Choosing a resort for an incentive is all about finding the next new sensation — the property that everyone is talking about. After all, it's the destination that gets the qualifiers all psyched up to sell.
So we asked our readers which resorts coming online in 2004 were the top picks for their incentive groups. Here's what they had to say:
Paradisus Puerto Rico Beach and Golf Resort
Located at Cocoa Beach Resort in Rio Grande, just 45 minutes from San Juan, this just-opened Sol Meliá property is Puerto Rico's first all-inclusive — and the resort that came up most frequently among our readers. Rooms are situated in 30 two-story bungalows, each with its own private terrace and pool. For golfers, there are two Tom Kite — designed courses. And for business, a convention center has seven meeting rooms, including a ballroom that seats 800.
Just opened in Riviera Maya in Cancun is this all-inclusive — “very well done,” according to Michelle Novoa of ADI Meetings & Incentives, Tempe, Ariz. The 288-room resort has five restaurants, a spa, and 8,400 square feet of meeting space.
Also very hot, according to Novoa, is this five-star, 255-room resort on Kiawah Island. For golfers, there are five golf courses within minutes, and for planners, there is significant meeting space (18,000 square feet, including a 6,050-square-foot ballroom). The operators of this traditional Southern resort have set their sites on achieving both AAA's Five-Diamond and Mobil's Five-Star ratings when the doors open in March.
Mandarin Oriental New York
With 251 rooms on floors 35 through 54 of the new Time Warner Center on Columbus Circle, this newly opened hotel was the pick of Jacyln Bernstein, DMCP, Empire Force Events, New York. “Because Mandarin Oriental is known for its level of service, and the fact that it is located in a new, exciting area of NYC, this is a property to be considered.”
Other properties that opened late in 2003 and were mentioned by readers included the Grand Bay Palace, Palace Resorts' entree into the Caribbean (the former Renaissance in St. Thomas); the Marquis Los Cabos Beach, Golf, Spa and Casitas Resort in Mexico; and the brand-new Four Season Great Exuma at Emerald Bay, in the Bahamas.