Samui Wining & Dining
Attracting MICE

With all the facilities available, it’s no wonder that Mercure Buri is a firm favourite destination with the business world.

 

19Koh Samui, a tropical jewel set in a sparkling sea. A place to relax. A place where the island lifestyle is always laid-back. It’s got wonderful weather, luxurious accommodation and fabulous food. And every year its attractions lure around a million visitors for their holiday breaks. But an increasing number of these are not really on holiday. Sure, they’ve got time to relax and have some fun too, but they’re part of the MICE brigade and they’re here for work as well as play.

MICE is the acronym for Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions. Just a generation ago, a grateful company would send its high-achievers off for a complimentary break at the local sea-side resort or spa as a reward. Then this expanded to include initiative-developing and team-building breaks, too. But with the relative costs of air fares reducing, potential venues became further afield. And with little old Samui being within a few hours away from Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, it’s now become a favoured spot for hosting executive rewards and corporate initiatives in the region.

An increasing number of high-end resorts are taking this on board and either adding conference suites or building them in at the planning stage. It’s become big business. On a basic sort of level most resorts can cater for parties or wedding groups. But the corporate world makes more exacting demands. More specialised electronic and computerised equipment is needed, different seating arrangements for different purposes and also some top-notch leisure facilities – a fitness centre or a spa as well as an excellent restaurant. This isn’t just about having ‘a meeting’; you can do that anywhere. This is about rewarding and pampering, too.

One of the island’s resorts that’s all geared-up for these activities is Mercure Samui Buri Beach Resort & Spa, to give it its full title. And it’s part of the Accor Group, which includes such internationally-known names as Sofitel, Novotel, Ibis, Pullman and, of course, Mercure. Meaning that there’s an accumulated wealth of experience when it comes to providing what’s needed by the business world, as well as taking care of the demands of a demanding holiday-making public.

‘Mercure Buri’ is a lofty and lavish resort that’s been designed around Thai architectural styles from four different regions. It’s not situated out in full view on the main road; rather you’ll catch glimpses of its imposing roof-line above the trees as you approach, appearing more like an elaborate temple or palace than a holiday resort. It’s on the island’s north coast at the western end of Maenam Bay and the easiest way to get there is to head for the well-known Lomprayah Ferry. Turn off the ring-road toward the ferry and take the first toad on the right, from which point the resort is signposted.

The lobby area is huge, is on several levels, and is open on three sides with a separate floor of rooms and suites below. This is where you’ll find most of the elements relating to banqueting and conferences. But the equally vital leisure areas are further afield. The gym and fitness centre, the tennis court and the spa are located a little way towards the beach. And the resort’s signature fine-dining restaurant L’escale, an integral aspect of all activities here is right on the edge of the beach overlooking the sea.

When it comes to the business end of things there’s a choice of two venues. The Orchid Room is the main suite and, with a standard theatre-style layout for a seminar or lecture, can accommodate up to 100 people. Of course, smaller nests of tables can be arranged for group-work, allowing up to 40 to assemble together. There is also The Executive Room for smaller groups and here up to 20 can be comfortably located, depending on the seating layout.

The technical side of things is taken care of with a set of JBL AE series tripod-mounted speakers and a flexible multi-channel Harmon amplifier rack and mixing desk. With laptops and PowerPoint presentations now the norm, there’s a choice of approaches, either displaying this via numerous strategically-positioned flat-panel TVs or a single 80-inch projector screen. Just about any medium can be utilised, from 35mm slides (remember them!) through to data on iPads or even USB memory sticks – there are in-house technicians that can be consulted about your needs in advance of the event.

And then there’s the all-important Business Centre with facilities for photocopying, fax, dictation, and video-conferencing, if required. There are support staff if you need them or you can take the ‘do-it-yourself’ approach if you know what you’re about.

Mercure Buri is an experienced host when it comes to group events and the facilities are regularly enjoyed by wedding and party assemblies. L’escale restaurant, with the award-winning Executive Chef, Khun Suraporn Munyuen, can cater in style for large groups or provide gourmet meals for smaller parties on-the-spot or at the restaurant. But business groups come in two flavours. There are the ones that simply turn up for the day, essentially just for a meeting. And then there are those who come for a weekend or several days. The accommodation here is luxurious and ranges from a deluxe double room to an entire pool villa.

The proof of the pudding … as they say … and the National Khoun Thai Bank Group was delighted when they came for the day with 300 members. Then there was the regional Tesco Lotus management stay with 30 staff, and also the Bouygues Construction Group with its leisurely incentive meeting for 40 of their senior employees, to name but a few.

Samui is a delightful island and the leisure aspects here are second to none. But there’s room for business here, too, in both senses of the term, with the facilities and the space in this expansive resort. When it comes to attracting MICE they’ve certainly got the experience together with the know-how at Mercure Samui Buri Beach Resort & Spa.

 


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