Meeting attendees are increasingly favouring unique programmes that not only check off all items on their business agenda but also feature fun, memorable experiences. Asiaās integrated resorts ā packed with convention facilities, restaurants, shopping and entertainment ā can easily bring on the fun for any serious business gatherings.
What if you could dine with dolphins or conquer the steepest drop in the Southern Hemisphere at your next conference? These are just some of the possibilities at Village Roadshow Theme Parks (VRTP), possibly the āfunnestā place to have a large meeting in Asia-Pacific, with six entertainment properties on the Gold Coast.
VRTPās conference centre ā located within Sea World Resort ā caters for 1,000 delegates in a space that can be divided into three rooms. Twelve other meeting spaces are available on-site, plus restaurants and bars, as well as 400 guestrooms. Once logistic boxes are checked, the fun activities are hard to beat.
Included in a conference package and exclusive to delegates is a behind-the-scenes tour of the resortās Shark Bay on a morning before the park opens. There is also an option to upgrade the experience to a Reef Snorkel activity for 12 delegates.
Also available on-site are teambuilding exercises such as a self-managed scavenger hunt that takes delegates through Sea Worldās amazing attractions or a more structured activity through one of VRTPās teambuilding partners. The programme can conclude with dinner at dockside while watching dolphins play.
Fun options are not limited to Sea World. With its stable of other entertainment properties in close vicinity, delegates can choose to enjoy a heart-stopping Australian Outback Spectacular Dinner and Show, an Aussie Farm event at Paradise Country, or a glitzy Hollywood starlight dinner at Warner Bros. Movie World.
From mid-2018 the fun menu has a new addition with Topgolf, an entertainment experience held in climate-controlled suites for year-round comfort and caters to all ages and skill levels. Meanwhile, adrenaline addicts can opt for a ride on the longest, fastest and highest HyperCoaster in the Southern Hemisphere.
VRTP also offers tailored experiences for delegates, with recent examples including recreating a scene from the Chicago movie for a Razzle Dazzle event or having the company CEO deliver his (pre-recorded) speech from inside their Shark Ray Exhibit surrounded by company logos in the tank. With so many options for fun activities, delegates will go home buzzing on a high. Did we mention thereās also a beach opposite the resort?
Beyond treasure hunts and races through its world-class theme park and aquarium, Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) has tricks up its sleeve to transform its spaces into setups for unconventional activities.
For example, corporate groups can participate in cooking lessons at Cooking Sessions, a fully equipped cooking studio nestled within Sessions at Hard Rock Hotel Singapore where they can whip up a multiple-course fine dining meal under chef guidance.
They can also enjoy a private educational session with a trainer of the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins of Dolphin Island, or have an invigorating morning qigong on the private lawn of ESPA with RWSā resident qigong master, followed by a healthy breakfast.
For a memorable affair of dinner and drinks away from conventional banquet halls, planners can consider a variety of unique options around RWS. These include a sunset picnic with champagne at the Waterfront Promenade, with a picnic basket curated by the resortās celebrity chefs and world-class culinary team; a hearty local steamboat banquet of fresh seafood and gourmet meats at the Coliseum at the Hard Rock Hotel Singapore; and a customisable barbecue cook-out in the company of dinosaurs at The Lost World inside Universal Studios Singapore theme park.
Companies that prefer sit-down banquets can add a little drama with this atmospheric option: the Ocean Gallery in the SEA Aquarium, which can be transformed into a banquet hall with a panoramic view of marine life.
In between these social segments, town hall meetings, launch events or even presentations and screenings can be brought to the art deco-inspired Pantages Hollywood Theatre in Universal Studios Singapore theme park.
Phu Quoc is a star in the making, with the rapidly developing Vietnamese island appearing on the radar of an increasing number of corporates seeking some sun, sand and fun.
Vingroup is one homegrown company that is heavily investing in the island, with the Vinpearl Resort Phu Quoc complex spread across hundreds of hectares in north-west Bai Dai, or Long Beach, area ā and they have ensured there is plenty to keep corporate groups entertained.
In 4Q2016, Vingroup unveiled the first phase of its project in the form of Vinpearl Phu Quoc Resort & Spa, Vinpearl Land and a 27-hole golf course. Since then, a further four luxurious resorts have opened, each boasting their own range of restaurants, bars, fitness facilities and entertainment.
Regardless of which resort guests stay at ā although Vinpearl Phu Quoc Golf Resort is proving popular with corporates, with two conference rooms, outdoor space next to a spacious pool and a beach for up to 2,000 people, and six restaurants and bars ā they are all connected and within close distance to the stacks of activities available.
Vinpearl Land packs in a water park, aquarium, food court, shopping street, outdoor amusement park and a 2,500-seat musical water stage that provides the perfect backdrop for a unique private event.
For instance, Vinpearl Safari and conservation park is home to 3,000 animals spanning 150 species, including Bengal tigers, flamingos and grey shanks.
Meanwhile, Vinpearl Golf Phu Quoc is a 27-hole championship course designed by IMG Worldwide. A team is on hand to help organise a gala dinner, event or golf championship for groups of 10 to 240.
Lastly, wellness needs are catered for at Vincharm Spa. Curated corporate packages are available.
Sunway City is a massive integrated resort in Selangor, Malaysia. Spanning 323.7 hectares, the complex comprises three hotels ā Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa, Sunway Pyramid Hotel or Sunway Clio Hotel ā and Sunway Lagoon Theme Park with six different adventure zones.
While it naturally draws the leisure crowds, Sunway Lagoon Theme Park is also a hit with corporate groups. Business events make up roughly 25 per cent of the attractionās business mix.
The landscaped Surf Beach, in particular, is loved by planners for gala dinners as it recreates a seaside experience with its wave-making mechanism. For an extra special touch, a man-made volcano can be made to erupt at the push of a button.
The 13,000m2 Surf Beach was used by Tourism Selangor to host a dinner show, Tale of Mount Berapi, in May for its guests from the European Travel Agents and Tour Operators Associations. It was a huge success due of the special effects of an erupting volcano and talented in-house entertainers.
Sunway Lagoon Theme Park is often used for corporate teambuilding programmes. Its large spaces and multiple attractions mean planners can theme the programme to the characteristics of each zone. For example, at the Water Park teambuilding games can ensure participants get wet and wild.
Activity ideas vary across the theme park, from treasure hunts and amazing races to cooking contests.
For conferences and meetings, there is the Amphitheatre @ Sunway Lagoon which can seat 2,116 people as well as the Tribal Council Meeting Room which can accommodate 40 people in theatre style.
As with all theme parks, F&B outlets are plentiful. More dining options can be found at Sunway Pyramid Mall, a short walk away.
Although only partially opened, Okada Manila already has several outstanding activities and venues for social segments of business events in its Instagrammable complex.
Partyphiles can troop to Cove Manila, a column-free, UV-protected and hermetically-controlled glass dome that is an indoor beach club by day and a nightclub at dusk. Business events can use the entire venue for up to 4,500 pax or the beach club and night club separately. There are luxury private cabanas for smaller gatherings.
Cove Manila comprises several pools, 29 private cabanas with private hot tubs, bars and restaurants. Entertainment is provided by regular DJs who spin classic dance music, while special effects, sensory and immersive audio and light systems send out the party vibes.
Okada Manila also has an outdoor fountain the size of 50 Olympic-size swimming pools, where choreographed water, light and music shows are performed nightly. Live performances by its in-house entertainment team can be hired for corporate events. The entertainment team is composed of about 40 international artists and designers for that memorable World of Wonders experience, replete with visual and high technology and artistic, multicultural theatrics.
This venue and its performance was featured in a recent car launch as well as an international convention for quality control.
Although the integrated resort has only pop-up retail stands as of press time, 50 permanent high-end retail shops are expected to be ready by the end of 2019.
For a dose of rest-and-relax, the Retreat Spa offers bespoke spa programmes and skin care options from specialists and certified spa therapists. The Sole Retreat Foot Spa is slated to open soon.
Spice up business events with all-original theatre productions ranging from concerts and musicals to plays and other gigs. Need a lot of laughs? Funnyman cum impersonator Jon Santos, a Resorts World Manila regular, is available to whip up hilarious spiels and spoofs of local and international celebrities and politicians. Heās too disarming to be offensive and his one-liners delivered in faultless English bring out the laughter.
Quality gigs have quality venues, and Resorts World Manila has a number of them to offer. The Newport Performing Arts Theater is equipped with a wide, revolving stage and state-of-the-art screens and digital audio system, while the function rooms at the Marriott Grand Ballroom are outfitted with the most advanced stage, lighting and sound network available in this part of Metro Manila.
Take a leaf from some conferences at Resorts World Manila that have successfully woven together business and pleasure. At a customs brokers conference last year, delegates were treated to a little night of music that showcased dancing and musical talents that Resorts World Manilaās all-original theatre production specialises in.
At a convention for a golf event, some delegates were given a wellness treat. The spacious Quan Spa at Marriott Hotel Manila offers ancient techniques and organic ingredients for body wellness, from foot reflexology to body massages and facials.
Frequently, Resorts World Manila has varied discounts, specials and offerings, exclusive privileges and promotions at its partner merchants including F&B outlets and shops.
More recreational facilities at Resorts World Manila will emerge over the next few months, through the opening of Hilton, Sheraton and Okura hotels where more F&Bs and shops, as well as the biggest swimming pool and jacuzzi in town will be housed.
Event planners in search of premium dining experiences and outdoor fun will find that the Galaxy Macau integrated resort delivers with its collection of 120 pan-Asian and international restaurants, the worldās largest skytop wave pool and the worldās longest skytop adventure rapids.
Michelin-star restaurants can work with planners to craft a themed dining experience using seasonal ingredients or an exquisite wine- or Chinese tea-pairing menu.
Ice-breaker or teambuilding games can be conducted at the Grand Resort Deck where the iconic wave pool and adventure rapids are.
Delegates who prefer to stay indoor can be kept busy at the cinema (with 10 3D-screen theatres), ESPA Macau, Banyan Tree Spa and Foot Hub massage centre. As well, they can learn to make a pizza at Urban Kitchen or craft a cocktail at The Lounge under the guidance of mixologists.
Accommodation options are plenty ā The Ritz-Carlton Macau, Banyan Tree Macau, JW Marriott Hotel Macau, Hotel Okura Macau, Galaxy Hotel and Broadway Hotel.
At a recent corporate conference, 100 delegates met at JW Marriott Hotel Macau, took part in a bubble soccer teambuilding game in the ballroom, explored the amenities on the Grand Resort Deck and enjoyed a BBQ feast under the stars at Banyan Tree Macau.
Macauās newest integrated resort is the 1,400-room MGM Cotai which made its official debut in February 2018. It comes armed with numerous meeting spaces, a spa facility, retail shops, and various F&B outlets.
Among its many gems is the MGM Theater, said to be the worldās first theatre to offer 28 million pixels of viewing pleasure to its audience by utilising a giant 900m2 4K LED screen. Besides being able to use the MGM Theater for keynote presentations and conferences, planners can also transform the space into a hall for gala dinners and awards ceremonies.
Come 3Q2018, MGM Theater will debut two resident shows. The Experience is a 10-minute mind-bending technological symphony that showcases the theatreās engineering and architectural dexterity, while Destiny is an electrifying, action-packed theatrical production inspired by TV game shows and adventure video games. Corporate groups can charter the entire theatre for an exclusive and indulgent champagne-and-show night.
MGM Cotaiās nine dining establishments can support partial hire for private dining events.
Further recreational add-ons to a business meeting include wellness treatments in VIP facilities within Tria Spa, or a tour of the hotelās art collection which features more than 300 artworks, ranging from modern and contemporary Asian paintings and sculptures by renowned artists to freshly-commissioned works by local and regional rising talents. Leading the collection are 28 Chinese imperial carpets that date back to the Qing Dynasty; they once adorned the Forbidden City in Beijing, China.