Have you been to Portugal? Of course, I would declare … many, many times. Where have you been? Well, I’ve been to Faro, Vilamoura, Albufeira, Carvoeiro, Vale Do Lobo, Praia da Luz, Quinta do Lago …. I know Portugal very well! Where haven’t I been?
Portugal until recently was a place I thought I had experience but was limited to the Algarve. Despite a well-trodden path by most event planners, two critical cities on my bucket list included Lisbon and Istanbul. Now wholly in charge of my event destiny, I’m on a mission to catch up on these missing gems.
Thanks to a consultancy collaboration, I relished a chance to discover Porto in late 2017 as a guest on the luxury MICE event inVOYAGE. Interwoven with the hotel networking experiences, we savoured stunning, classic buildings, spellbinding dinners, a river cruise. It was a quaint city oozing fascinating appeal for the delegation. The experience whetted my appetite, beyond sardines and custard tarts, to experience more of Portugal.
While Portugal would feature in many good incentive brainstorming sessions, the power of the traditional ‘sun, sea & sand’ formula would typically draw us to the Algarve, and it was hit & miss depending on the client and group profile.
Historically, Lisbon, with excellent air access, would often rank high as a city destination but widely perceived as a more conference biased destination. The lack of significant brand hotels and limited education on event possibilities, Lisbon was a gateway to the resort and coastal offerings of Cascais and many repeated proposals to Penha Longa!
Undoubtedly, Lisbon is enjoying great press as a very fashionable destination. Conde Nast Traveller voted it one of the ‘hottest destinations in Europe’. Last year, it won the Worlds Leading City Break Destination, at the World Travel Awards. Reportedly, it is one of the least visited capital cities? Intrigued if this is marketing spin or a reality, I selected Lisbon to include in a client shortlist for a May celebration event, and the proposal won over other destinations.
I tasked my DMC partner to give me a 24-hour blitz to help me discover the classic essentials of Lisbon but with a focus on what’s new and hot for both my client event and future eveology projects.
I only scratched the surface but as I’m a giving sort of guy, happy to share some personal highlights without giving away all the hard worked secret bits …