It’s an incentive in itself to know that the reward for meeting a sales goal is a trip to an ancient land of Harry Potter-like castles, cobblestone streets and idyllic countryside, but the deal is sealed when you learn that journey will be punctuated by tastings of fine Scotch in a slick venue, hotels ranging from classically ornate to chicly restored, and diversions such as archery, gun dog and falconry lessons.
Such were the highlights of a recent trip Meetings Focus took to Scotland, where we discovered a destination chock-full of unique experiences for meetings and incentives, starting with a stay at Gleneagles.
The historic hotel, spa and golf resort, a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, meanders over 850 acres of Perthshire countryside and features 232 gracefully appointed guest rooms and 26 suites. It will host the 40th Ryder Cup in 2014, and the PGA Centennial Course, where the matches will be held, is ready for play—a big draw for incentive groups.
“Gleneagles is one of the flagship hotels and resorts we are very lucky to be able to call upon in Scotland,” says Richard Knight, marketing manager, North America and emerging markets for Visit Scotland, pointing to its three championship golf courses, world-class spa, upscale shops, haute cuisine, whisky tastings and wealth of outdoor activities, such as off-road driving, clay pigeon shooting and equestrian school.
Indeed, shortly after our group arrived, we were on the grand lawn receiving gun dog and falconry lessons before heading over to the fashionable Blue Bar, where we learned the art of tasting the peat, vanilla, orange, smoke and other subtleties and complexities of Scotch, namely Johnnie Walker Blue Label. Dinner was just as impressive, highlighted by loin of slow-cooked Scotch lamb neck with Jerusalem artichokes, savoy cabbage and thyme jus.
A leisurely countryside drive brought us to St. Andrews by the Sea, home to the University of St. Andrews. The maze of Old World streets and the ruins of the ancient St. Andrews Cathedral make this town, where Kate Middleton and Prince William met as undergraduates in 2001, a must for groups.
The Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort and Spa is a landmark not only for golfers but for business as well. Golf has been played in St. Andrews since the 1400s, and event venues throughout the property overlook the scenic terrain of the legendary Old Course. The hotel’s renowned Duke’s Course is another highlight.
Golf is also a draw at the beautiful Fairmont St. Andrews, with a 15,000-square-foot conference center and a two-story glass atrium that can host 1,000 delegates.