Sicily came into the incentive spotlight when the 2011 Crystal Award for exceptional Motivational Travel program went to Philips Lighting for an employee incentive program it held as part of its global quality improvement competition. Four hundred qualifiers visited the island off the southern coast of Italy in five waves. Highlights included a gala dinner in a 200-year-old Sicilian villa that was transformed into Don Corleone’s mansion, but the trip also introduced a more contemporary Sicily, with the final night’s dinner at a modern disco-restaurant.

According to Kevin Devanney, president ofIncentive Travel Solutions, Charlotte, N.C., Sicily is now ready for incentives. “The main infrastructure components are there. The Hotel Verdura (Rocco Forte Hotels) in Sciacca is fantastic. A visit to the Selinunte archeological site combined with lunch at Baglio San Vincenzo wine estate makes for a great day. Also, using The Grand Hotel Timeo in Taormina offers our clients a wonderful dual destination.”

Brennan says his clients “continue to look to us to raise the bar for unique destinations, resorts, and hotels. Sicily meets that expectation, even for people who have traveled to Italy before, because it is off the beaten path and not a ‘traditional’ incentive destination.”