In a world where international travel comes along with ever-changing health and safety protocols, many of our clients are opting to host their next corporate incentive program closer to home. The United States offers some of the top incentive destinations in the world, and you don’t need your passport to get there. Domestic incentive programs offer shorter and often lower-cost flights, hotels that meet every objective and activity options to fit within a variety of budgets.
There are so many great options to choose from. Here are my top ten recommendations for domestic incentive travel:
I would be remiss not to start with the destination home to Castle’s very own Executive Vice President, Keri McIntosh. While Hawaii can be a long flight for east coast attendees, Hawaiian Airline’s direct flights from Boston and New York make it more accessible than ever! Within the Hawaiian Islands, there are three main contenders for incentive travel, each with their own luxury resorts, a plethora of activities and natural wonders. Oahu is known for its surfer charm at Waikiki Beach, historic significance at Pearl Harbor and world-class shopping and dining. Maui is known more for its natural charm with Haleakala National Park, world-famous black, red and white sand beaches and the storied Road to Hana. The Big Island rounds out the trio with a bit of everything. From stunning beaches to captivating history, attendees can stay at a number of beautiful resorts before venturing off into all but four of the world’s existing climate zones.
2. Charleston, South Carolina
Defined by cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages and a distinct French quarter with mossed buildings, Charleston is filled with charm and character. History, nightlife, shopping, mild temperatures, nearby beaches and quaint hotel options make this a well-rounded destination. Charleston was voted #1 in the world in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards in 2017.
A perfect combination of city and countryside, places like Colorado Springs, Denver and Boulder have an urban flair with distinct personalities and enviable locations right at the foothills of mountains. Attendees can experience a concert at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre near Denver or visit an impressive number of microbreweries and distilleries throughout the state. The Colorado culinary scene boasts chefs that own their own farms and ranches and restaurants and hotels with rooftop gardens. Luxury hotel properties like the Broadmoor complete a uniquely high-end experience for incentive travelers.
4. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
A year-round destination, Jackson Hole offers a variety of activities in any season. Surrounded by spectacular mountains and two National Parks (Yellowstone and Grand Teton), attendees will enjoy the tranquility of nature as they escape from their everyday routine. While the destination is mostly known for winter activities such as skiing, snowmobiling and snowboarding, attendees can go whitewater rafting, hiking, paddle boarding, or horseback riding in the summer. First-class restaurants ranging from western casual to fine dining and an abundance of nightlife and shopping make Jackson Hole an entertaining getaway for any group.
5. Napa Valley, California
California’s famed wine country, Napa Valley, offers stylish hotels, authentic vineyards, breathtaking scenery, quaint shops, charming downtowns and some of the best gastronomy in the U.S. Of course, the vineyards and wine tastings are the initial draw, but Napa Valley has so much more to offer including culinary tours, classes or competitions, fantastic spas, picturesque hiking and biking trails, a surprising art and music scene, a unique wine train and hot air ballooning. Flights in and out of San Francisco Airport make the destination extremely accessible from any place of origin.
6. Scottsdale, Arizona
Scottsdale offers some of the best golf courses, spas and resorts in the nation with a beautiful mix of city and country. Famous Old Town Scottsdale features an old western feel with delicious restaurants, eclectic shops, art galleries and a vibrant night-life scene. The mountains and desert scenery are breathtaking with unforgettable sunsets and nature adventures like hiking, ATV’s and western ranching.
7. South Florida
From the big city of Miami to Marco Island, Palm Beach and the Florida Keys, South Florida is home to a variety of amazing incentive destinations each with their own appeal. Whether attendees are looking to relax on a white-sand beach in Key Largo or enjoy the nightlife and Cuban culture in Miami, hosts have a wide array of choices in the sunshine state.
8. Southern California
Similar to South Florida, Southern California also has a number of destinations with incentive travel appeal. Orange County, San Diego, Palm Springs and Santa Barbara all offer their own unique charm. LAX offers easily accessible flights out of most anywhere, and high-end hotels, nightlife, a booming culinary scene and coastal California beaches round out a truly unique destination.
9. Las Vegas, Nevada
While the city is famous for its vibrant nightlife, a plethora of casinos and live entertainment, it is also the embarkation point to one of the United States’ most impressive natural wonders, the Grand Canyon. With a number of high-end hotels to choose from, world-class entertainment, casinos galore, exciting night clubs, year-round warm weather and even more to offer outside of the city including visits to the Hoover Dam and the Red Rocks, there is something for everyone in Vegas.
10. New York, New York
While many people may have visited the Big Apple, the city that never sleeps offers so much that you could spend a lifetime there and still not have seen everything. With a world-renowned culinary scene, endless entertainment options, every kind of hotel option imaginable, museums, galleries, Central Park and the Statue of Liberty, NYC is the epicenter of art and diversity where attendees can experience history, culture and gastronomy all within a few blocks.
While it may not have made our list just yet, Texas has earned an honorable mention as a top domestic incentive destination. Austin, the up and coming state capital, has emerged with a vibrant entertainment scene thanks to the likes of mega festivals such as South by Southwest (SXSW) and Austin City Limits. Sixth Street and Rainey Street offer nightlife to compliment a delicious culinary scene throughout the city. While San Antonio may be best known for historical attractions like the Alamo, it also offers a beautiful River Walk and downtown area complete with shops, museums, galleries, classic architecture, shopping and great food. It is a modern atmosphere where travelers can experience southern charm mixed with a rich history in a one-of-a-kind setting.
At Castle, we are always on the lookout for the next hot incentive destination to propose to our clients. Domestic destinations are often overlooked, but we believe they offer an opportunity for creative event themes and activities as well as a refreshing change of pace for on the go attendees.