Your Guide to 2020’s Top Incentive Travel Destinations

Liz Mikkelsen & Mandy Espey
Liz Mikkelsen & Mandy Espey

Whether it’s a remote, snowy paradise in Western Canada or a bustling adventure in a major metropolitan, there’s no shortage of incredible incentive travel destinations.

But your top performers deserve the very best. They deserve something new. After all, the same-old-same-old travel destination won’t motivate your people to put in all that hard work.

While Condé Nast has their own Gold List of top travel destinations, take a look at our list of impressive incentive travel destinations—some traditional and some not-so-traditional—that give trip qualifiers a truly distinctive, memorable experience.

International City Destinations

incentive travel destination in Berlin

Berlin, Germany

The largest city in Germany, one-third of Berlin is forests, parks, gardens, rivers and lakes. For much of its history, the city has been the center of cultural and political activity. Today it has more than 150 museums, including Museum Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Once war-torn, Berlin is now a stunning example of both old and new architecture. The city is known throughout Europe for its nightlife, specifically a lively club scene. The arts also have a significant impact on the city, with many orchestras, theaters and opera houses.

Popular attractions include Brandenburg Gate, Charlottenburg Palace, Unter den Linden (Under the Linden Trees), Gemäldegalerie (Picture Gallery), Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, Pergamon Museum, the Jewish Museum and Nikolai Quarter.

Hotels we recommend: Hotel de Rome (a Rocco Forte Hotel) and Hotel Adlon Kempinksi Berlin

 

incentive travel destination in Singapore

Singapore

A city that serves as a cultural bridge between the East and West, Singapore is home to ancient temples and shrines as well as sprawling modern shopping centers. Sentosa Island, within close proximity of the Singapore city center, is a commercially developed tourist and resort zone. Things to check out during your stay: National Orchid Garden, National Museum of Singapore, Singapore Flyer and Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum.

Hotels we recommend: The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore and Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore

 

incentive travel destination in Poland

Warsaw & Krakow, Poland

Warsaw is Poland’s capital and known as the “city with soul.” A city of both modern and communist architecture, Warsaw is one of the fastest growing cities in Europe.

Hotel we recommend: Nobu Hotel Warsaw (opening spring of 2020)

With its large market square, colorful streets, historic sites, and abundance of amazing, budget friendly restaurants, Krakow is a favorite stop for many people on their tour through Poland. It’s a lot like Prague—only with fewer tourists and cheaper prices. Just down the hill from Wawel Castle, on the side closest to the Vistula River, there is a statue of a dragon that breathes fire.

Hotel we recommend: Hotel Unicus Palace

 

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland

A nation steeped in culture and stunning landscapes, Scotland is more than just a golfer’s paradise. With endless castle venue options, outdoor adventures exploring the highlands and the ability to rent the Queen of England’s Royal Yacht Britannia for an unforgettable farewell, the Scotts are ready to impress. Experience the famous railway hotel, The Waldorf Astoria’s Caledonian, or the historical landmark, Rocco Forte’s Balmoral. When in Scotland, you must experience the countryside and only 75 minutes outside of the city is the world famous, Gleneagles property, which recently underwent a full renovation of its 850-acre “Glorious Playground.”

With the current Brexit underway, the UK is boasting nearly a 30% savings based on the GBP trading value.

 

International Incentive Destinations

Incentive travel destination Montenegro

Montenegro

Bursting with rolling, majestic peaks, secluded and stunning beaches and some of the friendliest people in the world, this small but mighty country proves that some of the best things in life do indeed come in tiny packages. A combination of culture, history, beaches and fantastic scenery, this destination should definitely be on your bucket list.

Hotels we recommend: One&Only (opening late 2020) and The Cheti Luštica Bay

 

incentive travel destination tahiti

Bora Bora, Tahiti

The most famous of French Polynesia’s Leeward Islands, Bora Bora is the quintessential tropical paradise. Volcanic in origin, it is surrounded by sand-fringed motus (islets) on an outer coral reef that encloses a turquoise lagoon. With only one navigable pass, the crystal-clear lagoon is calm, warm and relatively shallow. At 2,385 feet, Mount Otemanu towers over the main island. Next to it, the more rounded Mount Pahia stands at 2,159 feet.

Settled by Polynesians around AD 900, French Polynesia was discovered by Europeans in the 16th century. For centuries, the French and English vied for the possession of Tahiti and its archipelago. A French colony since 1884, Bora Bora became an overseas territory in 1946. Its unequalled beauty has drawn artists and writers—perhaps most famously, author James A. Michener declared it the most beautiful island in the world. Today, most of Bora Bora’s 4,650 inhabitants live on a thin, flat coastal strip, many around the small port of Vaitape.

Hotel we recommend: Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora

 

incentive travel destination St. Kitts

Saint Kitts and Nevis

St. Kitts is the larger of the two Caribbean islands that comprise the nation of St.Kitts and Nevis. Known for rain forested mountains and beaches of white, gray, and black sands. Commonly referred to as the “Island of a Thousand Treasures,” this getaway locale is small enough to see in a day, but big enough to explore for a lifetime

Hotel we recommend: Park Hyatt St. Kitts

 

incentive travel destination los cabos

Los Cabos, Mexico

A desert jewel at the base of the Baja Peninsula, the lively Mexican ambiance and breathtaking ocean views of Los Cabos make for an unforgettable experience. The area offers a wide variety of activities and excursions, and its rugged hills, colorful deserts and peaceful beaches create a dramatic backdrop to make any travel experience spectacular. There has been an influx of new hotel builds in this destination and is one of ITA Group’s top booked international destinations this past year.

Hotels we recommend: Newly opened Four Seasons Resort Los Cabos at Costa Palmas and Hard Rock Hotel Los Cabos

 

incentive travel destination ritz carlton yacht

Ritz-Carlton Yacht

Introduced in 2018, The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection features 149 suites all with private terraces. Designed to combine the lifestyle of The Ritz-Carlton’s luxury resorts and the causal freedom of a yachting vacation, The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection offers sailings in the southern Caribbean, Canada and Mediterranean.

 

Banff travel destination

Banff/Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada

Visit Banff, in the heart of the Canadian Rockies and within Banff National Park, where there are grassy pedestrian bridges for the local wildlife to safely cross the highways. Notorious for its dramatic landscapes, Tunnel Mountains and former castle, Fairmont Banff Springs, this mountain town is sure to impress with its rustic trails and endless amounts of outdoor activities.

Or enjoy an easy split destination with nearby Lake Louise—a glacier lake community nestled amongst the pine trees and ruby red canoes that sail effortlessly across the turquoise waters.

 

Grand Cayman incentive travel

Grand Cayman

The largest island in the Caymans, Grand Cayman is known for its underwater worlds with over 300 dive sites. From feeding wildlife on the Stingray City sandbar, to exploring upscale Georgetown’s shops and restaurants, or taking in a sunset on 7-mile beach, the Caymans offers a low key yet upscale beach paradise many dream of escaping to. A strong economy and infrastructure, low crime rates and global business presence set it apart from many other nations in the Caribbean.

 

Travel incentive to Anguilla

Anguilla

Belmond Cap Juluca has reopened and offers a complete new concept that is stylish and ultra-luxurious; for the incentive group that truly wishes to unplug.

 

Domestic Incentive Destinations

incentive travel destination ojai

Santa Barbara & Ojai, California

Over 300+ days a year with average temperatures of 72 degrees year round and Ojai averaging 80 degrees, you’re going to have trouble finding a better climate than this. Santa Barbara and Ojai features a variety of hiking, biking, horseback trails, jeep excursions, hot air balloon, paragliding and other adventuress activities. If the water is more your thing, set course for adventure with sea kayaking, surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, deep-sea fishing, whale watching, sailing, and coastal and sunset cruises aboard the luxury Channel Cat (the largest fiberglass catamaran in the world).

Additionally, Santa Barbara and Ojai offer endless opportunities of epicurean delights: wine tasting, olive oil tastings, chocolate factories, cupcakes, cheese and wine pairing, customized culinary and cooking classes and our famous Farmers Market to name a few.

Hotels we recommend: Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore, The Ritz-Carlton Bacara and Ojai Valley Inn

 

incentive travel destination palm beach

Palm Beach, Florida

Set on an island, and along one of Florida’s best sections of Atlantic coastline, Palm Beach has long been a popular getaway with its miles of golden beaches, luxurious palms and a variety of cultural activities. Guests can relax in luxury, play a round on renowned golf courses, dine and drink at swanky establishments, and shop for designer labels at boutiques and specialty shops. Worth Avenue features four blocks of 200 exclusive shops, gourmet restaurants and renowned art galleries. Plus, enjoy watersports of all types right off the most expansive beach on the island

Hotel we recommend: Newly renovated Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach

 

incentive travel destination hawaii

Hawaii’s Big Island

The incredible landscape of Hawaii’s youngest and biggest island boasts the most diverse ecosystem on Earth. The island features 11 of the earth’s 14 known climate zones—from the mountains to the beaches, the Big Island is no ordinary tropical paradise. The Big Island is an unrivaled expression of the power of nature.

Hotel we recommend: Auberge Mauna Lani (Forbes Top 40 Most Anticipated Luxury Hotel Openings for 2020)

 

incentive travel destination san francisco

San Francisco, California

One of the first cities to be founded in the West, San Francisco’s steep hills, streetcars and vivacious fisheries make it a unique jewel among America’s bustling municipalities. Guests are sure to enjoy the diverse culture, tastes, attractions and historic neighborhoods in this welcoming metropolis.

Hotels we recommend: Virgin Hotels of San Francisco (opened Fall 2018), Hotel VIA (opened June 2017), Langham Place (open in 2021) and Waldorf Astoria (open in 2022)
 

Brooklyn, New York Incentive Travel Experience

Brooklyn, New York

Brooklyn is located on the west end of Long Island and is one of New York City’s notable five boroughs. Once known for only residential neighborhoods, the city’s landscape and offerings have morphed into a savvy traveler playground. New hotel properties seem to be popping up by the month offering all types of accommodations from budget friendly to hipster hotels with swanky rooftops and luxury boutique properties.

The high-end Dumbo neighborhood near the Brooklyn Bridge, the Williamsburg neighborhood with live music and boutique shops and the Brooklyn Heights Promenade will keep guests coming back for more.

 

Carmel by the Sea, California adventure travel destination

Carmel-By-The-Sea, California

Often overlooked by more publicized neighboring cities such as San Francisco and Napa, Carmel is quaint, charming, looks like a picturesque movie set (Clint Eastwood was a former mayor), and has loads to offer any incentive group. Outside of the downtown area, Carmel Valley Ranch is a casual and rustic resort that is surrounded by beautiful scenery and has activities to keep you active for days.

 

Adventures in Nature

incentive travel destination tuscan

Tucson, Arizona

Rich in Southwest tradition and charm, and known for its world-class spas, scenic golf, outdoor adventures and up-and-coming culinary scene, Tucson on average experiences an average of 350 days of sunshine a year. Take a 4WD tour of the Arizona desert, finishing with a campfire lunch at a private oasis. Learn to cook an authentic Native American meal by one of the region’s top chefs. Spend an evening at one of the oldest working cattle ranches in Southern Arizona—take part in some cowboy trials then cheer on the real deals during a private rodeo.

Hotel we recommend: The Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain

 

incentive travel destination playa mujeres

Playa Mujeres, Mexico

Richly diverse in both setting and culture, Playa Mujeres is the ultimate getaway. Situated in the heart of the Caribbean, the area boasts sensational cuisine, thriving nightlife, world-class golf courses and exciting watersports. From relaxing on the powder-soft beach and swimming in the turquoise waters to exploring ancient ruins and watching Mayan performances, Playa Mujeres is sure to offer a remarkable vacation experience.

Hotels we recommend: Newly opened ATELIER and TRS Coral Resort

 

Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina incentive travel destination

Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina

Amongst the low country coastline lies a community with gas lamp-lit streets, quaint forest trails and over 30 miles of ecofriendly riverfront, waiting to be explored. Experience southern hospitality at its finest at the Montage Palmetto Bluff, in one of their country cottages, complete with a screened in porch and rocking chair overlooking the lagoon. Or reconnect to nature by boating, kayaking or paddle boarding through 20,000 acres of conservation land.

 

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin travel destination

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

If you’re ever looking for a Midwest fun and sun resort locale, be sure to consider Lake Geneva where lake life is in full force. A charming downtown area and redesigned Abbey Resort lakeside, is the perfect location for your summer family incentives.

 

Conventions & Meetings

incentive travel destination chicago

Chicago, Illinois

Condé Nast Traveler has just announced the winners of its prestigious Readers’ Choice Awards for 2019, and for the third consecutive year Chicago has been chosen “Best Large City” to visit in the U.S. Laid-back, diverse and rich in unique offerings, Chicago is the hot spot for Midwest entertainment. World-renowned restaurants, fascinating architecture, festivals, beautiful position on Lake Michigan and a plethora of ethnic neighborhoods combine to make Chicago a destination with admirers around the world. Plus, easy air access for travelers all over the world helps make it a great option for international meetings and events.

Hotels we recommend: Marriott Marquis Chicago (connected to McCormick Place, America’s largest convention center)

 

incentive travel destination houston

Houston, Texas

Everything is bigger in Texas, and nowhere is that more true than in Houston. At an eye-popping 8,778 square miles, the greater Houston area is larger than some countries while covering the most land area of any other city in the country.

Now the US’s fourth largest city, Houston is home to a hip, young, urban population, beautiful parks and excellent museums.  There are 10 waterways located in the city, and most of the parks are set in this bayou atmosphere that give fitness and nature enthusiasts a pleasant atmosphere.

Hotel we recommend: Marriott Marquis Houston

 

Denver, Colorado incentive travel

Denver, Colorado

In nearby Aurora (10 min from Denver International Airport and 25 minutes from downtown) the brand new Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center opened its doors last week— inviting all to find your sanctuary.