Northern Ireland is tailor-made for unforgettable golfing experiences, as this golf-loving VIP incentive group from Singapore were soon to find out. Arising out of a Meet in Ireland IMEX Frankfurt encounter, this opportunity gave destination management company (DMC) Bespoke Northern Ireland the chance to persuade the client that a grand tour of Northern Irish golf courses could be seamlessly combined with a range of other exclusive experiences.
Based in Northern Ireland, Bespoke Northern Ireland offered the client their extensive experience, local contacts and insider expertise. At an early stage of the bidding process for the incentive programme, they quickly realised that the various demographics within the one corporate group could pose a challenge — ranging in age from 30 to 80, every member having different interests.
While many in the group enjoyed playing golf and everyone prioritised fine local cuisine, there were also those eager for sightseeing, history and culture. The entire experience would need to embody luxury and exclusivity, to match the expectations of this high-achieving group. As a result, an itinerary was developed around Northern Ireland’s world-class, bucket-list golf courses, with plenty of historical and cultural outings to achieve the right balance.
Fortunately, Northern Ireland’s pre-eminent greens are located in glorious surroundings, close to an abundance of activities, food producers, stately homes and luxurious hotels. Castle Rock and Royal Portrush golf courses set the bar high in the first few days. Located on the Coastal Causeway Route, Royal Portrush is a challenging course, but the relaxing, picturesque setting helped to keep visitors’ spirits high.This will be the venue for The Open in 2019.
A morning spent learning about Derry-Londonderry’s history and culture gave the group an appetite for freshly-caught crab, homemade scones and local craft beer at the Walled City Brewery. That night, guests relaxed in a series of luxurious suites at the Everglades Hotel, with some lucky guests enjoying the sumptuous surrounds of the Presidential Suite. The nearby Causeway Coastal Route — a stunning trail hugging the Atlantic coast from Derry-Londonderry to Belfast — offered participants the chance to explore the Giant’s Causeway, and enjoy a private Bushmills Whiskey tasting experience with the Master Blender.
The superbly located Royal County Down Golf Club was the group’s next destination, the naturally beautiful setting at the foot of the Mourne Mountains making rounds of golf unforgettable
On the menu that night were local Northern Irish seaweeds (Dulse and Yellowman), as well as premium Bushmills Irish whiskey. History and culture beckoned at National Trust properties Mount Stewart and Castle Ward — the latter famous across Asia as the filming location for the “Winterfell” castle, featured in hit fantasy TV series Game of Thrones®. That night, the royal theme continued, as guests were transferred to luxury suites at the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa in the picturesque coastal town of Newcastle. Breath-taking sea views from the infinity pool helped to make the stay special for the whole team.
Gourmet food lovers were spoiled for choice in Belfast, with an exclusive Captain’s Banquet feast laid on at Titanic Belfast, voted the World’s Leading Visitor Attraction in 2017. As part of a food tour of County Down, guests were also brought to the fairytale-like Killyleagh Castle, where they discovered the history of chocolate and its invention by the polymath Hans Sloane. Meanwhile, the golfers in the group had the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Northern Irish golfer Rory McIlroy at the country’s oldest club, the Royal Belfast.
Client feedback was universally positive. “Bespoke Northern Ireland understood the needs and culture of the Asian market. The itinerary was creatively designed around outstanding local products that were varied, interesting and authentic. Our VIP clients thoroughly enjoyed themselves,” said Eileen Phua, Director of Sales for MICE, Dynasty Travel.