Dec 16 2012

Two very special places on earth

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Tented room in Al Maha, Dubai

Tented room in Al Maha, Dubai

Halaveli Resort in the Maldives

Halaveli Resort in the Maldives

We visit a lot of special places and we recently discovered two resorts that are absolutely fabulous.
The Al Maha resort (part of the Starwood Luxury Collection), located in the middle of the Dubai desert, is simply amazing.  The scenery is breath taking, the Arabian Oryx is the star of the conservation area, and the tented rooms, all with private pool, are simply out of this world.
You need some budget but this really is a once-in-a-life time-experience.  To read more : www.al-maha.com
Same goes for the Halaveli Resort (part of the Constance Group) in the Maldives.  The Maldives really are beautiful, and the resort really is heaven on earth.  It is stylish, elegant and very exclusive.  If you are looking for a real special treat for your guests ! To read more : www.halaveli.constancehotels.com
Good idea also to combine : 2 very special nights in the Middle East desert, followed by an exotic stay in the paradise of the Maldives.

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Nov 16 2012

Choice

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Isn’t it a priviledge to be able to make choices in life ?
To be able to choose what you like to do, to eat, to wear, to believe, to study ?
And isn’t it fun to also have choices when you participate in an event ?
We recently took clients to the lovely island of Malta, and we made sure the participants had some choices, that they could fill in the program following to what they liked to do.
You need some flexibility from your suppliers, and the logistics are a bit more complicated, but it’s defenitely a high light when participants can kind of tailormake part of the program,
while at the same time, it keeps fitting the general program and company goals.
Some of the people’s comments :
“Loved it, to be able to choose the activity today.  My husband went fishing and I stayed at the hotel and enjoyed a nice spa treatment”
“Very much appreciated the facted that I could choose.  I took part in a cooking class, and my friend tried out the clay pigeon shooting activity”
“Very thougtfull of the organisation, to give us a choice today.  I hate to be on the water, so while our friends went on a sailing trip, my husband and I joined the photography workshop”
“What a nice surprise ! Tonight for the gala dinner, we could choose our main course.  It must have been quite an organisation for the chef and his team, but we highly appreciated the flexibility”
Choose your love, love your choice !

Great to have a choice !

Great to have a choice !

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Oct 30 2012

TAKING OVER THE TOWN : Space Invader

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From our personal trendwatcher in Paris,  Valentine Croughs
TAKING OVER THE TOWN : Space Invader
Under cover of darkness, increasing numbers of artists are letting their imagination run wild on the walls of our urban jungles.
Street art is flourishing. One of these pictorial minstrels has emerged from the pack as his mural creations have transformed Paris walks into a colourful and unexpected journey… through space.
Graffiti, stencils, mosaics, collages, posters… are today widely recognised as a new form of art: Street Art. As we wonder through our towns and cities, we cannot help but be drawn to the anonymous, underground and seemingly spontaneous decorations that surround us.
As a result, all shapes and sizes of these transient creations are regularly photographed by passers-by, as they become immortalised as an inherent and notable dimension of the experiences that towns have to offer to their guests.
Residents are becoming increasingly aware of the lure of these works of art as the town increasingly accepts them as part of its cultural identity and heritage.
Space is freed up to allow for further urban creativity allowing this originally forbidden art to be increasingly recognised, giving new artists permission to shine.
Paris is mostly known for its Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Cathédrale de Notre-Dame. But weaving its way between these historical masterpieces, a new and alternative tour of the “City of Lights” offers a surprising and unexpected way of discovering its hidden treasures.
We owe its existence to Paris’ renowned serial urban decorator: Space Invader. Ever since 1996, inspired by the homonymous seventies video-game, this Beaux-Arts graduate has scattered no fewer than 1000 small mosaics depicting the world-famous pixelated aliens around town. And the invasion is not exclusive to the French capital!
Fourty towns around the globe, from London to Tokyo, via Rome and, of course, Brussels, have since been visited by the curious extra-terrestrials.
Get ready look up and space-walk through town!
To know more about Space Invader
Website: www.space-invaders.com

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Apr 08 2012

CSR : what’s happening ?

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Give something back !

Give something back !

What’s happing with Corporate Social Responsibility ?
A while ago it was really popular to include a CSR moment in your program.  Clients were eager to share part of the event budget for a higher purpose then only spoiling the participants.
Participants were touched and proud to experience special moments when helping the locals and nature.
Nowadays we feel that less and less companies are inspired by CSR.
You still have companies who continue to sponsor CSR activities, but is it out of conviction or because it is part of the company policy ?
Was it just a hype, a fashion, a trend ?
Is the crisis playing a role ?
Are people getting solicited too often for this kind of things ?
We hope not as we strongly believe in the “give something back” credo and the fantastic feeling that you experience when you know that something good has been done.

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Mar 28 2012

People make a difference

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A short plea to all the DMC’s we work with : please invest time in the guides and drivers you work with !
Train them, pick out the best ones, give them proper briefings, find the right match for the various groups you have.
Guides and drivers can make such a difference and they do play a role in the success rate of an event.
Grumpy, stubborn drivers can really spoil a joyful drive ; boring and stubborn guides can just be a nightmare.
What is worse than a guide with terrible voice that you have to listen to for hours ?
Why is it so upsetting that a guide who doesn’t inspire people at all takes a tip for granted ?
We also feel that guides are often not properly briefed and don’t exactly know what kind of participants they have, what company they work for, what the goal of the trip is.
Good guides and drivers, that are properly briefed about the nature of a trip and what is expected of them, and who understand that they play an important part, are a gift from heaven.
Every person involved in the delivery of a program can make a difference !

People make a difference

People make a difference

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Mar 27 2012

Kashmir, an incentive destination ?

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Last week I spent a few days in Kashmir on a famtrip. The purpose of the trip was to evaluate whether the destination was ready for incentive projects.
Considering the ingredients MaX likes to use in the set-up of its incentive experiences, I personally think it is still too early to put Kashmir on our agenda.
Why? The main reason being that the people that are invited on an incentive want to feel pampered, are eager to discover new experiences, are having high expectations in terms of special events and exclusive moments created for them.
And in my opinion, the destination is not yet ready to fulfill these expectations.
On the other hand, if you are a globe trotter and trendsetter interested in adventure and authenticity, the destination might appeal to you.
Be prepared to face heavy pollution due to the loads of cars that honk their way around in the crowded streets of Srinagar
The people, mostly muslims, are very friendly, the landscapes are amazing, the climate in summer is very nice, being at an altitude of 2000m, the perfect weather to hit the golf ball on the highest golfcourse in the world … and in winter, skiing in the Kashmiri Himalayas is also very different from our ‘posh’ ski resorts in Europe.
Staying on a houseboat on Dal Lake is fun and back to basics. For those in search of more luxury, the Vivanta by Taj hotel overlooking the lake will do.
Taste the Cava, a green tea with saffron, local honey and almonds !  And the Wazwan,  a multi-course meal, the preparation of which is considered an art and a point of pride in Kashmiri culture and identity.
Although the ministry of foreign affairs has Kashmir still on the list of destinations to avoid, I have felt in security also thanks to the heavy security procedures when flying in or out of the country and the presence of an impressive number of militaries wherever you go.
Tourism being an important source of income ( no industries in Kashmir) I wish the destination can evolve and attract more and more tourists in the future.
On the way to Pahalgam, the Valley of the Sheperds

On the way to Pahalgam, the Valley of the Sheperds

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Mar 08 2012

Con mucho gusto !

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How pleasant and easy going my last stay in Costa Rica was.
The country where nature rules, where the birds and monkeys make as much noise as they want, where dancing butterflies color the sky, where the coati bring you morning greetings and where life seems easy.
The joyful shout “pura vida !” is genuine, gives you energy, and makes you smile.
What adds to all this is the friendly people and the service you get everywhere.  Maybe not always that efficient, but they are genuinely happy when they can help, they have big bright smiles and every “thank you” from your side is answered with a happy “con mucho gusto” : “with a lot of pleasure”.
It’s all part of the success story of a company, a hotel, a restaurant, a shop : if you deliver a good service, with a smile and with the eagerness to help and to please the customer, it will help you to be successful and in a very easy way.
I love good service !
Pura vida !
Life can be beautiful.

Con mucho gusto !

Con mucho gusto !

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Feb 16 2012

What can go wrong ?

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You only think so much can go wrong.
But there are no limits to what can go wrong when you organize an event.
Air planes that make a U-turn 10min before arriving at destination and that bring you back to where you came from ; a local guide who turns out to be a grandmother with too much spare time on her hands (with all due respect) ; pouring rain in the dry season ; the cook who takes off because he’s unhappy with his working conditions ; the mad restaurant owner who shuts down the lights because she is fed up with your gala dinner party ; the brand new transfer vehicle that breaks down and you’re hours away from the nearest city ; the lap top of the CEO that gets stolen ; 3 participants that end up in hospital an hour before you need to take the group to the airport for the return flight.
Fun fun fun !
Makes you want to change jobs and go and sell flowers.
But hey, look at the bright side of things : all this misery also gives you the opportunity to show your client what an expert you are in solving problems, in finding solutions, in being creative.
Try us Murphy !

Murphy's Law

Try us Murphy !

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Jan 25 2012

Miami

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I love Miami

I love Miami

It was hard work , the research, the planning and the delivery of the incentive trip we organized for one of our clients to Miami.
Miami : it’s glitter, glamour, sunshine, it inspires freedom and joy of life.
Ingredients that we searched for and managed to include in the program.
And the program turned out to be perfect for the group : segways to visit Art Deco District, a drive through the Everglades with sexy convertibles, an adrenaline boost on a speed boat, excitement on the jet skis, transfers with impressive stretch limousines, amazing look-a-likes that entertained the guests and many more surprises.
But the United States are so difficult to work with.  There are so many “do’s” and “don’ts”, so many rules, such a hierarchy in the decision making for even small and easy services, everything is expensive, you get nothing for free
A big thank you to our DMC, Zeste, who helped us to find all the little extras, and who helped to deliver a very successful program.
I do love Miami !

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Dec 09 2011

Hvar, the Beetle Island

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Ever heard about Hvar ? Been there a few weeks ago on an inspection in view of a nice project we will run there in 2012.
This tiny island on the Croatian coastline is very pretty and offers all you need for a 3 days program filled with fun, discovery and some slow moments of well being.
We plan to take the participants to the trip on a tour of the island on board of self-driven convertible Beetles to discover the lavender fields and wineries,  crossing  picturesque villages beautifully perched on a cliff overlooking the turquoise sea.
A few refined restaurants in the old town of Hvar are booked for us on an exclusivity basis and a beautiful historical building is the scene for an elegant and trendy gala event.
Hvar offers also a vibrant nightlife in the hip bars located in the beautiful marina.

driving beetles on Hvar

driving beetles on Hvar

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