One of the quickest ways to shift your teambuilding group out of its comfort zone is taking your team out of the city and into the wild.
Brunei, the tiny oil-rich country located on the northern shore of the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia, is rife with teambuilding potential. Its untamed jungles and unspoiled beaches can provide for Survivor-type activity that results in a lasting bond among a group of people, who have to go through a gritty experience together.
The tiny sultanate has preserved two-thirds of its tropical rainforests, about 80,000 hectares of which have been designated as national parks. The Temburong District, home to the Ulu Temburong National Park and the Sumbiling Eco Village, has been favourite a spot for ecotourism. Now its locales have been increasingly tapped for corporate bonding activities.
But locally based destination management companies say that a lot can still be done to promote Brunei’s teambuilding.
“There is lack of market awareness on Brunei’s potential,” says Tan Ai Lee, executive director of MegaBorneo Tour Planner, which has put together teambuilding and leadership programmes for local companies such as the Brunei Shell companies – Shell Asia Brunei, Brunei Shell Tankers and Brunei Cold Gas Carriers.
With nature so close to the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, it is easy for corporate groups to get away from civilisation. Besides Ulu Temburong National Park and the Sumbiling Eco Village, popular sites include Sungai Liang Recreation Park, Bukit Shahbandar Recreation Park, Berakas Forest Reserve and The Empire Hotel and Country Club.
Not surprisingly, notes Tan, most teambuilding activities incorporate a Survivor course, trekking, raft-building and rafting and night mangrove safari.
“Brunei does not experience monsoon winds and is outside the earthquake belt so programmes can be run any time of the year,” she adds, pointing out that “cost is still considered affordable in running teambuilding activities in Brunei compared with other destinations”.
Leslie Chiang, managing director of Borneo Guide, echoes the same sentiment that corporate groups from across region are yet to discover the sultanate’s potential as an ideal destination for offsite teambuilding.
“Foreign groups are often surprised at the wide range of teambuilding activities available in Brunei, both indoor and outdoor,” he says. “At Sumbiling Eco-Village, we take it one step further by developing our teambuilding activities around indigenous games and ideas, using the natural surroundings to our fullest advantage. All these are done with the safety and satisfaction of our guests in mind. This is made possible by active involvement and ideas of local villagers in our entire operations.”
Programmes typically last three days and two nights, featuring camp stays, outdoor activities, rainforest adventures and cultural exposure at the village longhouse.
Borneo Guide has conducted teambuilding exercises for local companies, including the Brunei Petroleum Company and HSBC Brunei as well as foreign groups such as the Singapore Navy Cadets and some private groups from Malaysia.
“We believe in tailoring our programme to suit the need of different clients. However, we also make it a point to cultivate knowledge and love of the forest.” Chiang says.
Away from the jungles, miles of pristine coastline teeming with marine life beckons in Brunei. Here, too, group activities can be tailor-made specifically to harness teamwork and cooperation.
A year ago, Dream Charter, Sailing in Brunei – a company that leases out yachts for sailing around the waters of South China Sea – begun its operations in Brunei offering services from day sailing, a Kampong Ayer cruise to hands-on teambuilding exercise.
Two yachts dubbed SV Jenny and SY Petima can carry 25 and 15 passengers respectively. And these two yachts have given event organisers another outdoor option for offsite teambuilding.
“Sailing is the perfect activity for a teambuilding exercise. The nature of sailing makes it ideal for teambuilding,” says German skipper Peter Moeller, co-owner of Dream Charter, Sailing in Brunei.
He explains: “Every person onboard must coordinate and cooperate with each other to said the boat effectively. Each individual’s job is as important as the next person. Everyone is equal on the boat no matter what his role in the office. Once you hit the deck of the yacht, we are all on the same level. Most people who come onboard do not know how to sail a boat, so everyone starts at the same level with the same knowledge.”
The company’s teambuilding programmes are conducted within the safe confines of the Brunei River, where winds are light and sailing conditions are perfect for beginners. Dream Charter recommends that a small team of say ten people undertake the full-day course from 10am to 4pm.
Corporate groups which have undergone this teambuilding programme include HMR Trust, HSBC Bank, UBD and Curtin University Malaysia.
“We start the programme at Serasa Beach with a full safety briefing and orientation of the yacht. The group is then split up into various teams such as a navigation team, line handlers and sails, helm and one skipper.
“We sail from Serasa past Muara Besar to Pulau Pelumpong. Here, we drop anchor and go ashore. We have teambuilding exercises on the beach with the beautiful view of the South China Sea. After lunch, we set sail again but this time under the complete control of the new sailing team. We arrive back to Serasa in the afternoon with a very tired but happy and proud group,” Moeller explains.
He adds: “Working onboard in a small environment is very much like working in an office. And it is very important to work as an effective and organised team at all times. It not only makes life more pleasant onboard but you are stronger and more efficient working as a team. The same principal can be applied at the office.”
The entire exercise is done under the watchful eye of captain and its crew, ensuring the safety of group. Moeller and his team have years of sailing experience and had sailed the whole way from Germany to Brunei.
Whether the teambuilding programme takes place under the forest canopy or on a deck breathing the salty air of the South China Sea, groups can expect a high level of quality and professionalism from events experts based in Brunei, who know the layout of the land like the back of their hand.
“We have done plenty of these exercises for many years now,” says managing director of GoodMiles Brunei.
“Putting these programmes together poses no challenge for us.”
Royal Brunei Airlines is the main carrier linking Brunei to destinations worldwide. Other airlines such as Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airline, Dragonair, Philippine Airlines and Thai Airways also serve the oil-rich sultanate.
Brunei has moderate equatorial climate all year-round with temperatures ranging between 23ºC and 32ºC. Rainfall is heaviest from September to January and from May to July. Warmest months are March and April.
Visitors, except British Overseas Citizens and British Dependent Territories Citizens, do not require visas for stays not exceeding 30 days.
Malay is the official language. Indigenous groups speak their local dialects while the large Chinese community speak Mandarin, Hokkien and Cantonese. English is the lingua franca for trade and commerce.
The brightest stars of the European Senior Tour are expected to tee-off in March for the second Aberdeen Brunei Senior Masters, writes Gigi Onag
For a tiny nation, Brunei boasts a number of world-class golf courses that can set a golfer’s heart racing. With over 70 percent of the land covered by rainforest, the greens and fairways of Brunei are fringed by jungles and magnificent views of the South China Sea – a rare sight in these times when vast portions of the earth’s primordial forests is under threat from encroaching urbanisation.
From March 1 to March 7, the kingdom will host its second Aberdeen Brunei Senior Masters at The Empire Hotel and Country Club. The week-long tournament will bring 78 leading golfers of the European Senior Tour, including former Ryder Cup Captain Ian Woosnam, who is a first-timer to the event, to battle each other stroke by stroke in one of Asia’s leading golf course.
The 18-hole, par-71 course designed by golf icon Jack Nicklaus is not without challenges. The signature 15th hole is right along the beach and confronts players with sprawling bunkers.
Staging the tournament in Brunei gives the European Senior Tour a chance to bring the tour away from the winter in Europe to a warmer climate. And Brunei is also en route to many popular destinations such as Australia and New Zealand, which is a real draw for the players.
Furthermore, title sponsor Aberdeen Asset Management has an expanding business portfolio in Asia, and the event has been designed to forge relationships in the region, particularly in Brunei.
“After a tremendous feedback we received following last year’s event, we very much wanted to stage the event for a second year,” says Martin Gilbert, company chief executive. “Asia continues to be central to our business development and the 2010 event will underscore our longstanding commitment to the region and to golf.”
For Brunei, hosting the tournament in its sophomore year is a great way to raise the sultanate’s profile as a golf destination. Not counting the spike in the influx of people during the first tournament last year, golf in Brunei received a huge leg up from the global ESPN Star network, which beamed the competition to 200 million viewers.
“Following last year’s event, the impact on tourist numbers has been a positive one. So much so that WSM Sponsorship, the event promoters, has been commissioned to develop an interactive website to drive tourists to Brunei,” says Jill Maxwell, PR manager at WSM Sponsorship, an international marketing consultancy which helps to build brands through sponsorships.
During the tournament, a series of children’s golf clinics will be conducted by the participating golf professionals. Some of the players will also make a trip to the Shell site, where they will host a golf clinic at Panaga and visit some of the facilities onsite.
Furthermore, hopes are high that the Aberdeen Brunei Senior Masters, like so many of the high-profile sporting events in Asia-Pacific, will serve as an anchor event that will boost the number of corporate events in the sultanate during the tournament week.
“There is obviously the option to purchase hospitality for all three days of the event,” notes Maxwell. “The Aberdeen Brunei Senior Masters is one of only two professional golf events staged in Brunei, therefore, this event is an excellent opportunity for businesses to take advantage of world-class golf whether it be to provide as an incentive to staff or for entertaining clients.”
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THE CENTREPOINT HOTEL
This city hotel has the Goldstone Ballroom, which can accommodate up to 300 people, and the Green Quartz Exhibition Hall, which can seat up to 1,200 delegates. There are six additional meeting rooms for groups between 20 and 120 people.
ORCHID GARDEN HOTEL
Positioned as a business hotel, this 152-room property is very near the Brunei International Airport. Its meetings venues are all located on the eighth floor. The Ceasar Grand Ballroom can up to 1,000 delegates while three smaller function rooms can accommodate groups between 24 and 90 people.
THE EMPIRE HOTEL AND COUNTRY CLUB
This colossal hotel and country club defines luxury in Brunei, but it also provides corporate groups a lot of options in terms of venues for meetings and business events. A number of standalone venues have dotted the property. The Empire Theatre can seat up to 700, The Marine Centre can take in 100 for cocktails, and the Waterfall and the Lagoon Meeting Room can each seat groups of 12. The Country Club Complex offers six venues that can accommodate between 12 and 100 people. The Main Atrium Building has ten reconfigurable areas that can fit different styles of set up. For large groups of more than 3,000 people, The Grand Banquet Hall and Conference Centre fits the bill.
RIZQUN INTERNATIONAL HOTEL
For groups who like shopping after a full day of meetings, Rizqun International Hotel is the place to be. Situated in the retail and entertainment district of Gadong, this hotel stands right on top of a three-storey shopping mall.
The hotel features a range of meetings space. The Songket Ballroom can serve up to 1,500 delegates and is divisible into three soundproof sections. The Sutra Multi-Function Hall can hold up to 800 delegates. Small groups have the option one of the hotel’s 10 meeting rooms located on level 3 and level 4.
SHERATON UTAMA HOTEL
This 142-room property right in the middle of the city is an accessible venue for meetings and business events. The Mutiara Ballroom, which can be divided in two, is designed to hold groups between 70 and 300. Other meetings and events spaces include the Poolside Terrace on the ground floor, which can fit 200 for cocktails and the Ratnawali Suite on the fifth floor can hold a tight-knit group of 30 people. There are also three function rooms on the sixth floor can cater groups between 12 and 30. The hotel is also conveniently located along the city’s jogging path, so groups can choose an energising run that would take them to the Tasek Waterfall and the Kampong Kianggeh in half an hour.
ULU ULU NATIONAL PARK RESORT
The 23-room property is situated amidst the 50,000ha Ulu Temburong National Park Rainforest where a jungle trek, canopy walk and kayaking are normal part of the stay’s itinerary. It has become a popular site for offsite teambuilding activities and the resort has been priming itself for corporate groups booking for multi-day stays. All rooms have been refurbished with plans to add in in-room internet. The Club Lounge features a boardroom that can seat a group of 20 and a cinema that can seat up to 60 people. Recently added within the property is an open-air multi-purpose hall that can be dress up to host a range of corporate functions.
Here is a three-day, two-night sample teambuilding programme at the Sumbiling Eco Village (SEV).
Arrival and Orientation
After lunch, car transfer to jetty for a boat ride to Temburong district and then continue by bus to SEV
At arrival, briefing and ice-breaking game (Teambuilding 1)
Barbecue dinner, camp fire and other activities (weather permitting)
SEV Jungle and River Adventure
Morning exercise and then depart for jungle adventure (Teambuilding 2)
In the afternoon right after returning from the jungle adventure, the teambuilding exercise continues with traditional rafting and group river floating
After dinner, the group goes for the SEV Night Trail, which includes a visit to a longhouse
Go Green & SEV Obstacles Challenge
Morning exercise followed by breakfast
Group tree-planting activity
SEV Obstacles Challenge
Traditional local lunch featuring bamboo chicken and wild fern-pakis
Depart SEV after lunch
Ten reasons to choose Brunei for your next Business Event
if you’re considering a new destination for your corporate meeting or incentive programme, brunei offers a straightforward solution
Brunei is within four hours’ access of Asia’s main business centres, such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. There are many direct flights from many regional destinations on Royal Brunei Airlines and other regional carriers.
Nowhere else in the world has preserved pristine rainforests on such a scale as Brunei. The eco-diversity of this small sultanate is breathtaking.
Brunei’s rich legacy of its indigenous peoples, Malay culture and Islamic customs, make Brunei a fascinating destination for your delegates to explore and experience.
The country’s full name is Brunei Darussalam, meaning Brunei the abode of peace. Brunei is politically stable and the crime rate is extremely low, allowing you to plan events with confidence.
Despite its small size, Brunei can offer deluxe hotel accommodation and meeting spaces, state-of-the-art convention centre and swish restaurants.
Brunei provides skilled conference organisers, innovative destination management companies and experts in all fields of event management.
Brunei’s golf courses are stunning, offering world-class fairways with unique rainforest and ocean views.
The Bruneians are a warm and friendly community, ready to welcome your team to their country and to share it with you.
No traffic jams, no long transfers, no delegates lost in transit. Brunei’s small size is ideal for those who want to have their delegates spend time in conferences, not on coaches.
Brunei’s oil and gas reserves are the source of the country’s wealth. Many major energy companies are based in Brunei and many related meetings and conferences are held there as a result.
For more information, contact Brunei Tourism at email@example.com or +673 238 28 22