Incentive Islands


One small step to the Isle of Man

Eliminate all previous conceptions and see the Isle of Man for yourself

The pendulum of fashion has swung the Isle of Man right back into favour. Now its Victorian promenades and harbours, its Gaiety Theatre and its hotels with armchairs you can sink into are what so many people are relishing.
Plus it has several other major benefits in today’s world. Award winners can fly into the airport near Castletown from every corner of the UK. No one needs to travel into Heathrow or Gatwick in order to catch a flight. Glasgow, Bristol, Birmingham, London City, Manchester will all do fine.

The pendulum of fashion has swung the Isle of Man right back into favour. Now its Victorian promenades and harbours, its Gaiety Theatre and its hotels with armchairs you can sink into are what so many people are relishing.
Plus it has several other major benefits in today’s world. Award winners can fly into the airport near Castletown from every corner of the UK. No one needs to travel into Heathrow or Gatwick in order to catch a flight. Glasgow, Bristol, Birmingham, London City, Manchester will all do fine.
It is also a short flight, so hardly any time has to be added to an incentive to take account of travelling. And the currency – although the Isle of Man’s own – is pound for pound so the bank doesn’t take a share of your spend.
The Isle of Man, though making the most of its Victorian treasures, has been upgrading its facilities. It has modern communications with Wi-Fi available all over the island and throughout the main hotels. 
It is an island for all seasons, with good beaches in fine weather, excellent sailing when there is a wind, attractive golf and a choice of spas and health treatments.
And there is the quaintness that allows executives to come to the island to unwind, enjoying many of the memories from childhood.
These include the mini-railways that still serve town and village and are not just for nostalgia. They include the Victorian horse-drawn trams. There are the outlets for good old-fashioned shrimps and cockles and for the island’s very special Queen oysters. Afternoon tea plays a substantial role on the island, with cucumber sandwiches and scones and jam, served in an old mill where the fast streams can still be harnessed..
And then we mustn’t overlook the pubs that serve a great pint, let you have a sing-song or shout support for your teams on large-screen TV and draw you into a chat with the local residents.

Backing from the very top

The Isle of Man has its own Government, Tynwald, the oldest form of Parliament in Europe, but its members are very approachable and un-stuffy. A corporate group can get the support and even participation of a relevant Minister, such as Tourism or Transport, to attend a welcome cocktail reception offered as a free contribution to the success of the incentive.
It is also possible to ‘try before you buy’. Bona fide organisers of serious intent can approach the Ministry of Tourism for an invitation to go on a site inspection, so long as there is a real possibility of using the island as a destination.

Islands in the dream

Ask the man or woman in the street which places they would  love to visit on holiday and the usual replies include Mauritius, Bali, Barbados, The Maldives or even The Galapagos, Sardinia, Majorca, Sri Lanka and Tahiti. These are drawn from many areas of the globe, embracing the Indian Ocean, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, the South Pacific – but so often the dream destination is an island in a warm climate.
There is something about an island that adds to an incentive. Perhaps it is akin to a shipboard romance without the ship. Surrounded by the sea, easy reach of anywhere you wish to go, cut off not only from a mainland but from the stresses and tribulations of everyday life..

Hvar – the unspoilt Adriatic

For many years the island of Hvar in the Adriatic, just off the coast near Split, was a paradise enjoyed secretly by yachtsmen in the know.

Now it is very easily reachable by flying direct from the UK to Split, Croatia, and then taking a public ferry or chartered yachts or speedboats.
It has become a desirable incentive destination since the hotel group Suncani Hvar established three hotels on the island of international standard. They are all different in size and style, but all within walking distance of the marina and the ferry terminal. The hotels have specially designed golf buggies to fetch guests’ luggage, because the town is traffic-free.
No matter where you look in Hvar you won’t find an ugly patch anywhere. It is an unspoilt island with just a few access roads from out of town. Groups can use 4-wheel drive vehicles to explore inland, where there are deserted villages that add to the quiet beauty as their stone walls gradually moulder back into the landscape from which they were hewn in the first place.
Otherwise the total area is covered in olive slopes and fields of lavender. Groups can stay by the pools, go on yacht excursions round glorious neighbouring islands, pick olives to press their own oil and dine on the freshest of local produce in isolated farmhouses where the farmers have decided to add tourist hospitality as a source of income.

The right time for Mauritus

Mauritius figures in the list of most peoples’ lists of ‘wish-we-could-go’ destinations. It has the kind of warm waves that encourage you to go back in the water and to stay there as long as possible. There are miles and miles of warm sand beaches and hotel accommodation where visitors aren’t sure when they are inside and when they are outside.


Mauritius properties offer a cuisine that is mainly fresh seafood, locally grown salads and vegetables and fruit that grows everywhere in abundance.
Almost the whole island is protected offshore by coral reefs so that the water immediately alongside the beach is never too deep for safe swimming and is free from sharks. 
Over the last decade Mauritius has grown in stature as a destination, with more deluxe hotels being established and an increasing number of airlines flying out there from all over the globe.
The downturn in the world economy has affected the island badly, as it is perceived to be a high-end destination. In fact there are very good deals to be negotiated with even the best of the properties.
If ever there was a time to put Mauritius down on the incentive shortlist it is now. Air fares, accommodation and food are all at their lowest prices for some time and many of the hotels can offer all-inclusive prices, so that groups can be let free to enjoy all the island has to offer without the need of a bottomless budget.

Malta’s culture

Malta is a small island with a massive sense of history and culture. Its past is inextricably linked into the past of the British, of Christianity, of several major wartime periods.
Malta has its beaches but an incentive group might find its culture even more appealing. St Paul is said to have been shipwrecked on the island whilst on his way to convert Europe to Christianity. There are prehistoric catacombs.
The Crusaders rested there en route for the Holy Land. Napoleon attacked the islands and the German Luftwaffe tried its hardest in a vain attempt to destroy its resistance.
The main island of Malta can be explored very easily by road. The capital Valletta is a bustling centre that rewards any time spent walking in the narrow streets, looking out from the battlements, window shopping, visiting the magnificent churches and enjoying all the outdoor cafés and restaurants.
Then the visit to the ancient capital of Mdina on the hilltops is a must. It is cool even on the hottest days, because the high walls of the palaces and old mansion houses create permanent shade from the sun. Virtually the whole island can be seen from the walled city’s battlements.
And resort towns, such as St Julian’s and Qawra, have their own characters and a wide choice of top hotels to stay.
And there is no shortage of excursions to fill an incentive programme. Colourful boats and boatmen can take groups to visit caves along the coast, Gozo is an island that is a destination in itself, offering views of beautiful farmland and hills and visits to quaint villages and churches.

The deluxe side of Mallorca

This undervalued island has magnificent countryside and small deluxe hotels that can look after incentive winners on your behalf

Imagine this simple and very effective way of providing a first-class incentive taking up virtually none of your management time and the minimum of your promotional budget.

You set up a motivational scheme – at very short notice if you wish – and the winners are given flight tickets to Mallorca. On arrival they are met by an exclusive top quality hotel and driven off to a beautiful remote region of the island. Away from the noise of the mass tourism areas, the award winners are special guests enjoying the hospitality of the owners of a small property that is a member of Relais & Chateaux.
Arranged by you in advance and included in the overall agreed fee, a range of different activities are offered by the hotel and the guests are able to pick and choose according to their own inclinations. They range over golf, tennis coaching,  shopping and cooking with a top chef, cycling round the villages and exclusive spa treatments. The incentive becomes tailor-made for the individual guests and they return to work with that sense of having been treated like royalty in return for what they had achieved for their employers.
This kind of incentive can be offered on Mallorca by three different members of Relais & Chateaux, each in a different part of the island, but all bijou properties.

The real Mallorca

The general image of Mallorca in the minds of the British has been shaped by stories of overindulgence by young tearaways in a few of the popular beach areas. However, the gorgeous forest landscape, the tranquillity, the majesty of the sea cliffs and the natural wilderness of Mallorca account for over 90% of the island and have fascinated famous visitors over the centuries. Composer Chopin and his lover, who went under the male name of George Sand to overcome prejudice against women authors, hid away on Mallorca for months. The poet Robert Graves said he had found Paradise and stayed there for years.
The Mallorca Ministry of Tourism has produced two CD presentations to emphasise these attractions of the islands. One is presented by Mallorca-phile Michael Douglas, who has a permanent residence there, and the other by a native of Mallorca, World Number One tennis player, Rafael Nadal.


Free copies of CD presentations by Michael Douglas and Rafael Nadal are available to readers of ITCM.
Contact Zaida Gallegos at The Turespana office in London on 020-7317 2029 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Three of Mallorca’s bijou properties offer special incentives, reports Holly Jane

Hotel Valldemossa

Near the small town of Valldemossa is the cosy secluded Hotel Valldemossa perched in the mountains. The original building consisted of just 4 rooms, but 6 years ago they added 8 new rooms in the grounds, all in the same 19thC style.
Each of the 3 double rooms and 9 junior suites are named after famous guests that have stayed there. The largest suite, the Michael Douglas, can be used as either a suite or a conference room for small meetings of up to 35 people.
The quaint town of Valldemossa boasts a 14thC monastery that displays original scores of Chopin preludes composed during his time there.

Son Brull Hotel & Spa

The Son Brull Hotel & Spa, with 23 rooms, is a restored old monastery dating from the 18thC.  The hotel is working towards being an organic self sufficient business. The wines that they serve along with the olive oil are made from fruit grown in the hotel’s own gardens.
Many substantial original features have been preserved, with the building re-modelled round them. For example, the bar incorporates the old olive press and the wine cellar embodies the original flour mill.
The creams and lotions used in the spa treatments are exclusive to the hotel. I had a very relaxing anti-ageing wrap with an olive and honey paste which was created by the spa team. Guests can also enjoy the treatments, from wraps to massages, alfresco by the swimming pool whilst enjoying views over the hills.
Activities can all be arranged by the hotel, including golf, riding and hot air ballooning.
As I sat by the outdoor pool with a drink I was able to admire the hilltops and I was also able to watch the owner of the hotel and his family gardening below. The only noise in the otherwise total tranquillity was the birdsong.

Read’s Hotel & Spa

Read’s Hotel & Spa nestles  amongst fields of olive trees just outside the small town of Santa Maria. The resort, which has a ‘no children’ policy, has an eclectic design with no two rooms the same. Styles range from modern to rich romantic.
The hotel restaurant has been awarded a Michelin star. Inside I was able to dine at the Chef’s Table actually inside the kitchens.
The hotel has 23 mountain bikes available free of charge for guests - a great way to explore the town and the island. A private tennis coach is also on site for lessons, Another great possibility for award winners is an exclusive day with the chef. Guests are woken at sunrise in order to make an early start at the local market, where they choose fresh meat and other produce. Together with the chef they devise a menu which they then cook in the hotel kitchen, the chef at their elbow of course. 
They then sit down with their partner to a romantic meal, enjoying the dishes they have created from the very beginning.
The atmosphere in the kitchen is very calm and, I am happy to report, had nothing in common with TV’s reality shows, such as The F Word. It was very far from Hell’s Kitchen.
For full details of Relais & Chateaux properties and facilities, visit; call 00 800 2000 00 02 or email:  
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Why Cyprus should be the incentive island of choice

Lillian Panayi of the Cyprus Tourist Office in London gives ITCM a small selection from the scores of reasons that she believes make Cyprus the ideal island for organisers

No matter how many boxes you have on your list of desirable incentive facilities, you can probably tick them all with Cyprus. At least according to Lillian Panayi who has promoted Cyprus as a MICE destination for some years.
She begins with the telling point that although Cyprus is a compact island, with short distances to travel from one end to the other, it has an unrivalled range of features to offer.
‘It has beaches where you can swim in warm waters and mountains where you can ski on the same day’, she says. The island has an abundance of landmarks associated with ancient history that we all can share, such as the beach where the Goddess of Love and Feminine Beauty, Aphrodite (or Venus), first came ashore on a shell.


Lillian goes on: ‘There are big areas of wildlife conservation, scenic beauty, local wine and, everyone agrees, great cuisine. And, very important to most organisers, our summer climate starts early and finishes late, so it offers great weather for incentives from April to November.’
And Lillian doesn’t stop there, because there are so many more factors that she feels recommend her island for any size of  incentive groups.

Very accessible from UK departure points

‘Look how accessible Cyprus is from the UK. Not only Cyprus Airways and BA, but also Monarch, EasyJet, Jet2 and Globespan. You can offer award winners the most convenient departure points from a choice of London, Birmingham, Manchester, Scotland, Leeds and Bradford.
‘Add to the range of flights our remarkable range of hotels. Along the popular coastline there are twelve 5-star and 4-star properties, all vying to be the best. They are very competitive and so organisers reap the benefit in terms of keen prices, quality service and lots of extras. There are the well known chain hotels, highly esteemed local properties with lots of experience in attending to high level groups and also exclusive boutique properties. Spas on the island are wonderful and increasing in number and expanding in facilities constantly. Again organisers have a choice of Molton Brown treatments, mud baths, thalasso-therapy and so on.’
There are additional benefits when selecting Cyprus for an incentive. It has to be taken into account that the island is English-speaking, shares many systems with the British and drives on the left. This makes it straightforward for sending small groups of award winners unaccompanied. They won’t feel lost when they get there. It also means they don’t have a problem taking part in self-drive jeep safaris and treasure hunts.

Highly creative DMCs

If it is a bigger group or assistance is needed on the island to select the most suitable hotels, organise excursions and dine-arounds and so on, then there is no shortage of DMCs, most of whom have representatives in the UK. They have had to be extremely creative and reasonable in price in order to secure the business because of fierce competition.
The kind of programmes they arrange can include taking over the market squares in small mountain villages, such as Omodhos and Anogyra, where they can stage Greek dramas, folk dancing and typical fiestas. ‘A popular ingredient for a programme is a drive into the mountains with a stop at a Crusaders Castle for cocktails.