Cycling makes a great incentives activity – especially in sunny Mallorca, enthuses Roger St. PierreCycling is, they are saying, the new golf. A kaleidoscope of factors has come together to create a two-wheeler boom unmatched since Victorian times. The sensational Brad Wiggins-Chris Froome first- and second-place triumph in the Tour de France was a massive boost, as was the brilliance of the British team at the London Olympics. Britain’s cyclists, with both men and women dominating the sport, would have made the upper half of the medal tables had they been a self-contained nation.
Bike sales have rocketed at all price points, as have the membership rolls of British Cycling and the CTC (formerly the Cyclists Touring Club) while London’s Boris Bikes’ rental scheme – which was actually the brainchild of the blond one’s predecessor, Ken Livingstone – has experienced tremendous take-up.
Charity fun rides and more serious ‘sportive’ challenges up and down the country and further afield too have given superb team building opportunities to companies large and small.
As fast-rising young execs share their Porsche’s garage space with a carbon-fibre bike costing as much as £8,000 or £9,000 – but saving thousands more in reduced motoring costs – cycling has cast off its long-standing cloth cap image. Colnago, De Rosa, Pinarello and other prestige bicycle brands are now discussed in the same reverential tones as Ferrari and Lamborghini.
To use a much worn but apposite cliché, cycling ticks all the right boxes. As a sport and pastime it neatly combines the mechanical, physical and mental. With body weight supported, it’s great exercise, even for the unfit – being ideal for all shapes and sizes - and ages.
Cycling also has the great advantage of being a highly sociable activity – making it perfect as an incentives’ activity. It's hard to chat while out jogging or in the pool swimming but riding along quiet country lanes side by side with a like-minded companion is one of life’s great pleasures. and as good a place as the golf course to discuss business.
Cycling being a sport won by individuals but disputed by teams makes it a perfect discipline for team-building.
Mallorca – ‘World Capital of Cycling’
Mix fabulous scenery and good weather with quality accommodation, restaurants and an extensive network of superbly engineered and surfaced roads and it is easy to see why the delightful Mediterannean island of Mallorca is now billing itself as ‘The World Capital of Cycling’.
It offers recommended safe cycling routes ranging from pan-flat rides through almond and orange orchards and olive groves to Alpine-like mountain pass challenges through stunning scenery. No wonder as many as 50,000 cyclist arrivals a week during Spring and early Summer, more and more of them as members of corporate groups.
Not surprisingly the island’s upmarket hotel properties have latched on to a high-spending market that has filled the gap left by a worrying decline in golf package sales.
Nobody could accuse the ultra-luxurious but delightfully unstuffy Reads Hotel and Vespasian Spa of merely jumping onto a bandwagon. It’s owned and run by an English family who are themselves keen cyclists. Indeed Malcolm Wyse, son-in-law of this lovely property’s founder, is all too happy to put on his Lycra and take guests out on guided cycling tours – with top-quality Giant road bikes available for guests’ use – while the famous American-based Trek cycle company runs its popular cycle touring programme from here.
‘It’s not just in Britain that cycling is booming – it’s a global phenomenon and Mallorca is experiencing a massive influx of visiting riders of all nationalities, ages and abilities, from family leisure riders, bicycling veterans and individual keep-fit fanatics to professional teams with their pre-season training camps,’ observes Jane Stanbury of Balearic Discovery, a company specialising in tailor-made packages for both individuals and groups.
‘The corporate market for cycling packages is really taking off,’ says Jane’s Balearic Discovery partner Anthony Quayle. ‘We can offer an extensive portfolio of hotel and villa properties.’
Reads ranks among the best. It’s a tastefully restored old manor house with a great location, hidden away in the countryside but in easy reach of Palma, the island’s capital, by road or by the superb, modern commuter electric train service. Besides exquisite guestrooms and a state-of-art spa with both indoor and outdoor pools, Reads can offer private dining facilities for groups of up to 40 ‘We often have groups who are staying in Palma, go on a wine tasting tour of Macia Balle then come here for lunch. It makes for a very pleasant day out,’ says Malcolm Wyse.
Mallorca is a great place for incentive travel, being just a two-hour flight from the UK, which makes it affordable and do-able, even when both money and time are tight.
Monarch, the scheduled leisure airline, now operates year round from London Gatwick and Manchester and also has flights during the summer season from Birmingham and London Luton.
In addition to year-round low fares, Monarch also offers a bespoke ‘build your own class of travel’’ range of products and services both on the ground and in-flight. All customers are allocated a seat at check-in; however, for a small charge, seats can be pre-allocated on scheduled Monarch flights, to ensure that groups are seated together.
Wealth of activities
‘The island can offer a wealth of activities,’ says Jane Stanbury. ‘They range from the sporty – such as trekking, world-class golf, great watersports and all that cycling, to the indulgent – such as wine tasting, and the more esoteric, such as guided tours of historic Palma, the island’s capital, with its city walls and imposing cathedral.
Incentive groups tend to come in two categories – those who want to be taking in all Palma’s sights and attractions and sampling the city’s huge array of restaurants and bodegas, and those who prefer to stay in the countryside and follow a programme of bike rides, walks, winery and monastery visits and lots of fresh, clean air in a tranquil atmosphere.
‘Of course, the sea offers a number of different incentive options and we can arrange sailing regattas, days out aboard a schooner, trial dives, windsurfing and many more activities.’
Among the outstanding countryside properties is Monnaber Nou, not far from Selva, a charming little village in the foothills of the dramatic Tramuntana Mountains. Here, the main building’s 25 guestrooms are supplemented by the garden house, which is about 600m from the main building and was designed with group and incentive travel in mind. Guests here can use al the facilities at the main hotel building, such as the spa and restaurant, but benefit from the privacy of the garden building – which has nine doubles, seven suites and a two-bedroom apartment.
Conference rooms, with audio-visual facilities, can be rented in the annex while teambuilding activities can include use of a sky rope walkway just next to the garden house and cycling, horse riding and trekking are available while sailing and a range of other water related activities can take place in Pollensa or Alcudia, each just a 20-minute drive away.
Concludes Jane Stanbury: ‘Mallorca is a great product at a sensible price. Pick your dates and activities right and you can actually have a good incentive weekend here for less than £500 a night per person.’