Your Guide to 2019’s Top Incentive Travel Destinations

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

Vienna, Austria international travel destination

Vienna, Austria

Austria’s largest city and capital is famous for composers (more lived here than anywhere else in the world) and its 5,000 year history. Located on the Danube River, Vienna’s spectacular architecture, lively festivals, and a large jazz and opera music scene have visitors mesmerized.

Experience the local cuisine by tasting the infamous Viennese coffee with whip cream with an apple strudel, explore museum quarter and attend an authentic Viennese Ball (they occur throughout the year and are open to the public) to experience life as the Viennese do!

 

Athens, Greece incentive travel destination

Athens, Greece

Four Seasons new property outside of Athens is receiving tons of press and will be well sought after by groups. Located on the Athens Riviera—only 30 minutes from the airport and the historical epicenter of Athens’ ancient sites—this 300 room resort property will offer a marina and stunning seaside landscapes. Enjoy daytrips to nearby gulf islands, local vineyards or the many beach clubs in the area.

 

Traveling to Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia

Offering a tropical climate with nearby islands and coral reefs to explore, Cartagena is emerging as a sought after incentive locale. A port city on Colombia’s Caribbean coastline, this city by the sea offers a dramatic walled Old Town with cobblestone streets, vibrant town squares and colorful rows of buildings. The warmth of the Colombian people, nearby coffee region tours and the land value once in country, will keep visitors coming back for more.

 

Edinburgh, Scotland travel incentive destination

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

Banff Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada travel incentive location

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.

 

Vietnam incentive travel trip

Vietnam

Vietnam seems to be on everyone’s hot list by a variety of ways to experience it. Take a river cruise on the Mekong River or offer a split incentive for your attendees in Saigon and Hoi An that is rich in culture in history, unlike any other.

 

Megeve, France travel location

Megeve, France

Located within the French Alps—only 1 hour 15 minutes outside of Geneva, Switzerland—lies the mountain town of Megeve, France. A popular ski destination for the rich and famous, Megeve is unveiling itself to the world now with a Four Seasons property that opened last December. This five star spectacular is reminiscent of a private residence with only 55 guestrooms and exquisite design.

Not only a ski destination, Megeve offers a variety of mountain activities such as dog sledding, glacier snowshoeing and curling in the winter months, as well as mountain biking, golf, rafting and hot air balloon rides in the warmer months.

 

Santorini, Greece travel

Santorini, Greece

Auberge Resorts recently acquired Grace Hotels in Santorini and Mykonos which will shine the light on these two destinations for high end sun seeking groups.

International Sun & Fun Incentive Destinations

Grand Cayman Island 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.

 

Dominican Republic beach travel

Dominican Republic

New growth in Dominican Republic is catching the attention of the marketplace with new properties following suit such as Hyatt, Sanctuary Cap Cana and Grand Reserve (a new 288 room hotel within a hotel concept) at Paradisus Palma Real.

 

Riviera Maya, Mexico travel destination

Riviera Maya, Mexico

Riviera Maya is experiencing new resorts such as NIZUC and UNICO that have won the hearts of incentive attendees.

 

Belize incentive travel

Belize

A once untapped group incentive destination, Belize is receiving new interest by global hotel brands such as Curio by Hilton’s new Mahogany Bay Village and the upcoming Four Seasons set to open in 2021. This destination will be one to keep on your radar.

 

Travel incentive to Anguila

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 Sun & Fun Incentive Destination

Puerto Rico travel destinations

Puerto Rico

The island is back up and running with nearly every hotel reopening by spring 2019 post Hurricane Maria. New activity and restaurant offerings are available and they have operated numerous successful groups.

 

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin travel

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.

 

Cape Cod, Massachusetts United States travel destination

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Another summer favorite that has been longed after for generations, Cape Cod is not just your grandmother’s beach destination. Timeless luxury properties such as Waquassett and Chatham Bars Inn are ready to woo guests with their seaside clambakes and bonfires amidst cottage inspired accommodations that will have younger generations enticed to return.

Domestic City Incentive

Santa Fe, New Mexico travel incentive

Santa Fe, New Mexico

The adobe burnt orange buildings and 7,000 ft. altitude with stunning surroundings make guests feel like they are experiencing another country. Boutique properties surrounding the plaza are the perfect way to experience Santa Fe’s culture and art scene with over 250 galleries, and world famous Indian Market with homemade artisan gifts. Check out the Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi or La Fonda on the Plaza for a luxury weekend getaway.

Plus, every October the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta takes place over the course of nine days in between Albuquerque and Sante Fe and should be on everyone’s bucket list.

 

Brooklyn, New York 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

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.

 

Asheville, North Carolina travel location

Asheville, NC

Nestled amongst the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains, Ashville is waiting to be discovered. Boasting fascinating historical architecture, an eclectic art community and mild year around temperatures, this little city has something for everyone. Explore the grounds of the Biltmore Estate, the largest privately owned home in the U.S., shop the local vintage shops, take a tree-lined trolley ride through downtown or check out an off-road bike trail in the mountains—offering a stunning sunrise. Stay at the Omni Gove Park Inn and check out their grotto inspired spa, voted a “Top Resort Spa in the U.S.”

Adventures in Nature

Alaskan Cruise nature travel

Alaskan Cruise

Often overlooked due to the short tourism season of June to August, there are few destinations that compare to this wildlife rich destination sure to take your breath away. Although smaller mid-tier properties are sprinkled throughout the state, the best way to experience Alaska may still be aboard one of the many cruise lines that travel the coast from Vancouver to Anchorage.

From glaciers to ice caves, and seaside villages to wildlife—think grizzly bears, moose and wolves in Denali National Park—the natural beauty and serenity of the snowcapped mountain peaks and crystal clear lakes will prove why it’s been dubbed “The Last Frontier.”

 

Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina travel experience

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 Washington relaxing travel destination

Lake Washington, Washington

A fresh water lake only 9 miles outside of Seattle, Lake Washington is beloved by Seattleites but perhaps a well-kept secret to the rest of the U.S. Sport fishing trout and largemouth bass, touring the lake by cruise boat or float plane, or discovering one of the many beach parks on the waterfront are the best ways to explore this northwestern piece of paradise.

Check out the waterfront Hyatt Lake Washington, boasting stunning views of Mount Rainer, and adjacent to pedestrian village, The Landing, with unique storefronts, and over 25 restaurants and lounges.

Conventions & Meetings

Seattle, Washington adventure travel destination

Seattle, Washington

The new Hyatt Regency Seattle downtown opens this month within a mile of Seattle’s must-see attractions, including the Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass, and Pike Place Market, and will be the largest property in the Pacific Northwest.

 

San Francisco, California travel

San Francisco, California

San Francisco is experiencing a lot of growth with New Virgin Hotels of San Francisco (opened Fall 2018), Hotel VIA (opened June 2017), Langham Place to open in 2021, Waldorf Astoria to open in 2022.

Denver, Colorado travel destination

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.

Mandy Espey

Mandy Espey

Mandy has spent the last 11 years in the event management and industry relations field. She leads a purchasing team who is responsible for conceptualizing events, building program budgets, negotiating contracts and maintaining client and supplier relationships. In her spare time, Mandy enjoys traveling and cheering on her beloved Iowa Hawkeyes.