The tiny principality of Monaco, located southeast of France and 12km from the Italian border, is inextricably linked to glamour and luxury with its casinos, yachts, medieval palaces, museums and manicured outdoor gardens.
Stretching across an area measuring just 2.8km – approximately 31ha of the land was reclaimed from the sea – with a population of approximately 32,000, this rich destination is too compact to host mega-events with thousands of participants. However, its unique blend of Old World charm and New World pizzazz makes Monaco a premier destination for high-end incentives.
According to the Monaco Government Tourist and Convention Authority, business events and incentives groups comprised almost a third (29 percent) of hotel arrivals in the principality and leisure travellers made up 71 percent of hotel arrivals last year.
While most events and incentives groups unsurprisingly come from neighbouring France and Italy as well as other European countries, Monaco is keen to welcome high-end incentive groups from Asia as it weathers the global recession better than other regions in the world.
“There are plenty of things to do and see in Monaco. The destination is multi-dimensional,” says Michel Bouquier, president of the Monaco Government Tourist and Convention Authority.
Indeed, contrary to common belief, the principality’s high-class casinos contribute no more than 4 percent to its total GDP. It has a diversified economy notably in industrial sectors such as chemistry, cosmetology and processing of plastics among others.
With the industrial sectors alone generating 44,000 jobs for a settled population of 32,000, unemployment is virtually non-existent.
Furthermore, luxury tourism is also a major sector of its economy. Companies seeking an unforgettable experience to reward their high-performing executives, important partners and top-tiered clients will not go wrong by choosing Monaco for their next long-haul incentive programme.
The experience begins with the journey itself. Visitors to Monaco typically arrive through Nice Côte d’Azur Airport in France, where your group can then transit in style by taking a six-minute helicopter ride to the principality. For those arriving via Paris, there are high-speed trains that can bring your group to Monte Carlo, the principality’s most famous district, in five and a half hours.
Benefiting from royal patronage, classical and modern arts exist in a thriving environment. There are performances held in the city-state all around the year: an opera or a ballet at Salle Garnier, a concert by the city’s philharmonic orchestra at Auditorium Rainier III and a rock jam in Moods, Studio & Music Bar among others.
Exploring Monaco on foot not only lets your group enjoy the glorious sunshine that falls on the city 360 days a year, but it brings them face to face with more of the territory’s artistic heritage.
Architectural landmarks like the 12th-century The Prince Palace, the Romano-Byzantine-inspired Monaco Cathedral as well as the one-of-its-kind Oceanographic Museum built in 1910 are a must-see. The streets of Monaco are filled with centuries-old buildings, forts and chapels, which also give those with a critical eye a lesson on the evolution of aesthetics in design and style over the years.
Furthermore, the streets of Monaco can be considered as one big sculpture museum. There is now a “Sculpture Trail” that groups can take to see over 100 pieces of sculpture by contemporary artists. Many of these artistic and cultural statements are ensconced in the city’s well-maintained parks and gardens.
Finer things in life
This rich country with an average yearly revenue of 11 billion euros boasts a well-entrenched tradition of savouring life’s finer things. It offers visiting incentive groups a unique time as leisure aficionados.
Enjoy yachting and other watersports in Monaco’s famous marinas; pamper yourself from head-to-toe with rejuvenating spa treatments in the exclusive salons of hotels and beauty centres; or enjoy a leisurely brunch of gourmet European cooking by top chefs.
For those who get their adrenaline rush from retail therapy, The Cercle d’Or and the Park Palace Arcade areas are the places to go for luxury shopping. Iconic names in fashion and jewellery are all here: Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Céline, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, Chanel, Prada, Ichthys Cartier, Chopard, Van Cleef Arpels, Bulgari, Piaget, Repossi and others. For art lovers, many antique dealers or designers are available, including Fersen, Adriano Ribolzi, Gismondi and many more famous names.
In the evening, it is time to roll the dice in Monaco’s glittering casinos and, while you’re dressed to the nines, enjoy the city’s bustling nightlife. There is an eclectic range of bars and clubs to choose from.
A dynamic events venue
A number of trade shows, exhibitions and conferences are hosted in the principality. The Grimaldi Forum, where many of them are held, is a modern modular space. It has three large halls that seat between 402 and 1,800 people. There are 11 smaller rooms that can cater to groups of between 50 and 220. There is a 10,000sqm exhibition space spanning several levels, including the 400-seat theatre-style Salle Nijinski.
Business events targeting the high net-worth market have found a conducive venue in Monaco – Top Marques, a trade fair for prestige automobiles was held at the Forum last April.
Groups that come here will find a dynamic city that is bustling with activities year-round. There are festivals, arts exhibitions and high-profile sporting events such as the Monaco F1 Grand Prix, which marked its 68th season in Monaco this year, and the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters.
Time your incentive visit during one of these high-octane events to give your programme an additional buzz. Activities and experiences can be tailor made to suit the choosiest requirements for a top notch programme.
For more information, go to www.visitmonaco.com