8 Popular Travel Destinations for 2021

Incentive winners will love these destinations that offer an abundance of outdoor activities.

Following our year without travel, most incentive winners — heck, just about everyone — are ready to hop on a plane and hit a warm sandy beach, invigorating slope or peaceful desert. The United States and the Caribbean are the top choices for programs now, as per our Incentive PULSE Survey; here are eight inviting local spots, all offering plenty of outdoor options.

To find more incentive properties in these destinations, head to Northstar’s Event Venue Finder. And don’t forget to check local, state and country guidelines when planning a travel program.

Photo Credit: Natalia Barsukova for Adobe Stock

Aruba

Contact: Aruba Convention Bureau 

Aruba, with its beckoning beaches, endless sunshine and desert terrain, is the escape stateside winners dream about all winter long.

Those who crave action can windsurf, parasail or take a Jeep safari through the desert with stops at Arikok National Park. Winners who fancy flamingos can stroll with them on Renaissance Island, a private oasis that’s part of the 555-room Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino in Oranjestad.

WHAT'S NEW

  • The 97-room Tamarijn Aruba has reopened following upgrades to the property’s oceanfront rooms.
  • The 357-room Hyatt Regency Aruba recently completed a renovation that added Trankilo, a new adults-only pool, and a new spa.  
  • Debuting in April is the 133-room Radisson Blu Aruba, with three pools, a wellness center, multiple dining options and a designated lounge area on the beach.

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Photo Credit: Jovannig for Adobe Stock

The Bahamas

Bahamas Ministry of Tourism 

Those longing to arrange an international award trip minus a long flight should look to the Bahamas. The islands offer turquoise waters, balmy beaches and two legendary resorts, Atlantis Paradise Island and Nassau’s Baha Mar.

Visitors here can choose diving or fishing excursions, shopping at open-air markets such as Nassau’s famous Straw Market, or even day trips from Nassau or Paradise Island to swim with the wild pigs of Big Major Cay in the Exuma district.

WHAT'S NEW

  • Atlantis Paradise Island’s 600-suite luxury hotel, The Cove, will be upgraded this year.
  • Baha Mar’s Meliá Nassau Beach has shuttered for a two-year facelift. The 694-room Cable Beach property plans to reopen in spring 2023. Another enhancement at the resort complex is the recent opening of chef Daniel Boulud’s Café Boulud at the 237-room Rosewood Baha Mar.

Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Myrtle Beach Area CVB

This popular U.S. destination is famed for its glorious beaches, more than 90 golf courses, live-entertainment venues and its Southern charm.

Participants can stroll the lively 1.2-mile boardwalk, ride the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel, or take a day trip to Murrells Inlet, with its fishing village, Marshwalk and seafood eateries on the waterfront.

WHAT'S NEW

  • Funplex Myrtle Beach, a tropical-themed amusement park, will be home to thrilling attractions, including Mach Fun, billed as “the tallest interactive 360-degree jet-simulator ride on the market.”
  • A $20 million renovation has been unveiled at the 387-room Hilton Myrtle Beach Resort, which added a new open-air event space.
  • The Embassy Suites Myrtle Beach Oceanfront Resort is undergoing a $30 million upgrade that will be completed in 2022. New features being added at the 255-room property include a pool deck, a bar with a garden terrace, a children’s water park and an event lawn.

Photo Credit: Sean Pavone Photo for Adobe Stock

 

Park City, Utah

Visit Park City

This stunning mountain destination is popular with incentive groups for its refined lodging, sophisticated dining, year-round outdoor activities and, what all of us crave now: fresh, clean air.

From late fall to early spring, it’s a winter-sports paradise, offering skiing, snowboarding, skating, snowshoeing and even dogsledding. Participants also can enjoy plenty of activities in warmer weather: rafting, hiking, biking, golf, fly-fishing and more.

WHAT'S NEW

  • The 100-room AC Hotel Park City opened in late 2020. The property has three food-and-beverage outlets.
  • The 20-room Goldener Hirsch Inn has added 40 new residences, which are available for rent. The elegant property features a rooftop pool deck with mountain views and the Antler Lounge.
  • The 150-room Pendry Residences Park City in Canyons Village opens in late 2021.

Photo Credit: Sean Pavone Photo for Adobe Stock

The Palm Beaches, Fla.

Discover the Palm Beaches 

Palm Beach has an air of luxury that makes it a prized incentive destination, with its well-heeled Worth Avenue, tony polo and croquet clubs, and upscale resorts.

For programs that aim for a “different” vibe, consider the other communities in the region: Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens, West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Delray Beach and Boca Raton. The region delivers plenty of outdoor settings and activities. Participants can fish, dive, golf, play tennis or explore the beautiful beaches.

WHAT'S NEW

  • The 32-room White Elephant Palm Beach, sister property to Nantucket’s famed White Elephant, opened in late 2020.
    Amrit Ocean Resort & Residences, a 155-room wellness resort on Singer Island, will debut this summer.
  • The Ray in Delray Beach also is scheduled to open this summer. The hotel will have 141 guest rooms.
  • The 158-room Mandarin Oriental – Boca Raton will open later this year with two rooftop pools and fine-dining outlets including a rooftop version of Mandarin Oriental’s signature MO Bar + Lounge. Planners will be able to set up pampering appointments at the Spa at Mandarin Oriental.

Photo Credit: Discover Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico

Discover Puerto Rico

This sultry tropical destination is so much more than a beach getaway. Participants can take a stroll through history along the cobbled streets of Old San Juan, explore Puerto Rico’s wild side in El Yunque National Forest, savor local rums where the potent potable is made or take a kayak tour of the island’s sparkling bioluminescent bays.

WHAT'S NEW

  • Palacio Provincial, a 43-room boutique hotel, has opened in the historic neighborhood of Old San Juan. Set in a storied colonial-era building, the property has a library, an open-air eatery, a gym, a beach club and several private courtyards.
  • The 82-room Hyatt Residences Club Dorado, Hacienda Del Mar in Dorado — closed since hurricanes Irma and Maria hit in 2017 — has reopened with upgrades, such as redesigned villas.
  • The iconic El San Juan Hotel in Isla Verde has been reflagged as the Fairmont El San Juan Hotel. The 388-room property, which has undergone a $65 million refurbishment, has four pools and a beach club. Great dining can be found at Caña by Juliana Gonzalez, the El San Juan Beach Club, the Meat Market, Riva, Bar Americana, El Bistro and Il Sole.

Photo Credit: Ray Redstone for Adobe Stock

Scottsdale, Ariz.

Experience Scottsdale

With year-round sunshine, a tranquil desert setting and accommodations ranging from hipster hotels to classic luxury resorts, Scottsdale is a favorite destination for incentive programs. Send participants outdoors to enjoy pursuits such as ATV or Jeep desert tours, hiking, biking and golf. The destination is an ideal spot for hard-driving winners to unwind at one of the many spas or inviting resort pools.

Participants who like a little culture during their programs can visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s impressive home, Taliesin West.

WHAT'S NEW

  • Adero, a 177-room Autograph Collection property, opened in 2021. The hotel has a signature restaurant and a rooftop lounge.
  • The long-awaited Ritz-Carlton, Paradise Valley, a 215-room, 20-acre new-build, will open in 2022. The property will have a 16,000-square-foot spa with indoor and outdoor treatment areas, a garden with a citrus orchard, and a 400-foot resort pool.
  • Caesars Entertainment will open its nongaming 266-room Caesars Republic Scottsdale in 2022. Giada DeLaurentis’s Luna by Giada will be the property’s signature restaurant.

Photo Credit: Jonbilous for Adobe Stock

St. Pete/Clearwater, Fla.

Visit St. Pete/Clearwater

Home to Tripadvisor’s 2021 Top Beach in the U.S. (St. Pete Beach) and one of its Top 10 Trending Destinations (Clearwater), this spot is hot right now, with good reason. In addition to its sugar-sand beaches, St. Pete/Clearwater is celebrated for its museums, thriving arts community — including a vibrant area of outdoor murals — and its huge craft-beer scene. 

WHAT'S NEW