The World’s Most Progressive ‘Meet’ and Retreat Destinations

When it comes to settings for the most memorable trade shows, industry conferences, and executive retreats, look to these destinations for venues, hotels, and activities that are anything but conventional.

The World’s Most Progressive ‘Meet’ and Retreat Destinations
January 7, 2016

Loreto, Mexico

Why Here?
There are still tucked-away places in Mexico so special that savvy business travelers and locals have tried to keep them a secret. Loreto is one of them. The tiny former fishing village in the center of Baja California (a 2.5-hour flight from LA) proves to be a compelling alternative to bigger and busier resort/conference destinations in Mexico’s west.

Top Industries
Food and Beverages, Tobacco, Chemicals, Iron and Steel, Oil & Gas, Clothing, Motor Vehicles, Consumer Durables, and Tourism

Prominent Companies
Grupo Televisa, Grupo Modelo, Carso Global Telecom, Cemex, America Movil, Walmex, Femsa

GDP
$
1282.7B in 2014

View of the Pacific from the Villa del Palmar in Loreto, Mexico

View of the Pacific from the Villa del Palmar in Loreto, Mexico

Other Fun Facts
Mexico has the 9th largest economy in the world; Mexico produces approximately 3.5 million barrels of oil a day and is the world’s eighth-largest oil exporter. Sales from oil account for nearly a third of all government revenue.

Executive-Class Lodging
Villa Del Palmar, an hour out of Loreto, represents what the locals love about its simpler way of life. The resort is the perfect amalgam of Loreto’s authenticity, unusual desert terrain, and luxurious but never overdone retreat experience. Its activities are tailor made for executive retreat bonding, with kayaking, sport fishing, sailing excursions, mountain biking, as well as a golf course and user-friendly hiking trails on the property. There are also excursions into Loreto, a scenic fitness room, and a beautifully appointed spa.

“It” Restaurants
On property, Danzante, The Market, and Casa Mia excel at different forms of creative Mexican fare, particularly where seafood is concerned. Casa Mia has superb ceviche crafted with whatever is in season, such as cabrilla fish with corn, tomato, and avocado or mango and shrimp salad with mango, tomatoes, and herbs grown in their own garden–which also provides herbs for the cocktails created by mixologist David Ortiz.

A Smart Business Model
According to Villa del Palmar General Manager Sixto Navarro, a goal from the resort’s revamping four years ago was to not only build the local economy by creating jobs, but also allow those employees to grow with it. Several of the construction workers who built the property, for example, were hired into resort jobs. They are continuing to build their skills to climb the ladder with the resort’s in-house education program.

Mendoza City, Argentina

Why Here?
While Argentina’s wine production hub is its fourth-largest urban center, the walkable streets, lush parks, art scene, wineries, and food culture provide a wonderful counterbalance to large international and national industry conferences (mostly related to mining, hydrocarbons, medicine, wine, agriculture, and cutting-edge technology).

Top Industries
Food processing (i.e. meatpacking, flour milling, and canning); Wine Production, Motor Vehicles, Textiles, Chemicals, Petrochemicals, and Steel

Prominent Companies
MercadoLibre, Authenware, Kaszek Ventures, Fuerza Bruta (ranking in the top 10 of Fast Company’s most innovative Latin American companies); Techint, Ternium, YPF Oil

GDP
$
540.2B in 2015

Other Fun Facts
Argentina plays a leading role in regional policymaking as a representative of Latin America in the G-20, jointly with Mexico and Brazil;  Between 2003 and 2009, Argentina’s middle class doubled in size, from 9.3 million to 18.6 million. It has invested heavily in health and education, accounting for 8% and 6% of GDP, respectively.

Spaces and gathering places
Gobernador Emilio Civit has a capacity for 2,000 people, distributed over 34,400 square feet. Palmares Bureau (in Godoy Cruz) has a 16,000 square foot main conference room with capacity for 1,400 people and an open yard of more than a million square feet.

Executive-Class Lodging
Modern hotels that capture the city’s character include The Park Hyatt Mendoza and InterContinental Hotel Mendoza. The Sheraton Mendoza, at the center of town, is nicely set up for meetings and conferences, while The Vines Resort & Spa and Cavas Wine Lodge are two boutique/design resorts just outside the city, near the famed vineyards that are figuratively and literally generating a buzz.

“It” restaurants
In town, Azafran, Siete Cocinas de Argentina, and Ituzango Resto are noted for introducing guests to the finest in Argentine farm-to-table, mixing influences of indigenous, Spanish, and Italian sensibilities. In the wine country, Almacen del Sur is a fantastic site for a gastronomic retreat with its working farm and degustation menus. The Familia Zucardi bodega (winery) not only features gorgeous vineyards but also the ultimate Argentine bbq experience.

The InterContinental in Mendoza City, Argentina

The InterContinental in Mendoza City, Argentina

Oslo, Norway

Why Here?
Oslo, home of the Nobel Prize, is synonymous with innovation and social progress. It is a world center for stewardship of the environment, with as many as 96 percent of Norwegians voicing pride in their air and water quality, nearly the most among nations measured by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Top Industries
Petroleum Exploration and production, Hydroelectric Power, Fisheries, Food Processing, Shipbuilding, Wood Pulp and Paper Products, Metal

Global Companies
Telnor, Statoil, Norsk Hydro, DNB ASA, Yara International

GDP
$500B in 2014

A meeting room at The Thief Hotel in Oslo

A meeting room at The Thief Hotel in Oslo

Other Fun Facts
Norway is the world’s second biggest exporter of natural gas and the fifth biggest exporter of oil

Spaces and Gathering Places
The Oslo Concert Hall, a.k.a. the “Glass House,” has two concert halls (with 1,404 and 266 seats) and large foyers suitable for exhibitions and receptions; Telnor Arena (opened in 2009) accommodates up to 23,000 attendees, but can easily be adapted for smaller events with its brilliantly Scandinavian “smart amphitheatre solution.”

Executive-Class Lodging
The Thief, a modern design hotel built out of a former prison, offers meeting space as well as proximity to Oslo’s top cultural attractions. Other city picks include Hotel Continental and the Radison Blu Plaza Hotel. Losby Gods Resort and Königs Winger Hotel, each less than an hour from Oslo, feature memorable conference spaces and unusual hotel activities. Former fortress Königs Winger boasts a military museum, a dining room that hosted 13 of Norway’s past 15 kings, and catacombs transformed into a wine cellar/tasting room. Losby Gods’ biggest draws, besides its grand Victorian Era architecture, are a tasting room focused on Aquavit and on-site golf facility with both 18-hole and nine-hole courses.

It” restaurants
Fru K (at The Thief Hotel), Maaemo, Fauna, Festningen, and Tjuvholmen Sjømagasin have all won global acclaim for translating Norway’s pristine seafood and produce into modern culinary statements.

A view of Oslo from the water

A view of Oslo from the water

Prague, The Czech Republic

Why Here?
Prague holds historic status as a crossroads for the most important trading routes. History-making conferences included the Annual Meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2000, the Prague NATO Summit in 2002, and the ERA-EDTA in 2011, which was attended by over 10,000 delegates.

Top Industries
Machine-building, Iron and Steel, Metalworking, Chemical Production, Electronics, Transportation Equipment, Textiles, Glass, Brewing, Ceramics, and Pharmaceuticals

Global Companies
CEZ Group, EVRAZ, Skoda Auto, UniPetrol, Jan Becher, R. Jelenek, Pilsner Urquell, Finitrading

GDP
$205.5B in 2014

Other Fun Facts
Czech economic growth accelerated to a record and outpaced all other members of the European Union in the first quarter of 2015, helped by a policy of keeping the currency weak and the government’s looser budget stance.

Spaces and Gathering Places
The Lobkowicz Palace, the only privately owned building in the Prague Castle complex, blends luxurious spaces, museum caliber art collections, and stunning views, making it ideal for daytime meetings and nighttime galas; The Prague Congress Centre is one of the largest and best-equipped in Europe, with diverse spaces for everything from industry spanning conferences to smaller business meetings and presentations.

The Mandarin Oriental, Prague

The Mandarin Oriental, Prague

Executive-Class Lodging
Housed in a fastidiously-restored 16th-century baroque villa across the street from the US Embassy, The Alchemist Hotel is a glorious place to entertain top executives or retreat from a busy day’s activities; The Mandarin Oriental Prague, built on the site of a 14th-century monastery, is a soulful place not only to stay but also to stage meetings and gala dinners.

“It” Restaurants
Kampa Park features modern spins on Czech and international dishes as well as patio seating along one of the most photogenic stretches of the Charles River; Michelin-star restaurant The Alcron draws upon the city’s art deco heyday while looking toward the future in its execution of seafood dishes; Old Town bars include Blue Angel’s, Bugsy’s, and Tretter’s New York Bar.

Seoul, South Korea

Why Here?
According to Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, the city has focused on promoting the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions & Expos) as of Seoul’s future core industries, especially because its economic benefits impact every other aspect of the business sector and economy as a whole. It is also the capital of a country ranked Asia’s fourth largest economy, and a major player among the world’s top exporting nations.

Top Industries
Electronics, Telecommunications, Automobile Production, Steel, Chemicals

Global Companies
LG, Samsung, Hyundai, Kia Motors, Shinhan Financial Group

GDP
$1.393 trillion in 2015

Other Fun Facts
A total of 61 Korean companies were ranked on the Forbes Global 2000 Leading Companies list in 2014; Korean electronics giant Samsung currently holds a twenty percent share of the worldwide smartphone market, thanks to the global success of the Samsung Galaxy series.

Spaces and Gathering Places

Dongdaenum Design Plaza (DDP), imagined by world-renowned architect Zaha Hadid, challenges the conventions of traditional meeting halls with her gravity-defying design; Some Sevit (Floating Islands), built by Haeahn Architecture & H Architecture, mingles classical European elements, contemporary Asian design, and state-of-the-art sound and meeting amenities.

The Four Seasons, Seoul

The Four Seasons, Seoul

Executive-Class Lodging
The Four Seasons Seoul (fourseasons.com/seoul), opened October 2015, is steps away from key government buildings and many of Seoul’s most important historic landmarks. However, it is a peerless business venue in itself, with numerous dramatic fine dining options, fantastic cocktail bars (Charles H. and Boccalino Bar), a flawless fitness center, and even a 3-D virtual golf experience!

“It” Restaurants
Mingles Gangnam, an intimate, exclusive space showcasing a hugely imaginative fusion of Italian, French, and Korean technique; Jinjinbara offers finely executed traditional Korean dining at six locations made up mostly of private rooms; Top Cloud, for spectacular city views and a crowd-pleasing mix of Western and Asian dishes.

Shanghai, People’s Republic of China

Why Here?
Shanghai is China’s city of tomorrow, exemplified by Pudong, Shanghai’s finance and high-tech district. Historic Chinese charm thrives on the opposite side of the Huangpu River, with The Bund, the former French Concession, and Ming and Qing Dynasty architecture near the Yu Yuan Gardens.

Top Industries
Computer Information, Petrochemical, Logistics, Equipment Manufacturing, Automotive, Steel, Textiles

Global Companies
Alibaba, Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), AIA Group, China Eastern Airlines, VeriSilicon and UBISoft Shanghai
GDP
$383.5B in 2014

The Mandarin Orientla, Shanghai

The Mandarin Oriental, Shanghai

Other Fun Facts
Nearly 300 of the world’s top 500 enterprises have invested in Shanghai, further bolstering its economy.

Spaces and Gathering Places
Beyond the iconic Oriental Pearl Tower, you’ll find the Shanghai International Convention Center, a multi-function compound with 28 conference venues for 20 people to 3,000 people as well as an arsenal of advanced audiovisual equipment. The Shanghai World Expo Exposition & Convention Center, the heart of the 2010 World’s Fair, continues to draw multi-national corporate and industry events.

Executive-Class Lodging
Mandarin Oriental Shanghai Pudong easily accommodates convention groups yet still bears its signature boutique hotel soul. The Peninsula Shanghai earns many top rankings worldwide for its intuitive guest service, central location on the historic Bund, and swanky suites, ballrooms, and restaurants. The huge, lavish apartments at Lanson Place Aroma Garden are ideal for long-term stays.

“It” Restaurants”
Three on the Bund is a multi-floor, multi-restaurant dining destination for world-class food and cocktails from Jean-Georges and other top chefs that also features a top-tier art gallery and stellar Bund and Pudong views; Chef Paul Pairet’s Mr. & Mrs. Bund is renowned for transforming Shanghai-area produce into flavorful, contemporary French fare and explaining it in its spectacularly inventive menu.

Singapore

Why Here?
This city-state stands in the geographical heart of Asia, and is recognized worldwide for its government’s urban planning, luxury lifestyle, and infrastructure.

Top Industries
Tourism, Biomedical Sciences, Logistics, Construction, Chemicals, Banking and Finance, Casinos & Gaming,

Global Companies
DBS Group, Singapore Airlines, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation, SingTel, Wimar, Golden Agri-Resources, CapitaLand, Keppel Corp

GDP
$307.8B in 2015

Other Fun Facts
In Banking and finance, Singapore is emerging as  the hub of Southeast Asia. Singapore is home to many international banks, wealth management firms and other financial institutions. Foreign exchange and insurance are the main development sectors of banking; Singapore Airlines voted best as best airline in the world and Asia, while Singapore’s Shangri-La was ranked Best Business Hotel Worldwide and Singapore’s Changi Airport Best Airport in the World.

Spaces and Gathering Places
Sands Expo® and Convention Centre, Singapore’s newest, largest, and most flexible conference/meeting complex, is also the first green venue in Southeast Asia to attain ISO 20121 certification for event sustainability management. Other spaces capturing Singapore’s successful integration of innovation and nature include Gardens by the Bay and, for smaller gatherings, the ArtScience Museum.

Executive-Class Lodging
Parkroyal on Pickering features 376 rooms and 15,000 square meters of solar-powered, zero energy gardens, waterfalls, and planter walls. Beyond the urban sprawl, The Norman Foster-designed Capella Singapore on Sentosa Island (itself a noted convention and meeting spot) represents the pinnacle of Eurasian luxury and service. Also, you can’t forget the legendary Raffles Hotel Singapore.

The Capella Singapore, with discerning amenities and views

The Capella Singapore, with discerning amenities and views

“It” Restaurants
Joie by Dozo’s ultra-modern reinvention of vegetarian cuisine; Hotpot Kingdom’s flavor-packed soups, stews, and dim sum crafted with premium ingredients; May May, the newest contemporary dining destination on Tras Street, the buzziest dining stretch in Singapore.

 

The Meet Market

The Meet Market

Planning information and a few more fun facts about the destinations

Loreto, Mexico
visitmexico.com/en/loreto

Did You Know?
Loreto’s sportfishing industry is a main source of employment in the area. There are two well-defined fishing seasons: summer’s big catch includes “dorado” (mahi-mahi), marlin and sailfish; winter fishing is dominated by “yellow tail” (jurel) and other species that reside in the sea rocks. Loreto’s waters are home to snapper and seabass, found all year long.

Mendoza, Argentina
argentina.travel/en/meetings

Did You Know?
According to QW Wine Experts, a New York-based consulting firm specializing in imported wines, Argentine wine exports to the U.S. have increased dramatically in the past two decades, moving from a market share of 0.5 percent in 1995 to 8 percent in 2013.

Oslo, Norway
visitoslo.com/en/meetings/meetings-in-oslo/

Did You Know?
Norway has been a mainstay in the top five of the Legantum Prosperity Index’sTM “World’s Happiest Country” survey over the last decade, with three consecutive years at number one. It boasts an enviable per capita GDP of $54,000 a year, as well as efficient state subsidized health care, higher education and elder care programs, and one of the lowest crime rates on the planet.

Prague, The Czech Republic
pragueconvention.cz/

Did You Know?
Prague was the first country in the post-communist Eastern bloc in which a restaurant was awarded a Michelin star. The Allegro restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel, steered by chef Andrea Accordi, received its star in 2008.

Seoul, Korea
miceseoul.com

Did You Know?
K-Pop hit factory SM Entertainment’s total sales revenue for the first half of 2015 amounted to 141.6B won ($123,565,824), the company’s highest since its founding in 1995.

Shanghai, The People’s Republic of China
meet-in-shanghai.net/events/shanghai-conventions

Did You Know?
Shanghai, financial markets center of mainland China, is home to hundreds of thousands of millionaires, and as of 2015, dozens of U.S. dollar billionaires, according to Investopedia.com.

Singapore
stb.gov.sg

Did You Know?
Singapore’s latest budget includes a $3B plan to expand its Changi Airport with a fifth terminal (and the fourth is not even completed!). Terminal 5 is projected to be ready for takeoff in 2025, and will be as big as the airport’s first three terminals combined.

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