Wherever you are in the world, events and destinations are offering incentives. Check out a resort. Attend a restaurant or club. They mostly want your group bookings, but some of these are too delicious to forego exploring with your significant other or your buds. If you’re hearing about these here first, let them know how you found out.
I just love it when a resort sells me on their 24-hour butler service designed to make me feel at home… if home includes luxurious lodgings in Langkawi, Malaysia newest boutique resort, the Seri Chenang Resort & Spa Langkawi. I am so ready to chill out in villas styled after traditional Malay homes and surrounded by a garden with scenic sea and mountain views. I especially love the part about the healing rituals offered in spa treatments. For a property with only six villas and 13 rooms, this place is perfect for that romantic getaway or an incentive group who enjoys the finer amenities of local cuisine, an infinity pool, art gallery, and a gym without having to vie for the time and space. www.serichenangresort.com
Orlando scored big when The Improv Comedy Club and Fat Fish Blue Restaurant opted in to Point Orlando. Top talents rule the stage. Comedy is supreme and the New Orleans styled cuisine smacks of Southern flavors. Bring a group in during April and receive $50 off for every $500 spent. firstname.lastname@example.org or call Aubrey Jones at 407-480-5233, ext. 104
Summer bookings at The Peabody Orlando just got easier on the wallet. They’ve extended their popular short-term incentives offer until September 1, 2012 for confirmed bookings. Called Connects 2012, the offer provides complimentary internet connectivity in your booked space, rebates your master account by 3% off actualized room revenue and it will connect you to the community with complimentary roundtrip transporation to/from your organized off-site activity. http://www.peabodyorlando.com/planner-profile/
Wilderness at the Smokies resort sounds like a forest fire that needs extinguishing, right? Wrong. It’s actually the Southeast’s largest indoor and outdoor waterpark, which just got bigger with its multi-million dollar indoor fun park called Adventure Forest. “Unlike our other attractions at Wilderness at the Smokies, the new Adventure Forest is a ‘dry’ park,” said Steve Cruz, General Manager of Wilderness at the Smokies in Sevierville, TN. “It features a three-story ropes course, a multi-level enclosed laser tag arena, mini-bowling, black-light mini-golf, more than 100 arcade games, a ‘Laser Maze,’ a 25-foot tall spring ride, a 23-foot climbing wall, special birthday party rooms, another restaurant and lounge, plus other attractions and activities that do not involve water – all of it indoors and open year-round.” Wilderness at the Smokies, located minutes from Interstate 40 and situated in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, is one of the area’s only year-round vacation destinations. Keeping vacationing families’ budgets in mind, Cruz says, “If you consider that when you book your room at Wilderness at the Smokies, you get access to all of our water attractions and offerings.” www.WildernessAtTheSmokies.com or 877-325-9453.
If you love movies (and who doesn’t?) and happen to be in the Orlando area April 13-22, you so need to check out the Florida Film Festival. Now celebrating its 21st anniversary, The Florida Film Festival is the core program of Enzian, a nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1985. The latest celebrity to announce an appearance at the festival is Oscar-winning Cloris Leachman, who won for Best Supporting Actress in The Last Picture Show. Leachman, who kept the “Dancing With The Stars” audience aroar with her extroverted personality several seasons back and whose antics as Maw Maw on TV’s “Raising Hope” make the show worth watching, will be screening a digitally restored, definitive director’s cut of The Last Picture show, which includes seven minutes of original footage previously unseen in its theatrical release. The 2012 Florida Film Festival, sponsored by Full Sail University, will run 169 films from 31 countries and 28 world premieres. Other celebrities on tap: Academy Award-winning director, screenwriter, and producer Barry Levinson will present Liberty Heights and participate in a live Q&A on April 21. Culinary superstars Marcel Vigneron (Syfy Network’s “Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen”, “Bravo’s Top Chef”, Chad J. Galiano, Gui Alinat, Jeff Potter, and Martha Hall Foose will unite for Taste and Presentation: The Digital Dish and Saturday Evening Feast on April 14. Rock idol Rick Springfield will be live in the house on April 19 for the world premiere of An Affair of the Heart. For a complete lineup and free downloadable guide of films, parties, and events, visit www.FloridaFilmFestival.com
Oh please, someone. Host a last-minute conference at Peckforton Castle, a divine hotel property in the heart of Cheshire, England and then invite me along. Seriously. I have always wanted to stay in a castle and this looks like prince should come swooping in any moment to rescue the princess… or maybe it’s the other way around(?). Within their medieval walls, 170 attendees can move between five meeting spaces certain to elevate typical discussions. They still have flexible dates in April and are willing to negotiate terms. email@example.com. I have friends who think Disney cruise ships are only for people with children or who don’t like casinos on board. Then again, I have meeting planner and dance association friends who think if you want a captive audience with plentiful amounts of food, activities, and built-in team building experiences, a cruise ship is the only way to travel. Known for their pro-active progressive takes on educating corporate clients and providing the ultimate in party atmosphere, Disney’s response to providing the perfect environ was to launch the Disney Fantasy on March 31. The Disney Fantasy is a sister ship to the year-and-a-half old Disney Dream. Both ships are 1,115-feet in length, with 1,250 staterooms and suites and 4,000-passenger capacity. The differences begin the three-deck atrium lobby and in the spaces provided for meeting and incentive groups. The lobby is plush with Art Nouveau-inspired details, from a 22-foot-wide peacock-hued chandelier that descends 13 feet to the Minnie Mouse statue circa 1920s and 30s styling. Numerous private-event venues include an elegant 1,340-seat Walt Disney Theatre and the 399-seat Buena Vista Theatre. Natch, restaurants and lounges can be privatized. A full-service events team onboard assists with creating group experiences. If your group is looking for a magical escape, check out disneymeetings.com/disneycruise. (321) 939-7221
Karen Kuzsel is a writer-editor based in the Orlando area who specializes in the hospitality, entertainment, meetings & events industries. She is a Contributing Editor-Writer for Prevue Magazine and is an active member of ISES and MPI, for which she is on the Membership Advisory Council and the Industry Advisory Council. She writes about food & wine, spas, destinations, venues, meetings & events. A career journalist, Karen has owned magazines, written for newspapers, trade publications, radio and TV. As her alter-ego, Natasha, The Psychic Lady, she is a featured entertainer for corporate and social events. firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ThePsychicLady.com