“For years, some companies avoided international incentive trips, but now they’re returning,” says Chris Lund, senior vice president of sales and marketing at ALTOUR Performance, Minneapolis, “and one of the top destinations as they reconsider Europe is Portugal.
“It just has so much to offer, from the food and beverage to the sights to the many venues for groups.” There’s a mystique associated with Portugal, he says, as one of the newest, hottest places to travel. “And it’s safe, so people don’t feel worried. Once you get there, you see what everyone is talking about.”
Located at the mouth of the River Tagus, where it flows into the Atlantic, Lisbon charms visitors with its fabulous historic buildings, including the Castle of São Jorge, the highest point in the city. Nearby Estoril, which has the flavor of a fishing village, can be used for a day trip or an overnight stay at the lovely 53-room Hotel Albatroz, which was once a royal retreat.
For his group, which will travel to Portugal this fall, Lund is using the 194-room Penha Longa Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort, a Ritz-Carlton property in the Sintra Mountains near Lisbon. “It’s a well-traveled group, and they were looking for a resort setting,” he says. The five-day program will tap into the culture of the region, with folkloric receptions, dinearounds, day trips—and, of course, wine dinners in one of the hotel’s function rooms, which are housed in an adjacent 14th century palace.