The Ultimate Incentive Idea Guide

Insurance Conference Planner September/October 2001

Sail the Christina O

It is arguably the world’s most opulent yacht, and now it’savailable for corporate groups. When Aristotle Onassis purchasedthe former Christina in 1954, he turned itinto a floating palace that hosted some of the world’s most famouspoliticians and movie stars. Recently revamped for more than $50million, the re-christened Christina O canaccommodate 36 passengers in 18 luxurious staterooms, plus theOnassis Suite. Each stateroom has all the comforts of home -and more – including Venetian linens, mirrored walk-inclosets, and surround-sound stereo systems with DVD and CD players.The 325-foot-long ship also includes Ari’s Bar [where John F.Kennedy first met Sir Winston Churchill in 1957]; an elegantfireplace lounge; a swimming pool whose bottom rises above thewater to become a dance floor; a spa and fitness center; and themain dining room, library, music lounge, show lounge, andchildren’s playroom. It accommodates parties of up to 100 peopleinside and 250 outside.

Christina O will sail the Mediterraneanin summer and the Caribbean in winter, and is available for privatecharters. Contact Tauk World Discovery at [800] 465-2825 or go tofor more information.
– Regina Baraban

Up and Away

Space tourism may well be the next big thing in adventuretravel. Last spring, Dennis Tito became the first private citizento travel on an orbital flight. He won’t be the last. Book now for2005, when Space Adventures, the space travel company in Arlington,Va., that orchestrated Tito’s flight, plans to roll out its firstpassenger suborbital space flights on “reusable launchvehicles.” Participants will attend a four-day flightpreparation and training program to perfect such things as theirzero-gravity skills and space flight safety procedures, and thenembark on a 30 to 150 minute journey to the weightless regionsbeyond the pull of earth’s gravity.

Space Adventure programs currently available include flights tothe edge of space in the world’s fastest aircraft, zero-gravityflights, space shuttle launch tours, and educational tours to theworld’s major space and astronomy facilities. For more information,call [888] 857-7223 or go to .
– Regina Baraban

Raft with the Los Angeles Philharmonic

What makes Bill Dvorak’s “Classical Music RiverJourney” different from the typical rafting adventure is theaddition of several members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, whoserenade participants with the music of Bach, Beethoven, Ravel, andthe company founder’s distant cousin, Dvorak.

The trips can accommodate up to 25 people and typically takeseven or eight days on either the Dolores River in SouthwestColorado or the Green River in eastern Utah. Four or more concertsare scheduled during the program, including a formal concertfinale. In addition, there are side excursions to Anasazi ruins,wildlife viewing, and hiking. Itineraries can be customized forgroups.

“The concert halls are the acoustically rich stages of theslickrock canyons and caverns located along each river, or anopen-air stage nestled among ponderosa pine and Douglas fir,”says a spokesperson for the company. For more information, e-mail or go to .
– Regina Baraban


Would you believe that in the past 25 years, more than twomillion people in Western countries have walked over hot coals of1,200 to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit without burning their feet? Sosays Twain Harte, Calif.,-based authority Tolly Burkan, who hastrained hundreds of instructors and corporate groups in the art andscience of firewalking.

The question is: Why risk it? “Firewalking motivatespeople to take an active role in reaching their life and careergoals,” says Marnie Craig, a former meeting planner turnedcertified firewalking instructor in Hamilton, Mont. “Theexperience gives them tools to help overcome their fears. It isalso tremendous for teambuilding because of the strong bonding thattakes place among the participants. They walk away feelingenergized, exhilarated, and excited about things they werepreviously afraid of.”

While people are typically terrified at the start, all of thehundreds who have participated in Craig’s workshops have gonethrough with the firewalk. She says the ideal size group is 25people in an unpaved outdoor setting, because [unlike concrete] theearth absorbs the heat. Her sessions usually run four to fivehours, beginning with discussions on the creative process andtransforming fear, and ending with practical instruction on how towalk across the coals. E-mail Craig at for moreinformation.

Burkan offers a two-hour seminar for corporate groups calledHigh Tech Fire. He stresses the importance of working with aninstructor certified by the Firewalking Institute of Research andEducation.

For more information e-mail Burkan at or go to .
– Regina Baraban

Rent a Town

For rent: one quaint Bermuda town, complete with Old Worldcharm, historic landmarks, stocks and pillory, friendly taverns,cobblestone lanes, period entertainment, town crier. Large groupswelcome.

St. George’s, Bermuda’s historic first capital, is underconsideration for World Heritage Site status. Groups can use thetown as a real-life “set” for any number oftraditionally Bermudian activities, like pub crawls or candlelighttours of narrow lanes escorted by the town crier. Various 17th and18th century landmarks such as St. Peter’s Church, Tucker House,and the Town Hall are available for private parties. And what morefitting setting for a Bermudian cocktail party than the Deliverance, a replica of a ship built by thesurvivors of a 1609 wreck?

For more information, contact the Bermuda Department of Tourismat [800] 223-6106, ext. 213, or go to .
– Megan Rowe

Get Real

Now you can experience the drama of the Survivor television series firsthand.

The Official Survivor Tour from the Adventure Company Australia,based in Cairns, is set in the same towns where the series wastaped. Billed as an “adventure tour,” the eight-dayprogram includes guided camping, biking, canoeing, and hiking inAustralia’s Queensland territory. On the seventh day, participantsconduct a tribal council and select the individual most likely tosurvive.

Los Angeles-based Reality Incentives offers an eight-day stay onan island in northwest Fiji for up to 24 participants. Split intotwo teams, group members are equipped with a survivor pack thatincludes bedding, some food, utensils, and other essentials formanaging a week on a tropical island. Guided by locals,participants try their hand at rappelling, a ropes course,navigation using a compass, exploring underwater caves, andsurvival techniques. The natives teach the group about Fijianculture, including how to catch fish and locate edible plants.

“What we see when they come out of the week is a groupthat is molded more strongly together and that becomes more unitedwhen they get back to the work environment,” says Max Kruse,vice president of sales for Reality Incentives.
– Megan Rowe

Commune With the David

No work of art reflects the splendor of Florence, Italy, morevividly than Michelangelo’s David. Theenormous statue resides in the city’s Galleria dell’Accademia: It’sthe crown jewel at the end of a long entrance hallway lined withfour other Michelangelo sculptures. “The David is whateveryone goes to look at, but they usually have to wait hours inline,” says Barry Wolpa, vice president, field promotions andcommunications, GE Financial Assurance in San Rafael, Calif. Whenhe brought his annual Leading Producers incentive program toFlorence, Wolpa could think of nothing more special than treatingthe 236 attendees to a private cocktail reception at the foot ofMichelangelo’s masterpiece.

Enter Giuseppe Lepri, president of Florence-based destinationmanagement company Newtours, a member of Global Events Partners. Inorder to take over the space for a corporate group, Lepri neededpermission from both the Italian government and the museum’sdirector. He set up an event which “people will talk aboutforever,” says Wolpa. Qualifiers and their guests sippedchampagne and nibbled on elegant hors d’eouvres in the longentrance hall, then were welcomed to David’s rotunda by a duo ofharpists. After ample time to explore the rest of the museum, theysat down at the foot of the statue for a 20-minute lecture onMichelangelo by a local university professor.

“Everyone was awestruck by the experience of having aprivate party with the David,” saysWolpa.

For more information, e-mail Newtours’ Lepri at .
– Regina Baraban

Live Like Royalty

Anyone can check into a hotel, but only a privileged few canindulge in the lifestyles of the rich and famous. So says GregoryLee Patrick of Tours of Enchantment, a Houston-based internationalincentive house.

Patrick has a roster of roughly 750 private chateaus, castles,and mansions throughout the world not available for public rental.He staffs them with waiters who place satin pillows under ladies’feet when they dine, and famous restaurant chefs who cook gourmetcuisine. A one-to-one staff-to-client ratio ensures that acustomer’s every whim will be met.

“Imagine that as your attendees are sipping cocktailsaround the pool, they watch the 2000 Olympics aquatic balletperform,” says Patrick. “And that’s a minor event.”

If your qualifiers live in a major metropolitan city, theprogram can start 10 days prior to the trip, with 24-hour personalconcierge service for everything from expert packing to taking thedog to the kennel.

Some estates can accommodate up to 60 people; large groups cantake over multiple homes in a given setting.

For more information, you can call [800] 949-3732, e-mail , or go to .
– Regina Baraban

Ride the Blue Train

Any interest in a once-in-a-lifetime incentive experience? Ifso, South Africa’s Blue Train may be just the ticket. After anovernight stay in one of Cape Town’s luxury hotels, groups transferto Cape Town Central Train Station and enter the Blue Train’sspecial VIP lounge.

Once aboard, each passenger is directed to one of 32 deluxesuites or six luxury suites. As the train pulls out of the station,the butler comes by to explain the suite’s amenities, includingtelevision, telephone, air conditioner, and [in the luxury suites]CD and video players. All suites come with private baths withgold-plated fixtures.

There is one butler assigned to every four suites, and he isavailable 24 hours a day for just about anything. While his guestsare at dinner, he prepares the suite for a comfortable night’ssleep. And what a dinner! Even the most casually clothed gentlemenare eager to don the required jacket and tie for the privilege ofdining at Blue Train Business Manager Kishore Seegoolam’s tables,where local oysters and game are served on bone china and SouthAfrica’s finest wines are poured into cut crystal.

For incentive groups wishing to do business while traveling, theobservation car, offering panoramic views of the passing landscapeas the train travels along its journey, can be converted into aconference or meeting venue for up to 25 guests. A dedicatedon-board conference facilitator is available throughout thejourney. It may be hard, however, to concentrate on business at abreakfast meeting while the gold and diamond mines of Kimberlyglide by the window. For more information, go to .
– David Erickson

Get Your Sea Legs

Incentive attendees can have a great time learning to sail- and also come away with skills that will help them excel inthe workplace.

The Offshore Sailing School integrates sailing lessons,exercises, and races into incentive programs. To help novicesailors get their sea legs, the school uses specially designedteaching boats that won’t capsize or sink and that allow theinstructor to take control.

Teams of four or five take turns working the sails or skipperingthe 26-foot vessels out of one of several ports that includeCaptiva Island, Fla.; the Florida Keys; St. Petersburg, Fla.;Tortola, the British Virgin Islands; Newport, R.I.; LibertyLanding, N.J.; Chelsea Piers, N.Y.; Stamford, Conn.; andChicago.

Doris Colgate, who co-owns the school with her husband, Steve,says more corporate groups are opting for an at-sea experiencebecause it is not as physically demanding as some teambuildingactivities can be. “Anybody at any age can get on asailboat.”

For more information, call [800] 454-1700 or go to .
– Megan Rowe

Take Over the Hotel

The basis for a great incentive travel program is this: Giveyour qualifiers a fantastic experience to brag about when they getback – and make sure it’s an experience that they could neverbuy off the shelf.

When Dick Gaeta of Premier Incentives of Marlboro, Mass., lockedin the 208-room Hotel Europe Killarney in Ireland a year and a halfin advance for top producers of Boston-based CGU Insurance, privacywas a key attraction. “Guests don’t have to worry about goinginto areas they shouldn’t; they feel like the resort is theirhome,” he says.

When guests checked in, they had a reception in achandelier-lighted tent in front of the hotel on Killarney Lake. Afireworks display over the water showed the company logo in a burstof color and light. After the reception, attendees boarded boats infront of the hotel for an evening cruise around the lake. “Itwould have been difficult to put the company’s tent on property andhave the docks filled with our boats if there were other guests inthe hotel,” says Gaeta.

Some properties are more amenable to takeovers than others. Hereis a list of major chain properties that groups can buy out intheir entirety. Of course, if you don’t see the one you want, itnever hurts to ask. National sales office numbers are included, andguest room counts are in parentheses.
– Jennifer Juergens

Hilton Hotels Corp.

[800] 321-3232
Hilton Lake Lanier Islands Resort, Georgia [216]; Pointe HiltonResorts, Phoenix [563-suite Squaw Peak, 585-suite Tapatio CliffsResort]; Hilton Waikoloa Village, Big Island, Hawaii [1,240];Hilton Lake Placid Resort, New York [179]

Hyatt Hotels & Resorts

[800] 543-1818
Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa [815]; Hyatt Regency GrandCypress [750]; Hyatt Regency Cerromar Beach [506]; Hyatt RegencyScottsdale Resort [493]; Hyatt Regency Lake Las Vegas [496]

Loews Hotels

[212] 521-2000
Loews Coronado Bay Resort, San Diego [440]; Loews Le Concorde,Quebec City [424]; Loews Miami Beach Hotel [800]; LoewsPhiladelphia Hotel [585]; Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, Tucson[398]; Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Orlando [750]; Hard Rock Hotel,Orlando [650]

Marriott Hotels, Resorts and Suites

[800] 626-3614
Marriott Orlando World Center Resort & Convention Center[1,503]; Lodge at Sonoma – A Renaissance Resort & Spa[180]

Sonesta Hotels & Resorts

[800] 477-4556
Sonesta Beach Resort Key Biscayne [290]; Sonesta Beach ResortBermuda [400]; Sonesta Beach Resort & Villas Anguilla [100];Aruba Sonesta Beach Resort [556]

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide

[800] 325-3535
Westin Rio Mar Beach Resort & Casino, Puerto Rico [694]; WestinLa Cantera Resort, San Antonio [508]; Wyndham International Hotels& Resorts [800] 996-4016; The Boulders Resort, Carefree, Ariz.[160 plus 50 villas]; Wyndham El Conquistador, Las Croabas, PuertoRico [918, plus 90 casitas]; Carmel Valley Ranch, Carmel, Calif.[144]

Copyright 2001 by PRIMEDIA Business Magazines & Media Inc.
“All Rights Reserved”

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