Mediterranean Incentives South of France & Spain: The good life in la belle France

New on the block

Le Mas de Pierre is a four-star property with 48 suites. French Convention Bureau promotion executive Cedric Farineau describes it as a "small hotel with lots of cachet". Meanwhile, Spa Neocea is set to open at Le Mas d'Artigny, a luxury four-star hotel set in alpine forest with event space for 250 people.

Incentive ideas

Pharmaceutical firm Wyeth has been among the groups hosted by DMC LSO International to take part in a gastronomic rally, taking in olive tasting at a local market to sampling crystallised violets from a regional specialist.

MTM took an incentive group to the Riviera in June and one of the highlights of the telecoms firm's trip was the opportunity to go gliding in Fayence.

The group went to a dinner at Chateau de la Calle Noir, Christian Dior's villa. "Delegates left the hotel after a drinks reception expecting a coach transfer to find vintage Citroens lined up outside," says managing director John Lawson.

LSO marketing director Marie-Pierre Pironon also suggests helicopter transfers to the famous vineyards of Chateauneuf du Pape.

Places to party

LSO's Pironon says the cave exploration idea can be developed. One option for groups of up to 30 looking for an alternative to the casinos and luxury hotels could be a subterranean cocktail reception in a 200 million year-old grotto half an hour from Cannes, where chandeliers, food, wine and hard hats are provided.

Coming soon

Marseille is set to be a rising star for the MICE market and by 2010 more than 1,000 rooms will have been added to the city's existing 5,160.

The 100-room New Hotel of Marseille opened in April and the 189-room Radisson SAS is due to open by the old harbour next March and Concorde will open its Villa Massalia property in October that year. Intercontinental Hotels is also converting the Hotel Dieu, which is scheduled to open in 2010.

These hotels will be served by the budget carrier terminal at the airport, which opened last month.

Verdict

THA Group senior project manager Vicki Williams believes the South of France is very versatile with good air links. "You get value for money in terms of the quality of service. For example, we recently ran a trip where we took the women by helicopter to Monaco for lunch and we took the men to the Paul Ricard racing circuit."

FRANCE DIRECTORY
Maison de la France 178 Piccadilly, London W1J 9AL
Contact: Cedric Farineau
Tel: 020 7399 3521
Email: cedric.farineau@franceguide.com Web www.franceguide.com

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