Venue: Money can't buy this

By Kris Madden

True North Cruise, Luxury Lodges of Australia, Western Australia
True North Cruise, Luxury Lodges of Australia, Western Australia

More and more New Zealand companies are realising the benefits of incentive travel to reward and motivate their staff, salespeople, consultants and key customers. Inspiring and motivating your team boosts company morale, improves performance, and encourages greater loyalty.

Thrilling adventures and shared experiences hone and develop team dynamics, allowing management and colleagues to build stronger relationships, revitalise business teams and enhance team cohesion. Team-building exercises are important not only for the immediate experience of the activities performed by the team, but also for the group skills, communication and bonding that result.

There's no doubt that Australia is an inspiring destination for incentive programmes and business events.

Endowed with natural wonders, wildlife, dazzling beaches, cosmopolitan cities, large expanses of outback and world-class gastronomic experiences, it's easy to see why this captivating country is such a complete destination.

It not only matches every taste, budget, age, or interest, but it also delivers some unique experiences almost impossible to find anywhere else. Its proximity to New Zealand is yet another major bonus.

From Queensland's famous Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral reef; to dining under a glittering canopy of stars at the spectacular, sacred Uluru; to ballooning over a world-renowned wine region, there are countless sites that should be seen and enjoyed at least once in a lifetime.

Holding your incentive, conference or team-building event in Australia is sure to have your delegates talking about their experience for years to come.

Natural style

Step aboard a private helicopter and be lifted away, first for a dazzling aerial view of the Sydney CBD, Harbour Bridge and Opera House, before heading west along the Parramatta River towards the Blue Mountains. After crossing the Nepean River, the flight climbs above the chiselled sandstone escarpments of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. After circling the world-famous Three Sisters, Echo Point, and the Jameson and Megalong Valleys from above, your group descends into the Wolgan Valley and your destination: Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa.

Wedged between the Wollemi National Park, where the 35,000-year-old, thought-extinct Wollemi pine was discovered in 1994, and the prehistoric formations of the Gardens of Stone National Park, you're constantly reminded of just how close to nature you are. Set in a private conservation reserve, grazing wombats, wallaroos and wallabies and other uniquely Australian creatures frequent the grounds at dawn and dusk. It's an inspirational setting for memorable meetings, corporate retreats, incentives, conferences and events.

You can book this 40-suite and villa resort for sole use and hold your whole incentive programme here. Host a gala dinner under the stars and experience an unforgettable evening against the backdrop of this historic venue, with stargazing and bush poetry completing a memorable evening. Custom menus can be prepared and served in a variety of locations depending on the group size and needs.

And while it's tempting to relax in the luxury of your private villa pool at the property voted No 1 Hotel in Australia in TripAdvisor's 2016 Traveller's Choice Awards; there's a host of activities, including wildlife safaris, aboriginal interpretation and heritage tours, astronomy, horse riding, mountain biking, fly-fishing and bush walking. Hands-on conservation outings focus on preserving the surrounding wildlife sanctuary.

Between excursions, the group can rejuvenate in the spa, take a hit of tennis, work out in the fully-equipped gym, steam room and sauna. Or sit back on the terrace, a glass of Australian red in their hand, as the setting sun drenches the surrounding landscape in soft colours. Although this haven is right on Sydney's doorstep, it feels a million miles away, and is a perfect reward for your top achievers.

Get your motor running

Almost no event on the Australian sporting calendar creates as much excitement as the Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix. This world-class event is the ultimate in corporate entertainment, famous for luxury, glamour, fashion, fine dining, and of course, thrilling action both on and off the track.

The Australian Grand Prix is the opening race of the international Formula 1 season, where against the backdrop of the World's Most Liveable City, the world's top racing car drivers show off their cutting-edge cars and lightning-speed teamwork. Watch them zoom around Melbourne's Albert Park circuit at speeds of up to 300 km an hour, with the distinctive pitch of the high performance cars echoing across the city.

Your team won't miss any of the excitement with the Formula One Paddock Club experience, in a private suite above the team garages and Pit Lane. Away from the crowds in their own exclusive club with a distinctly 'Members Only' feel, over four adrenaline-flowing days, they'll have exclusive access to The Lounge and rooftop viewing deck, be treated to a Pit Lane walk each day, have executive chefs on hand to indulge them, and receive elite access to the pamper room.

Combine the on-track experience off-track, with the chance to feel the most advanced motion Formula One simulators in Australia, at Motionators at Melbourne's Docklands. The advanced technology of these simulators mirrors every sensation and sound that a real Grand Prix racing car produces. The group will feel every swerve, every skid and every bump as they twist around the circuit.

For the ultimate experience, put your top performers behind the driver's seat on a Formula Ford Race Car Experience - the closest one can get to driving a Formula One vehicle. Before they became international F1 racing drivers, greats like Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and Mark Webber honed their skills in Formula Ford.

After donning helmets, boots, gloves and race suits, the session begins with a safety briefing and explanation of the vehicle and driver tips. The Broadford Road Circuit is carved into the Victorian countryside, and provides a range of technical corners, amazing elevation changes and flowing sections. After this unequalled racing experience everything else they'll drive will feel like it's standing still.

All at sea

From the moment you board the luxury True North expedition ship, you'll know this isn't going to be any ordinary cruise.

This 36-passenger floating boutique hotel is available for exclusive use for corporate and incentive groups, combining some of Australia's best wilderness experiences on the water with silver service on board.

Each day aboard True North is filled with activities from the moment you wake. Of course, you can do as much or as little as you like, but the excursions on offer are as diverse as the changing environment.

Private charters have the opportunity to customise the cruise itinerary, and activities on any given day can range from fishing and hiking to snorkelling and wildlife spotting. Being a small ship, True North can get into bays, lagoons, estuaries and rivers that most cruise ships cannot.

Tender boats allow you to explore the region intimately, and True North is also the only ship to cruise the Kimberley region with its own helicopter. If you're into fishing, then you'll have plenty of opportunities to snag a prized barramundi and fish billabongs that have never been fished.

The Kimberley Snapshot itinerary condenses all the highlights of the region into a week-long voyage. Embarking at Wyndham, the region's oldest and northernmost town, the cruise takes in the spectacular King George Falls, the Hunter and Prince Regent Rivers, the incredible Montgomery Reef, and the famous Horizontal Waterfalls, before heading home to the frontier pearling port of Broome.

A five-night Coral Atoll cruise departs from Broome, where guided by a marine biologist and a team of underwater naturalists; you'll revel in the diverse wonderland of coral habitats, maze-like lagoons, and surging tidal canyons of Western Australia's Rowley Shoals, just south of the Timor Sea.

The Southern Safari itinerary is a journey of discovery along the coast of South Australia with a mix of adventure, history and relaxation. There's plenty of excitement too, with visits to Kangaroo Island, cage dives with Great White Sharks, snorkelling with the 'tuna cowboys' off Lincoln, swimming with seals at Stokes Bay, or having a picnic on the beach with only penguins for company.

What makes these adventures so special, is that True North travels to areas of Australia that many Australians themselves have never been.

High Flyers' Gourmet Trail

Imagine having your own private jet to fly your group to some of Australia's most iconic destinations and gourmet experiences.

Linking together the Barossa Valley, Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale, Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula, Hobart, Freycinet Peninsula and Tamar Valley by private aircraft means your guests have more time to explore these wonderful regions and experience all that they have to offer.

Boarding Air Adventure's 9- passenger Outback Jet in Melbourne, within 90 minutes they'll arrive at the Barossa Valley where this gastronomic adventure begins. First stop is Maggie Beer's Pheasant Farm for a hands-on cooking class picking fresh produce from the Kitchen Garden.

The day ends at Seppeltsfield, the only winery in the world to release a 100-year-old single vintage wine each year since 1851. After spending the night at The Louise luxury lodge, guests depart for Penfolds Magill Estate, where they can hear stories of Australia's first winemaking dynasty.

Continuing to the picturesque Adelaide Hills they'll have a private cheesemaking tour at Udder Delights in the main street of historic Handorf, before staying at the boutique Stirling Hotel.

Day three starts at McLaren Vale, famous for its intensely flavoured shiraz. Here guests enjoy a hands-on experience at d'Arenberg winery's Blending Bench and play winemaker for the morning. The Outback Jet awaits at a nearby airfield to take off for the iconic 12 Apostles along the Great Ocean Road before landing for a local crayfish lunch.

The next day begins with an early hot air balloon ride to take in the spectacular views of the Yarra Valley before heading to De Bortoli for a behind the scenes tour. The Outback Jet then transfer guests to Victoria's Mornington Peninsula to enjoy an afternoon of experiences at Montalto winery, before a short flight to Hobart's MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) Pavilions, their home for the next two nights.

Day six guests take a short flight to Freycinet taking in views of Wineglass Bay before arriving at Saffire, another Luxury Lodge of Australia, for an oyster shucking experience followed by fine dining at Saffire's signature restaurant.

This extraordinary journey will put your guests right in the heart of some of Australia's most amazing locations in jet-setting style. Two aircraft can be hired catering for 18 guests.

Brought to you by Tourism Australia

- NZ Herald

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