Last April, Curacao was the site for an incentive group of 250 attendees from Northern Life Insurance Company of Seattle, a group that took advantage of the island's warm and clear waters to enjoy some snorkeling and scuba diving. "Curacao was a ten out of ten. The people are great," says T.B. Ames, president of Bellevue, WA based Ames and Shoemaker, Inc., the meeting planning firm that organized the incentive.
Ames's group stayed at Sonesta Beach Resort and Casino Curacao and used the convention center located directly across from the resort. "Everything is close by. You can do functions at the aquarium. We did beach olympics there one day."
The tropical beauty of Jamaica's north coast was a selling point for the West Indies Alliance Insurance Company, Kingston, Jamaica, which chose Montego Bay's Round Hill resort for a small meeting of delegates from the U.S. and Caribbean. When the group met for a week last July at the elite Round Hill, it was the third time the company has used the property for meetings and seminars.
"We have the meeting in Montego Bay because of the relaxed atmosphere on the north coast," explains Guy Howison, assistant general manager for the West Indies Alliance. Participants enjoyed a visit to a historic great house and shopping at Half Moon Village. Howison noted that air arrangements were fairly easy for the group. "Although some have to transit through Miami, Montego Bay is becoming more of a hub because of Air Jamaica," he says.
The desirability of an island that is part of the United States and yet uniquely Caribbean draws many meeting groups to Puerto Rico. In April 1996, Rosemary Bakken, conference coordinator for Mutual Trust Life Insurance in Oak Brook, IL, hosted a group of 200 attendees including spouses and families at El Conquistador, a 918-room resort on the island's east coast.
The annual incentive trip took advantage of Puerto Rico's many attractions. Groups can tour El Yunque rainforest (the only tropical rainforest under the U.S. Parks Service), which is near El Conquistador; golf on world-class courses; snorkel and scuba dive; and travel into San Juan for a day of touring historic Old San Juan or shopping. "We had a lot of optional tours around the island," she recalls.
Bakken, who always makes sure that hotel staff at overseas destinations is trained to American standards, says her attendees at the El Conquistador incentive program commended the staff on their attentiveness in the evaluations.