By Karen Yue, Xinyi Liang-Pholsena, Lee Pei Qi, S Puvaneswary, Mimi Hudoyo, Feizal Samath, Rohit Kaul, Natasha Dragun and Marianne Carandang
Thereâs no rest for the ambitious and companies need to come up with exciting ways to inspire their top achievers towards higher targets in the coming year. Here are 36 motivating travel ideas:
01 Set up an opulent camp close to Kilimanjaro
Tortillis Camp, overlooking Kilimanjaro mountain
Celebrate your winners in one of the best visions presented by nature. Tortilis Camp, which spans the western half of Amboseli, a national park known for its spectacular views of the majestic Kilimanjaro and for having some of the largest elephant population (1,000 of them) in Africa. Its 16 tents are large, with king or twin beds and elegant en suite bathrooms. Along with two family houses, Tortilis Camp offers the best of low-impact, high-comfort tourism.
Tortilis Camp, which has hosted conferences before, can be hired entirely by a corporate group. Dining areas can be transformed into conference venues and recreational and networking programmes can be tailored. Delegates can enjoy game drives, guided walks, sundowners and bush meals inside the park, as well as spa treatments after all that activity.
Capacity: Maximum 40 pax for camp buyout
02 Around the world in 19 days
This extravagant idea will see your top achievers travel the world in 19 days in a private jet with Abercrombie & Kent founder, Geoffrey Kent. Along the way delegates will visit some of Kentâs favourite places and discover new ones with the pioneering expedition leader. Cruise the Amazon, gaze at the enigmatic moai of Easter Island, spot game on the Maasai Mara and enjoy a celebratory gathering in Kentâs adopted home of Monaco.
This is luxury travel at its finest, complete with five-star accommodation, restaurants and tours along the way. It comes with a cool price tag of around US$79,995 per seat.
Capacity: No more than 40 pax
03 Experience a tea-flavoured colonial past of Sri Lanka
Sri Lankaâs tea culture has not evolved much over the last century â tea is harvested, manufactured and drunk exactly the same way. And in Sri Lankaâs central region, where it is all tea country, one can follow firsthand the entire production process. Accommodate your winners in a colonial bungalow in the plantation and have them wake up to a traditional English breakfast served by butlers in a sprawling garden or inside a quaint British cottage. They may also enjoy a game of tennis, croquet or polo.
Capacity: At least four guests
04 Recharge in the foothills of the Himalayas
Ananda in the Himalayas, A Destination Spa does more than invite guests to relax and rejuvenate through the ancient Indian wellness regimes of ayurveda, yoga and vedanta and its collection of 80 spa treatments. The propertyâs prime location in the tranquil Himalayan foothills, overlooking the peaceful Ganga, set guestsâadrenalin pumping through activities such as white-water rafting and a jeep safari in the Rajaji National Park. Incentive organisers can also plan a mini golf tournament and cooking classes for winners who prefer a slower pace.
Capacity: Minimum 10 pax; maximum 50
05 Mingle with the Maori
In an experience tailored for top-level executives, the programme begins with a helicopter flight from Auckland to Lake Rotoiti in central North Island of New Zealand. Upon landing, delegates will receive a full traditional Maori welcome when entering Marae village. Accompanied by the hosts, they will walk through the bushes and collect a variety of native plants used in indigenous cooking. Later, famed Maori chef, Charles Royal, will prepare lunch through a traditional hangi, a method of cooking using heated rocks buried in a pit oven.Â On Lake Rotoiti, delegates can paddle a waka, a traditional Maori canoe. Come late afternoon, another helicopter flight takes delegates to the exclusive Huka Lodge, where numerous heads of state have visited before. Take in the lush landscapes and enjoy a wine-tasting dinner in the evening.
Capacity:Â Maximum 30 pax
06 Be part of a wedding celebration in 1920s Sri Lanka
Travel back to the 1920s and be part of the wedding celebrations of the daughter of Mudalier Gajaman, a fictitious character. Set in the British colonial times, this extravagant event is re-created in the historical Galle Fort in southern Sri Lanka. Aristocrats, chieftains, clans and commoners will pay homage and join in the feast. The incentive group becomes a part of the experience, playing the role of the couple and Mudalier Gajaman, dressed in different ceremonial attire of that era. The groom and groomsmen arrive on caparisoned elephants while the bride and her retinue arrive in a thirikkale, a refined bullock cart. A wedding ceremony, traditional folk games and entertainment acts depicting different social and cultural backgrounds of Sri Lanka complete the wedding party, making it perfect for winners who desire an out-of-this-world experience with plenty of pictures to take home.
Capacity: At least 10 pax
07 A spiritual meeting in Myanmar
Meet a Burmese spirit medium who will put up a performance to connect with the land of the nats (spirits), offering a very colourful and somewhat unusual experience for incentive groups. On arrival, participants meet the spirit medium and his team of dancers (usually with the aid of four to six people). The troupe will start dancing while the medium goes into an increasingly vigorous dance to reach a kind of âtranceâ â at this point, guests are invited to dance along and ask questions.
This is ideal for any group curious about the exotic cultures of Asia, or Asian groups who want to experience something different and unique in Myanmar.
Capacity: Minimum two pax; maximum 30
08 Step into a Russian space station
Grant your winners the rare opportunity to visit a Russian space station. Guided by a trainer, delegates will get to see the astronaut training centre and witness the process of training and space simulation, as well as have a conversation with an astronaut.
Capacity: Minimum 10 pax; maximum 100 (divided into smaller groups during the facility tour)
09 Take over Sydneyâs Taronga Zoo
With its enviable location on the verge of Sydney Harbour, Taronga Zoo wows at the best of times, offering dramatic Harbour Bridge views and access to some of the worldâs wildest animals. Through its Roar & Snore sleepover programme, your incentive winners can enjoy all that to themselves once the zoo closes and the last patron leaves. Kick off the evening with sunset cocktails and canapĂŠs as the sun sets, followed by a roast dinner and an up-close-and-personal session with the zooâs friendliest residents. Later, retire into safari tents furnished with single and double beds. Rise the next morning to a glorious sunrise and the roar of a lion or trumpet of an elephant, and embark on a behind-the-scenes tour of the zoo before the public streams in.
Capacity: Minimum one pax; maximum 34
10 Solve a murder mystery in the Misty Mountains
Now, who doesnât love a whodunit mind-boggler? Take your top achievers to the luxurious Cameron Highlands Resort in Malaysia for an exclusive murder mystery adventure set in the 1960s.
Murder Mystery in the Misty Mountains is based on the story of Jim Thompson, the legendary American businessman known as the Thai Silk King who mysteriously disappeared while holidaying at the Moonlight Bungalow in Cameron Highlands in March 1967. The experience begins two weeks before the event, when guests typically receive their invitations and character briefing.
The cool highland climes, misty mountains and lush foliage set the stage for the mystery, as guests arrive at the resort in limousines. Pre-dinner cocktails by the fireplace at the Highlands Bar provide a sophisticated entry into the evening; guests come dressed to the nines, sporting furs, trilbies and lace elbow gloves.
Once the formalities are over, the fun begins in the elegant Dining Room. Murders are committed and weapons are found in between courses, with a good dose of blackmailing on the side. Guests rush through the halls of the colonial-style property, looking for clues. The evening culminates in the voting and selection of Best Performer, Super Sleuth, Best Costume and Wealthiest Player.
Capacity: Single murder mystery â 20-35 pax;
double murder mystery â 40-60 pax
11 Work out Cirque du Soleil-style
Have your top achievers work up a hearty appetite before their award dinner with a fitness session hosted by current and ex-Cirque du Soleil performers. Classes at Shine Alternative Fitness in Las Vegas invite participants to try their own hand at antigra-vity yoga and pilates, aerial skills, pole dancing, extreme boxing and gyrotechnic. Performing downward-facing dog (or adho mukha, a yoga pose) in a silk hammock suspended from the ceiling or swinging through the air like a circus performer has a way of bringing people together. Participants will get a good laugh and workout at the same time.
Capacity: Minimum one pax; maximum 30
12 Blaze a trail in Scotland
Hereâs a tour of Scotlandâs most beautiful castles with a twist. The four-day tour will see incentive winners blazing a trail down scenic Scottish roads in Ferrari and Porsche cars as they explore private castles such as Glamis Castle, Skibo Castle and Eilean Donan Castle. Not only will they enjoy exclusive access into these historical architectures, a team of Michelin-starred chefs will await at one of the castles with a banquet of world-class cuisine. One of the entertainment highlights will be a special performance by popular string quartet, Bond.
Capacity: No more than 10 pax/drivers
13 Escape to a private island
Oh, what bragging rights one would get from having an entire island to oneself! Create a private party destination for your incentive winners by renting Pulau Pangkil Kecil, a luxury tropical island located close to Singapore and Indonesia. The island offers nine individual driftwood palaces, a bar, a pool, a treehouse and sea sports equipment such as kayaks and snorkelling gear. A team of 20 staff is also at your disposal, along with the necessary sound system to support your event. The island facilitates teambuilding activities too.
Capacity: Minimum two pax; maximum 10
14 A tale of Italian gourmet food and swanky cars
If you are planning to reward your incentive winners with a trip to Italy, pencil Parma into the itinerary. Showcase the Italian cityâs two key highlights â its culinary traditions and love for fast cars.
Accademia Barilla, based in Parma, hosts a five-day gourmet tour of the city and neighbouring Modena. The tour includes classes in the Accademia Barilla kitchens where participants will learn to cook authentic Italian specialties, opportunities to sample local produce such as Prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano Reggiano, Aceto Balsamico di Modena and Lambrusco wine, and a visit to the Ferrari and Maserati headquarters.
Capacity: Small groups only
Website: www.barilla.com /www.academiabarilla.com
15 Gain access into a sacred chamber
The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy, Sri Lanka is a popular attraction, but few can access the inner chamber where the tooth relic of Buddha is housed. To date, only a few locals and foreign dignitaries such as visiting heads of states or royalty have set foot within. The good news is, an exclusive visit to the inner chamber can be arranged for high-profile incentive groups.
Capacity:Â At least five pax
16 Silence is golden and refreshing
Whisk your stressed out top achievers away from the city into the serene enclave of The Banjaran Hotspring Retreat in Ipoh, Malaysia. Sign them up for the Silence Therapy, which is led by the retreatâs in-house wellness practitioner and held in the Meditation Cave â a natural granite and limestone formation. The treatment focuses and detoxifies the mind through silence, appropriate breathing techniques and contemplation. Accommodation here is a treat through villas that come equipped with plunge pools and sunken Jacuzzi with piped geothermal hotspring water. Delegates can also master the art of making Labu Sayong, a traditional pottery, under the tutelage of local artisans, and enjoy a themed dinner at Jeffâs Cellar.
Capacity: Maximum 30 delegates
17 Fly to dinner at a hilltop vineyard
Following an afternoon tour of Brown Brothers Milawa Vineyard in Victoria, Australia, hop onto a helicopter for a ride over the regionâs vineywards and arrive at the Banksdale Vineyard, set atop a hill 485m above sea level.
Chilled prosecco, canapĂŠs and a breathtaking view awaits. Hear about the art of winemaking from a Brown Brothers wine expert. As the sun sets, retreat under the vineyardâs harvester shed that has been dressed up for a spectacular and private dinner party.
Brown Brothers Milawa Vineyardâs Epicurean Centre restaurant, known for its award-winning cuisine, will supply the gastronomic delights for the evening. Feast on dishes made from the freshest produce from the Milawa Gourmet Region.
18 Cycle up to Inle Lake
For visits to Inle Lake in Shan State, Myanmar, instead of coach transfers upon arrival at Heho Airport, incentive winners can hop on a mountain bike and journey to their destination. Pedal through the mostly flat and downhill terrain, passing through the stunning PaâO tribal area with patchwork of green and yellow fields, and have a picnic lunch along the way.
The biking trip can range between two and four hours, with water and helmets provided. Traditional countryside games can be included to offer more fun along the way.
The programme is suitable for delegates who enjoy a more active itinerary and desire a new way of seeing a destination.
Capacity: Minimum two pax; maximum 30
19 Get high on chocolate
Pop into Baliâs first organic chocolate factory, POD, which sits high in the hills, some 90 minutes from Conrad Bali. The programme begins with a tour of the hillside farm. Hear from a POD representative about what is being done to revive Baliâs chocolate trade and how the factory is working closely with disadvantaged local farmers. Delegates are guided throughÂ the chocolate-making process which begins with identifying the cacao flower. At the end of the journey, delegates will get to see how the hotelâs chef makes chocolates and then try their hand at making their own. This insightful journey can be paired with a meeting.
Capacity: Minimum 10 pax; maximum 40
20 Invest in a natural, healthy reward
Perfect for overworked top achievers, a trip to The Farm at San Benito in Batangas, the Philippines, will help to set guestsâ mental and physical well-being back on track. Winners will get a health check and explore different ways to improve their well-being, be it through a detoxifying diet, exercise (such as yoga, plyometrics, pilates) or spa treatments. The Farm also offers Philippine-style hilot massage.
For more variety in the programme, incentive organisers can include a visit to Tagaytay Ridge and the historic town of Taal, where at Villa Tortuga winners can dress up in vintage Filipino costumes and take a photograph for keepsake.
Capacity: Up to 20, to be accommodated across 10 luxury villas
21 Take a cultural cruise down the Marang River
Incentive groups staying at Tanjong Jara Resort in Terengganu, Malaysia, a 99-key resort that is designed to reflect the elegance of 17th century Malay palaces, can enhance their destination experience with a cruise along the Marang River. The seven-kilometre cruise will give guests a chance to spot a variety of wildlife such as monkeys, river crabs and sea eagles. Disembarking at a jetty, guests will explore a Malay village where residents still practise ancient methods of food preparation and handicraft. End the day at the resort with a private buffet by the beach with entertainment provided by gamelan musicians.
Capacity: Minimum three pax; maximum eight
22 Arrive in Shan State in style
For incentive winners that are travelling through Myanmarâs Shan State, make the journey a special one by chartering an entire train for your group, decorating it with flowers and spicing it up with entertainment on board in the form of traditional dancers and masseurs. Donât forget to keep the cocktails flowing throughout the journey.
Capacity: Minimum 30 pax; maximum 200
23 Big adventures in the mountains of Canada
Incentive winners with a taste for adventure and luxurious living will take well to the Revelstoke Mountain Resort in Canada, which is set in the heart of the worldâs best heliski terrain. Winners can fly into the wilderness in a helicopter or ride the lift to the top of the tallest ski hill in North America. The impressive timber-framed building houses eight stately suites and can host elegant dinners in its 16-seat dining room, which comes with conference facilities or a casual gathering in the kitchen. Facilities include a cinema and an outdoor hot tub with views over the Columbia River and Monashee Mountains.
Capacity: No more than 16 guests
24 So you think you can dance like a K-pop idol?
Your winners sure can, after taking dance lessons at the Seoul Global Culture & Tourism Center in Myeongdong where they will learn from a professional instructor how to dance like their favourite South Korean idols to the latest K-pop tunes, and recreate the sleek moves seen in music videos.
Classes can be customised to suit the profile of participants and are available every Friday from 16.00, until October.
Capacity: 20-30 pax per class
25 Visit a fishing community in Maung Shwe Lay
Spend a day in a local fishing village south of Ngapali Beach, the premier seaside destination in Myanmar. In this remote area hardly visited by tourists, incentive groups can have a day of meaningful activities, from teambuilding fun on the beach to assisting a host family in their lunch preparations to participating in communal activities such as painting and garbage collection with local school kids.
Capacity: Minimum two pax; maximum 60
26 High-country life in New Zealand
Kick off the trip with a private Douglas DC-3 flight to Queenstown, followed by a helicopter ride to Minaret Station. Here, winners can experience life on a high-country farm home to cows, sheep and deers, and get the chance to work with specially trained sheep dogs. Continue by helicopter to the glacier for a pre-lunch glass of champagne, after which a mountain-kitchen lunch is served at the Minaret Station, famed as New Zealandâs only luxury tented lodge located in a stunning glacial valley above Lake Wanaka.
Capacity: No more than 20 pax
27 Party in a gallery of famous art pieces
In Canberra, the National Gallery of Australia is home to some of the countryâs â and the worldâs â most impressive art works, housed in cutting-edge, and recently remodelled, spaces. Guests can enjoy formal and informal cocktails and dinner gatherings in a range of spaces, including the Turrell Skyspace, Gandel Hall, Members Lounge and the Sculpture Garden. The greatest lure of this idea is that incentive winners will have access to some of the worldâs most exclusive artworks in the gallery â minus the crowds.
Capacity: Seated 60-350 pax; standing 100-900
28 Reflections at Bongeunsa
Seoul may be one of the most technologically advanced cities in the world, but it has not left its rich history behind. In the the capital cityâs affluent Gangnam district stands Bongeunsa, a major Buddhist temple founded in 794 that draws both worshippers and tourists alike.
Allow your top achievers to experience the monastic life here through a tea ceremony, Seon (Zen) Meditation and other activities. Programmes can run for two hours or over two days. Perhaps, at the end of the experience, your top achievers may gain some new perspectives of life.
Capacity: Minimum five pax; maximum 30
29 Night at the Sarawak Museum
Transport your event to the glory days of the White Rajahs â the British adventurers who came to rule Sarawak. Dubbed the oldest museum in Borneo, it was built in 1891 to house and display local crafts and specimen collected by famous naturalist, Alfred Wallace.
Special arrangements can be made in advance for incentive winners to have a cocktail event within the museum, followed by a guided tour of the museum and ending with an intimate dinner set among ancient relics and ruins inside the museumâs main gallery.
Capacity: Between 40 and 50 delegates
30 Rock to the rhythms of the rainforest
The annual Rainforest World Music Festival held in Sarawak every July has earned international acclaim and recognition for blending the best of world music with a gig in the jungles of Borneo. Over two days and three nights, world-class musicians from four continents play to their heartsâ content to an international audience at the Sarawak Cultural Village.
Incentive organisers can contact Sarawak Tourism Board to arrange a private concert featuring visiting musicians or to conduct a special music workshop.
A hospitality suite can also be arranged in advance through the assistance of the bureau so that top achievers can enjoy performances at the festival in comfort, with food and beverage served through the day, as well as little extras such as the chance to get up close with the musicians.
Capacity: 50-100 pax
31 Celebration at seventh heaven
The Sky Terrace at Chin Swee Temple up in Malaysiaâs Genting Highlands has often been used by event planners desiring a unique venue, but Resorts World Genting, which markets the space, has come up with an elaborate event idea suitable for incentive groups.
Set 1,500m above sea level, the dinner will begin with a welcome performance by a traditional lion dance, stilt walkers and fire eaters. Guests will be served a welcome cocktail/mocktail, and be invited to explore various stalls where they can try their hand at local activities such as batik printing and henna drawing. These stalls will be kept open throughout the evening. Entertainment will come in the form of musical performances as well as a possible guest appearance by an international artiste (subject to availability).
A 12-foot firecracker will be lit to symbolise the start of dinner, which is a special feast of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Beverages will flow through the night.
Every guest will get a hand-made wooden plaque as a table gift, and on these guests will write their wishes and hang them up at the gazebo for good luck.
The finale of the event will be a spectacular fireworks display. An additional surprise will be a parting gift of a personalised traditional Chinese costume for every guest.
Capacity: Minimum 100 pax; maximum 500
32 Say hello to the aborigines
Indulge your winners in a private and intimate tour of the aboriginal lands of Arnhemland, located in the middle of Australiaâs northern coast, led by a guide who is the only white man trusted by the aborigines to bring visitors to their ancestorâs sacred land. He will lead guests to ancient rock art he had discovered, some dating thousands of years old.
This exclusive programme is ideal for incentive winners who want to uncover more about the history of Australia, through the eyes of an experienced guide who will bring them to places inaccessible to others.
Capacity: No more than six people
33 Meet Jejuâs last mermaids
One of the many gems in Jeju, South Korea is the community of haenyeos â women of the sea. These hardy women dive for a living from a very young age, without the use of oxygen tanks to as deep as 15m in search of shellfish, sea cucumbers and fish. Most can hold their breath for up to two minutes, and would dive four to five hours each time.
But these gems are fast disappearing, as the job is difficult and dangerous and not attractive to young women today. There are 4,800 haenyeos in Jeju now. In the southern village of Beophwan in Seogwipo, there are only 100 left â 60 are active divers and the rest have retired due to old age and poor health. The oldest active haenyo in Beophwan is 85 years old.
A conversation with one or two haen-yeos can be arranged for your incentive group through the Jeju Haenyeo Experience Centre in Beophwan or the Jeju Convention & Visitors Bureau. The centre also has a gallery with photos and diving equipment used by haenyeo of the past, but advance notice must be given should a visit be desired.
Close by the centre is a seafood restaurant operated by these divers, where an affordable seafood feast with cold soju can be enjoyed. For a fee, visitors to the centre can also don cotton diving attire worn in the early days and take a dip in shallower waters of the ocean.
Tel: (82-64) 739-1232 (for the Jeju Haenyeo Experience Centre)
34 Luxury living in Yala National Park
Pack your winners off to a five-star adventure on the border of the Yala National Park in southern Sri Lanka.
Customised tents offer guests luxurious accommodation and each comes with a separate dining tent attached.
Food is prepared by cooks from customised kitchens that are equipped to ensure that beers are cold, an endless supply of ice is available at all times and all that a guest may need is kept fresh.
In the day, your winners can discover Sri Lankaâs abundant wildlife on land cruisers led by guides and trackers of Kulu Safari, and indulge in a breakfast on the river.
The experience is a rare privilege and helps participants gain a greater understanding of and appreciation for nature.
Capacity: 10 pax per group
35 Take in an aerial view of Kuala Lumpur
Give your incentive guests an unobstructed birdâs-eye view of the captivating Kuala Lumpur city skyline, as they zip across the skies in a helicopter. From up there, guests can see the contrast between the magnificent skyscrapers and the buildings of the colonial days, and perceive the vast development of the Malaysian capital. Knowledgeable pilots are on hand to double up as tour guides.
Capacity: No more than four pax
36 Local feast down the Nam Ngum River
When opulent dinners of foie gras and champagne no longer charm top achievers who have seen it all, it is time to deliver a dining experience that only the locals are privy to. Tha Ngon, some 25km from downtown Vientiane, Laos and sitting on the banks of the Nam Ngum River, a tributary of the Mekong River, marks the start of a memorable floating feast.
MICE People, which organises this dining event, describes Tha Ngon as a scenic spot that sits at the foot of an old steel bridge, bringing to mind a vision of the famous bridge over Thailandâs River Kwai.
Arriving at Tha Ngon, incentive winners can select their desired dishes from kitchens on the mainland â dishes can also be pre-ordered by the planner â and then board a chartered pirogue with a thatched roof. Once food, along with local beer, tropical cocktails/mocktails and fresh fruit juices, are brought onboard, the pirogue will be taken up river and then set adrift. With the engines shut off, the group can enjoy their local feast in serene, breezy surroundings.
âBlind tastingâ games and karaoke sessions can also be planned for groups that prefer a more festive dining experience.
Capacity: Small pirogues take eight-10 pax; larger ones take up to 36 pax