Prevue November-December 2013 - (Page 54)

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND Indochina DMC Trails of Indochina is one of the largest and most well established DMCs operating in Southeast Asia. Headquartered in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, Trails of Indochina operates satellite offices in Bali, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. "We customize our itineraries to our corporate programs rather than just printing out a standard program," says Matt Masson, CEO. "One of the things in Asia that's a big advantage is offsite catering is accessible and not overly expensive. So you can create a lot of wow factor, like dinner and a live show at the foot of Angkor Wat Temple in Cambodia." One of the most popular venues is the restored house of President Nixon's U.S. ambassador to South Vietnam, Henry Cabot Lodge, in Ho Chi Minh City. Trails of Indochina offers a cooking class in the elegant courtyard. Masson says most U.S. group programs are based in the main cities, with customized visits into the countryside and small towns. "People will have a go and break out of the city to somewhere like the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, a couple hours south of Ho Chi Minh City," he explains. "Then they'll break into smaller teams and jump on a small boat or go mountainbiking. We're also the only company to do a private farmland dinner for 80 people in a rice field. That is something not off the shelf." 50 | prevue magazine Ponsonby Central is bringing local food to Auckland residents the same way San Francisco's Ferry Building or Seattle's Pike Place Market do. Located in the suburb of Ponsonby, the warehouse complex features a produce and artisan market, street food and various other eateries and shops. The market opened in late 2012 in a restored warehouse with large open beam ceilings, industrial pipes and a metal walkway bridge. Each storefront, however, is designed individually to fit its personality. Foxtrot Parlour, for instance, is a rustic bakery with wooden benches where groups can eat chocolate-injected donuts. Blue Breeze Inn is another favorite featuring a menu of locally inspired Chinese food. Guests can sit at the open kitchen bar and watch Chinese-trained dumpling chefs fold, flip, stuff and pinch the tasty fare, while sipping a cocktail from a machete-chopped coconut cocktail served by the restaurant's bar, The Rum Jungle. Groups of up to 12 can gather in its private dining area. "Ponsonby Central is unique in that it's a boutique food destination for locals," says Anna Hayward, manager of the Auckland Convention Bureau. "Groups will feel part of a trendy community meeting place.... The local radio station even broadcasts right in the heart of the market." Groups should also experience the Sapphire Room, an interactive space for 100-pax cooking exercises, master classes or chef demos. Hayward says that groups often form teams and shop in the fresh produce market and butchery downstairs before competing upstairs in the space. Planners can also incorporate tastings from Zest Food Tours, which is available to host cheese tastings of locally produced cheeses. Any of the market's restaurants can also cater an event in the venue space, which can comfortably accommodate 150 people for a seated dinner. Just 45 minutes away by boat on Waiheke Island, EcoZip Adventures operates three new ziplines. The first takes guests past a wide expanse of grapevines at Trig Hill Vineyards, whose first vintage is scheduled to debut in 2016. About 10 people can go on a guided tour at one time, but up to 300 can participate throughout one day. At the end of a tour, groups of about 300 can meet in the lodge room for an end-of-the-day strategy session or cocktail reception. "EcoZip Adventures offers the only dual ziplines in New Zealand, which turn it from a solo to a social experience that you can share with a partner," says Hayward. Another option for post-zipline soirées, the Oyster Inn is a luxury boutique that opened in late 2012. Its balcony and outdoor patio space provides an inviting beach ambience overlooking the palm trees scattered throughout the property. The inn only features three guest rooms but the onsite restaurant can accommodate groups up to 100 people, which is the perfect end to a day on Waiheke Island. True to the property's name, the restaurant's specialty is fresh-shucked oysters, which you might want to follow up with the fresh-caught fish 'inn' chips.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Prevue November-December 2013

Planner's Pick: Hartford
Fresh Meets: MGM Resorts
Bureau Buzz: Las Vegas
Good Business: Hyatt, Hilton, Fairmont
Sea Shores: Silversea Cruises
Cool, Cultured & Creative
Imex America
Special Section: Asia Pacific
On Location: Hard Rock San Diego
Santa Fe
On Location: InterContinental Costa Rica
On Location: Marriott Orlando
On Location: Hilton Orlando
South Walton, Florida
Check Out: Moon Palace Cancun

Prevue November-December 2013