Australia is home to exotic wildlife, iconic architecture in cosmopolitan cities, and awe-inspiring natural wonders. It is no surprise groups are looking here for their meetings. In 2016, the Land Down Under welcomed over 8 million international visitors, and continues to host a bevy of business travelers despite the long-distance travel to reach the continent.
"For businesses wanting a truly inspirational event in 2018, Australia is packed with 'can't be bought' experiences," says Penny Lion, executive general manager of events for Tourism Australia. "And Australia has never been easier to access, with more flight connections from the U.S. than ever before."
Sydney and Melbourne
Take in the Sydney Opera House during a twilight helicopter tour, enjoy Bondi Beach views from a private seaplane, or for an exhilarating, teambuilding experience, scale the Harbour Bridge with BridgeClimb. Book a 90-minute or 3.5-hour climbing tour, then head back to the newly opened, 590-room Sydney Darling Harbour Hotel.
In Melbourne, attendees can swim with the sharks and stingrays at Shark Dive Xtreme at the Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium. This daring opportunity allows four divers at a time for a 90-minute shark dive experience. Sea Life offers function spaces that cater to 20 to 2,000 guests and provides personalized group tours; see penguins, tropical fish, Australia's massive saltwater crocodiles, sharks, and stingrays.
Ranked the No. 1 sustainable city in the Asia-Pacific region by the Global Destination Sustainability Index, this eco-friendly city is undergoing fast-paced growth. In 2022, the Shangri-La Hotel opens its doors with 500 guest rooms, and 2020 will bring a 235-room Le Méridien to the roster of luxury accommodations. Groups considering Melbourne this year can book rooms in the recently opened Four Points by Sheraton situated in Melbourne's Dockland neighborhood.
Venture southeast of Melbourne and enjoy Mornington Peninsula's Enchanted Adventure Garden. Thrill-seekers can try treetop zip-lining over 550 feet in the air, and then come down to enjoy more than 22 acres of parkland with tube slides, mazes, canopy walks, and wildlife. Soothe weary muscles at the Peninsula's Hot Springs with eco-friendly spa treatments. Groups of up to 30 people can book the Peninsula Hot Springs' Royal Moroccan Tent and enjoy breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea in a secluded setting.
Cairns and Port Douglas
Visits to Cairns and Port Douglas provide a multitude of unique experiences, like snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, trekking through Daintree Rainforest, and touring crocodile country with experienced animal handlers. Stay on Four Mile Beach at the Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort, which recently underwent an AUD$40 million makeover. Water lovers can indulge in snorkeling expeditions on the reef via a private catamaran with Quicksilver Cruises, enjoy freshwater or saltwater pools at the 295-room hotel, or hit the famed Four Mile Beach itself with 12 guest-only entrance points. Take an exclusive, guided group tour at Hartley's Crocodile Adventures, an ecotourism experience on a 10-hectare World Heritage site.
For a special adventure, forgo the hotel for a luxury-style yurt, tent, or cabin. Glamping Hub can accommodate up to 50 people in a group, the unique accommodations providing a wealth of outdoor experiences within striking distance of the Great Barrier Reef and wildlife habitats, all among the foothills of Australia's National Parks.
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This article appears in the April 2018 issue of Successful Meetings.