Incentive travel has made a comeback, with island buyouts, adrenaline-fuelled activities and the promise of fresh sunshine. TTGmice reporters sniff out some of the most exciting rewards available on the market.
1. Recharge in this tropical hideaway
Transport your top achievers to another world with a stay in one of the world’s oldest living rainforests at the luxurious Silky Oaks Lodge near Cairns. Set on 32 hectares, the recently refurbished property offers six treehouse suite categories, as well as a revitalised pool and riverbank area with an open-air bar and firepit. The Lodge also offers bespoke guests experiences including a safari through the Daintree Rainforest, mud crabbing at Cooya Beach and snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef.
2. Of peace and love
Makepeace Island is a heart-shaped island located on the Noosa River on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
A collection of three tropical-inspired luxury villas, four rooms in the Island House, and a unique Boathouse allows 20 winners to enjoy an exclusive island experience through a buyout. There is an extensive range of onsite facilities including tennis courts and swimming pools. Guests can also partake in water sports and yoga.
Island hire comes with private dining experiences, crafted by the group’s own executive chef. Ingredients are sourced from local organic producers across the region. Culinary masterclasses can also be arranged.
The more adventurous folks can go on walks through the World Heritage-listed K’gari (Fraser Island) and Great Sandy National Park, horse riding on North Shore’s white sand dunes, or circumnavigate the island on board a small sailing catamaran.
3. A taste of the countryside
Indulge in rural Cambodian culture with an exclusive dining experience at Villa Chandara. Guests receive a monk’s blessing at a pagoda before taking a short cruise to the villa, located in the heart of rice fields. As the chef cooks up a five-course meal, musicians provide a backdrop of Khmer music. Extra entertainment can be arranged, such as apsara dancers, shadow puppets, or a Phare Circus performance.
4. Escape from the city
A private Thai-style villa overlooking Clear Water Bay in Saikung, Hong Kong, Amtarda offers an exquisite lunch or dinner experience for small groups of 10 to 60 people. Prices for a 10-course, Thai meal start from HK$2,200 (US$281) per pax.
Sitting on the enviable location with rolling mountains and hills as the backdrop, the one-of-a-kind resort also provides four rooms that can comfortably host eight guests.
5. A palatial oasis fit for queens and kings
Raffles Udaipur, India’s first Raffles hotel, was built on an 8.5-hectare private island set in the middle of serene Udai Sagar Lake. There are 101 luxurious suites within that boast western decor plus elements of Mughal architecture, where incentive winners will be able to bask in uninterrupted lake views, private gardens, balconies, plunge pools.
Winners can also spend a day revelling in the beauty of the magnificent Aravali Hills and meander through the backroads of nearby villages by going on a cycling trail.
Crowned as The Venice Of The East, Udaipur is resplendent with rich cultural heritage, regal history, palatial architecture, lively bazaars, and museums that narrate stories of the bygone era.
6. Watch the sun illuminate Mount Bromo
Treat your 15 incentive winners to a sunrise like no other and a breakfast fit for champions in the Indonesian desert. For this invigorating reward, winners will have an early start by clambering into a jeep at 04.00, riding up to the Mount Bromo sunrise viewpoint, and climbing a flight of stairs to be rewarded with a breathtaking, Instagram-worthy sunrise of Mount Bromo and its surrounds.
Winners will then be driven down to an open area where they will fuel up on a Power Breakfast, comprising of local dishes such as bubur ayam (chicken porridge), nasi pecel (vegetable salad with peanut sauce), and toast. Ginger coffee and herbal tea will also be provided.
Activity organiser Panorama can also build teambuilding or engagement elements into the programme, such as Amazing Race-style games.
7. A luxurious excursion
Grant your adventurous winners a luxurious hike up Mount Papandayan in West Java, Indonesia.
The 15 top achievers will embark on a late afternoon hike up the beginner-friendly mountain, and arrive at the campsite just in time to enjoy the sunset with a cup of freshly-brewed tea. Participants can complete the four-hour hike without needing to worry about carrying anything, as tents, porters and F&B are provided.
After camp is set, a delicious dinner will be prepared by the chef, which can be enjoyed over a roaring bonfire. Winners get to chase the sunrise before a hearty breakfast, followed by a round of teambuilding activities, before heading down to base camp at 10.00. The incentive tour will then round off with a Sundanese lunch.
8. Dance along with the locals
Awa Odori is one of the largest and oldest matsuris (festivals) in Japan. Held in summer, the three-day event brings the host city, Tokushima, to life with parades of thousands of dancers wearing colourful light cotton kimono or happi jackets and shorts. Dress up and join in the festivities after learning the moves in a private session, for a once-in-a-lifetime festival experience.
9. Fast and furious
Top achievers with a penchant for speed will be able to relive the epic experience and feel the adrenaline rushing through their veins by taking the wheel and zooming around on the Grand Prix Sepang Circuit in this once-in-a-lifetime experience. The circuit was once the venue of the Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix from 1999 to 2017.
This activity can be combined with a company-wide gala for up to 500, where winners will be able to receive their awards set against a backdrop of planes as the outdoor venue is right beside the Kuala Lumpur International Airport runway.
10. Go above and beyond
Get an unforgettable overview of Queenstown in New Zealand with an exclusive helicopter tour that includes five landing spots and a delicious lunch.
Good for five pax, the NZ$12,000 (US$8,217) experience transports guests over the Wakatipu Basin towards Luna Ridge to revel in gorgeous views of Lake Wakatipu and up towards Glenorchy and Milford Sound. Top winners will also experience a landing on a remote West Coast beach to collect crayfish before descending into the stunning Fiordland Lodge for a sumptuous gourmet lunch.
11. What a thrill!
Bungy jumping is a rite of passage and where better to do it than in Queenstown, the World Home of Bungy, in New Zealand? The most incentive-worthy jumps would have to be the official AJ Hackett branches – Nevis Bungy, Ledge Bungy and Kawarau Bungy. Aside from leaping off a perfectly-good bridge, winners may also be treated to an unforgettable ride on The Nevis Catapult (pictured). Setting the world record for being the Largest Human Catapult, The Nevis Catapult is able to reach speeds of 100kmh in 1.5 seconds, propelling thrill-seekers 150m across a ravine and through a series of jaw-dropping bounces.
12. Gems of the sea
Reward 40 your champions with an idyllic vacation on Flower Island Resort in Palawan, the Philippines. What’s interesting for winners will be a side trip to Jewelmer’s nearby pearl farm, where the international luxury brand demonstrates the meticulous process in how South Sea pearls are turned into fine pieces of jewellery.
Top achievers can also participate in non-profit projects under Save the Palawan Seas Foundation to contribute to environmental issues, such as seaweed farming, tree planting, and coastal clean-ups.
13. Crank it up
Explore the Philippine countryside on the back of an ATV, riding through dirt tracks and hills, followed by a trek to the lava wall at the foot of the fascinating Mayon Volcano.
An active stratovolcano in the province of Albay in Bicol Region, winners will be able to view up close the dark lava boulders in a surreal landscape framed by the majestic Mayon and the city below.
Good for 40 winners, the activity is best combined with a trip to the coastal town of Donsol for an eco-friendly and unforgettable interaction with whalesharks.
14. Stay in a private island sanctuary
Located in north-eastern Palawan, Banwa Private Island – set in the embrace of a protected marine and nature reserve – is the perfect reward for top achievers. The island resort boasts six beachfront pool villas with space for an intimate group of 22, and numerous activities ranging from catamaran sails to diving trips, and stargazing to pampering spa retreats.
In a nod to sustainability, the island’s owners have also established the Aquos Foundation to support, nurture and protect the island’s delicate ecosystems, including the critically endangered Hawksbill Turtle.
Ascent Flights Global charters direct flights to Banwa, via an eight-seat seaplane from Manila as well as helicopters for up to 10 passengers.
15. Leave a bright mark
Drawing on walls is usually illegal in Singapore, but with this Asian Trails’ idea – conducted in collaboration with local NGO Social Creatives – corporate groups can help add colour to the city-state’s streets through a mural painting session.
Participants will first be introduced to simple theories of art appreciation and briefed on artistic styles used for mural designs, before enjoying a hands-on mural painting session. An ideal group size for the half-day activity would be from 51 to 100 delegates.
A CSR component can also be included, where groups may be granted a rare opportunity to paint the wards at the Institute of Mental Health.
16. Fly sky high in a chopper over Phang Nga Bay
One of the wonders of South-east Asia, Phang Nga Bay in Thailand is famous for its placid emerald waters and gravity-defying limestone formations like James Bond Island, which starred alongside 007 in The Man With the Golden Gun. One of the best ways to experience the bay’s bounty of scenic splendour is from the cockpit of a helicopter. Skydance offers winners an unforgettable 40-minute aerial extravaganza that makes for perfect memories.
17. Sail into the horizon
Sail into a special type of paradise with a private yacht charter to Thailand’s Similan Islands.
The secluded islands marooned in the Andaman Sea have some of the finest reefs in the world with vibrant corals teeming with colourful tropical fish, perfect for snorkelling and diving trips. Additional activities that can be arranged for include jetskiing, canoeing, stand up paddleboarding, and the set-up of inflatable water slides.
Incentives planners can work with Boat in The Bay on a four-day itinerary that explores the best of the archipelago.
18. A fancy dinner at the former US ambassador’s house
Enjoy a private dinner at the former home of US ambassador to south Vietnam in the 1960s, Henry Cabot Lodge.
Located in Ho Chi Minh City, the stunning villa has been restored to its former glory and winners will be treated to a cocktail reception in the courtyard accompanied by traditional dance. This is followed by a sophisticated Vietnamese meal in the decadent dining room accompanied by live music.