Destination Spotlight on Whistler, B.C.

panoramaFour Seasons Whistler – Hotel Feature of the Month:
On Canada’s breathtaking west coast, just north of Vancouver, Four Seasons Resort Whistler is one of North America’s top year-round mountain resorts and is Canada’s only AAA 5-Diamond Resort. Superb summer golf and hiking are matched by world-class skiing on the slopes of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains – site of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Encompassing 273 guest rooms, suites and townhouses, the Resort welcomes with cozy wood interiors and the atmosphere of a contemporary lodge. Private group events are flawlessly executed with great hotel function space, at Lost Lake, Squamish-Lil’watt Cultural Centre or on a glacier. Recreation includes a full-service spa, a fitness centre and an outdoor pool with three heated whirlpools. With distinctive settings and unrivaled service, Four Seasons sets the bar for memorable gatherings.

SummerYou’ll want to encourage your guests to explore everything this exhilarating destination has to offer. Even the most cultured travelers will be amazed. In the winter, the location pairs luxury with adventure, culinary excellence and wellness to offer one-of-a-kind backcountry experiences.

– Fly by helicopter across the Pemberton Ice Cap, British Columbia’s largest ice field
– Take an outdoor yoga class with a master instructor at a remote natural hot spring
– Tour vast ice caves via snow bike or snowmobile
– Enjoy a gourmet meal at the hot spring

CEM event Planner, Mollie Ross, visited Whistler early this year to learn more about the destination and to visit several of the properties including the Four Seasons. What she found is a destination perfect for even the most discerning group all year round. In planning client trips to Whistler this year, we’ve found that our clients are looking to differentiate themselves from their competitors and Whistler fits the bill as a unique escape that both rewards top producers and inspires motivation. Here’s what Mollie experienced:

squamishOn my recent trip, the events kicked off with a welcome reception at the Squamish-Lil’watt Cultural Centre, which was a great way to learn a little bit about and get immediately immersed in the culture of the area. Not to mention and experience the gorgeous views from the wrap around windows.

One thing that groups question right away is the travel time from the Vancouver airport to Whistler, but don’t let that deter you. The drive is about two hours by bus, but the views are absolutely breathtaking nearly the whole way, and if two hours is too long for your group to sit, there is a great stopping point about midway where attendees can grab a snack and check out a gorgeous waterfall spilling over the mountainside. Of course, you can always go all out and book float plane transfers for your group, ensuring some of the most incredible (and exciting!) views imaginable.

My favorite thing about Whistler was the availability of activities year-round. Anyone who knows me knows that I loathe the cold and snow, but in Whistler I had a blast. The professional ski instructors were fabulous, and made even a first-time skier like me feel like I belonged on the mountain. I also spent an afternoon snowshoeing, which made for a surprisingly tough, but fun workout that anyone can enjoy, and could even be made into an exciting team-building event. Whatever your activities include, be sure to end the day with an après-ski party, one of the most favorite traditions in Whistler.

ziplineWhistler certainly is not just a winter ski resort, the warm weather activities are nearly limitless as well. Groups can enjoy zip lining any time of the year and in the summer, the ski runs make for challenging mountain biking trails, and the lakes and rivers warm to make for great fishing and even white water rafting. One of the most appealing features is the Whistler Village, a pedestrian only European style village offering an array of year-round restaurants and shops, many locally owned. Groups offering free time to their attendees can easily direct them to the village for an afternoon of shopping, or to grab a bite (without hotel prices) – there is something for everyone.

Contact Mollie today to begin planning your group’s adventure in Whistler at mollie@mycem.com.

Credentials: Conference Event Management (CEM) is a woman-owned business enterprise and leading provider of unique, world-class event, conference, incentive travel, meeting experiences, reward strategies, hotel and cruise site selection and contracting, individual Travel MyWay® bookings, and national speaker’s bureau bookings. Mollie Ross, Event Planner, works directly with clients to plan events throughout the country and internationally, using her creativity and attention to detail to ensure each event is unique and leaves a lasting impression on each attendee.

Top 5 Exciting Things Happening in Las Vegas for Groups

We have several clients with annual events in Las Vegas, and it’s no wonder why: Las Vegas has year-round weather appeal and easy access from most cities. Meetings often report a 13% increase in attendance during rotations through Las Vegas. In 2014, Las Vegas broke its previous tourism record and welcomed over 40 million people, likely due to marketing campaigns aimed at bringing in more group business.

With even more to do and see, it’s no surprise that Las Vegas remains in the top 3 destinations for hosting meetings. The city and it’s industrialists have recognized and responded to the dramatic shift in revenue sources from casinos to dining and entertainment. The result is a focused transformation on building shopping, dining and entertainment districts as guests’ desires have moved out of the dark interiors of casinos. They now seek outdoor spaces for entertainment with room to shop and explore. We’ve compiled a list of highlights for group meetings in Las Vegas.

1) Red Rock Resort and Downtown Summerlin – this beautiful AAA, four diamond resort is located 10 minutes off the strip. Away from the hustle and bustle, groups can focus on business and cut loose after a day of meetings in Red Rock Lanes, a luxury bowling center perfect for private hospitality events. The property also offers daily shuttle service to the strip to catch a show or see the lights. Practically in the back yard is the new Downtown Summerlin development – a fashion, dining and entertainment plaza. The open-air mall features a movie theater, several restaurants, including “Five Guys Burgers,” and large department stores like Macy’s and Dillard’s.

2) Delano Las Vegas – this South Beach-inspired non-smoking, all-suite property neighbors Mandalay Bay. Reimagined from THEHotel, The Delano offers the luxury of a AAA four diamond hotel without the constant ding-ding of slot machines. Fans of gaming can try their luck next door, as well larger groups can utilize the ample meeting space available at Mandalay Bay, or entertain guests with a cocktail reception before enjoying the highly acclaimed Cirque Du Soleil Michael Jackson ONE show which our clients love. Delano is also home to its very own certified cicerone (beer sommelier). For a fun and interactive dinner, the Delano offers groups a wine vs. beer tasting menu that introduces a bit of competition and fun into a typical wine pairing dinner.

The quad3) The LINQ and The High Roller – bordered by the LINQ hotel and anchored by the High Roller Observation Wheel (the largest of its kind), this open-air pedestrian street features shops, restaurants, and bars. The observation wheel has 28 pods capable of holding up to 40 people and even a small bar in each one. One trip around lasts 30 minutes and affords riders spectacular views of the strip. Allow us to recommend a cocktail at the rooftop bar of The Yard House to watch the action of shoppers on the street below and the High Roller during sunset when thousands of LEDs light up the wheel.

4) “The Park” – A stretch of yet another shopping, dining and entertainment will lie between the Monte Carlo and New York New York . The projethe parkct slated for completion in 2016 is likely MGM’s response to Caesar’s The Quad across the street. The Park will offer quick serve and sit down restaurants including a Robert Mondavi Jr. Wine Experience and Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row. As well the greenery lined walk way will contain shops and light shows on overhead art pieces. The keystone of the project will be a large arena for concerts. The area will be a great destination for visitors on breaks between meetings or catching a bite with colleagues after the tradeshow closes.

hostile grape5) The M Resort and Spa – One of our Director of Strategic Sourcing’s favorite hotels, The M Resort offers groups several unique venues for private events including the Villaggio Del Sol pool complex. Groups can rent out the pool area for private evening events and utilize the stretch of concrete separating the two pool halves as a runway or a stage for speakers or entertainers. The best feature of the property is the Hostile Grape underground wine cellar. With exceptional design and a luxurious layout, groups can utilize the space in many ways and even offer sponsorships for tasting cards or hosted tables with different kinds of wine.

At CEM, we contract hotels and cruises, and create custom meeting and event solutions that help clients engage their attendees and increase sales or productivity – all while offering transparency and saving clients time and money. We offer meeting planning packages to help you put together the perfect Las Vegas event. We can handle everything from sponsorships to website registration tools. Give us a call today to get started. info@mycem.com

Destination spotlight: Napa Valley, California – an International Experience Stateside

Mandy McWherterBy Mandy McWherter, Marketing Assistant

CEM staff recently had the opportunity to accompany a client on-site for their Napa Valley incentive trip. Napa Valley offers the perfect venue for thanking top producers in a unique setting usually only found overseas. With picturesque landscapes, impeccable food and world-renowned wineries, it’s easy to motivate sales teams to aim high and exceed company goals. Easier still, is working with the professionals at CEM. CEM managed every detail of the program, from contracting the resort and building the registration website, to full destination management services of arranging off-site activities and dinners. CEM carefully monitored expenses to ensure the client could treat their guests to the ultimate indulgent experience.

The incentive trip hosted at the beautiful Meadowood Napa Valley in St Helena had the perfect balance of luxury, privacy, and activity. After registering, guests were treated to a California barbeque on the manicured croquet lawn complete with sparkling wine, a staple for croquet tournaments. Guests were invited to wear their croquet whites, grab a mallet and learn alongside Meadowood’s resident croquet pro who showed them the stance for the perfect croquet photo opp. Under twinkling tree lights, the top producers were recognized and congratulated for their qualification.

meadowood

On the second day of the trip, two hosted activities took guests into town for some shopping and lunch or to a top-rated winery for a session on blending and bottling of their own specialty red blend. The evening featured private dinners at specialty restaurants and venues. After a busy day of activity and three amazing meals, guests retired to their cottages where kindled fireplaces and relaxing soaking tubs awaited them. The third day greeted guests with another round of hosted activities including a chauffeured triple wine excursion with tastings at three unique wineries. The free evening was left open for exploring the valley or staying in for a quiet evening.

The fourth day provided time for couples to visit the spa, golf, play tennis, hike or lounge poolside. The afternoon cocktail lunch offered light bites and refreshing handmade cocktails by the pool before the final night dinner. CEM was able to organize this entire event on-site to help our client realize savings that otherwise would have resulted in penalties related to food and beverage spend. Guests were very appreciative of the lunch invite they found in their rooms the night before. Although some had plans in town, many joined the lunch and raved about the hand crafted cocktails – a nice reprieve from the bountiful wine tastings.

On the last evening, guests were greeted by a vineyard owner on his private estate with a glass of wine surrounded by cabernet sauvignon vines. The breathtaking sunset over the mountains presented the perfect backdrop for an exclusive Vintner’s dinner nestled in an English garden. With CEM’s negotiating and contracting expertise, the evening was catered by Meadowood ensuring impeccable service and delectable fare – all as part of the clients’ minimum food and beverage spend with the resort.

All in all, CEM saved the client well over $200,000, between waived attrition fees, circumventing the use of a DMC, and carefully monitoring contract minimums and deadlines. Because of the inspiring destination and engaging activities, all of our client’s attendees far exceeded the sales minimums required to qualify for the trip, greatly increasing the return on the investment for the incentive. With delights for all of the senses, groups of varying cultures, tastes, or ages will enjoy the casual, yet elegant air of the Napa Valley. The professionals at CEM would be honored to help you plan your next incentive at this enchanting and romantic destination. Let’s get started at info@mycem.com.

Credentials: Conference Event Management (CEM) is a woman-owned business enterprise and leading provider of unique, world-class event, conference, incentive travel, meeting experiences, reward strategies, hotel and cruise site selection and contracting, individual Travel MyWay® bookings, and national speaker’s bureau bookings. Mandy McWherter, Marketing Assistant, develops and implements marketing campaigns, facilitates social media and sales communications, as well she administers day-to-day activities to help further CEM’s reputation and representation in the local and national markets.

Destination Spotlight: Puerto Rico – a taste of home in the Caribbean

MollieBy Mollie Ross, Event Planner

Conference Event Management is always on the lookout for hot, exciting destinations to recommend to our clients to motivate their attendees and provide an increase in sales or productivity. CEM staff traveled to Puerto Rico to learn more about what new changes the island has to offer for group travel. They found a beautiful island offering enough variety to meet the needs of most groups, all with the comforts of home in a tropical setting.

When arriving in Puerto Rico, there is no question you are in the Caribbean. Lush landscapes and the fresh smell of the rain forest would have travelers believe they are far from home. However, as a U.S. territory, travel in and out of Puerto Rico is much easier than in other Caribbean islands as passports are not required for U.S. citizens, and there is no concern for navigating through customs. Spanish is the national language, yet English is also spoken by most locals. Relation to the U.S. may not be a priority for every group, however, less traveled guests will appreciate the comforts of domestic tourism, allowing everyone to relax and enjoy the experience.

Speaking of comforts, after inspecting a variety of hotels and resorts, there is a fit for just about any group. La Concha is a modern resort that is the place to “see and be seen,” especially in the evening at the open air lobby bar, which opens right onto the multi-level pool deck. With nicely appointed rooms and updated meeting space all located right on the beach, and still downtown, La Concha is a great spot for a younger, active group that enjoys exploring during free time.

Contrasting La Concha, but right next door, is the Condado Vanderbilt. Built in 1919, the property features magnificent Spanish Revival architecture with opulent interiors and bold design. There are no standard meeting rooms in this hotel, each space is markedly different and offers a unique history. The entire hotel is wrapping up a massive renovation that guarantees to wow your guests with a luxury old world stay. While smaller than a typical modern hotel, the accommodations are appreciated for their fit within the historic nature of the property. The Condado Vanderbilt is a taste of classic Puerto Rico.

St Regis

For the group looking for a more exclusive experience, the St. Regis Bahia Beach is a AAA Five Diamond Resort nestled between a lush forest and the sparkling Caribbean, providing the unmatched St. Regis level of service. Guests will receive the full tropical experience as they take the raised boardwalk through the forest to their guest room, in one of 12 separate buildings, and out onto a private balcony with beautiful ocean and tropical views. When not in meetings, your group will find plenty of entertaining activities. In addition to the beautiful beaches and pools, the St. Regis Bahia Beach offers a full service spa, a Robert Trent Jones Jr. golf course, as well as a boathouse offering complimentary use of kayaks, paddle boards, bicycles, and more that guests can use to explore the expansive resort.

Ritz_DoradoBeach_00113_1280x720

For the truly discerning group, the new Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach offers an escape like no other. From the unique environmental design philosophies, with a focus on preserving the natural splendor of the lush landscapes and glistening beaches, to the indulgent amenities, all guests are sure to be captivated. No stay at Dorado Beach would be complete without a visit to Spa Botanico, a five-acre sanctuary set in a fragrant pineapple garden, offering everything from classic massages in tree house treatment rooms, to botanical infusions made from herbs grown right on the resort grounds.

When off property, there are a wide variety of activity options you can offer your attendees. As an island, there are an extensive amount of outdoor activities, including water sports like kayaking, snorkeling, and boat charters, as well as bioluminescent bay tours, one of only a few places in the world where these exist. Bioluminescent bays are home to microorganisms that glow a brilliant blue when their water is churned. Puerto Rico is also home to the only tropical rain forest in the US. The El Yunque Rain Forest offers incredible views, and includes trail rides, zip lining, and hikes with a stop at La Mina Falls where guests can take a dip in a revitalizing rainforest waterfall. Not to be forgotten is a tour of Old San Juan to view the vibrant façades of the old storefronts and homes, as well as a stop at San Cristobal, the dramatic fortress built to defend the coastline during the 17th and 18th centuries.

After just a short stay, we were pleased to see Puerto Rico is still a great option for groups that can help you achieve your sales goals. Whether you’re looking for an exhilarating adventure or a serene escape, I can help you get started planning the perfect Puerto Rican getaway for your group today. Reach me at Mollie@mycem.com.

Credentials: Conference Event Management (CEM) is a woman-owned business enterprise and leading provider of unique, world-class event, conference, incentive travel, meeting experiences, reward strategies, hotel and cruise site selection and contracting, individual Travel MyWay® bookings, and national speaker’s bureau bookings. Mollie Ross, Event Planner, works directly with clients to plan events throughout the country and internationally, using her creativity and attention to detail to ensure each event is unique and leaves a lasting impression on each attendee.ee.

Mexico: As Good as it Gets for Incentives

CEM had the opportunity to send groups to several beautiful incentive locations in Mexico this year including Los Cabos and Cancun. Mexican incentive trips enable our clients to offer their guests an international experience with numerous value-added extras. Mexico, known for its culture of service and hospitality, greets guests with the sound of the ocean, a plethora of on-shore and aquatic activities, and most recently, a huge increase in the amount of diverse dining options, everything from hibachi grills, Italian, superb seafood, luxurious tasting menus, and of course, authentic Mexican fare.

CEM President, Michelle DeClerck, was recently quoted in “The Meeting Professional” magazine after sending a group of 175 attendees to Hyatt Ziva in Los Cabos. “Perhaps the thing our attendees commented on most was the quality of the dining experiences. I wasn’t expecting to have such a culinary experience, but after trying many of the restaurants, I can vouch for the taste, portions and options available.”

Mollie Ross, CEM Event Planner, fresh off a client incentive in Cancun, found the availability of all kinds of excursions to be the amenity that her group enjoyed the most. “In addition to the traditional activities like the spa or golf, the attendees in Cancun really enjoyed the jungle boat excursion, in which they drove personal mini-speed boats through the mangroves, then to a snorkeling stop at a gorgeous coral reef. Our guests loved the combination of the adrenaline pumping speed boat ride and the beauty of the coral reef snorkeling. ”

Cancun in general has really made great strides to improve the aesthetic of the main tourist zones. We found the public attractions outside of the hotel to be both safe, and attractive for off-property events and shopping. Mollie was impressed with the walkability of Cancun, including high end shopping areas and restaurants, which she felt safe suggesting to attendees for their leisure time.

CEM is pleased to feature Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos as Property of the Month. Contact us today to see how we can help you deliver an outstanding experience for your next group incentive trip. info@mycem.com

Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos

Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos

The Hyatt Ziva brand is friendly for all groups, even those including children. The first Hyatt all-inclusive resort to open was the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos located on the beautiful Sea of Cortez just minutes from artsy San Jose del Cabo. The resorts boasts 619 spacious suites, including 34 swim out suites, 2 gourmet buffet restaurants, 6 fine dining a la carte restaurants, 24 hour room service, 6 bars, 4 pools, and 35,000 square feet of meeting space. Entertainment and activities include a beautiful spa, tennis courts, water activities, golf nearby, a nightly theater show and a kids club.

Coming soon:

Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall Jamaica

Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall Jamaica

Opening November 2014, Hyatt Ziva and Hyatt Zilara (the adults only brand) Rose Hall Jamaica (formerly the Ritz Carlton Rose Hall) will offer the best of both brands at the most comprehensive meeting and incentive resort in the Caribbean. The property is being completely reimagined with new additions including Swim-up suites, a dining village, and a new swimming area. Each of the Hyatt Ziva’s 496 guest suites are being redesigned to offer upgraded amenities and sleek contemporary finishes. There will also be a completely new addition that will be the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall (for adults only). This exclusive resort will offer 124 ocean view guest suites, fine dining restaurants, and premium service including butlers. The resort offers an outdoor amphitheater for nightly entertainment, an array of fine dining restaurants, several bars including the Rooftop Sky bar, 25,000 square feet of meeting and outdoor reception space, and of utmost importance – a private white sand beach.