One of the best things about travel is the discovery of something new. New experiences, new people and new cultures. In November, 2015 I participated in the Meet in Ireland familiarization trip, the biggest of its kind to ever take place in the country, where over 200 people from across the world gathered to learn more about the country’s rich culture. Meet in Ireland gave me and my peers in the industry, the opportunity to experience Ireland from our client’s perspective. To stay in the country’s world-class hotels, get behind the scenes access to some of the country’s most spectacular gala venues, and take tours of some of Ireland’s secret escapes, so that we can craft an incredible itinerary for our clients the next time they are considering hosting their program in a European destination.
Upon arrival, we were all eager to experience what the country is most famously known for – historic castles, world famous Guinness, authentic pubs and fantastic music scene. What I didn’t expect, were the unique experiences that our hosts had planned for us along the way. When we arrived in Dublin our first stop was the Guinness Storehouse. This was our first introduction to one of the country’s soul foods, soda bread, that followed us during all of our stops across the country. Every restaurant we visited served their own variation, and we were eager to try them all. This year, the Guinness Storehouse beat out the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, and Buckingham Palace to be named ‘Europe’s Top Tourist Attraction.’ After doing their guided tour, it was easy to see why. The tour begins at the bottom of the world’s largest pint glass and continues up through seven floors filled with interactive experiences that blend Guinness’ long brewing heritage with the country’s rich history. At the top, we were rewarded with a pint of Guinness in their world-famous rooftop Gravity Bar. In addition to hosting tourists, the entire venue can be rented to host corporate groups of up to 2,000 guests. As the saying goes, ‘The more the merrier.’
Photo used under creative commons from j0hncooke.
Our hosts for the familiarization trip, Wallace Travel Group emphasized their ability to create unique experiences for their incentive groups. Experiences that allow visitors to discover a secret Ireland, one that is untouched and undiscovered by commercial tourism. During one of our ‘Secret Escapes’ we were taken to the country’s rugged west coast, to a private luxury home, directly on the ocean, where we enjoyed one of the most amazing seafood feasts I have ever tasted, cooked by the gracious home owners. The artisan food and drink experience included some of the best seafood off the Atlantic waters; oysters, lobster, crab, salmon, with a selection of salads and pastries. Next, we were whisked off on the owner’s private yacht where stunning ocean views and indulgences of champagne, chocolate covered strawberries, and a selection of exotic fruits awaited.
A visit to Ireland is not complete without a drive along the Wild Atlantic Way, touted as the wildest, most enchanting and culturally rich coastal touring routes in the world. The drive was spectacular and along the way we stopped at the iconic Cliffs of Moher, Ireland’s most visited natural attraction.
Photo used under creative commons from Indigo Mood.
Photo used under creative commons from Shai Bl.
Ireland has much more to offer incentive groups than just Irish pubs and quaint villages. It boasts cosmopolitan cities, iconic venues, and an unforgettable coastline, just waiting to be explored!
This post’s featured image was used under Creative Common License from Anna & Michal.