No matter how much we prepare, how many site visits we attend, or how many onsite staff we take with us, some things are outside of our control. Those are the things that make planning and executing a great meeting or incentive trip challenging. I think all meeting planners have a destination or property that has offered these types of challenges, a place that makes them cringe at the mention of its name. For the past five years, mine has been Nevis.
Incentive Travel Nevis
The island is beautiful, and I’m a big fan of the local monkeys, but planning my first group incentive trip to Nevis five years ago was a chore (to put it nicely). DMC coverage was light, décor and activities were scarce, and the general laid-back attitude and practices of the Nevisians were difficult to navigate. Understandably, when Nevis showed up on a client’s wish list recently, I was skeptical. I was scared. I didn’t want to go. However, I’m glad I did because what I found is an island that had been reinvented.
The Four Seasons is the only property on the island that I would recommend for groups. The resort has always offered a beautiful room and a great stay, but today they offer much more. Director of Recreation Mac kee France (meet him here) has created two particularly intriguing experiences that are sure to please any group.
- Local, In-Home Dining – this four-course dinner serves up each dish authentically at the home of a local resident/family – no frills, no nonsense and no American cuisine. You may sit at a table or on a rock in the front yard. You may use a fork or your hands. Either way you become a Nevisian for an evening, and it’s a remarkable experience.
- Cricket Experience – Cricket is to the Caribbean what football is to the United States, and Nevis has a championship winning team. The Four Seasons will arrange an excursion in which your guests receive custom jerseys and spend an hour learning the ins & outs of the game from the championship team. After “training,” an authentic game is played, followed by a BBQ lunch with the players, as guests learn more about the game and all about life on the island. No skill or athletic ability is required to have a blast, and it’s a great team-building event.
DMC’s and Their Offerings
There are two DMC’s that serve Nevis; Meeting Dynamics and Sunlinc. Meeting Dynamics has an exclusive agreement with the Four Seasons to provide décor, lighting and everything needed to create a beautiful onsite event. We received a 100+ page book filled with pictures and options for themed events, décor, linens, florals, etc. It couldn’t have been easier to pick and choose the elements for each of our three on-property events.
Sunlinc is our go-to for transportations, activities and dine-around facilitation. They manage guests utilizing the YU Lounge (see my previous post, Travel Comforts for the Weary Planner), the ferry to Nevis, activities on Nevis and on St. Kitts, and the rental and décor for offsite venues like the Botanical Gardens and local Beach Clubs. Both companies have friendly staff and offer great service.
Restaurants and Dine-Around Options
Five years ago, restaurants opened and closed when they pleased. Two weeks before my group arrived, one of the dine-around options left a voicemail message to inform us they were closing for two weeks to take a last minute vacation. We only had four options total, so you can imagine the complications. Today there are more than ten options with published schedules and hours they’ve agreed to adhere to. Options now include an award-winning Indian restaurant, a (self-proclaimed) haunted manor, and beach clubs offering a casual night out or an upscale experience.
What all this means is that I no longer cringe at the thought of taking a group to Nevis. As a matter-of-fact, after completing several site visits, Nevis was selected for 2016. I’m typing this while on a plane headed for St. Kitts. I’ll ferry over to Nevis and spend three days with my new Nevis friends, working out the details of our incentive trip. Viva Nevis!
For more tips and tricks on incentive travel, visit our Travel page!