One hundred and fifty years ago, the tiny
principality of Monaco invented Monte Carlo by building a
grand, palatial casino and founding the tourism entity Societe des Bains de Mer (SBM), which quickly built the equally
palatial Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo in Place du Casino Square.
Other hotels and restaurants soon followed and today, Monaco is
an incentive destination that has nearly unlimited cachet as a
luxury destination, complete with Ferrari traffic jams and
That is what brought HON, a manufacturer of office furniture,
to Monaco for its 30th year of Team Up With HON, a dealer
principal sales incentive program, in April. Activities for the
242 attendees relied on Monaco's proximity to France and Italy:
a 20-minute drive will take you through all three countries
without border checkpoints.
Dick O'Connor, senior account manager at Maritz Motivation
Solutions, says the team "held French cooking classes, which
were the rave of the [post-event] comments." An outdoor market
in Nice, an excursion to Cannes, and a visit to Antibes to see
a costume museum and participate in an absinthe tasting were
also included. In Eze, a medieval mountaintop village,
attendees visited the Fragonard perfume factory and created
their own scents.
They also visited the Casino de Monte-Carlo, where the gaming
rooms underwent a restoration last year. This was followed by a
cocktail reception in the casino's grand foyer and a nearby
stroll to the famous Cafe de Paris, where HON held its
recognition banquet. "It was in the Empire Room, which is just
stunning," O'Connor says. "We used a custom-blown 16-inch
plate/art piece that we had produced in [nearby] Biot instead
of a typical plaque."
Old and New
In a country that's barely three-quarters of a square mile in
area, Monte-Carlo SBM dominates, running all five casinos, four
hotels, and several restaurants, bars, spas, and sporting
facilities. SBM and the other top hotels all work with the
Monaco Government Tourist Office to offer dollar-denominated
group pricing, to keep exchange rate concerns to a minimum.
One new venue is the European-style market Marche de la
Condamine, which can now be taken over for private events. It
offers colorful fruit, vegetable, flower, seafood, and produce
stands for a buffet of regional specialties. The market's
covered area is available year-round and can accommodate 500,
while the seasonal outdoor market can accommodate 2,000.
Another venue is the pool at the five-star Hotel Metropole
Monte-Carlo, where catered meals come from the staff of its
three Joel Robuchon restaurants, including the
two-Michelin-starred Joel Robuchon Monte-Carlo. The new Odyssey
pool and restaurant is the work of the famed fashion designer
Karl Lagerfeld. The pool is also available for private