From exploring the African highlands to leaping off a working aeroplane, TTGmice reporters uncover some of the world’s most unique, exciting and extravagant reward ideas
1) The ultimate recharge
Switzerland is famous for spas, but less known is how the country has embraced alternative therapies. In 2009, Switzerland became the first European country to integrate complementary treatments into its public health system and, in 2015, Ayurveda was officially included by Swiss healthcare authorities.
For winners, pushing themselves to the max can be thrilling but it comes at a cost: depleting energies. The new Atlantis by Giardino in Zurich believes what they need is a total retreat at the urban resort where Swiss friendliness and precision meets Ayurvedic twists and add-ons for incentives and meetings.
Planners can throw in an Ayurvedic BBQ which starts with an introduction to the rules of Ayurveda food preparation. Meat, fish and vegetables are marinated with herbs and spices that support digestion according to Ayurvedic teaching.
Another add-on is an Ayurvedic baking workshop. The event starts with a short introduction to the rules of Ayurveda baking (wholewheat flour, raw sugar, no eggs, etc.). Guests then create their own Ayurvedic cookies, which will be served in a tasting afterwards or later during a coffee break.
Keynotes with Ayurvedic specialists regarding all-day fitness or coping with stress and yoga sessions at the meeting room or outside are also available.
Capacity: From five pax
2) Dive into the ultimate bragging rights
An experience that’s hard to beat for thrills, self-reward and a sense of accomplishment, Skydive Wanaka on New Zealand’s South Island is a top choice set in breathtaking scenery in which brave participants can see up to six lakes, Mt Cook and the Clutha River.
Strap your top achievers to a beautiful stranger for a tandem ride in a funky orange plane, and let the adventure take shape. Everyone gets a home-video of his experience for show-and-tell for many years to come.
Capacity: Up to nine passengers with tandem guides at a single time
3 Go wild in Bako
Take your top performers out of the familiar city and into the beautiful natural surroundings of Bako National Park, Sarawak’s oldest national park, where local residents – proboscis monkeys, long-tailed macaques, silvered leaf-monkeys, common water monitors, plantain squirrels, wild boar and mouse deer – thrive.
To see these creatures in their natural habitat, the park offers a number of well-marked trails. Pick a short pleasant stroll to refresh the mind of your winners, or send them off on a full-day hike for a bonding opportunity.
Capacity: 78 pax
4) Be a ranger for a day
Explore West Bali National Park, Indonesia, in the shoes of the park rangers. Take your top achievers behind the scenes to help them understand what needs to be done to protect nature, with guidance from experienced park rangers. They will get a taste of hiking patrol procedures, including emergency response tips, and learn about the endemic and endangered species that dwell in the West Bali National Park.
The best part of this exclusive experience though, is listening to the park rangers relate personal stories.
Capacity: Up to 20 pax
5) Dig your toes into the sands of the Thar
Jaisalmer is a world heritage city in Western India, known for its resplendent forts, ornate temples and the seemingly endless great Indian Thar desert. A desert safari offers a unique way to discover the vast sand dunes, and top achievers can later wine and dine in style in the middle of the desert, with traditional Rajasthani dancers providing memorable entertainment.
Groups can even choose to spend the night in the desert – in luxurious tents of course – or return to the city for accommodation in a hotel.
Capacity: Up to 100 pax
6) Craft some delicate sweets
While many varieties of Japanese cuisine already have a firm following around the world, Japanese confectionery, wagashi, has yet to make the leap to being appreciated internationally.
Here’s a chance for your incentive winners to get behind the craft of these delicate traditional sweets which are made by hand using natural and organic ingredients.
Led by artisans at Toraya, which has been in the wagashi business since the 16th century, participants will learn how to craft confectionery masterpieces that are almost too good to eat. And then, of course, everyone gets to eat what they have made.
This activity is organised through The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Tokyo.
Capacity: 15 pax
Telephone: (81) 3 3423 8000
7 Make music in Okinawa
Famous as a melting pot of numerous Asia-Pacific cultures, the southern Japanese islands of Okinawa are fiercely proud of their unique history and traditions. One of the best ways to get acquainted with Okinawan culture is through its music, a key component of any local gathering.
Put your top achievers in a music-making workshop organised by DMC Okinawa, where they will be instructed by musicians skilled in some of the instruments commonly used in Okinawan music, such as the sanshin guitar, sanba castanets, the small paranku drum and the much larger taiko drum.
Participants are taught the basics of their instrument and coached to perform a song. Larger incentive groups are encouraged to break down into smaller bands and hold a competition of their new-found musical skills.
Capacity: 30 pax
8) Retreat into the quiet highlands
Asilia Africa’s latest product, The Highlands luxury camp on the lush grounds of Ngorongoro Conservation Area, promises a rich wilderness adventure
Asilia Africa’s latest product, The Highlands luxury camp on the lush grounds of Ngorongoro Conservation Area, promises a rich wilderness adventure than is embellished with private and exquisite accommodation.
The Highlands features eight domed suites with king beds, and all the creature comforts well-heeled travellers will appreciate. Each is furnished with ensuite bathrooms with hot running water, showers and flushing toilets, and in-room wood-burning stoves. Further privacy in this remote property is ensured, as each tent is set 15-20m apart.
Set far from other camps and on the edge of the mountain forest hugging the Olmoti volcano, guests of The Highlands can easily access the Ngorongoro Crater as they follow ancient Maasai trails to the summit and partake in programmes offered uniquely by property. These include visits to local communities to learn about the traditional Maasai way of life, go for a game drive in the Ngorongoro Crater, and hike the Empakaai Crater.
When guests are not exploring the surrounding nature, they can retreat into the plush interiors of The Highlands and feast on gourmet meals made with fresh, organic ingredients sourced from the Karatu area.
Capacity: Up to 16 pax (property buyout)
9 Fight of the titans
Further stoke the competitive spirit in your top performers with a prokout session, which means “fight” in Cambodian.
Prokout Fitness and Fight Centre puts groups of participants through the basics of Kun Khmer, traditional Cambodian fighting, which dates back centuries. As well as learning some of the moves, dedicated instructors will be on hand to share their knowledge about the spiritual martial art and the activities that devoted masters must carry out in their daily lives to ensure a win in the ring.
Capacity: Up to 50 pax
10 Shadow play
Promoting and reviving Cambodian cultural arts since 1993, Sovannaphum Arts Association specialises in traditional shadow puppet performances, as well as traditional music and dance.
Incentive winners can learn more about the art of shadow puppetry, and the intricate process of making puppets from the country’s few surviving masters. For groups with more time on hand, sign up for lessons on traditional dance, drum play and making masks used in folk dance.
Capacity: Up to 30 people
11) Step into Chaplin’s World
Immerse in the life of silent movie comic actor and filmmaker Charlie Chaplin in his house, Manoir de Ban in Montreux Riviera, Switzerland where he and his family spent many years away from the limelight.
The vast estate, where Chaplin retreated to after being barred in the US due to suspicions of his alleged communist sympathies, now houses a museum of his films and personal possessions, a four-hectare park, and exhibition space for his movies.
Nearby, there’s even a 138-key Modern Times Hotel that is dedicated to him.
Capacity: Varied capacity
12 Glide through Delhi on a Segway
The most fun and least strenuous way to explore Delhi’s monuments is on a Segway. The exclusive 45-minute guided tour is led by knowledgeable tour supervisors and escorted by safety marshals. Some of the landmarks the tour calls at include the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Parliament House and India Gate
Capacity: Up to six pax
13) Speed it up in a McLaren
Feel the exhilarating speed of a McLaren 650s against a beautiful alpine backdrop at Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell, Otago, New Zealand.
Powered by a 641hp, 3.8L Twin-Turbo V8, this scissor-doored machine can reach 100 km/h in under three seconds. You’ll be enjoying speeds well past the 200km/h mark with a professional lap driver. Highlands also has the Radical SR3, Ferrari and Porsche in its stable of fast cars available for rides.
Capacity: 50 to 80 pax
14) Grab a seat
Spearheaded by German-born executive chef Peter Find, the Chef’s Table at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong, is designed to create a distinctive private dining experience that engages diners’ senses by putting them in the centre of action.
The Chef’s Table brings the kitchen scene into the dining room, allowing epicureans to experience the vibrancy of the kitchen while enjoying the luxury of dining in a private enclave. Find and his team then attend to the table exclusively throughout the evening, guiding guests through each course. A sommelier will also be on hand to share his recommendations of wines to pair with the menu.
A minimum spend of HK$16,000 (US$2,049, excluding 10 per cent tax) applies.
Capacity: Up to eight pax
15) Baa, baa wooly sheep
For a unique wilderness experience, catch the annual sheep mustering and shearing.
A quintessentially New Zealand event, guests will be surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells of one of the North Island’s largest sheep high country station.
Antipodean Luxury Travel will organise a helicopter transfer from a luxury lodge at Cape Kidnappers to the station where 46,000 sheep will be shorn.
Then learn how the wool is graded into classes and which products are made from each type of wool. Guests will be able to choose their own wool to be spun into a garment of their choice to take home as a memento of their visit.
Capacity: Unavailable at press time
16) Conquer the land in a Land Rover
There’s a place where all Land Rover products have been tested since 1948, before they hit the marketplace, and where its off-road tracks are deemed infamous and a real challenges with steep descents and water crossings. That place is Lode Lane in Solihull, UK, home of Land Rover Manufacturing.
Lode Lane offers private groups a chance to drive on these testing grounds – Jungle Track, Land Track and Adventure Zone – while imparting a greater knowledge on how to make the most of Land Rover off-road technology.
Capacity: Up to 45 pax
17) Score breakfast on court at the Australian Open
No other Grand Slam offers a behind the scenes experience like this.
Have breakfast on court at the Australian Open before the crowds arrive, meet with tennis personalities and get close to the tennis action with VIP seats. Experts will also be on hand to provide an overview of the day’s play and insights into the players. Or indulge in an evening of fine dining and entertainment on court with special guest appearances by legends of the sport.
Capacity: 12 pax for VIP On Court Seating; up to 300 pax for breakfast or dinner
18 Witness the grandeur of Goa at dusk
Here is a chance for you to showcase the beauty of Goa, India, to your top achievers.
One of the best ways to see the city is by going on a private sunset cruise down Goa’s Mandovi River to take in the enthralling coastline. Dinner and cocktails will keep winners’ spirits high while Goan singers and dancers provide entertainment. The cruise will sail past the Panjim riverfront to Miramar – where a million city lights twinkle – before moving on to Adil Shah Palace, once the summer palace of the Sultan.
Capacity: Up to 120 pax
19) Exclusive Bordeaux Day Tour
Organised by Grape Escapes, this day tour is designed to showcase the very best that France’s Bordeaux has to offer, with unique wine tastings, VIP experiences and luxury chauffeured transport.
Planners can choose between the internationally renowned left-bank Médoc, home to Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux’s big, bold reds, or the UNESCO classified appellation of Saint-Emilion, home to the Merlot grape and much smoother red wines. The tour can be tailored further with planners picking their preferred Châteaux for tours and tastings, and Grape Escapes’ tour specialists will offer advice and suggestions accordingly.
True to the luxury promise of the programme, the experience includes lunch at a two-Michelin-star restaurant in a quaint château in the Médoc. If a Saint-Emilion, Graves or Sauternes tour was chosen, lunch will be substituted with an alternative highly-regarded premium restaurant.
Capacity: Four people or more
20) Understand Bali’s arts
For centuries, Bali has enjoyed a rich and diverse artistic heritage. Traditional dance and music is deeply woven into the socio-religious fabric of the Balinese people.
Through InterContinental Bali Resort, a private session with I Made Bandem – a leading author on Balinese art and culture – can be arranged. This will introduce top achievers to the fundamentals of local dance, music and the philosophy behind the arts. There will also be opportunities for participants to try out a few graceful dance moves or play an array of handcrafted instruments.
Capacity: Capacity details unavailable at press time
21) Drive away negativity
The okokan is a perfect way to begin or end an incentive programme. The sacred ritual is unique to the village of Kerambitan in Bali, and involves a noisy procession of men sounding wooden cow bell instruments to drive away negativity. Organised by InterContinental Bali Resort, top achievers will not only witness the tradition first hand, but also take part in a symbolic re-enactment of an okokan parade.
Capacity: Capacity details unavailable at press time
22) Star appeal on two wheels
Show your winners some of the most picturesque sights of Singapore’s Marina Bay area with an invigorating cycling session.
Marina Bay Sands and the International Cycling Executives Association organise team cycling clinics with routes spanning up to 35km, with a celebrity joining the ride. Past guests include Tour de France professional Nicolas Roche, chef and TV personality Gordon Ramsay, and Australian former racing cyclist Dave McKenzie.
Capacity: 40 to 50 pax
23) Rule this kitchen
The Open Farm Community, a lifestyle establishment in Singapore that supports local farms has launched interactive masterclasses. Its team of chefs and bartenders, will guide participants – from greenhorns to experienced cooks – in delicious creations amid a lush garden setting.
Top performers can then shake up a mean cocktail with a resident bartender, or whip up their own batch of ice cream under the guidance of a chef.
Capacity: From 10 pax
24) In search of paradise
Paradise is not always a long way away, especially when it is the Royal Belum State Park in question. Malaysia’s largest and oldest forest reserve can be a memorable playground for incentive winners.
Groups can cruise the Temenggor Lake in a fully air-conditioned house boat, swim and feed wild fish at Ruok Waterfall Kelah Sanctuary, angle for freshwater fish, and trek Kooi Paradise Falls in search of the world’s largest flower, Rafflesia, in bloom.
Capacity: Up to 20 pax
25) An artistic escape
Margutta 19, a luxury five-star boutique hotel has opened in Rome, Italy. Tucked away on Via Margutta – known locally as the artist’s street thanks to famous prior residents such as Picasso and Stravinsky – this elegant palazzo has been given a modern makeover.
Featuring 16 rooms that have been styled in gentle shades of sage and ivory, with parquet floors, travertine marble bathrooms, king-size beds and Frette linens, the property will provide a chic and restful escape after a long day of exploring Rome’s attractions. Classic and deluxe suites overlook the cobbled Via Margutta and its terracotta buildings, while the Garden Suite comes with its own 43m2 terrace. Be sure to dine at Restaurant Assaggia, and taste Michelin-star chef Angelo Troiani’s inventive spin on Roman classics.
Capacity: 32 people for property buyout
26) Night at the museum
Enjoy the exclusivity of having an entire museum to your top achievers, where they can peruse the exhibits on a private tour led by a curator, before sitting down to dinner served by people dressed in period costume to evoke a bygone era. Event specialist Discovery Overland is able to offer a number of museums in Penang, Melaka and Perak, Malaysia for this experience.
Capacity: Up to 20 people
27) Pottering around
Get your winners acquainted with locals in Klipah Village, near the Borobudur Temple in Indonesia. The experience begins with a ride in an andong horse cart from the hotel to the village. Along the way, see locals going about their daily activities. Upon reaching the village, local potters will teach the group how to make pottery using traditional methods. At the end of it all, everyone gets to bring home their masterpiece, a priceless memory.
Capacity: Up to 20 pax
28) Get active – or not – in Tamouda Bay
Opened September 2016, the all-villa Banyan Tree Tamouda Bay resort in Morocco sits in an area that puts top incentive winners within easy access of a plethora of activities around the area, from scuba diving and guided catamaran excursions to mountain hiking and golf, many of which can be coordinated by the resort. Otherwise, activities such as fun cooking classes focusing on Moroccan or Thai cuisine can also be arranged.
Should top performers prefer to zone out in peace and quiet, they are in more than welcome to. Besides lounging in their sprawling villas – ranging from 200m2 to 423m2 in size, some boasting a private garden and pool – guests can also choose to luxuriate in a traditional body treatment at the award-winning Banyan Tree Spa.
Capacity: 184 pax for property buyout
29) Sail the MY The Wellesley
Not enough to just impress top achievers with a stay at The Wellesley in London’s Knightsbridge, a Luxury Collection Hotel, planners can also throw in an ultra-luxe cruise in the hotel’s very own super-yacht. The 56m-long vessel mirrors that hotel’s Art Deco design and boasts the largest open deck space among other similar super-yachts. It also holds six opulent suites for up to 12 guests.
In the day, top achievers can trade success stories in the plush Main Salon before heading the the sundeck for a soak in the splashpool with a flute of champagne in hand. Lunch can be served on the open deck before a lazy afternoon retreat into the Club Lounge where a collection of the world’s finest cigars and exquisite liquors can be found. As night falls, spice up the air with a BBQ on board and later, movies under the stars at the outdoor cinema.
Capacity: 12 pax
30) One for the fans of DOTS
If your incentive winners recognise this abbreviations – DOTS, then this special tour is perfect for them. For the rest, DOTS is Descendants of The Sun, a 2016 South Korean TV series about a love story between a soldier and doctor set in a fictional, war-torn nation. The series was a colossal hit in South Korea and globally – it was sold to 32 countries.
Fans can visit a number of sites that were featured in the storyline and even try on military uniforms worn in the show. The trip also includes lunch near one of the film sites.
Capacity: Nine pax
31) The science of sake
Had enough of wine talks and tasting sessions? How about getting a richer experience of Japan’s traditional rice wines this time?
Sake is gaining a firm following around the world as consumers and connoisseurs look for something new and different to stimulate their tastebuds.
Organised through The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Tokyo, your winners can join sake experts at luxury retailer The Cover Nippon to hear about the origins and process of making sake, with the opportunity to sample and savour the very best varieties.
Capacity: 20 pax
Telephone: (81) 3 3423 8000
32) Racy suite
Fairmont Monte Carlo has created a suite dedicated to World Championship driver Ayrton Senna. The suite, decorated with signed photos and memorabilia of Ayrton‘s six victories in Monaco, was officially inaugurated with a special tribute that was attended by Bianca Senna, member of Ayrton Senna’s family and Albert II, prince of Monaco.
Creative planners can take out Ayrton Senna Suite and turn it into a memorable event venue for an exclusive champagne breakfast party or for a motivational session over delicate afternoon tea.
Capacity: 50 pax
33) Cruise down Brahmaputra River
The five-deck MV Mahabaahu, equipped with elegant suites, a spa, swimming pool, restaurant, lounge and bar, offers a distinguished way to explore the Brahmaputra River in India’s serene north-eastern region.
A number of upstream and downstream itineraries are available, and incentive groups can pick a three-night downstream option that also takes in visits to a tea estate, Kaziranga National Park, Peacock Island and Kamakhya Temple. Enhance the experience with a private barbecue dinner on a deserted island.
Capacity: 50 pax
34) Dolphin hugs and more at Sea World
Watch dolphins play in Sea World’s Dolphin Lagoon in Gold Coast, Australia, while having a unique poolside breakfast setting amid a spectacular tropical display of sea life.
Then meet the dolphins’ passionate trainers and choose between an interactive Deep Water Experience featuring dolphin bows, dolphin hugs and full water involvement with one of the dolphins, or a Shallow Water Experience to encounter a dolphin in knee-deep water.
Capacity: Varied capacity
35) Water dining in the wild
The Golden Tusk resort near Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand, India, offers a memorable dining experience set in a water dining pool and against a backdrop of lush forest. Your winners will enjoy a candlelit dinner, with full attention of a butler.
The resort is also great for incentive groups with limited time on hand, as it offers a range of facilities and activities under one roof, from a wellness centre to unwind in to specially designed excursion itineraries.
Capacity: Varied capacity