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luxury incentive trip to Prague's evening tour

Top Luxury Incentive Trips for 2020

Have you been looking for luxury incentive location ideas for 2020? Do you want to get your teams motivated after the Christmas break and create some excitement in the office? Well look no further. We have compiled our top 3 locations that will be sure to have a little something to get everyone focused for the new year – and all within a short flight form the UK!

Tenerife, Spain

Tenerife is the largest of the seven Canary Islands and only a 4-hour flight from London or a 2-hour flight from Madrid. This gorgeous island is known for its sandy beaches, clear waters, an active volcano and colourful coastal towns – the perfect location to be as active or relaxed as you want to be.

With luxury hotels on the beach and old villages with renowned architecture to explore throughout the island, there are endless sightseeing opportunities for all kinds of travellers.

luxury incentive kayaking with dolphins in Tenerife

Top Activities 
  • Private whale-watching tour – spend the day watching pods of whales and dolphins in the wild with a Marine Biologist guide whilst also listening to these beautiful creatures through a hydrophone
  • Volcanic sunset and stargazing picnic – spend an incredible evening watching the sunset on top of Mount Teide Volcano, followed by a private stargazing picnic with Spanish cheese, fruits, meats and wine
  • Snorkelling with dolphins and turtles – take a kayak tour along the Guaza Cliffs with spectacular views of the island and volcano. Along the tour get the opportunity to snorkel in the crystal clear waters.

Lake Como, Italy 

Surrounded by mountains and incredible local culture, Lake Como is known as one of Italy’s most picturesque natural destinations. The scenic towns surrounding the lake are known for their Instagram-quality views, exquisite villas, historic churches, museums and fun lake activities.

Whether you’re looking for a quieter adventure or to have an active holiday, Lake Como has so much to offer for everyone. Lake Como will definitely leave you with that “wow” factor if you’re looking to spoil your top performers.

luxury incentive trip sailing on Lake Como

Top Activities
  • Day tour of Bellagio and Varenna towns – explore the photogenic streets, historic cathedrals, unique shops, magnificent restaurants and different views of the lake
  • Take an Italian cooking class – learn from the masters of pasta with a local cooking class, teaching you to prepare traditional Italian dishes while sipping on wine
  • Boat tour of Lake Como – spend your day in true style with a private sightseeing tour of the lake, discovering unique parts only accessible by boat.

Prague, Czech Republic 

Known best for its bridges and castles, Prague is one of the most intact cities from WWII. With cobbled streets and medieval architecture, Prague will have you feeling as though you have stepped back in time. The historical Old Town Square is filled with colourful architecture, the famous Astronomical clock and places to sample the delicious local cuisine.

luxury incentive trip to Prague

Top Activities  
  • Private day tour of the city – explore everything Prague has to offer from Prague Castle to the Charles Bridge on a private city tour with a local guide
  • Villa Ritcher – dine in style with panoramic views over the city in this restored vineyard and villa
  • Prague Beer and Czech Tapas tour – known for having great nightlife but also famous for their beer, explore local beer halls, microbreweries and the best local restaurants in town.

So, those are our top 3 picks to kick-start your 2020 luxury incentive programme. Whether you want team incentive programmes or individual trips for your best performers, Tenerife, Lake Como and Prague can do it all without a long-distance flight!

We offer simple venue sourcing through to full trip management and even onsite support too. All you have to do is kick-back and enjoy yourself. For more on our bespoke luxury incentive packages, follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter or send us an email hello@sleekevents.co.uk

retreat sign in countryside

Wellness incentives: a must for corporates in today’s stressful work environments

As the new year gets underway, the annual flood of resolutions are doubtless being listed, vision-boarded and embarked upon. Top of the chart for most people will be things related to self-improvement: taking more exercise, eating more healthily and losing weight. But just behind those very common pledges will be ‘reduce stress’, according to the results of a YouGov poll published in December, with women being more likely than men to have it on their list (46% of female respondents versus 31% of males).

And that’s really not surprising. A survey of over 2,000 people commissioned by the mental health charity, Mind, found that work is the most stressful factor in people’s lives, with a third of respondents saying their work life was either ‘very’ or ‘quite’ stressful, making it a bigger worry than financial problems and health.

Those working in large organisations (250+ employees) are almost twice as likely as those in small businesses (under 50 employees) to suffer from work-related stress, depression or anxiety, according to the Health & Safety Executive’s most recent statistics. And, while the percentage of staff self-reporting stress-related conditions may be relatively low – 1% in small businesses, rising to 2% in large organisations – there will be many others who are suffering but don’t report it. So, it’s vital that you, as an employer, recognise this growing issue and make sure your staff know they are valued and appreciated and that there are opportunities for them to periodically decompress.

yoga by a lake

Wellness incentives: a growing trend

We’ve seen a big rise in the number of companies offering wellness incentives – in fact, it’s one of the fastest-growing areas of our business. While some companies already provide free or discounted gym memberships, have healthy snack and refreshment stations in offices and provide ‘chill out’ and creative thinking areas, more and more are also introducing trips and retreats to reward their staff.

These incentives are a mix of relaxation, activity, luxury and strategic sessions, giving employees the chance to socialise with both their peers and management. It gives them space to think creatively and perhaps gain a greater appreciation of those they work with, which tends to translate into better relationships back home in the office.

While wellness incentives can be overseas trips of a lifetime (and we love planning and managing those for our clients!) they don’t have to be that extravagant. Travelling abroad doesn’t have to cost a fortune and there are fantastic locations all across the UK that can host tailor-made experiences, like our team away day at the end of last year.

Sleek retreat

Retreating Sleek-style

In a 2019 survey by Career Cast, being an Events Coordinator was voted the sixth most stressful job, behind firefighter, military personnel, police officer, airline pilot and broadcaster. We know that giving your very best every day can take a lot out of you, mentally and physically, so we decided to recharge Sleek’s batteries by whisking the #dreamteam off to a manor house in Somerset for a long weekend of rural downtime mixed with creative planning and goal setting. Taking the time to relax and enjoy each other’s company away from the office – with plenty of fresh air and good food – gave us the chance to look at our business from a different angle and reward everyone with a few extra luxury treats. The result: we made some really exciting plans for 2020 and came home 100% refreshed. You can read more about what we got up to here.

So, as you make your business resolutions and finalise corporate goals for the year, make sure there’s some consideration of what incentives you can put in place to keep your staff motivated and healthy, with a focused and balanced approach to their work.

It’s not indulgence; it’s investment in your most valuable assets.

team wellness incentives retreat

Top tips for choosing an incentive trip

  1. Set a budget
  2. Decide what you want to achieve
  3. Think about the kind of environment that would help you achieve your desired outcome…

…then give us a call and pick our highly imaginative brains ;)  We’ll put together a few different tailor-made experiences, then all you have to do is choose your favourite!

sleek events luxury incentives

You can read more about our approach to bespoke incentive packages online, follow what we’re up to via Instagram and Twitter and, if you’d like to discuss anything, give us a call on 0208 939 1397 or email hello@sleekevents.co.uk and we’ll get right back to you.

a view of the Northern Lights

Go North for a Luxury Incentive Trip

With Christmas preparations starting to come to the forefront of everyone’s minds, we’re also starting to turn our thoughts to hot new locations for our clients’ next luxury incentive trips. If all your planning of where and how you’ll be rocking around the Christmas tree has left you at a loss for inspiration, fear not! With most choosing to get some winter sun at this time of year (or maybe a countryside adventure if you read our last blog), we instead want to paint a beautiful starry picture of a destination for you to consider this month.

Tromsø, often dubbed as the ‘Gateway to the Arctic’ and the largest city in Northern Norway, has caught our attention for one awe-inspiring reason – The Northern Lights. Created from a collision between electrically-charged particles from the sun that enter the atmosphere of the earth, the dazzling Northern Lights, or Aurora borealis, are at the top of most people’s bucket lists and are truly a once in a lifetime experience.

luxury incentive trip to see the northern lights

When To Go 

It is said that your best chances to see the Northern Lights are from late September until late March, between 6pm and 4am, with around 10pm being the peak time. This means that you could take your group to do other activities during the day, or even squeeze in a half-day meeting before enjoying a delicious dinner of traditional Norwegian cuisine and heading out on a tour later in the evening.

How To Get There

The best way to get to picturesque Tromsø is by plane directly from London. However, if your guests are flying in from all over it may be easier (and cheaper) to fly to Oslo and then hop on a plane to Tromsø from there, as flights to Oslo are more regular. The plane ride to Tromsø from Oslo is just under 2 hours – so you’ll be there in no time. If you fly at night, you may even see the Northern Lights dancing around you in the sky!

See the Northern Lights as you fly to your luxury incentive trip

Where To Stay

As Tromsø is a city, there is no shortage of luxury accommodation options. Try these options below if you’re looking for true high-end Norwegian hospitality.

Clarion Hotel The Edge

Sommarøy Arctic Hotel

Scandic Ishavshotel

Tromso hotels

What To Do

As well as the Northern Lights, there is a plethora of activities you can treat your group to. These are our top 3 activities to whet your appetite for the Great Outdoors!

Husky Sledding – Drive your own team of dogs across the Arctic plains!

Husky sledding

Whale Watching – Jump on a boat with your team and find yourself some Orcas and dolphins

Visit the famous Tromsø Ice Domesvisit (or stay) at the incredible Ice Domes – a hotel made entirely of ice! Even if you don’t stay here, it is open to visitors to have a look around the bedrooms, marvel at the ice sculptures and enjoy a shot or two in the ice bar!

What To Pack

Camera – but don’t focus too much on trying to get the perfect shot. Live in the moment!

Winter warmers – bring your thermals, it’s going to be nippy.

Patience – as it is a natural phenomenon, sometimes it may take a little while for the Aurora borealis to show itself. Be patient – it will be worth the wait!

Positive attitude – be open minded to all the fun activities you can get up to in this snowy paradise and enjoy spending time with your colleagues experiencing a once in a lifetime occurrence. Talk about team building!

team huddle on the ice

So, if you’re looking for an extremely unique, special and high-end trip to ‘wow’ your top performers or favourite clients, then nothing beats the Northern Lights in Tromsø. Let the incredible natural displays speak for themselves and leave your guests feeling inspired, relaxed and ready for Christmas.

We are more than happy to arrange the whole trip for your group from start to finish, and we even offer onsite support too, so you won’t have to worry about a thing. (Plus it means we get to see the Northern Lights too!). For more information on our bespoke luxury incentives packages, get in touch on our social channels or send us an email at hello@sleekevents.co.uk

Happy star-gazing!

Escape to the Country: Sleek luxury incentives edition!

Are you looking for a luxury countryside escape from the city for your clients or employees? Look no further! We have found the perfect incentives location, just a stone’s throw away from London.

Sleek Events hit the road on Friday 1st November (along with some cheesy car songs and lots of sweets) for the 2.5 hour drive to the picturesque village of Frome, Somerset. The purpose of the weekend was both work and play. Packed with strategic sessions, question time, updates from each department but also with plenty of time to relax and enjoy each other’s company. We decided to treat the weekend as if we were on an incentive, gaining insight into the kind of activities we can offer to clients wanting a countryside getaway! Here’s what we got up to…

Day 1 

At around 4pm, we pulled up (after a few minor wrong turns!) to the aptly named Manor, buried deep in country lanes with huge iron gates to welcome us in. As we crunched across the gravel we could only look up in awe at the mansion we would be calling home for the weekend.

luxury incentive location; the manor, frome

We stepped inside and headed into the heart of the house: the kitchen! Our lovely Finance Manager revealed her secret talent of food art – we were welcomed to a glorious spread of meats, cheeses and various other nibbles, alongside several chilled bottles of prosecco.

We spent the afternoon relaxing, exploring the 8-bedroom house (it was a day for getting lost!), unpacking and chatting by the fire about the structure of the weekend to come. We then enjoyed some dinner and spent the evening gin tasting and playing games.

Day 2

Saturday morning was spent in our comfy clothes (including the lovely arrival welcome gift of a cashmere jumper that was laid out on each of our beds) nibbling on croissants, drinking tea and getting stuck into the rugby!

We quickly recovered from the pain of England losing and headed off for showers and to get ready for the morning session. We transformed the Manor’s grand dining room into a fully-equipped meeting room. We began with a company update from our MD & Founder, Jennifer, on new business developments and strategy as well as a reminder of 12-month goals. After a quick break for lunch and a walk around the grounds (another opportunity to get lost!), we began our afternoon session with some department updates including the news of our recent rebrand.

Next was some schedule downtime. It may have been a rest for our brains but not our bodies as the Sleek bootcamp in the Mansion’s gym kicked off! Luckily, this was followed by some time in the hottub before enjoying a three-course meal courtesy of our very own private chefs from The French Kitchen. The meal was to die for and added a taste of luxury to the experience.

The French Kitchen meal

Day 3

As Sunday is traditionally a day of rest, Day 3 took us on an excursion – no lie in for us! We headed to the local market which visits Frome once a month, spending an hour or so browsing the stalls and sampling some of the delicious food on offer.

Sleek team walk in the country

We then drove to the next village of Mells and set off on a gorgeous autumnal walk through the fields, before rewarding all our efforts with an indulgent roast dinner by the fireplace in The Talbot Inn, a local pub. Feeling full and chilled, we headed back to the Manor and had a little more downtime, enjoying an informal fireside chat about our personal goals and reflections.

After a day of indulgence, all we needed were a few nibbles to accompany a film and everyone was ready for an early night – the fresh country air had beaten us all!

Day 4

Waking up on Monday morning was more luxurious than your average start to the week! After a gym session to liven us up, we packed, made some breakfast and then cracked on with our final workshop. We left for London around 12.30pm, making it back in plenty of time time for the school run.

It’s amazing what you can pack into a luxury incentive weekend. Our agenda and mix of activities might have given you an idea for your own getaway or we can create a completely bespoke itinerary to suit you and your clients. Fancy incorporating more outdoor activities? Remember, we say “how?” not “no” at Sleek Events – so we really can arrange the perfect trip for you.

For more information about our incentive packages, drop us an email at hello@sleekevents.co.uk and make sure you follow us on social media to see all the other exciting destinations we visit – it’s a hard job but someone has to do it!

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Croatia incentive destination

Incentive Ideas: An Adriatic Adventure

We’re all familiar with Spain, Portugal and France as holiday destinations – but have you considered Croatia for your next adventure? Croatia has grown hugely in popularity over the last 10 years and is now one of the top destinations for holiday-goers, and we think it’s a great location for incentives too. The crystal-clear waters of the Adriatic Sea, dramatic coastal backdrops, along with exhilarating waterfalls and beautiful architecture will be sure to impress any group whether you’re visiting with your family or work colleagues! We’ve created a handy little snapshot guide of some key Croatian hotspots to inspire you for your next incentive trip or mini break away with family.

Split

Split is the second largest city in Croatia (after Zagreb) and is a great place to start the trip, easily accessible links from all major European cities. Flights from London start from just £65 and take just over 2 hours – so you’ll be soaking up that Mediterannean sun in no time.

The Old Town is a magical maze full of little streets and squares to get lost in. With heavy Roman influences, the tall buildings and narrow walkways are enchanting and reminiscent of the white-washed streets of Italy. Split’s Old Town became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014 and it’s easy to see why – the streets and squares are religiously cleaned so they are beautifully preserved for all their visitors. The town is easily accessible by foot and just a stone’s throw away from the port, which backs onto The Riva – the main street packed with restaurants, bars and shops.

A view through the narrow streets of Split, Croatia for an incentive trip

What to see and do:
  • The Diocletian’s Palace
  • St Domnius Cathedral
  • Marjan Hill – for the best views in town!
  • Plitvice Lakes – a day trip a couple of hours outside Split, but you won’t be disappointed!
  • Bar crawls – Split has some great bars and clubs for those wanting to let their hair down.

Perfect for: Groups who love wandering around discovering tiny little shops and restaurants in a magical maze of historical streets. A true explorer’s paradise!

Hvar

Next on our list is the beautiful coastal port city of Hvar. Easily accessible from Split (a 45-minute catamaran trip costing around £10), the harbour is packed full of luxurious superyachts. This is certainly a place for the rich and famous to park up for a few nights!

The islands surrounding Hvar are equally as beautiful and well worth a visit – but don’t worry if a superyacht is slightly over budget; there are boat tour companies everywhere you turn, so you won’t struggle to find an amazing island tour for your group! A route we would recommend is taking a tour to the Blue Caves (an incredible illuminated cave), Vis, and the Pakleni Islands. These islands are awash with striking coves and hidden beaches with relaxing turquoise water to enjoy a cooling dip. Be careful – you’re not going to want to leave!

A view of some of the smaller boats in Hvar, Croatia for a luxury incentive

What to see and do:
  • The old fort – a leisurely uphill stroll to the top of the historic fort rewards you with the best views across the harbour and islands!
  • Hvar Cathedral
  • Hula Hula Beach – a relaxed beach bar is the perfect place to spend an afternoon soaking up the sun (and maybe a cocktail or two!)
  • Sailing, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, jet skiing and any type of water sport you can imagine! Perfect activities for those seeking a little adrenaline fix.
  • Carpe Diem – for the party animals among the group, this club is on its own island and is a rite of passage for any worthy Hvar traveller!

View of Hvar's port from the fort during a luxury incentive trip

Perfect for: Groups who want to get out on the water and spend a day sailing around some beautiful islands where you can swim and explore some of the most beautiful caves the Adriatic has to offer! Also great for groups who like to have a drink or two and hit the clubs.

Dubrovnik

Last but not least on our whistle-stop tour of Dalmatia, is the beautiful fairytale town of Dubrovnik. Calling all Game of Thrones fans – the old town of Dubrovnik was used as a filming location for many episodes. It’s not hard to see why – as soon as you step inside the city gates you’ll feel like you’ve dropped into a medieval illustration! Similar to Split, Dubrovnik has enchanting narrow streets to get lost in, as well as a square with a fountain, and a picturesque port where you can book tours and boat trips or sample some delicious seafood at one of the waterfront restaurants.

What to see and do:
  • Head to the Buza Bar for sunset – this bar is set dramatically on the side of a cliff and will be one of the best sunsets you’ve ever seen!
  • Hit the Game of Thrones fan pages and find out where it was filmed! There are lots of organised tours and merchandise shops, but if you’re on a budget you could find out where the scenes were filmed and head there on your own steam!
  • Walk around the city walls – for a small charge you can walk around the entire city on the old walls. The walk takes around 2 hours and offers some breathtaking views of the city. Great at to experience as the sun goes down!
  • Visit the beautiful Banje Beach – think sensational cliff scenes with white sand and turquoise water – dreamy!

Perfect for: Game of Thrones fans, city walkers, any group who enjoys wandering around the shops in the morning then relaxing on gorgeous beaches in the afternoon.

Key Croatian facts:

Currency: Kuna (1 GBP = 8.11 HRK)

Typical Cuisine: Grilled fish, meat and vegetables… plus wine!!! Croatia is famous for its delicious wines. There are lots of wine tasting tours – you might even want to take some home with you!

Accessibility: Direct flights available from all major airports to Split, Dubrovnik, Zadar, Zagreb and Pula

Visit their Tourism Board website by clicking here.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the amazing places to visit in Croatia – or all the beaches and activities the Dalmatian country has to offer. We think it’s the perfect place to explore, eat, drink and get a great tan – and it’s extremely instagrammable! Whether it’s for a luxury group incentive trip, a fun trip for your employees or simply a minibreak away with friends or family, Croatia has it all. We can guarantee that you won’t be disappointed!

If you need any help planning your next incentive trip, we can help! From venue sourcing to full trip management, we can take the pressure off so all you need to worry about is what you’re going to pack. And if this whistle-stop tour of Croatia whet your appetite, why not read some of our other incentives blogs – the English seaside or lively Berlin.

Take another look: Dubai

We visited the UAE last year and shared our thoughts on the location for events of all kinds. This time, our marketing coordinator Izzie was invited on an incredible trip by Visit Dubai and Alpha DMC to take a look at Dubai in closer detail.

If you’re looking to take your team, clients or work pals on an amazing incentives trip, then look no further than the up and coming incentives hotspot of Dubai!

Where to stay

When considering a destination for an incentives trip, at the forefront of any #eventprofs mind is that it needs to be fun, educational and, most of all, easy. For this reason, the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel in downtown Dubai could be the perfect place for your group to stay. Located just 15 minutes from the airport, it has luxurious rooms, 3 restaurants, a bar (this bar, called Vault, also gives out 3 free drinks on Mondays for Ladies Night!) on the 78th floor and a large pool area to relax in. They also have great meeting spaces should you wish to squeeze in some strategising!

The Palazzo Versace could also be a great option for high-end groups. With intricate Versace detailing from the shower tiling down to the tea cups and the chair stitching, this hotel is a bit of a novelty and really delivers the wow factor. It has 3 large pools, impressive common areas if individuals want a bit of me time! The food is delicious and you can even do some shopping at the onsite Versace shops.

Another beautiful hotel in the Jumeirah Beach Residences area of Dubai is the impressive Ritz-Carlton. We had a spectacular drinks reception and dinner on the beach here, complete with a warming fire-pit for when it got a little chilly and the most incredible views of the skyline. This would be a really impressive evening for groups who want the beach feel without compromising luxury and great facilities. Simply stunning!

If you are looking to take your groups to have a little evening fun – Wavehouse at Atlantis The Palm is a relaxed diner-style restaurant that serves great food and even has a bowling alley, old school arcade games and a wave machine! Another great excuse to have a little competitive fun!

What to do

If you have a couple of thrill seekers in your group, a trip to the Dubai Autodrome could be just what you need to let your hair down! When you arrive, everyone gets their own tracksuit and helmet before settling in to your go kart and letting loose on the track! An hour on the track is brilliant to unwind and introduce a bit of healthy competition between the group!

Dubai has a really interesting history and culture, and I personally had so many questions about life in this part of the world. If your group also wants to learn about the Emirati culture, taking a visit to the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding is a real eye-opening experience where you can freely ask any questions you may have without fear of judgement or causing offence. The staff there are really open and happy to answer anything, and you can even try your hand at dressing like an Emirati and sample a traditional Arabic breakfast. Following this, you can take a stroll through the Al Fahidi Historical District and the surrounding souks to stock up on some spices or even some gold! Afterwards, be sure to visit the fascinating Etihad Museum to learn about Dubai’s history and the UAE as a whole.

No visit to Dubai would be complete without a trip to the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, which is accessible through the largest shopping mall in the world! Take your group on the world’s fastest lift to the 125th floor to see a spectacular view of Dubai, including the Palm and the surrounding desert outside the city. There is also a hotel and several restaurants inside the Burj Khalifa, so if you really want to impress, a dinner followed by a trip to the top to see Dubai at night would be a really memorable experience for everyone.

Our final incentives activity (but by no means the end of the list) was the incredible Desert Safari by Platinum Heritage. We were picked up in 4x4s and driven just 45 minutes outside the city into the Arabian desert. We were given scarves to protect our heads and then jumped into some vintage open-top Land Rovers for a drive through the beautiful desert. We visited 3 camps Platinum Heritage have available for groups (ranging in price but all beautiful and even with accommodation so you can sleep under the stars!) before arriving at the camp where we spent our evening. Platinum Heritage can arrange an amazing falcon show (the falcon is the national symbol of the UAE) before letting you try some traditional Arabic activities such as camel riding, henna tattoos and shisha. Then, your group can sit down to a delicious traditional dinner of salad, breads and hummus, followed by rice with meats and vegetables with different accompaniments. We even tried some camel, but luckily not the same camel we rode earlier! After dinner, your group can be treated to a traditional Arabic dance with imitation guns, which you can even join in on! They then switch off all the lights in the camp and you can spend some time stargazing – seeing the stars in the Arabian Desert really is something else and can make for a truly memorable end to a jam-packed incentives trip.

This trip taught me so much about what is on offer in Dubai, as well as their culture, cuisine and way of life. As an incentives destination, I would recommend 4 days as the perfect amount of time and really you couldn’t ask for much more on offer – there are incredible activities, luxurious accommodation, delicious food and, of course, don’t forget about the stunning weather! During winter, Dubai enjoys temperatures of around 22 degrees, whereas in summer it can rise up to 45 degrees. If the summer temperatures put you off, be rest assured that there are also so many water-based activities that you will easily be able to cool off. Dubai is a beautiful and intriguing destination which should be on everybody’s bucket list whether it be for business, pleasure, or both!

Christmas in Copenhagen

Did you think Christmas was far behind us? Well, we have one last opportunity to reminisce! It’s no secret that no one does Christmas quite like the Scandinavians. Our marketing and events coordinator, Izzie, was lucky enough to experience a taste of Danish Christmas and the cosiness concept of ‘Hygge’. We caught up with her to get the lowdown on all things Copenhagen!

When I received an exciting invite from the Copenhagen Convention Bureau to fly to Copenhagen for an educational trip, I was practically jumping with excitement. I’d never been to the Danish capital before but had always wanted to visit as I had heard it’s a beautiful fairytale-like city with amazing food and traditions – especially at Christmas.

Nyhavn’s classic example of Copenhagen colour

On the 12th December, I made my way to a private lounge at Heathrow, where I met the other lovely #eventprofs I would be spending the next couple of days with. After a short and comfortable flight, we landed in Copenhagen and were whisked straight away to the jaw-dropping AC Hotel Bella Sky – which is an incredible event space to say the least. We were treated to a beautiful dinner at the rooftop restaurant Sukaiba – the food there is a Danish-Japanese fusion and just to die for! We then headed back to our hotel – the Marriott, which had gorgeous views of Copenhagen across the water.

After a restful night’s sleep, we enjoyed a delicious buffet breakfast before embarking on our extremely well-organised, action-packed day. We were led to a heated boat for a peaceful canal tour, complete with fairy lights and hot chocolate. This included a visit to the iconic Little Mermaid, before eventually stopping at the breathtaking Copenhagen Opera House.This is a beautiful event space and we were treated to an exclusive private performance by Gert Henning Jensen.

Copenhagen Opera House

Next, we were led through the city to Hotel Phoenix, where we had a great time decorating Christmas cookies, before feasting on an exquisite Danish Christmas dinner at the Michelin Star restaurant The Standard. Thankfully, we then had an opportunity to walk off all the food with a charming walking tour through the city courtesy of Hadler DMC, stopping at Amalienborg (the Royal residence), the famous colourful street Nyhavn and other landmarks, before being taken to yet another exciting Christmas craft activity of paper heart making, alongside a warming cup of tea and cookies. A minibus awaited us to whisk us to our final christmas craft activity of the day – candle making at the event venue Oksnehallen which was not just educational; it provided me with a nice homemade christmas present for my mum!

Hotel Phoenix

After some chill time (and a nap) at the hotel, we all got dressed up and headed to the most beautiful Christmas display I have ever seen at Tivoli Gardens. We were served a wonderful traditional Danish dinner here (with lots of wine to boot!) and then left to our own devices to enjoy the park in all its dazzling glory – this took the form of drinking lots of mulled wine (or, as it’s locally known, Glogg) and going on all the rides. Tivoli Gardens should seriously be on everyone’s bucket list – it was absolutely stunning and an evening to remember.

Tivoli Gardens

The following day, we all woke up and walked off the (slightly) fuzzy heads with another walking tour, this time by Copenhagen This Way. This led us to our next site visit at the Skt Petri hotel, which taught us how to make Danish doughnuts, before we then visited one of the most unique hotels I have ever seen – a meat-themed hotel in the meat-packing district. This hotel was actually very beautifully designed and had some great meeting spaces. We were treated to yet more Danish sweet treats here before enjoying some lunch and beers at a local brewery. Our last site visit was the Park Inn Radisson, which has a handy airport location, and involved a mulled wine making activity and treasure hunt.

Park Inn Radisson

One of the things that struck me about this trip is how welcoming everyone was and how much they want to show you their traditions and love of making things cosy, or ‘hygge’. In fact, on arrival at the hotel on the first night, we were presented with our very own ‘Christmas Hygge Kit’, which we added to as we gathered things during the trip. I ended up flying home with everything from tea to a beautiful christmas tree decoration and, of course, lots of treats; thankfully we were given a 23kg baggage allowance! The flight home left me feeling like I wanted to move to Copenhagen – it is without a doubt one of my new favourite cities. It was a simply magical trip and I will most definitely be returning, be it for business or pleasure.

Hadler DMC Cruise

To find out more about destinations for incentives, click through to our incentives page or contact us.

northern light over Reykjavik

48 hours in Reykjavik

Reykjavik is not only difficult to spell but it’s also crazy to get to grips with its extended hours of daylight or lack of it depending on what time of year you visit.

Located just two degrees south of the Arctic Circle, Reykjavik is the world’s northernmost capital city. Its location means that during the winter months the city only gets four hours of sunlight on the shortest day. However, during the longest day in the summer months, when we were visiting, Reykjavik sees almost 24 hours of daylight!

sunset

We had almost 48 hours of daylight to research the best of Reykjavik and the surrounding area for our incentive travel programme, having wrapped up another successful client event in the city.

Here are our top tips to make the most out of a city break in Reykjavik…

ONE

Absolutely hire yourself a car. You’ll find a theme running through this blog – Iceland is expensive. Getting the cheapest travel option from the airport to the city is by bus but, if you value your time, the 1 ½ hour ride is pretty unbearable whilst a taxi will cost you at least €100 – and so your wallet starts to become a lot lighter before you’ve even reached your hotel! Having a car not only gives you the obvious flexibility for sightseeing but it works out significantly cheaper when there is more than one of you travelling together.

TWO

Eating and drinking (and doing most other things) in Iceland is expensive and even more so in the city. Your concierge is likely to offer you the chance to buy a voucher booklet when you check-in – our advice is to go for it! In 48 hours we managed to work our way through our favourite restaurants and bars using these discount vouchers saving us in excess of €200. If you’re with a larger party than just our two average-size tummies, you will save a fortune. We love sushi and didn’t find a bad sushi bar in the whole of our trip.

Discount vouchers

Read more about the voucher booklets on Reykjavik’s Grapevine

Alcohol is so expensive here that we were willing to give it up for the weekend, that’s right, tea-totalling event profs! Of course, that didn’t last for long and here are our two favourite bars we stumbled across. Slippbarinn is part of Icelandair Hotel Reykjavík Marina near Old Harbour, Reykjavik’s first ever cocktail bar and because imported beer is so expensive Kaldi Bar is a great option as they serve several of their own locally-brewed lighter beers.

THREE

The hotels in the city centre are fantastic and great if you’re planning to just spend time walking through the city but, if you plan to go farther afield, we found choosing a hotel on the outskirts much more convenient – and it meant we could park our hire car for free.

Reykjavik Lights hotel

FOUR

If you like horses, this is the destination for you. Did you know there are around 80,000 horses in Iceland with a total population of just over 330,000 people – one horse for nearly one third of the people in Iceland! Whilst the Icelandic horse is a prized breed, don’t be surprised to see horse on the menu in some restaurants.

Icelandic horses

FIVE

Do plenty of research if you’re not visiting via one of our organised, luxury incentive travel programmes. We wanted to fit a couple of tourist destinations into our short visit and were given some great advice by Guide to Iceland. We’d recommend browsing their website before you go to plan in your excursions.

We love a spa like any girl, so were intrigued by the Blue Lagoon tour – apparently one of the 25 wonders of the world. This famous geothermal spa has silica mud under your feet which is said to have healing properties so we smothered it all over us – we have not included a photo for that! You can choose all sorts of premium spa packages but, as this was Erin’s favourite tour she says, “Be aware that you’ll be sharing the facilities with people who don’t mind picking up the bathing robe you’ve paid for!”

You might have noticed our love for a bit of Richmond’s nature on our Instagram so we couldn’t miss out on the whale watching tour run by family-owned tour operator, Elding. We chose to get as close as possible to the action and took a rib tour – this is also the fastest way to get to any wildlife activity. Just bear in mind that it’s extremely chilly, even in the summer months so dress appropriately.

Whale watching tour

SIX

From horses to cats… if you’re more of a cat person then Reykjavik has the country’s first cat cafe – Kattakaffihusid. This isn’t just a cafe where you can take your cat for a saucer of milk, this cafe now hosts 3 homeless cats at a time from the organisation Villikettir and approved guests can give them a forever home. Visit their Facebook page to find out more about their range of tasty cakes and cute kitties looking for a home.

 

SEVEN

We actually found the cat cafe whilst walking in the city to find one of its most well-known landmarks and possibly the most funky church we’ve ever come across, Hallgrímskirkja. Named after the 17th-century clergyman Hallgrímur Pétursson, author of Hymns of the Passion, the church’s impressive stepped, concrete facade is an ode to modernism and a reminder of the Icelandic landscape. It’s well worth a visit and they have a varied programme of concerts on throughout the year.

STUNNING REYKJAVIK

We packed in quite a lot in 48 hours but we also got some time to stop and reflect. My absolute favourite moment of the whole trip was driving round the Golden Circle Tour.

Golden circle tour map

We came round a bend in the road and the landscape opened up in front of us to show the bluest sky I have ever seen. The beautiful scenery around Reykjavik is enough to make anyone stop and feel grounded to the Earth and all of its natural wonders. Definitely worth a place on our incentive travel list.