The Philippines is a country with something for virtually every taste--an archipelago nation of 7,107 islands where pockets of primitive splendor can still be found only hours from resorts on the brink of development overload, a home to some of the world's best dive sites that is also a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity.
Manila, the capital, is the first stop for many incentive groups. A sprawling metropolis of steel-and-concrete monoliths with a population of ten million, it is actually a conglomerate of four cities and 13 municipalities known as Metro Manila. Makati, the business district, houses five high-end hotels, including a Shangri-La that can host large meetings, theme parties, or dinners, accommodating up to 2,500 persons. A 15-minute drive from Makati in Mandaluyong--a new and rapidly expanding business and commercial district--is Shangri-La's EDSA Plaza Hotel. There, an expansion project to be completed at the end of 1997 will add a 218-room tower, as well as six function rooms and a mini-ballroom to complement the nine existing function rooms and grand ballroom.
Cebu, a one-hour flight south of Manila, is the Philippines's oldest city and the gateway to the Visayas Islands. There, Shangri-La's Mactan Island Resort, a beautifully landscaped six-story sanctuary that was the first to lay claim to the upscale trade, is now adding 200 new rooms and three major meeting rooms to accommodate the overflow.
The resort is also an ideal jumping-off point for group activities. Among other possibilities, Mactan can arrange island-hopping incentive tours for 20 to 30 bancas, the native outrigger canoes that accommodate about ten passengers. A day trip can include swimming, snorkeling, diving, jet skiing, and a barbecue on one of the palm-fringed dots of land in the area, with a band and fireworks thrown in.
After an afternoon spent dallying on a banca--peering at the eye-popping coral or splashing around in the warm, still waters--even the most stressed executives will find themselves mellow beyond belief.