by Leo Jakobson | June 05, 2012
Monaco lives up to its reputation. That's impressive, considering that the tiny Riviera principality situated a few minutes between Nice on one side and the Italian border on the other is famous as the home of the late Princess Grace, as well as for having more billionaires per acre than anywhere else on earth.

Approaching Monaco via a Heli Air Monaco helicopter from the Nice airport - and if you're planning an incentive trip to Monaco, air transfers are de rigueur - the thing that strikes you is how ruggedly beautiful Monaco's terrain actually is. The country, which is less than a square mile in total, is set on a hillside, and while it is easily walkable, the public elevators between levels are a nice touch.

Four of the principality's grand hotels and all of its casinos (there are four year-round, five in summer) and one of its great spas are part of Monte Carlo SBM, which created Monaco as we know it by building the Casino de Monte Carlo 150 years ago next year. The magnificent belle epoque structure also houses the Monaco opera and faces Casino Square, which is the heart of the principality's nightlife.

The Hotel de Paris on Casino Square was built right after the casino itself, and is generally considered the top property in Monaco. But the five-star, 280-room Hotel Hermitage, where our group stayed for half of its visit in April, is spectacular enough that incentive groups have split between it and the Hotel de Paris a block away without either feeling they are in lesser or unequal facilities. Both are Leading Hotels of the World members, and the Hermitage's stained-glass domed, Gustave Eiffel-designed rear lobby is a stunning group check-in area.

Another nearby Leading Hotels member, the Hotel Metropole Monte Carlo, can be added as a third for particularly large groups. A smaller, more intimate property offering touches like private in-room check ins, it will also appeal to gourmands, as the staff of its Joel Robuchon Monte Carlo restaurant manages all F&B events.

The Fairmont Monte Carlo, at which we also stayed, is a stunning property, although it has a more modern feel to it. Overlooking the Port Hercule yacht basin, the three-country view from its open rooftop restaurant, Horizon deck, makes it an amazing venue.

Another property worth considering is the Le Meridien Monte Carlo, one of the largest at 400 rooms. With the only private beach in Monaco, and a beach club with several event rooms, it offers plenty of outdoor options. 

For more about what to do when in Monaco, from sports and museums to dining and nightlife, see Monaco by Day and Night.