Simon recently co-hosted a Valencia – Fallas Festival FAM trip to Valencia along with Lesley Mitchell of Hosmark, representing Santos Hotels. The group flew with British Airways from Gatwick, a flight time of 2h 15mins and experienced everything the city has to offer!

Our home for the two nights was the luxurious 5 star Hotel Santos Las Arenas Balneario Resort. The property is located in Valencia Bay, just a few minutes from the historic city centre and the newly created modern city of Arts & Sciences. The hotel’s 253 guest rooms combine design, comfort, light and space, most with large terraces and sea views. The hotel offers over 2500m2 of impressive outward-facing meeting rooms and flexible function space.

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Our DMC partner Maximice Events Group hosted our ground arrangements, they have an office in Valencia with a four strong team and also operate in nearby Alicante. Maximice’s head office is in Palma, Majorca from where they also frequently operate in Ibiza. With a 16 strong team company-wide, Maximice are a leading DMC in the region. In mainland Spain they work in partnership with our other Spanish DMC, Factor 3 Events who operate out of their office in Barcelona.

Valencia has become a city of contrasts, where you can find a combination of fascinating history and the most modern cultural movements. Up to the 1950’s, the river Turia surrounded the city. Due to devastating flooding, the river was diverted and the former riverbed was converted to a park. This has become an ideal meeting point for sports enthusiasts, families and anyone who loves nature.

With almost 800,000 inhabitants Valencia is the third largest city in Spain, characterized by a very pleasant Mediterranean climate with mild winters and long hot summers. With an average temperature of 19C all year round Valencia has become one of the favourite incentive destinations in Spain. Valencia has nine beaches and a long promenade with bustling bars and restaurants including the brand new Marina Beach Club which we visited. It’s a stunning venue with a fabulous swimming pool, trendy ‘Ibiza’ like bar atmosphere and an impressive restaurant. This venue is ripe for hosting private events and will be a big hit for incentive groups I’m sure! On our first night we dined at the highly acclaimed Panorama Restaurant located close to the Marina Beach Club and enjoyed a delicious meal in contemporary surroundings with sea views.

Our trip coincided with the famous Fallas festival. Fallas is a traditional celebration held in commemoration of Saint Joseph in Valencia. The term ‘Fallas’ refers to both the celebration and the monuments burnt during the celebration. Each neighbourhood of the city has an organized group of people, the ‘Casal faller’, who work year round holding fundraising parties and dinners, usually featuring the famous dish paella, a speciality of the region. Each Cassal faller produces a construction known as a ‘falla’ which is eventually burnt. The five days and nights of Fallas is a continuous street party. You’ll see locals young and old setting off firecrackers and fireworks all day long and into the night. The timing of the events is fixed and falls on the same dates each year. Combining an incentive trip with Fallas is highly recommended as it’s great to be around the locals and to soak up the atmosphere of the events at this time of year.

Our programme was action packed. On our first day we visited the Ricardo Tormo Race Circuit which is host to the MotoGP and is also often used as a test track for Formula 1 teams due to the mild climate in winter. Our group experienced a clinic of sports car slalom driving, skid-pan safety driving and a challenging 4×4 off-road course, which culminated in a go-kart race. The afternoon left everyone buzzing with adrenalin!

On day two we set off for a city tour by bike seeing the major city sights and highlights including the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences. We explored the former riverbed on our bikes, the perfect way to start our day, pootling along the park’s pathways in the beautiful warm sunshine. We had glorious weather for the entire weekend enjoying temperatures of 20C. Another great reason to visit Valencia in March to escape the cold, dreary British weather!

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We had an enviable position for viewing the 14:00 firework display, Santos Hotels own a building that is located overlooking the main square and we were hosted by them in an apartment with a balcony. From here we were treated to a spectacular firework display overlooking the crowds who had filled every square inch of the square. The atmosphere was fantastic, we felt very privileged to have such a view point whilst sipping our champagne and tucking in to tasty canapés of course!

After the fireworks we had a delicious paella lunch at the well renowned L’Estibador beachside restaurant. Here we all tried a selection of fish, meat and vegetarian paella and a behind the scenes tour of the kitchens which was impressive stuff!

We then took a boat ride exploring the beautiful and peaceful Albufera Nature Reserve which is located approximately 20 minutes drive from the city centre. The park is home to the largest lake in Spain and one of the most important wetland areas in the Iberian Peninsula. Well worth a visit.

On our final evening we were treated to the most amazing fusion cuisine at Ma Khin Café before heading to a rooftop bar to view the midnight fireworks where we were treated to another stunning display.

We had a leisurely morning on our departure day to enjoy the hotel’s amazing spa facilities followed by a delicious farewell brunch hosted the hotel’s sales team. The sales team and all the staff at Hotel Santos Las Arenas extended us a very warm welcome and were superb hosts. It’s a wonderful property for meetings, events and incentive groups alike.

We all loved Valencia and with an average of 320 days sunshine a year you can understand why it’s one of the leading Spanish incentive destinations, it has all the right ingredients for a successful event!