The 20 Best Incentive Travel Destinations for 2023
If your sales incentive trip or president’s club trip seeks fresh ideas, it may be time to consider new incentive travel destinations. Our globetrotting experts put their heads together and selected their 20 favorite ideas for incentive trips, offering something new for 2023 and beyond.
This mix of cities, countries, and regions was chosen based on their incentive-quality hotels, authentic activities, cuisine, and bucket-list appeal. Daydream of new adventures, and remember that airfare and hotel costs have risen with inflation.
As travel rebounded after COVID-19 lockdowns interrupted international travel, recent research from the think-tanks at IRF (The Incentive Research Foundation) and SITE (Society for Incentive Travel Excellence) highlight the travel trend – nearer in 2023 and farther in 2024 and 2025. If the group feels cautious, Brightspot recommends domestic hot spots, such as exploring the Lowcountry of South Carolina, or in-region trips to Hawaii, Mexico, or Canada. If the trip winners are ready to go beyond, see the international ideas below!
1. Sorrento, Italy – A different Italy
Views of the Amalfi Coast
The Italian coastline has its magical spots and Sorrento is one of them as the gateway to the Amalfi Coast! A coastal town in southwestern Italy, facing the Bay of Naples on the Sorrentine Peninsula just north of Amalfi, it is perched atop cliffs that separate the town from its busy marinas. With sweeping water views, club trip winners will never forget coming over the hill and seeing Sorrento in person. Sorrento is also known for its Piazza Tasso, a café-lined square with open markets, restaurants, and bars. The historic center of Sorrento is a warren of narrow alleys that’s home to the Chiesa di San Francesco, a 14th-century church with a tranquil cloister. Be sure to try the Limoncello while in town; Sorrento is famous for its lemons—the size of grapefruit! Plus, don’t miss out on these two great options for hotels: Parco dei Princip and The Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria. Favorite activities include a day trip to Capri, a guided tour around Pompeii, and a boat ride down the Amalfi Coast with a must-stop in Positano. Sorrento deserves special attention for a future incentive travel trip!
2. Ireland – castles & green countryside
Adare Manor, courtesy of the hotel
The West of Ireland – home of Galway, Connemara, Mayo, Clonmacnoise, and Clare – is framed with a rugged coastline, peppered with peninsulas, ports, pubs, and people (how about that alliteration?). The countryside is home to some of Ireland’s finest evening entertainment and folk sessions, and it plays a little more authentic than the more tourist-friendly, Dublin and Killarney. Shannon Airport offers a convenient way in, and you’ll be greeted with the castle hotels, such as Adare Manor which won the Virtuoso Hotel of the Year Award after its 2-year renovation. Other castle hotels to impress the most well-traveled groups include Ashford Castle and Dromoland Castle.
3. Portugal – good value for your euro
A recent incentive trip to Portugal focused on Lisbon, Cascais, and Sintra. Attendees considered it one of their all-time favorites. Take your group on a historical tour to Penha Palace in the Sintra Mountains and Quinta de Regaleira or bike the Cascais (pronounced Kash-Ki-sssh) coastline, which offers a string of charming wineries. There are countless ways to “wow” participants with everything in reach. We recommend a minimum of four nights to make the most of your time in this dream destination. You can see a full program guide for Portugal in our blog post outling this bucket-list trip, complete with event ideas and activities.
4. Switzerland – small footprint, endless opportunities
The Reuss River in Lucerne, Switzerland
A popular destination on everyone’s bucket list! Switzerland is a diversified country with so much to offer in a small footprint: from its majestic mountains and incredible villages of Zermatt, Gstaad, and Bürgenstock, to the scenic lake regions in Geneva, Lausanne, Montreux, or Lugano, or the bustling cities of Zurich and Bern – there’s truly a destination fit for any type of incentive. No matter which region you choose, they each offer visitors a variety of activities and experiences from a visit to the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, to the wine region recognized by UNESCO as the Vineyard Terraces in Lavaux, or a visit of the Freddie Mercury statue on the shores of Montreux, or the Luzern Chapel Bridge. Countless options for your incentive travel programs – but one thing is for sure: everyone will be surprised and delighted at every turn of their Swiss adventure. Still not convinced to give Switzerland a try? Our incentive experts have shared their Swiss learnings in our blogs: from the array of destinations to choose from to the adventurer’s paradise of Zermatt.
5. Prague – preserved old-world culture
Old Town Prague
Nicknamed the city of a hundred spires, Prague tops the list as one of the most unique cities in the world. The capital city of the Czech Republic offers your attendees one of the best-preserved countries on the planet. During World War II, Prague wasn’t as affected by bombings as many other European cities, as planes didn’t have the range to reach Prague. What’s left today are the gothic and medieval influences that make Prague a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
On the older side of the famous Charles Bridge is the Mandarin Oriental, a luxury hotel steeped in history. Today it’s a modern retreat built on a 14th-century monastery, offering sweeping city views, spacious rooms, and a luxury spa. On the “younger” side of the Charles Bridge, Four Seasons Hotel Prague interweaves centuries of remarkable history with elegant accommodations, fine dining, and more in the middle of Old Town Square. Not to mention the view of Prague Castle. The magic of Prague can be experienced on foot, by vintage car, boat, helicopter, or bike. The city’s culture is vibrant, emphasized by music and the arts – offering something for everyone. Minutes away from the city center, groups can experience a private evening fit for royalty at the Lobkowicz Palace. Prince Lobkowicz provides a personalized welcome experience, including a tour of the family’s private art collection.
6. Dubrovnik – second-tier Europe
Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik, courtesy of the hotel
Second-tier destinations offer great value and greater ‘podium power’ the moment your Head of Sales announces the next year’s destination! Usually ‘off the beaten path’ and someplace even well-traveled salespeople haven’t explored yet where there is delight and surprise at every turn. Dubrovnik, Croatia sits atop that list with its historic walls offering a glimpse of an immaculately preserved Renaissance city. Hotel Excelsior is one of our favorites just a short walk into the old city and surrounding neighborhoods. Take a day trip to Ston an hour south and experience their preserved town walls, salt works, and mussels! The Peljasac Peninsula is unique and allows locals to harvest the best in the world. Simply WOW, if you like the shellfish—paired with an indigenous grape variety of white wine, of course! The Balkans offer an interesting mix of coastal activities with the Adriatic Sea and immaculate lakes scattered far and wide. It won’t be difficult to capture the attention of the well-traveled in the group with these hidden gems.
7. West Indies – secluded island luxury
Belmond Cap Juluca, courtesy of the hotel
The current hot spot in the West Indies is undeniably the secluded island of Anguilla. Compared to many other Caribbean islands that host the masses, incentive groups will find something a little more authentic in Anguilla. What they won’t find are large cruise ship crowds, casinos, or high-rise hotels. Those are replaced by a surplus of clear, coral-filled waters, unpaved roads, and beachfront villa accommodations. The 5-star resorts have earned every star including Four Seasons Resort Anguilla, Belmond Cap Juluca, Malliouhana, an Auberge Resort, and Aurora Resort & Golf Club. Relaxation is the name of the game in Anguilla where your guests can experience many of the top-rated beaches in the world. Water activities are a must, and if you are looking to offer WOW, water transfer your guests to the private oasis of Sandy Island for an exclusive beach day they won’t soon forget.
Other West Indies options include the gorgeous Carlisle Bay in Antigua; with its all ocean-front rooms and 5-star experience, this has always been a strong contender amongst incentive travel destinations. Many St. Kitts & Nevis properties have all undergone recent renovations, and several recent programs to Four Seasons Nevis can attest to their commitment to the highest standard of quality. Park Hyatt St. Kitts is another excellent luxury option full of Caribbean charm.
8. BVI and USVI – renovations & relaxation
The Seaborn Frenchman’s Reef, courtesy of the hotel
The U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) offer unique destinations for incentive travel—no passport, no currency exchange, and no additional mobile network roaming charges make it easier on attendees. With great airlift direct from many US airports, St. Thomas is the way in and offers a few great hotel options. The newly renovated Westin Beach Resort & Spa at Frenchman’s Reef (an incredible $420M rebuild from the former Marriott on that property) offers stunning turquoise views of the Caribbean Sea, the quintessential Caribbean town of Charlotte Amalie, from atop a 30-story cliff. While there, check out their hotel-within-a-hotel, the Seabourn, an Autograph Collection Hotel with ~90 rooms for a boutique feel and beachside vibe.
USVI adventures are best explored on the water—sailing, snorkeling (the best outside of Hawaii), kayaking and dinner cruises to neighboring St. John offer a great way to explore the nearby islands.
If you’re looking to elevate your Virgin Island experience, look no farther than Rosewood’s Litle Dix Bay, Virgin Gorda, in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). Sitting on a secluded half-mile crescent beach, with a world-class spa, Sense, set high up on a bluff with panoramic views, you’ll experience personal renewal at a highest level. BVI is made up of over 50 islands, islets, and cays, but make sure to get out on the water to experience snorkeling off the coast and into The Baths – gigantic boulders seemingly out of nowhere forming mini coves, hidden pools, and caves set this BVI beach apart from ALL others! Extra, extraordinary!
9. Grand Cayman – pristine Caribbean
Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, courtesy of the hotel
The long-awaited reopening of this tropical island post-Covid gave it the push needed to reach our list. Grand Cayman was cautious in its reopening approach compared to its neighboring Caribbean islands. In fact, they finally lifted the restrictions in August 2022 which had required unvaccinated travelers to quarantine for 14 days after arrival. Known for its beautiful, crystal-blue waters where scuba diving essentially originated, excellent 5-star resorts such as the Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa and Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, as well as their pristine beaches, it’s no wonder this centrally-located island draws many visitors to its water’s edge each year. Brightspot is excited to take groups back again in 2023. Stingray City, here we come!
10. Costa Rica – pura vida luxury
Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica At Peninsula Papagayo, courtesy of the hotel
When you hear Costa Rica, you may think of the beautiful city of San Jose, but when incentive travel is the goal, the real reward is 130 miles northwest in the province of Guanacaste. Among the best properties in this area, you will find the Four Seasons Resort and the Andaz Costa Rica on the stunning Papagayo Peninsula. These two resorts offer all that is quintessentially Costa Rica, including amazing food, beautiful scenery, and monkeys on your balcony if you are lucky! From the peninsula, guests have access to the beach, water activities, zipline and jungle tours, white water tubing, National Parks full of local animals, and food and cocktail experiences that rival those in the cosmopolitan capital of San Jose.
Thirty minutes south of Papagayo Peninsula is Playa Conchal. This area is home to the All-Inclusive Westin Reserva Conchal and the newer W Costa Rica. Both have upscale beaches, great event spaces and all you need to host an incredible incentive trip. Even further south is the beautiful JW Marriott, with an authentic casita feel, this property is full of charm and personality, and they offer a meal plan so you can create your own All-Inclusive experience if that’s what you are looking to provide.
11. Los Cabos – mucho 5-star resorts
Las Ventanas al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort, courtesy of the hotel
Watch out Los Cabos; Punta Mita is fighting for its spot as Mexico’s latest in luxury and exclusivity. Nestled about 40 miles northwest of Puerto Vallarta, this secluded area of the peninsula is booming with the addition of many 5-star hotels like the newly opened Conrad Punta De Mita and longtime favorites, Four Seasons Punta Mita and St. Regis Punta Mita. Word around the industry is that Omni is even opening a property there soon! Not only do the accommodations fit the needs of your next group, but the unique name of Punta Mita gives the destination an exotic feel as it’s less recognized among leisure travelers. To offer groups unique activities outside of the resort, consider a trip to the local village Sayulita for a taste of the local culture, artisan markets, surf lessons, and some of the best tacos ever tasted!
13. Cusco – Machu Picchu & Peruvian culture
The incomparable views of Machu Picchu
Found at the top of most people’s bucket-list destinations, Machu Picchu may have an unfortunate limit on its availability in the near future. This makes it important to visit Cusco now more than ever. However, don’t think you’re going just for the world wonder; Cusco has its own charms that deserve its fair share of the spotlight. The Plaza de Armas and the Cusco Cathedral, which towers above it, are their own UNESCO Heritage sites. In addition, the lively San Pedro Market allows travelers an opportunity to experience authentic Peruvian cuisine firsthand. The Belmond Hotel Monasterio, Palacio Nazarenas, and Palacio del Inka, a Luxury Collection Hotel, are all excellent hotel accommodations for your Cusco-bound group.
14. Bora Bora – bucket-list bungalows
Conrad Bora Bora Nui, courtesy of the hotel
French Polynesia may not be the easiest to reach, but those looking for an incentive travel destination completely unburdened by tourist traps and crowds can look to Bora Bora. Surrounded by teal lagoons and coral reefs, Bora Bora’s untouched majesty solidifies its position at the top of almost every bucket-list. From snorkeling with tropical fish to hiking a dormant volcano, to sleeping over the water on a stilted bungalow, there is no shortage of unique experiences awaiting your incentive travel group. The new Conrad Bora Bora Nui is getting rave reviews, while The St. Regis Bora Bora and the Four Seasons Bora Bora have been wowing travelers for many years as well.
15. New Zealand – Lord of the Rings scenery
New Zealand coastline
Auckland in the north and Queenstown in the south have large incentive travel appeal with unique, local, and authentic experiences. Boat rides on steamships, sheep herding, world-class dining, top-class rugby matches, and visits to shooting locations from the Lord of the Rings are just the tip of the mountain of one-of-a-kind experiences you can find in New Zealand. Auckland offers stunning harbor views from the Sky Tower, Waiheke Island vineyard tours, and the Hobbiton movie set. Queenstown is smaller, but offers more unique activities, such as Milford Sound scenic cruises, bungy jumping from the birthplace of the sport, and Shotover jet tours. Diverse landscapes, incredible cuisine, and an endless menu of activities make planning an incentive trip to the “land of the long white cloud” a no-brainer.
16. Big Island – say aloha to Hawaiian renovations
Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection, courtesy of the hotel
With significant updates to some of the finest resorts in Hawaii, the Big Island has fresh reasons to entice groups. Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection focuses on a luxurious, authentic Hawaiian experience with the spotlight on culture, cuisine, and experiences unique to the Big Island. With a $100 million investment by Auberge Resorts, Mauna Lani feels like a grand opening and was ranked the #1 Big Island resort by Travel + Leisure in 2022. The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort rises above a half-mile of golden crescent sand that always lands Hapuna Beach on “best beach” lists. Rosewood’s Kona Village will add another 5-star jewel after a grand renovation to an iconic resort. The scheduled opening in 2023 is right up the beach (or lava field) from the perennial-winning Four Seasons Hualalai. If you are thinking, “Our group already went to Hawaii,” Brightspot recommends visiting a different Hawaiian island every 3 years for varied experiences at top-ranked islands.
17. Deer Valley – easy access to mountain luxury
Montage Deer Valley, courtesy of the hotel
The Rocky Mountains offer a change of pace from fun-n-sun beach resorts. After landing in Salt Lake City, a quick 40-minute drive whisks club trip winners up into another world. In the mountains, the locals say, “they came for the winter but stayed for the summer.” In the summertime, the stunning mountain views, greenery, and fresh air offer glorious hiking, and the Utah Olympic Park has summer adrenaline activities such as ziplining and extreme tubing. Deer Valley is the luxury enclave within Park City. Its “incentive-quality” resorts include The St. Regis Deer Valley with a private ski valet and luxurious accommodations; Montage Deer Valley with a 35,000 sq ft spa sanctuary, a fireplace in every room, and smores with housemade, flavored marshmallows; and the Stein Eriksen Lodge with spacious rooms and award-winning cuisine, and après cocktails.
18. Whistler – great outdoors of Canada
Fairmont Chateau Whistler, courtesy of the hotel
Whistler is home to one of the largest ski resorts in North America, making it ideal for the winter sports enthusiasts in your group while retaining a high degree of incentive-quality hotels and amenities, including Four Seasons Whistler and Fairmont Chateau Whistler, directly located around Whistler Village with great mountain access. For the more athletic enthusiast, a trip to the Olympic Park offers the opportunity to experience bobsledding, snowshoeing, biathlons, and more. And don’t dismiss Canada as a summer destination! The beauty doesn’t fade once the snow has melted; enjoy the surroundings of the Blackcomb and Whistler mountains with the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, zipline through the mountains, hike, and bike to experience it all. No matter the time of year, you will be immersed in the culture of the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations, and can indulge in eclectic cuisine including a Chef’s Table foodie experience at Bearfoot Bistro, followed by champagne sabering, or a sub-zero nightcap at the Ketel One Ice Bar.
19. Deep South, USA – Lowcountry luxury
Montage Palmetto Bluff, courtesy of the hotel
A trip through South Carolina’s Lowcountry is often a head-tilting choice for the uninitiated, but if you’ve been once, you likely feel the longing to return. There is a reason that Charleston continues to rank as the #1 city in the United States to visit by Travel & Leisure. This city, as well as the region in general, epitomizes “southern charm” in every way. The cuisine, the hospitality, and the accommodations are all a step above the norm when it comes to domestic incentive travel destinations. We recommend the centrally-located Hotel Bennett for your stay in Charleston or The Charleston Place for its traditional 5-star excellence. Alternatively, consider an incentive trip at the inspiring Montage Palmetto Bluff or down the coast towards Savannah. Amelia Island is another amazing option for those looking for a bit of history with their coastal journey, and its Ritz-Carlton and Omni resorts are southern beauties. For those planning a few years out, Auberge Resorts Collection will be opening The Dunlin, a family-friendly resort located in the waterfront community of Kiawah River that blends peacefully within its surroundings to provide an unforgettable escape.
20. Cruising – sample multiple destinations by ship
Royal Caribbean Wonder of the Seas, courtesy of the cruise line
A cruise is a fantastic way for your club trip winners to visit several countries while staying under one roof and only unpacking once. Plus, there are the incredible values of an all-inclusive offering (unlimited dining, beverage packages, onboard WiFi, port excursions, etc.). In today’s marketplace, ships, itineraries, and onboard experiences are competing aggressively for group trips, so you can find a ship that’s right for any group. River Cruising, with brands such as Avalon Waterways or AmaWaterways, offers stops at lesser-known wonders and the potential of full buyouts at a smaller group size of 50-60 cabins. Larger vessels, like Royal Caribbean Wonder of the Seas, include a multitude of onboard activities and entertainment and numerous onshore activities and excursions. Their Mediterranean itinerary is a very attractive offering for North American clients. A Med cruise will entice guests with a full itinerary, ultimately checking off “must-see” places on their bucket list.
We’re here for you!
It is our pleasure to help the incentive travel industry and your incentive trip however we can. As always, feel free to send in your opinions or questions to [email protected] We’re happy to provide insight into making our content and your program the best it can be!