How do you plan a luxury incentive vacation? There is no secret recipe for success, but if years of experience taught us one thing, it’s that you should always focus on your client’s enjoyment. It may seem obvious to say this, and yet many in our industry tend to fall in love with their own ideas of what constitutes “fun” or what is “relaxing”. What is a luxury incentive vacation, after all, if not a way for the top tiers of a company to say “thank you” and “you matter” to their employees or to each other? The focus, therefore, should be on the recipient’s perspective, attitude, inclinations and taste. We were recently asked to plan an exclusive luxury incentive vacation for a restricted number of executives from a tech company and their spouses. There were no team building goals and no professional engagements: the goal of the whole experience was to celebrate the team’s accomplishments and our task was to amaze and entertain our guests. Here’s how we did it.
How to plan the ultimate luxury incentive vacation
This is what any luxury incentive vacation is ultimately about: location, location, location. For this project we selected a five-star resort in the Tuscan countryside, not far from Florence. We were spoilt for choice, since this region boasts several beautiful facilities with world-class service. For this project we selected the Castelfalfi Resort, one of the finest Spa Hotels in Italy. We based our decision on our brief: our client wanted this experience to be about relaxation and luxury, with only minor excursions. Our guests were to spend most of the time in or around their hotel. The Castelfalfi Resort is surrounded by nature and offers so many opportunities for entertainment and sheer pampering that it is hard to imagine why anyone would want to leave its premises or its scenic grounds. The hotel also boasts an excellently-stocked wine cellar and a golf course, which allowed us to make our guests’ experience richer and more interesting by adding a private tasting and a golf lesson to the programme.
A taste of Italy
What do you think of, when you think of a luxury incentive vacation in the Tuscan countryside? Wine, of course. This is the region that has given us Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Morellino di Scansano, after all. On the first day, therefore, we flew our guests in with a private jet and treated them to an exclusive wine tasting in the resort itself, followed by dinner. On the next day, we treated our guest to one of the finest culinary experiences to be had in Italy: dinner at Enoteca Pinchiorri. This iconic restaurant in Florence is managed by the internationally renowned chef Annie Féolde, the first female chef in Italy (and the fourth in history) to be awarded three Michelin stars. Her cuisine – and that of her executive chefs – is a unique blend of solid tradition, classical elegance and daring experimentation.
Between the Spa, the golf lesson and the excellent wine, one might not expect our guests to have left their hotel at all, and yet it would have been a pity to be this close to Florence and not explore its timeless beauty. So, we scheduled a whole free afternoon on the second day, for our guests to visit the city at their leisure. On the morning of the third day we took them to San Gimignano, which is a veritable Tuscan gem that so many tourists neglect to visit. We added an extra thrill and a touch of the gothic to the whole experience by planning a visit to the local “Museum of Torture”, where the most gruesome implements from the middle ages on are on display.
We received enthusiastic feedback from our client. We always encourage our clients to tell us what could be improved in any individual project, but on this occasion we received nothing but praise, particularly for our choice of accommodation and entertainment. We are happy to acknowledge that an events planner’s job is made considerably easier by the sheer beauty of the locations that the Tuscan countryside offers, and by the outstanding level of service provided by the facilities we selected. Creating a luxury incentive vacation for a top client is an exciting task and a pleasure, doing with a great team is an absolute privilege.