian food.

Peru

Peru has a complex and diverse history which is both difficult to understand and explain, dating back to 3000 years B.C. it’s history has a had a significant influence on its current way of life and culture.

Being in the Business Events Industry we often have the privilege and pleasure of visiting beautiful and historic destinations. Places that often don’t get featured on personal “bucket lists” as they seem unreachable or unaffordable. Peru is perhaps such a place that we have recently been able to experience and it has certainly lived up to its reputation as a “must see” destination. From the more recent mid 15th Century Spanish Christian and Jesuit architecture in Lima and Cusco a visitor can clearly see the impact of religion on a destination and how it has influenced and changed the people through the centuries.

It’s older history however is even more enlightening and curious with stories of the Norte Chico Civilisation (one of the six oldest in the world) and how they explored and concurred. Other highly established civilisations developed in Peru from around 3000 B.C. including the Chavin, Nazca, Moche, Chimu, Wari, Chachpoyas, Paracas and the most recent and more globally known the Inca’s.

Throughout the centuries many studies and theories have been developed around the Inca’s and most curiously around their architecture and construction methods. Buildings that even in today’s modern world with earth moving machinery would shave been highly challenging, the Inca’s seemed to achieve with mere muscle, stone and no mortar. Massive archaeological structures in Lima, Cusco and even more magical Machu Picchu have drawn students and tourists to seek out the hidden possible truths around how and why these sites had been built, and more mysteriously, abandoned.

New York City Event

Probably one of the most sought after Cities’ on the top of many travellers bucket list, New York lives up to all sorts of exciting expectations. From the hub which is a mix of a “Sandton City Mall” crossed with a first world underground train station, a visit to Grand Central makes for a great start to get you into the excited vibrant energy that exudes from the city’s core.

Even ordering a New York Bagel there is seemingly limitless choices always prepared to order extremely quickly, New Yorkers as friendly as they are, are in a hurry. It’s a fast paced city that looks like a scene from the latest Spiderman movie mixed with a designer fashion show. While Yellow cabs zoom past on the steamy streets, keep your eyes open for the latest blockbuster being filmed.

New York has always been home to many celebrities and any true New Yorker will be able to point out where a famous Sex In The City scene or Friends episode was shot, or that multi-million dollar apartment that Madonna once owned. A visit to Central Park is not complete without seeing Strawberry Fields a tribute to John Lennon while a busking entertainer performs some of his acclaimed songs.

A recent trip with an incentive group had us crossing all the highlights and included a brunch cruise on the Atlantica around Ellis and Liberty Islands with the magnificent backdrop being provided by Lady Liberty herself and the famous BMW bridges (Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg). Trips to Chelsea Piers, The Highline, The Intrepid Space Museum Aircraft Carrier, Theatre District and 911 Memorial made us realise that if there is one thing you will take home with you, is that Americans (and especially in New York) are a proud and very patriotic people. Almost every hotel, museum or building of significant history has a tapestry of the stars and stripes. Larger than life flags will leave no doubt of the destination and culture that you have come to experience.

   

Mauritius Event

We recently operated a combined conference & leisure programme for a telecommunications company, which took place on the North-West Coast of the beautiful island of Mauritius.

The event was held at the Westin Turtle Bay Resort & Spa which is positioned in a protected marine park in the historic Balaklava area of the island.

  

The resort offers ample facilities including 4 meeting rooms, 2 swimming pools, a beach, 5 restaurants, a bar, a spa and a fitness centre as well as an array of water and land based activities, all of which provide the perfect opportunity to incorporate business with leisure.

The programme began with an exclusive welcome dinner at Mystique Beach & Bar located on the resort premises. Delegates where welcomed by traditional Sega dancers on arrival at the venue, and entertained by a 3 piece Mauritian acoustic band during dinner. The menu included seafood favorites along with international dishes.

  

The conference began the next morning and was followed by a relaxed sunset catamaran cruise off the coast of the well known seaside village, Grand-Baie. Energetic music and local drinks where enjoyed during sunset as the catamaran’s moved gently over the clear waters of the Indian Ocean. This was followed by a delicious Mauritian barbecue dinner onboard the catamarans.

Once the second day of the conference had concluded successfully , we departed on a tour of the West coast which was the highlight of the trip. The tour allowed participants to delve into the culture and history of the island which included a walk through the cobblestone streets of Port Louis with a local food tasting, a visit to Pamplemousses Botanical Gardens and a tour and rum tasting at L’Aventure du Sucre museum, which was a working rum distillery.

That evening an authentic Indian farewell dinner was enjoyed at Kangan restaurant  whilst being entertained by the tranquil sounds of a Tabla & Sitar duo, a pleasant and relaxed ending to an all round successful event.

London, England

London is an amazing  world class city with an incredible vibe and pulse.

Tradition and ceremony abound, with truly fascinating history on just about every block.  2018 London sees classical  and modern architecture sit side by side dominating the impressive skyline.

The Tower of London,  Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, seeing the the winding Thames River and the numerous bridges  from the London Eye, are just a few of the features which stand out as must see experiences for the first time visitor.

Cuisine is at the cutting edge of global trends with a wide range of options tantalising the taste buds across the price spectrum. The Granary at Kings Cross, which as an area has enjoyed a recent rejuvination, was outstanding on this visit.

The West End shows are  a personal favourite and there is something which appeals to each and every taste, from the classics like the Mousetrap, to musicals like Phantom of The Opera, then the modern spectaculars like Harry Potter.  Not to mention the world famous Comedy Store which is an icon in Leicester Square, showcasing some of the finest stand up comedy you will ever see.

Sport in the captial is incredible and for Cricket, Football and Rugby Union fans you are spoilt for choice. On this recent trip we saw a West London Derby between Fulham and Queens Park Rangers, which had an incredible atmopsphere with hilarious football chants and songs from start to finish. This on the same day England met Ireland on St Patricks day in a Rugby Union encounter at nearby Twickenham.

Someone once said “if you are bored with London, you are bored with life” there really is so much to do and experience the challenge is leaving out what not to do rather than selecting what you want to do.

Seychelles

Seychelles, a tropical paradise located on the east coast of Africa, home to an archipelago of 115 smaller islands and some of the world’s rarest animals! The commercial hub, also their capital is the city of Victoria which is within easy reach of the picturesque Avani Barbarons Seychelles Resort and Spa.

Nested in a cove, this 124 bedroomed resort has so much to offer including 3 versatile conference venues accommodating between 8 to 110 pax, dependent on the seating style and staging requirements.

On the doorstep to the Indian Ocean, Tamarind offers authentic dishes in an exclusive setting whilst Elements Restaurant serves a daily buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner in a more relaxed environment. The poolside terrace which overflows into the lounge / lobby encapsulates a holistic experience with all day informal dining.

For groups, pre-dinner drinks can be enjoyed on your private rooftop terrace whilst the sun sets over the horizon and the crystal clear waters and idyllic beach are mere metres away. Our welcome / gala dinner was an outdoor affair, a breathtaking location on the beach with a live local band / DJ to entertain.

Popular with locals and recently launched, TGA club is the latest hotspot hangout! Offsite activities are limitless and range from catamaran cruises, nature walks and scuba diving to snorkeling, ziplining and island hopping for the more adventurous.

New York City

New York is indeed a fascinating fast paced city. An eclectic blend of diverse cultures and a rich history of “rags to riches success stories” have created a buzz and vibe that truly sets it apart.

A recent site inspection to this magnificent city spoiled us with visits to historical landmarks. A city where “if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere” can only be the platform for a spectacular incentive trip and with its vast variety of beautiful venues, leaving us in a difficult position of which venues “not to select” from the spectacular options on offer.

 

From an old banking hall with a superhero undertone in its name “Gotham Hall”, to restaurants overlooking the bustle of Grand Central Station, to “Top of the Rock” rooftop venues on the Rockefeller Centre, planning has commenced and the programme is shaping up for what we are sure will be a well received and fantastic reward for many of the already well travelled top achievers. “Lady Liberty” we are on our way!

 

Mauritius

We have just returned from a trip to Mauritius and stayed on the West coast of the island which meant that every day ended with a breathtaking sunset over the ocean. Although Mauritius is undoubtedly a tropical paradise, the island has much more to offer than just beautiful beaches.

The cuisine in Mauritius is heaven for the seafood lover. The dishes where influenced by Indian, French, European and Chinese cuisine but many of the dishes are unique to the island.

The capital of Mauritius, Port Louis which is the country’s political, cultural and economical centre was great for local cuisine and bargain shopping with hundreds of stalls selling Mauritian souvenirs, local delicacies and of course, Mauritian rum!

Pamplemousses Botanical Gardens is one of the main attractions of the island.  We were taken on an informative guided tour through the gardens which not only boasts rare and magnificent plant species like the giant water lily, but also showcased several fascinating bird species.

The lavish estate, Château de Labourdonnais sits amongst the magnificent orchards in Mapou and offers intriguing excursions as well as an impressive venue for events. The lush gardens with hundred-year old trees, endemic plants and orchards with tropical fruits is absolutely spectacular. The tour ended with a tasting of the estates own locally crafted rum.

A firm favourite with every one of our small group and the highlight of the trip was swimming with the dolphins. Swimming with pods of wild spinner dolphins was a massively rewarding and therapeutic experience which will never be forgotten. This was followed by a boat trip to the stunning island of L’ile aux Benitiers where we had a barbeque lunch and some leisure time to explore the lagoons and coral reefs around the island.

From beginning to end, the Mauritian people showed sincere warmth and hospitality.

 

Spectacular Zambia

With all that Southern Africa has to offer it’s not always easy to stand out as a top contender. If Zambia Victoria Falls with its natural heritage and spectacular landscapes, including one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, isn’t enough, some extraordinary activities and experiences should leave you with a lifetime of exceptional memories.

The Royal Livingstone Anatnara Hotel has easily got to have one of the best sun-set locations in the world, on the deck overlooking the top of the Victoria Falls. Guests gather as if in a spiritual ritual daily and sit memorized by its tranquil beauty.

If you prefer the sunset from different angle, we invite you to join us on the Royal Livingstone Express train onto the Victoria Falls bridge. The initial brain child of Cecil John Rhodes, the significance of visiting the bridge and the “Cape to Cairo railway scheme” will see you fulfil Rhodes dream of “crossing the Zambezi River on a train, where as they pass, will catch the spray of the Falls”.

Munich, Germany

Having just returned from an amazing trip to Munich and the surrounding area, the incentive product surpassed our expectations and by a distance too.

The history, cuisine and culture of the Bavarian people, amazing technology on show at BMW, top quality hotels and the magnificent scenery. Not to forget the Olympic Tower  at 198 m high as well as the tranquil Tegernsee lake with the Alps as a backdrop all combine to create a full and exceptional programme.

The sunny warm weather was perfect and the late sunsets a treat, especially when enjoyed in one of the many Beer Gardens in the city.

Our DMC Conference and Touring were brilliant, they display the efficiency Germany is renowned for but do it in such a personable and fun way.

It is easy to twin Munich with Austria and the Central European location allows for easy extension trips to a host of major European cities. My own personal favourite (which I am saving for doing on my next group) is one of the good value for money River Cruises Conference and Touring are famous for.