Incentive Planning in Manchester: Our Recce to Dubrovnik 2015
I recently had the opportunity to attend the Private MICE Forum in Dubrovnik, run by Great Hotels of the World. I’ve never visited Croatia before, and haven’t really looked too much into Dubrovnik, but I guess that my limited knowledge of the country’s recent history meant that I was happily surprised by the stunning scenery, clean streets and overall fantastic impression of the city. More surprising was the recurring scent of Lavender in the air (Croatia is one of the largest producers of the plant that I would usually associate with English country gardens!). I was beginning to think that this place may have incentive trip potential after all!
We stayed at the beautiful 5* Rixos Libertas Dubrovnik . You enter the hotel into an impressive lobby, full of natural light from the glass roof. Most of the rooms are on floors below the lobby, as the hotel is built into the rock face, and the majority of rooms face the Adriatic Sea where large balconies have views over the water towards Dubrovnik old town (a UNESCO site, only a 15 minute costal walk or short bus ride away), and Lokrum island. The hotel has a spa and both an indoor and outdoor pool, as well as private access to the sea, all located on the bottom floor of the hotel.
I also had a fantastic dinner at the 5* Valmar President Hotel, down by its own private beach; this brand new hotel is also stunning, built into the rock face and the terrace bar provides fantastic views of the sunset over the sea. When planning an incentive, it's important to see things through the eyes of winners and I think they would feel very special and spoiled dining here.
I got the chance to try my hand at sea kayaking (organised by DT Travel). I am most definitely not an athlete, and although I was looking forward to it, did think I would struggle. I was pleasantly surprised however; my paddling buddy and I had great fun bobbing over waves in our boat and easily kept up with the group. We paddled out to Lokrum, a beautiful island just off the cost of the city, home to a collection of free roaming Peacocks, an old Benedictine monastery and beautiful botanical gardens. Game of Thrones fans may be aware that the Dubrovnik old walled town is the setting for the fictional capital of Westeros - ‘King’s Landing’; as well as this a replica of the iron throne resides within a Games of Thrones visitor centre on Lokrum, within the old monastery that was also used a set!
After taking the decidedly more relaxed boat option back to the old city I had chance for a whistle stop guided tour of the old town. The old town is surrounded by walls which range from 1 metre to 6 metres thick in some parts, and the wealth of history within them is huge (it is worth noting that the old town can become incredibly crowded when up to 5 cruise ships dock in port on the same day and their guests visit the city, we were lucky!). Later that night I also visited the Revlin club, just inside the city walls; a great night spot for dance music and drinks!
My time in Dubrovnik was short, but I definitely want to make a return trip and explore both the city, and rest of Croatia, more. What's more, Dubrovnik is now firmly on our list of potential destinations when planning incentive trip options for clients!