Business Development Trip to Lisbon, Portugal, July 2017
Our friendly colleagues at Portugal Travel Team joined forces with Corinthia Hotels to host a fun-filled voyage of discovery for our client group visiting Lisbon and the surrounding area. After celebrating 20 successful years of operation last year, our partner DMC was excited to share a selection of the unique event spaces, dining options and activities on offer to demonstrate what makes Lisbon such a great destination for events.
On arrival we were given a warm welcome by Portugal Travel Team’s Cristina Pedro and The Corinthia Hotel Lisbon’s Isabelle Grignola before being whisked off to visit the stunning Panteao Nacional. The high dome and baroque marble patterns make this a beautiful space for a dinner with a real wow factor, and you can hold a cocktail reception on the roof with glorious panoramic views across the River Tagus. Construction work on this stunning former church started way back in 1681 and was only completed in 1966, which will make any procrastinators out there feel a whole lot better!
The sun came out to greet us for lunch at 5 Oceanos, situated on the waterfront close to the mighty 25 de Abril suspension bridge. Our group sat out on the terrace and enjoyed some exquisite seafood as cars passed high overhead on their way to The Algarve and beyond.
Feeling somewhat revived after our early flight, Portugal Travel Team then sprung their first surprise as we climbed aboard our fleet of Go Cars. These bright yellow three wheelers are a great way to navigate your way around Lisbon’s hilly cobbled streets and add an undeniable element of fun to a day in the city.
In the afternoon we visited a trio of historic, centrally located venues, each oozing with character. With a compact centre Lisbon is easy to get around and is blessed with many such spaces. Cristina and the team are of course on hand to help with any suggestions and to share their expertise.
Isabelle then welcomed our group to The Corinthia Lisbon, the city’s largest five-star conference hotel with a modern, purpose-built Congress Centre providing flexible solutions for hosting groups of any size. One thing that was immediately apparent was the very friendly family-like atmosphere; Isabelle explained that a good number of the staff had worked at the hotel for many years and this made us feel at home straight away. The day ended with a Portuguese gourmet experience at A Travessa, a beautiful venue tucked away in a residential street that opens out onto a hidden courtyard.
Day two saw us taking in two more historical venues, the Queluz Palace in all its pomp and finery and the recently refurbished Pavilhao Carlos Lopes, named after Portugal’s first ever Olympic gold medal holder. Carlos won the marathon in the 1984 Los Angeles games and the recently restored pavilion houses a permanent exhibition of the Portuguese sporting legend’s achievements and his collection of medals.
We then travelled to Sintra, a 30-minute hop from the city and a must-see excursion with its Moorish castle and hilltop palaces. After a spot of retail therapy in the shopping streets came our next big surprise – a journey by soft-top Beetles down to the coast at Cascais. We made our way down the winding mountain roads, with our friendly driver telling us all about the palaces that seemed to appear around every corner. As we descended, the sun came out and we were treated to some stunning views over the ocean.
Cascais forms the third part of the ‘Golden Triangle’ along with Lisbon and Sintra and offers visitors further contrast with its charming town centre, harbour and beaches. We enjoyed a seafood lunch at Porto de Santa Maria just out of town with views over an unspoiled surfer’s paradise. Returning to Lisbon via the coast road we took in the sights of Cascais and Estoril, before returning to the hotel for a fantastic dinner with the Corinthia family.
Our final day had arrived all too quickly and we sadly bid farewell to The Corinthia before visiting the open air Carmo Convent, yet another of Lisbon’s unusual venues. Ruined in the 1755 earthquake, the convent takes on magical qualities when expertly lit for an evening event. After a little free time to explore the downtown area we met for a final lunch at the Museu da Cerveja (Beer Museum). Here we sampled the exquisite pastel de bacalhau, a deep fried cod pasty with melted goats cheese in the middle – the perfect accompaniment to a chilled glass of the local beer.
Portugal Travel Team had one last surprise for us, an adrenaline-filled fast boat ride on the Tagus that had our group whooping with excitement as we hit speeds of up to 36 knots. Our amiable guide told us a little more of Lisbon’s history and pointed out yet more cool riverfront event spaces. You can use the fast boats as part of your transfer into the city on arrival or add them to an itinerary at another point, either way they add a huge amount of fun!
Our hosts had put together a fantastic ground programme which showcased a selection of the Lisbon region’s most interesting sights, event spaces and top restaurants. It was apparent that we had only scratched the surface of the many exciting activity options available to groups in Lisbon, despite sampling the Go Cars, exploring by soft-top Beetle and riding on the fast boats. Portugal Travel Team ensured our programme ran like clockwork and left us in no doubt that any future incentives, conferences and event opportunities will be in the best hands.
Many thanks to the Lisboa and the Cascais Convention Bureaus for hosting our lunches at 5 Oceanos and Porto de Santa Maria respectively.