The 13th annual Leadership Summit took place in November at the new Secrets Vallarta Bay Puerto Vallarta, with 74 buyers, suppliers and sponsors in attendance. The purpose of the conference is to drive new group business and maintain existing relationships, while discovering the attributes to Puerto Vallarta as a meetings and incentive destination.
Florida-based Opus Group organizes and hosts the event every year, with Prevue participating as an official media partner. American Airlines and United Airlines provided flights.
As a group venue, the all-inclusive, adults-only Secrets Vallarta Bay was a pleasant surprise for everyone due to its unique variety of venues for dining, receptions and functions. The beachfront hotel comprises one half of a completely remodeled high-rise, mirroring its adjacent sister resort, the family-friendly Now Amber Puerto Vallarta. Both properties are operated by the Mexico-based, all-inclusive AMResorts hotel group.
You pull up in front of the expansive third floor lobby with an equally large open-air deck perched high over the multiple pool areas below. The views of the Pacific are breathtaking, especially at sunset. Most of the outdoor deck is covered so Opus Group organized one official cocktail event where everyone could meet while the sun set into the water. The same space was popular all day and night throughout the event for impromptu networking. Rarely have we enjoyed a resort lobby as much as this.
Secrets Vallarta Bay and Now Amber share five meeting rooms and a 6,930-sf ballroom for events up to 870 people. Like the hotels and grounds, the meeting facilities are spotless. There’s also fast WiFi and a dedicated group entrance. The selection of restaurants was impressive, especially the Oceana seafood restaurant perched right on the beach just steps from the water.
The opening night party was held in the indoor/outdoor Market Cafe, leading out to the pool area. And the official sit-down appointment networking session took place in the spacious Tamarindo Mexican restaurant following a great local breakfast.
The 1-on-1 sessions were interesting because these were all senior incentive planners, except about 80% of them had never been to Puerto Vallarta before. So there was a lot of interest in learning about the destination, especially with business on the upswing looking ahead through 2014.
“The mood was definitely more positive than in 2013, with more specific requests for dates and rates,” said Christopher Perks, founder/president of the Opus Group.
According to Perks, the choice of the host hotel and destination for the Summit is based on a significant amount of criteria.
“Puerto Vallarta and all of the top hotels have a very bilingual service culture, which was important for us since 100% of attendees were North American-hosted buyers,” he said. “And we felt the hotel had all of the service elements a corporate incentive could want in an international destination.”
Amstar DMC organized the events and handles all logistics and transportation. The most popular scheduled activities included a golf tournament, sailing regatta, a walking tour through the seaside colonial section of Puerto Vallarta, eco/adventure tours into the rainforest and a pub crawl one night in town.
“We always want the desination to be as diversified as possible, with many different options for each attendee to delve deeper into the region,” said Perks. “This gives each attendee a menu of activities, so we don’t all go everywhere en masse, except for the lunches and dinners.”
The highlight offsite experience was a trip to the secluded La Caletas cove for an exceptional dinner and the excellent “Rhythms of the Night” amphitheater performance.
“I can’t say enough about Amstar; they received top marks from everyone,” summed up Perks. “You couldn’t ask for more in terms of creativity, service and worthwhile reasons to justify the investment for everyone to be there.”