In many cases, must-see attractions and experiences that will make a group's programme truly memorable are right outside the doorsteps of the hotel where they are staying. We look at six hotels and resorts where corporate groups do not have to travel far to get an authentic taste of the destination.
Name of Hotel: La Residence Hotel & Spa
Location: Hue, Vietnam
Attraction: An Dinh Palace
Distance from the hotel: 2 km by cyclo
What can they do there: In 1917, the last emperor of Vietnam, Khai Dinh, built a lavish royal palace for his son, Bao Dai. On the walls and ceilings, he indulged his penchant for French Baroque design with patterned wallpapers, ornamental stucco and wall paintings that detailed the palaces of his forefathers. After Bao Dai’s abdication, his mother moved into the palace and lived there until the end of the war between the US and Vietnam. Over the past several years, a team of conservationists from Germany restored the 100-year-old murals, square centimeter by centimeter and only recently completed their work. In November 2012, La Residence Hotel & Spa began hosting barbecues on the palace’s back deck and receptions in the high-ceiling salons.
Name of Hotel: Palace Hotel Tokyo
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Attraction: Imperial Palace
Distance from the hotel: 200 meters
What can they do there: To meet at the Palace Hotel Tokyo is come right up against one of the most iconic attractions in all Japan. The moat that served the Tokugawa Shoguns in the Edo period, and the emperors of Japan after the Meiji Restoration in 1868, is the same moat that guests dine against on the terrace of the Grand Kitchen in the morning. Visible from nearly every room in the hotel, the Palace’s Fujimi-yagura (Fuji-view Keep) is a lure to some of Tokyo’s most hallowed ground. Though most of the palace’s structures were lost to Allied bombing in May 1945, the grounds make for fascinating perambulation, from the Nijübashi bridge to the Ninomaru Gardens to the aji-stone cased walls and ramparts that evoke the romantic appeal of vanished Japan.
Name of the hotel: Chedi Club Tanah Gajah
Location: Ubud, Bali
Attraction: Open-air amphitheater
Distance from the hotel: On-site
What can they do there? Catch a performance of traditional Balinese dance and drama. Staged under the stars in the resort's on-site amphitheater, the Kecak Cultural Dance show features a local dance troupe of 80 – 100 bare-chested male performers, who chant and dance in a trancelike state in concentric rings around an open flame. The Kecak has roots in the sanghyang, and originated in Bali in the 1930s. Also known as the Ramayana Monkey Chant, the piece depicts a battle from the Ramayana where the monkey-like Vanara assists Prince Rama in fighting the evil King Ravana. There is no musical accompaniment, rhythm is provided by a 'monkey chorus' who wear checked cloths around their waists and act as various monkey armies in the story.
Name of the hotel: China World Summit Wing
Location: Beijing, China
Attraction: Tiananmen Square
Distance from the hotel: 15-minute drive from the hotel
What can they do there: Tiananmen Square in Beijing can be described as Beijing's heart and soul. Located at the centre of the city, a 15-minute drive from China World Summit Wing, Beijing, Tiananmen Square is among the most frequented tourist attractions of the city.
Within the limits of the square, visitors will be able to see a number of cultural attractions with the likes of Tiananmen Tower, Monument of People's Heroes, Great Hall of the People, Memorial Hall of Chairman Mao and the National Museum of China.
Located at the northern section of Tiananmen Square, Tiananmen Tower was built in 1417. It is said that only members of the royal family and a selected number of aristocrats were allowed access to the tower up until the early 1900's. You can also catch the daily flag-raising ceremony at the square.
Name of hotel: Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila
Location: Manila, Philippines
Attractions: Cultural Centre of the Philippines and Intramuros
Distance from the hotel: 15-minute and 30-minute drive respectively
What can they do there: The hotel is within the Cultural Centre of the Philippines (CCP) complex located at the waterfront overlooking Manila Bay along Roxas Boulevard in Pasay City.
The complex is known as a hub for arts and culture, housing on its ground the iconic CCP where symponies, ballets and theatre productions are regularly staged. For an hour or two of cultural engagement, groups can book seats for any shows that are currently running.
The CCP with its iconic architecture is not the only attraction within Sofitel's vicinity, there are also the Folk Arts Theatre where huge concerts are held; the newly renovated Philippine International Convention Center, which is the first purpose-built facility in Asia for hosting meetings, events and conferences. There is also the Coconut Palace, which now the official residence and office of the country's Vice President. Meant to be the guesthouse of the late Pope John Paul II during his first visit to the Philippines in 1981, the venue showcases the different uses of the versatile tree and its fruit as a building material. Public tours of the palace is now available for booking.
A 30-minutre drive away is the old walled city of Intramuros, the seat of power of Spanish Philippines. Built in the 16th century, there is much of its old glory to see. Fort Santiago is a must-see as does Casa Manila museum where Filipiniana-inspired cocktails can be held. A guided walking tour of Intramuros with an expert guide is advised to truly imbibe the history of this centuries-old district.
Name of Hotel: The Nam Hai
Location: Hoi An, Vietnam
Attraction: Hoi An Ancient Town
Distance From hotel: 10 minutes by taxi, or 30 minutes by bicycle
What can they do there: Wander the pedestrian-friendly, cobblestone streets of historic Hoi An, one of the most well-preserved ancient trading ports in all of Asia. Low-slung, weathered shophouses remain the hallmark of this Unesco World Heritage Site rich in rustic charm.
In recent years, the town has become a Mecca for culinary adventures and tailor-made clothing, too. Other popular attractions include the Thu Bon River, which sparkles at night from the reflection of colorful Chinese lanterns that hang from the eaves of bankside bars and restaurants; and the Japanese Bridge, commissioned in the 16th century by superstitious traders who sought protection from a dragon they feared lived below.
The Nam Hai arranges guided group tours of Hoi An, which translates as "peaceful meeting place" for the array of cultures that have convened here for centuries