What makes one incentive program stand out above the rest? Extraordinary Events, Sherman Oaks, Calif., a recent winner of a 2003 Gala Award from Special Events magazine, put together five nights and six days of entertainment for Washington Mutual's President's Club program at the Ritz-Carlton, Cancun — each event more exciting than the one before.

Events included an off-site party at a high-energy nightclub that featured fiber-optic decor, oversized folk sculptures, and a pumping disco band; and a Mexican fiesta with a mariachi band, a spit-roasted goat as the main course, and a performance by Los Angeles rockers Los Lobos.

Another creative touch: On each day of the program, guests received a token symbolizing one of the five natural elements; by week's end, the tokens made up a unique take-home gift telling the story of the Mayan god of day and night.