At this time of year, finding somewhere warm and sunny for a conference is a hard task. Whilst you may be lucky, the weather in the southern fringes of the Mediterranean can be fickle in the Winter months, as witnessed by the extensive snow storm experienced by much of southern Europe these past few weeks.
So why not embrace the cold and soak up some crisp mountain air, blue sky and sunshine, albeit a little weaker than in the height of Summer. It’s hard not to have fun in such conditions, particularly if you are well prepared for it. When you allow your imagination to consider cooler climes, the possibilities are endless. And they are all just a short hop from the UK.
What you won’t find in this article is any mention of the ‘S’ word. You know – that activity normally conducted on two planks of high tech wood, that costs the earth and scares half of your potential audience. If you are considering that as an activity, take our advice – don’t! There is so much more to do when you embrace the cold!
Our first pick is Iceland. Just 3 hours from London, a short break makes great sense. The volcanic terrain is like no other you will have come across and the activities on offer are pretty unique – everything from skidooing across a glacier to relaxing with a glass of champagne in natural volcanic springs the temperature of a hot bath. Then there is the possibility of seeing the Northern Lights – we obviously can’t guarantee you’ll see them, but we’ve never met anyone who has not been intoxicated and rejuvenated by a short break to Iceland.
Our top pick of the Icelandic hotels is the 101 Hotel in Reykjavik – a chic modern hotel with a distinctive Icelandic twist. Just look at the montage of images to see the vibe. Super stylish, with a slick mini spa and a sci-fi-style restaurant perched at a prime city-gazing height, this is one of the most in-vogue boutique stays in Iceland.
If you are looking for a venue to wow a smallish, select group then the 38 rooms on offer at the 101 deserve your serious consideration.
Cyprus, I hear you say? Surely that’s a warm weather destination? And indeed it can be on the coastal fringes. But if you want to ‘Embrace the Cold’, head inland and uphill into the Troodos Mountains. Cyprus is one of the few places where you can do that thing on two planks in the morning and then waterski in the afternoon. In the Troodos, the smell of the pine forest and crunch of the snow is intoxicating and the views down to the coast 30 miles away are simply stunning. How about organising a Jeep safari for your group, high up in the snowy Troodos Mountains, followed by a long and leisurely traditional Cypriot BBQ and Meze in a hilltop Taverna?
Of course, you don’t have to stay up in the cold for your whole stay. The Amathus Beach Hotel in Limassol is one of our favourites down on the coast. The newly renovated Amathus is a serene sanctuary of world-class comfort (their words, but we would agree with them), offering a fabulous range of state of the art meeting facilities, top notch services, as well as an awarded Spa and luxury accommodation.
The Alps, Dolomites and Pyrenees
Getting back to the more traditional Winter resorts in Europe, the increasing unpredictability of snow cover has led many of them to introduce other winter activities, ideal for business or incentive groups of whatever size. There’s a good reason why Davos hosts the World Economic Forum every year! Go outside the dates of the global jamboree however and the rates are remarkably affordable.
Wherever you go, it has always been challenging to come up with activities that appeal to the young and active, as well as the more sedentary members of a group. There’s no such problem in some of our more iconic and well known European mountain resorts. How about offering your group a pick-and-mix menu of activities that includes mountain biking, rock climbing, canyoning and paragliding for the more adventurous, to relaxing Spa treatments, hot springs, guided valley walks, scenic mountain railway trips and horse drawn sleigh rides across frozen lakes for the less adventurous.
Catering for a full range of activities is important when you have a mix of age ranges, and given the sheer range of different activities, there is no need for any member of the team to feel intimidated or uncomfortable about taking part in activities that are outside their comfort zone.
Top the alpine experience by staying in one of the grand, traditional, and comfortable, all-inclusive hotels that anchor these well-known resorts. Think roaring log fires, hearty meals and nightly alpine entertainment. Switzerland, France and Austria have all embraced this trend with resorts such as Courchevel, Kitzbuhel and St Moritz leading the way. Our ultra-chic favourite is L’Apogee in Courchevel 1850.
Our team know these destinations and Hotels very well, so if you would like more information about any of them, please give us a call on 01372 458777