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Springtime in Paris

C&I Traveller heads to the French capital for an update on Paris’ C&I offer.

Day one:

There’s something about Paris in springtime. Especially when you’re being seamlessly escorted round the city by the Paris Convention Bureau and DMC Allied PRA France. Our Parisian friends may have been suffering from the same Narnia-like extended winter as the UK, but the city’s C&I offer continues to shine.

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Divine oriental bites and event options at Naga, Kensington

For businesses that boast a W8 postcode – or those seeking to bask in its upscale surroundings – Naga, still a relatively undiscovered gem located just off High Street Kensington, is a grand choice.

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Five-star hospitality at Kempinski’s new Vienna property

C&I Traveller was invited to the Kempinski Palais Hansen Vienna for the hotel’s Grand Opening Gala in March 2013.

I am met at Vienna airport by the hotel’s chauffeur and after a 20-minute drive and brief tour of the city by my very informative driver, we arrive at the luxury five-star hotel just in time for the opening ceremony.

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Greek dancing, five-star luxury and sea views in Athens

C&IT Traveller waved farewell to winter and hello to spring with a trip to Athens this month. Organised by GT Associates and DMC The Event Makers, I joined event planners including Toucan International Events, Brown Venues and Events, Clockwise Events and Grass Roots to explore the Greek capital’s C&I offer.

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Weekend in style at Cafe Royal

Ended the week with a visit to the new Cafe Royal hotel in London – a great way to start the weekend. Entering from the Piccadilly Circus end of Regent Street, where bitter temperatures and light snow did nothing to hinder London’s booming tourist trade, C&I Traveller found something of a haven.

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Imex America… and Elton John

C&IT heads to the US for the Boston & Chicago fam trip and Imex America with Fairmont, Virgin Atlantic and Allied PRA……


The next morning, we meet up with the second of Fairmont’s fam trip groups, whose trip to California included a cable car tour of San Francisco, wine-tasting at Chateau St Jean and St Francis Wineries, and visits to Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa and the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica.

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Day three: Boston, Chicago and Vegas in a day

C&IT heads to the US for the Boston & Chicago fam trip and Imex America with Fairmont, Virgin Atlantic and Allied PRA…


At 6am we depart for a short flight to Chicago, where we are met by Allied PRA’s John. The transfer into town can take up to two hours in rush hour but thankfully our journey is far shorter and we learn a little about the history of Chicago on the way – including the fact it was completely rebuilt following a fire in the 1800s. First stop is the Chicago Cut Steakhouse for mid-morning coffee and pastries. From here, we head to Swissôtel Chicago, which is connected to other hotels in area connected by a series of underground tunnels, for warm apple cocktails.
We take a tour of the hotel, which includes great views of city and Lake Michigan from the 43rd floor, before walking to the Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park for a site tour and lunch.
This is followed by a fabulous Segway tour of Chicago – the perfect way to explore the heart of the city in a couple of hours. Highlights include photogenic views of the skyscrapers against the clear blue sky, and riding past historic buildings such as the Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium. Time for a quick drink before our second flight to the third city of the day.
We’ve been up around 20 hours but Vegas, lit up like a Christmas bauble, still makes an exciting first impression. The transfer to the Palazzo, where our group will stay during Imex America 2012, is short, and soon we’re checking in.

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Day two: Boston’s land and water highlights

C&IT heads to the US for the Boston & Chicago fam trip and Imex America with Fairmont, Virgin Atlantic and Allied PRA…


We meet for a private breakfast at the hotel before embarking on a Duck Tour, with lively commentary on Boston history from the Jack-Blackesque Bogey. We take in land sights and venues including Mooo steakhouse, King’s Chapel and the Stock Exchange, heading through the historic North End district, Charlestown and Cambridge, before splashing onto the Charles River. The tour ends at the pub which originally inspired TV show Cheers – time for a group photo.
From here, we take a tour of a private home in Beacon Hill, an upmarket and historical area of Boston. Next stop is the Fairmont Battery Wharf, a four-year-old property set in a campus of buildings next to the North End.
Time for lunch and a site inspection before our North End tour. Our guide Michele takes us through the neighbourhood, where the large Italian population makes it a foodie haven, with around 100 eateries in less than one square mile. Highlights include trying delicious macaroons at Maria’s and “genuine” olive oil (who knew olive oil fraud was such a wide spread issue!).
Then back to the hotel for a fabulous spa treatment before we walk back into the North End for dinner at the Four-Diamond-rated Mamma Maria. After a lively meal, where we use our newfound Italian knowledge to order bitter amaro shots, we decide on early nights all round ahead of our 6am departure the next day.

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Imex America: upgraded to a great start

C&IT heads to the US for the Boston & Chicago fam trip and Imex America with Fairmont, Virgin Atlantic and Allied PRA…


Our trip starts in style, when our group meets at Heathrow and learns we’ve been upgraded to Virgin’s Upper Class, kicking off with speedy security and a trip to amazing Heathrow Clubhouse. Here, we order lunch, where only the slightly undersized cutlery betrays the illusion you’re in a smart restaurant, before a 15-min massage and cocktail.
Time flies and too soon we’re on the plane for a seven-hour flight to Boston. The Upper Class cabin is as good as the lounge, and most of us resist napping in favour of enjoying the movies, lunch and afternoon tea and hanging out in the onboard bar. At Boston, we’re welcomed by DMC Allied PRA and it’s a short coach ride to the Fairmont Copley Plaza, next to Boston Public Library.
We check in and take a tour of the opulent hotel, ending in the Presidential Suite for a buffet-style dinner, relaxing as we fight jetlag.

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Whirlwind adventures in Tampa

Hurricane Isaac may have blown a few changes across the 2012 Republican National Convention schedule last week, but when C&IT visited a few days before, it was a breeze.

Along with interviewing some of the key figures involved in securing and organising the event, I also got a chance to experience some of Tampa’s C&I highlights firsthand.

As the 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee prepared for the expected – more than 50,000 guests, including delegates and elected officials – and the unexpected – weather hiccups, Clint Eastwood’s imaginary chat with Obama – I took advantage of the city’s fine weather to enjoy a host of activities. Canoeing down the Hillsborough River, where we spotted a host of wildlife including alligators swimming just a feet away, was the perfect way to relax the day after a long flight. Not to mention handfeeding giraffes at Busch Gardens, or tucking into an epic steak at Bern’s Steak House. Tampa is packed with great incentive activities and venues – see C&IT’s October feature for more information.

The RNC was expected to be worth between $175m and $200m to the local economy. However, with venues such as the Tampa Bay Times Forum and Tampa Convention Center successfully welcoming thousands of delegates, its legacy will surely be to place Tampa firmly on the global meetings map. C&IT, for one, would be more than happy to return.

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