Five of the best Spanish destinations by theme

Spain is world-famous for its art, cuisine and glorious weather. Combined with an expanding range of upmarket hotels and conference venues ensures C&I success for event planners.

San Sebastian
San Sebastian

San Sebastian...for gastronomy

There are valid reasons why foodies become excitable at the mere mention of San Sebastian. The Basque city – which also has the advantage of being surrounded by mountains and gazes out across the Bay of Biscay – has more Michelin stars per square metre than anywhere else in Europe. The produce tends to be seasonal and of a very high quality, with the emphasis often on seafood. The local version of tapas, known as pintxos, also figure prominently.


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Culinary-themed incentives can include visits to a local cheese factory and traditional markets at nearby towns Tolosa and Ordizia, or focus on regional food-and-wine pairings (the local Txakoli wine is a fruity, refreshing white). Cookery classes can also be arranged. Top accommodation picks include the 136-room Hotel Maria Cristina, which has meeting space for up to 280, and the NH Collection San Sebastian Aranzazu, able to host cocktail receptions for 300 guests.

The Canary Islands... for beach incentives

Blessed with warm weather virtually year-round (the coldest average is 18 °C in January), the Canary Islands hold obvious appeal as a MICE destination. Flight times from the UK to Tenerife and Gran Canaria, the two most popular hubs, are both around the four hour mark, and the islands themselves have long been accustomed to handling incentive groups. Many of the key C&I properties sit on or close to beaches, among them the 313-room Sheraton Gran Canaria Salobre Golf Resort and Tenerife’s 117-room Melia´ Hacienda del Conde.

Depending on the island of choice – and not forgetting the likes of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura – activities can range from sailing regattas and jet- skiing to beach games and even whale-watching. To add further variety to an itinerary, golf clinics, star-gazing and balloon rides can also be factored in, as can the chance to reach the summit of Tenerife’s spectacular Mount Teide.

Ibiza... for luxury

The time when the White Island was known only for its hedonistic approach to clubbing has long passed. These days the beautiful Balearic isle has some seriously elegant properties on offer, with choice picks including the five-star Aguas de Ibiza, a luxury property with strong eco-credentials; the 493-room Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza, a great upscale option for itineraries that need a good-time theme; and the 12-room Cas Gasi, which has its own spa and would suit small, high-end groups.

Elsewhere on the island, recent openings have added to the appeal. 2015 witnessed the arrival of the 239-room Sol Beach House Ibiza, with meeting space for up to 150, while late August 2016 saw the launch of the 33-room Gran Hotel Montesol Ibiza, part of Hilton’s Curio Collection. Fine-dining options are widespread on the island, as are activities including jeep safaris and watersports. Earlier this year Ibiza was also named Europe’s most LGBT- friendly beach destination.

Barcelona... for culture

When Barcelona again made the shortlist for best short-haul destination at the 2016 C&IT Awards, it was further confirmation of the Catalonian capital’s evergreen appeal to MICE organisers. There are few cities on the planet with as much cultural pedigree as Barcelona, where everything from the art and the architecture to the scenery and the sport is genuinely world-class.

Cultural incentives can range from tapas-making classes and sightseeing visits to bespoke tours that focus on the works of creative icons such as Gaudi, Picasso, Dali and Miro. And if the itinerary needs lightening, art-based activities can be interspersed with classic options like shopping, beach games and catamaran sailings. New 2016 hotel openings to be aware of include the 81-room Room Mate Anna, where the de´cor draws on Barcelona’s long history, and the five-star Hotel Camiral, located north of the city at the high-end golf venue PGA Catalunya Resort.

Madrid... for large conferences

Regularly to be found at the business end of the global ICCA rankings, Spain’s capital has top-tier credentials for staging large events. The city is exceptionally well connected for big international conferences – it has direct flights to about 175 destinations – and plays home to 2,000 multinational companies. It also has more than 850 hotels, including many with extensive MICE facilities.

The 915-room Melia´ Castilla and the 269-room Melia´ Madrid Princesa are two good examples – able to host theatre-style events for 511 and 400 respectively – while there’s even more capacity at the Madrid Marriott Auditorium Hotel & Conference Center, open in its current guise since 2015 and able to host 2,000 in its auditorium. Also unveiled last year was the Novotel Madrid Center, which can welcome up to 1,000. Among the city’s standalone venues, IFEMA Feria de Madrid has 200,000m2 of exhibition space and two convention centres, with theatre-style capacities of up to 898 and 600.

DIRECTORY
Spanish Tourist Office
CONTACT Mo´nica Sa´nchez, trade relations and MICE executive
TEL 020 7317 2015
EMAIL londres@tourspain.es WEB www.spain.info/uk

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