Costa RicaClose to nature There's no other place in Central America like Costa Rica. Its spectacular mountain landscape, bordered by two oceans, is breathtaking. The locals are educated and friendly. Visitors don't have to worry about safety issues here because this tiny democratic nation, which has no army, is a bastion of political stability. It also boasts a sophisticated tourism infrastructure with destination management companies that cater to incentive groups. The only aspect of the infrastructure that isn't efficient is the roads, which can be bumpy and traffic-clogged.
The San Jose area is a good place for incentive winners to begin their Costa Rica experience. The 220-room Melia Cariari Conference Center & Golf Resort, located about 15 minutes outside the city, provides top-drawer accommodations and amenities, including a championship 18-hole golf course. One not-to-be-missed excursion is the Rain Forest Aerial Tram, which gives passengers a rare overhead view of the verdant tropical forest that borders Braulio Carrillo National Park.
The new Melia Playa Conchal in Guanacaste, a five-hour drive from San Jose and 45-minute drive from Guanacaste International Airport, is a destination unto itself. There's a par-72 championship golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones II, a huge meandering swimming pool landscaped with tropical greenery, and a beautiful beach. A casino and disco are open each evening.
Designed by Spanish architect Alvaro Sans, the sprawling, open-air complex slopes down to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Hillside buildings, including a 5,000-square-foot conference facility, have breathtaking ocean views. A big plus for incentive groups are the 308 identical bungalow suites, with elegant living room areas that open out to spacious terraces and huge marble bathrooms. In the guest suites and throughout the resort, local artists have created pottery, masks, and stone carvings in indigenous, pre-Columbian styles. These artworks, and reproductions of artifacts from Costa Rica museums, give Melia Playa Conchal a true sense of place.