By Karen Yue, S Puvaneswary, Mimi Hudoyo, Xinyi Liang-Pholsena, Paige Lee Pei Qi, Prudence Lui, Caroline Boey and Shekhar Niyogi
From swimming with sea giants in one of the world‚Äôs best conserved dive spots to an unusual game of camel polo, we hunt down some of the world‚Äôs most interesting travel ideas to reward your top achievers with
The diving community won‚Äôt like what we are about to tell you now. Pulau Tenggol, a small island in the South China Sea and part of Malaysia‚Äôs Terengganu Marine Park, is regarded as a well-kept secret among avid divers. The reef here is in almost-perfect condition and for people in the know, it is considered the best diving spot in Peninsular Malaysia.
Take your incentive winners on an educational and memorable dive around Pulau Tenggol, with the luxurious Tanjong Jara Resort as their base. The resort has its own dive centre and will provide expert guides, dive masters and PADI dive instructors to accompany groups on each dive.
Capacity 14 to 12 pax
Reward your top achievers with a trip to the archaeological marvel that is Machu Picchu, but give the experience a spectacular twist by timing it with the Inti Raymi or Festival of the Sun, the largest and longest celebration held every June in Cuzco, Peru.
The adventure begins with a train ride to the ancient Inca ruins, and time is given for participants to explore the iconic site. The return trip will take the group back to Cuzco on June 24, the high point of Inti Raymi when the streets come alive with colourful dances, processions showcasing indigenous culture, parades, music and revelry. The group will get to savour Peru‚Äôs gastronomic delights such as ceviche, cuy (baked or barbequed guinea pig), fish roe as well as Incan dishes that are only served during Inti Raymi.
Wahiba Sands is one of the most fascinating deserts in the Arab Gulf, and boasts shifting colours of sand at different times of the day. It is also home to a few thousand Bedouins who are known to have inhabited this inhospitable landscape for at least 7,000 years.
For your top achievers, however, Tour Oman will ensure Wahiba Sands makes a delightful destination for an overnight stay. Utmost comfort is promised at this private campsite which comes equipped with all modern amenities.
Upon arrival at Wahiba Sands‚Äô campsite, winners are welcomed by Bedouins who come bearing Omani coffee, fresh fruits and mineral water. Skilled drivers will then take participants for an exciting dune drive. A camel ride may also be arranged.
When night falls the group will enjoy a moonlit dinner at the campsite, under millions of twinkling stars.
Next day, rise early to catch a dazzling sunrise before journeying back to the city.
Capacity 10 to 60 guests
Situated at Yulara, close to the border of World Heritage-listed Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Longitude 131 is touted as one of the best luxury wilderness camps in the world. With 15 luxury tents, Longitude 131 caters for those seeking an exclusive and unique outback experience. Your top achievers will enjoy five-star comfort and private views of Uluru and Ayers Rock.
Capacity Maximum of 30 pax
This four-hour adventure begins right after breakfast at your incentive group‚Äôs hotel.
Your top achievers will set sail on the 27-feet Coast Craft catamaran, said to be the best boat for Gulf waters, and try their hand at sport fishing under the guidance of an experienced captain.
The Coast Craft is comfortably furnished with a canopy and cushioned seats, and equipped with four trawling fishing rods and eight bottom-fishing lines. Bait is provided.
Refreshments are served on board to keep participants hydrated and energised.
Alpha Tours Dubai, which arranges this programme, can provide two to four boats for each group.
Capacity 12 to 48 pax
This two-day programme can be organised in Shanghai and Guangdong‚Äôs Foshan where there are Shaolin martial arts schools. Top achievers will spend a night at the school with Shaolin monks and join the students in intensive training. At the end of the programme, participants will learn the importance of cooperation and the kung fu spirit of ‚Äėfighting with control‚Äô.
Capacity 20 to 50 pax
Let your winners be at the wheel of a Ginetta or Porsche on some of the world‚Äôs most beautiful race tracks in exotic locations such as Barcelona, Italy and Dubai.
Made possible by France-based Astur Cars, top winners will get the chance to be part of an actual race team made up of some 20 professionals. After training on a GT race circuit, they will drive solo in a high performance car ‚Äď and in dramatic race fashion, they will be watched by an audience of up to 8,000.
Whether amateur or skilled drivers, your winners will integrate with the team and benefit from a professional infrastructure that will analyse their strengths and weaknesses.
Capacity Minimum two drivers per car
Take in the sights of North America‚Äôs largest glacier region onboard sea planes. The journey begins at Anchorage and within minutes your winners will fly into wilderness, soaring over pristine mountains, spectacular glaciers, crystal-blue pools and roaming wildlife, together with an experienced Alaska bush pilot who will share his rich knowledge of the region, and experience a glacier landing. Combine a flightseeing tour with other unique activities such as glacier dog sledding, fly-in fishing and bear viewing.
Capacity Up to 50 pax
Spend the night in the middle of the remote Cambodian hinterland, deep in the jungle beside the thousand-year-old temple of Preah Khan Kompong Svay.
The HG Travel team will set up a luxury camp with all facilities, including a safari-style living tent with bathroom and showers, a lounge and dining area near the temple, which, when candle-lit in the evenings, paints an unforgettable picture straight from the pages of the wildest imagination.
Nothing bonds a team as much as unforgettable experiences shared together, so be rest assured that your group will always be connected by having survived the jungle together.
Capacity Two to 20 pax
Mission Hills, long recognised for offering excellent golfing experiences, will appeal to top achievers who may have played the best greens of the world.
In Guangdong province, incentive groups can play a friendly game at 12 championship golf courses that are designed by golf legends such as Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Nick Faldo and Vijay Singh. On Hainan island, Mission Hills Haikou tantalises with 10 spectacularly scenic golf courses.
Non-golfers in your group are not left out. They can take lessons at the Golf Academy, play tennis, swim or cycle around the sprawling locations. The less active can enjoy a luxurious spa experience, relax in the tranquil surroundings and play chess, take cooking classes or learn about organic farming.
Capacity More than 500 people
The unspoilt paradise of Bruny Island is home to Tasmania‚Äôs finest seafood. Onboard a specialised cruise vessel and with the help of experienced guides, your winners will try their hand at catching their own lunch ‚Äď abalone, crayfish, oysters, sea urchin, salmon and mussels ‚Äď which will be enjoyed with local wine, beers, ciders and juices.
Once the bounty is in the bag, the vessel will anchor in a calm and secluded bay where¬† lunch will be cooked and served.
Capacity 10 pax per cruise vessel
In 1991 a Vietnamese farmer discovered by accident the biggest cave in the world but it was only in 2009 that British cave specialist Howard Limbert was able to unveil the full extent of the Son Doong Cave in central Vietnam.
Until now only a handful of privileged adventurers had the pleasure of exploring this natural wonderland, which was recently named the most captivating by National Geographic. Experience the thrill of exploring underworld rivers, forests and bizarre stone formations on an expedition led by Howard Limbert himself.
To contrast this underworld journey and give it the extra oomph for your incentive group, take the helicopter to reach the remote cave.
Capacity 6-12 pax
Journey through the rugged terrain of the Sarawak rainforest on four-wheel-drive vehicles to Kampung Bengoh, home to the Bidayuh tribe whose ancestors were fearless headhunters. Have your top achievers kayak up upriver while they soak in the beautiful, lush surroundings and spot different species of local wildlife along the way. Tip them off to the few small rapids along the way, which should give them an adrenaline rush.
At the end of the adventure, recharge with a traditional Bidayuh picnic in a small village. Be entertained by cultural performances and stories while feasting on scrumptious local delicacies and rice wine.
Capacity Eight to 40 pax
You are forgiven if you fail to understand ‚Äúkuman burah suneh‚ÄĚ. In Orang Ulu language, this phrase means to ‚Äúeat a lot‚ÄĚ. It is little wonder then that the objective of this activity in Sarawak is to have your top achievers indulge in local dishes and experience the culture of their local hosts.
After departing from the luxurious Royal Mulu Resort, your group will take a short stroll down the Deer Cave‚Äôs ancient riverbed and pause to consider the power of the water that once roared through this cave, tumbling huge boulders and carving the scalloped walls.
Cocktails are served as the sun sets at Mulu Caves. Have your winners ready their cameras for the magnificent spectacle as millions of bats leave the dark recesses of the cave and swoop out through the night sky.
Participants can enter the cave holding flaming torches that pick out some of the beautiful cave formations, spot a well-known character or two before sitting down to a candlelight dinner of local delicacies. Local musical performances such as the haunting sounds of the Sape complete the evening.
Should time be lacking, delegates may opt to have cocktails at Turn Red Cave in Serikin, on the outskirts of Sarawak state capital, Kuching.
Capacity 10 to 50 delegates
This wine cellar beneath the 600-year-old Town Hall of Bremen houses about 5,200 bottles, boasting the most extensive collection of fine German wines from 13 regions.
The three-hour excursion begins when the guide opens the cellar‚Äôs historical wooden door. Participants access the office, barrel and storage area in order to learn how trading took place then. They will also get to lay their eyes on an old cask that dates back to 1653.
The educational experience ends with a glass of bubbly. Prost!
Capacity 10 to 30 pax
Sail through the New York harbour aboard the Clipper City, an imposing 48m-long vessel with masts and rigging reaching up 37m from the deck, built as a replica of the lumber-hauling schooners that drove America‚Äôs industry more than a century ago. Incentive groups can charter the boat for a variety of activities, from private cocktails to craft beer tasting sessions, while watching the sun set behind the iconic Statue of Liberty.
Capacity Up to 134 pax
Experience true weightlessness in a specially modified Boeing 727-200 aircraft, G-Force One, which performs a series of parabolic arcs that counteract the gravitational pull.
The five-hour experience begins with an introduction session conducted by a NASA veteran astronaut and once up in the air, passengers can flip, float and fly like Superman and even perform physical feats such as releasing water and candy in the cabin under the assistance of a trained Zero-G coach.
This activity is available at four primary locations in the US: Cape Canaveral and Fort Lauderdale in Florida, Las Vegas and San Jose.
Capacity Up to 36 pax per flight
Spend a day at Long Island‚Äôs Blue Island Oyster Farm, where the owners will take your winners on a private tour to learn about the delicate ecosystems that support oyster life. Participants will get the chance to go into the ocean and collect oysters, working side by side with the farmers.
The educational experience, coordinated by the team at The Peninsula New York, begins with a private seaplane ride from Manhattan‚Äôs East River and ends on high note with a private dockside gourmet dinner.
Capacity Up to eight pax
One of the best ways to enjoy views of the Philippines‚Äô ancient Banaue rice terraces ‚Äď testament to the ingenuity and engineering prowess of the indigenous Ifugaos ‚Äď and the remote highland settlement of Sagada, with its stunning landscape, waterfalls and ancient caves, has to be by helicopter.
Pair the ride in the sky with a luxurious picnic comprising local delicacies from Manila, but only after a trek to the terraces, visits to the hanging coffins of Sagada and a cultural performance.
Beautiful, natural and wild, the most northern Great Barrier Reef resort – Lizard Island – is a place reserved for the fortunate few. Consistently ranked as one of the top resorts of the world for more than a decade, Lizard Island offers the natural beauty of the Great Barrier Reef, uninterrupted by the rest of the world.
Reward your winners by hiring the island exclusively. The 24 white sand beaches lie undisturbed but for the occasional footprints. Groups can take advantage of Lizard Island‚Äôs facilities and activities including snorkelling, diving, deep-sea game fishing excursions, and indulge in secluded picnics on the private beaches too.
Capacity 80 pax
A visit to a longhouse is often the highlight of a trip to Sarawak, as it offers a glimpse into the lifestyle of the various tribes that have for generations inhabited the remote interior of Borneo. While there are many areas in Sarawak where longhouses stand, Ulu Ai is one of the best. It is blessed with a stunning natural environment, comprising clean rivers and jungle streams, refreshing waterfalls and undisturbed tracts of rainforest.
At Ulu Ai, Nanga Sumpa Lodge serves as a base for a range of nature-based activities and excursions, and offers visitors the chance to learn about the culture and lifestyle of the Iban community who live in the adjacent longhouse.
Your winners can travel further upriver by longboat to have a swim at a waterfall, participate in the daily activities of the Iban people, and trek through the jungle on trails that take them along streams and through farmlands. If they are lucky, they will sight the orang-utans that dwell in the area.
Capacity No more than 36 pax
When you house your winners at the heritage hotel Royal Ambarrukmo Yogyakarta, they will be treated like royalty from the get-go. Upon arrival at the hotel, they will be transported from the lobby to the centuries-old Pendopo hall in horse carts. From here, they will be escorted to Gadri dining hall where lunch is served by a parade of hotel staff dressed in traditional attire, carrying dishes in a jodang wooden carriage from the kitchen ‚Äď the same way ancient Javanese kings were served.
After a hearty lunch, your winners will return to Pendopo hall to master jemparingan, traditional Javanese archery, and have their competitive spirits stirred by an archery contest.
Capacity No more than 30 pax
For a highly exclusive gathering of top achievers, a stay in the luxurious Le Ph√©bus & Spa in Joucas-Gordes, France should be in order. A member of Relais & Chateaux, the hotel occupies a charming dry-stone walled farmhouse and offers beautiful guestrooms, exquisite dining destinations and a spa. Kick your winners‚Äô experience here up a notch with a 30-minute panoramic flight over the Lub√©ron in a four-seat plane.
Capacity 24 rooms in hotel; four pax for flight
Tokyo is no stranger to most high-flying businessmen, so give your top achievers a different view of the bustling Japanese capital from up high in the sky.
Lifting off in a special edition EC135 Herm√®s helicopter from ARK Hills Heliport in Akasaka, your winners will soar above Roppongi Hills and take in a bird‚Äôs-eye view of the Tokyo Skytree. Other desired scenic routes can also be arranged. Only one EC135 Herm√®s helicopter is available but Mori Building City Air Services Co can arrange for multiple departures for larger groups.
Complete the sky cruise with lunch at ARK Hills Club, a prestigious member-only destination, or throw in a golf game at Shishido Hills Country Club or Eagle Point Golf Club.
Capacity No more than five pax per flight, subject to weather conditions, load weight, etc
Give your winners a winter wonderland in Hokkaido‚Äôs Niseko ski resort where they will be housed exclusively in luxurious properties such as Kimamaya by Odin boutique hotel or the Glass House (for smaller incentive groups), enjoy several days of fun on the snowy slopes, get a chance to explore the remote back-country via a guided snowmobile and Snowcat tour, and warm themselves up with indulgent dips in Niseko‚Äôs renowned onsens. And on the last day of their trip, dinner at Kamimura, one of Niseko‚Äôs top Japanese restaurants, awaits.
Capacity Unavailable at press time
A dinner function with entertainment provided by elegant geisha is an experience hard to come by in modern Japan, but experienced DMCs in the country will be able to whip up some magic. Opportunities are aplenty in Tokyo‚Äôs Mukojima, a historical hanamachi district that boasts 16 traditional ryotei (luxurious traditional Japanese restaurant) and a community of at least 120 geisha.
A party in one of Mukojima‚Äôs ryotei will see your top achievers partake in an exquisite kaiseki meal with geisha showcasing their talents in dance and music.
Capacity Varies from ryotei to ryotei
Helmed by Jiro Ono, recognised by Guinness World Records to be the oldest living Michelin three-star chef, Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo‚Äôs Ginza is known for serving up top quality sushi which costs ¬•30,000 (US$294) and up per set. It counts celebrities and politicians among its patrons, and this year it welcomed US president Barack Obama.
Securing a seat at this revered restaurant can be a challenge (reservations only by phone), which makes this meal for your winners even more exclusive.
Capacity 10 pax
Tel (81-3) 3535-3600
Here‚Äôs an activity that will give your serious top achievers a chance to laugh at themselves.
Camel polo requires no skills to play and is said to offer more fun than the version on horses. The sport, available in Dubai, follows the rules of the traditional game and can accommodate eight to 60 players.
As a fitting finale for the outdoor activity, throw a feast of grilled meats and seafood and ice-cold beers for your group.
Capacity Eight to 60 pax
Here‚Äôs a do-good idea for your incentive winners. Let your winners establish deeper connection and aspiration by immersing them in ‚Äėvoluntourism‚Äô at the sustainable community of GK Enchanted Farm in Angat, Bulacan, just a few hours overland from Manila.
GK, which stands for non-profit Gawad Kalinga or ‚Äėgive care‚Äô, aims to raise social entrepreneurs, help farmers and create wealth in the countryside.
The farm offers a slew of activities, from building houses for the poor and teaching to lending a hand in farming and social enterprises like making stuffed toys, gourmet cheese, etc. Overnight stays are available.
Capacity 40 pax
While celebrating your winners‚Äô achievements with all things fancy, give them also a chance to be part of turtle conservation efforts to make their experience even more memorable.
Organised by the team at Shangri-La‚Äôs Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa and Golden Sands Resort in Penang, Malaysia, the half-day programme begins with briefings by the Fisheries Department, during which they will learn about the conservation efforts of the Green Turtle and Olive Ridley Turtle species at Penang Turtle Sanctuary at Kerachut Beach. The experience can be enhanced with additional tailor-made activities such as an eco-hunt.
Later, lunch will be enjoyed in the resort before your winners get to retire and enjoy the extensive recreational facilities on property at their own pace.
Capacity No maximum limit
Official tourism sites will not let you in on this secret location between the Japanese prefectures of Hyogo and Osaka, but the abandoned section of JR Fukuchiyama train line offers one of the most scenic and serene views in the Kansai region.
Running along the Mukogawa river valley, the abandoned track is loved by locals of all ages. Few foreigners are aware of its existence, which will give your winners something to brag about back home.
The trail goes on for six kilometres and the terrain is easy enough for amateur hikers. Pack strong flashlights for this hike, as your winners will need to pass through at least six unlit train tunnels.
The best times to go in search of this abandoned rail line is in autumn, when the weather is cool and the Mukogawa river valley is covered in glorious shades of amber, red and gold.
The start of the abandoned track is close to JR Namaze Station.
Capacity No limit
Whip up a delectable meal like a professional with the help of chef Sarab Kapoor, a Singapore-based celebrity chef and cooking instructor who is also the host of the TV series, Cook Love Eat with Sarab.
Chef Sarab is able to teach a wide variety of dishes, from vegetarian to non-vegetarian options, including traditional Indian favourites such as Paneer Butter Masala to classic Singaporean delights like chicken rice and chilli crab.
Classes are conducted in a cosy kitchen and participants can dig into their culinary creations at the end in a plush dining area.
Capacity Five to eight pax
Been there, done that with deep sea fishing? Well, how about heli-fishing? The luxurious Seafields coastal resort in Auckland‚Äôs suburbs offers heli-fishing ‚Äď an activity that will transport participants by helicopter to scenic locations for fishing under professional guidance.
Seafields can arrange heli-fishing in the Hauraki Gulf, around Great Barrier Island and at the Coromande. Rods and reels, bait, tackle and light lunch are provided.
And when the action is over, your group of winners can head back to Seafields and enjoy a barbeque dinner at the coastal retreat‚Äôs BBQ Terrace.
Capacity Four per helicopter