Guest Post by Hugo Slimbrouck, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Ovation Global DMC
Swiss Trophy Day 3
At 6am this morning, just when his fellow Irishmen had finally stopped singing in the bar, Padraic slipped silently away to attend a family event. He passed the blogging baton to me and this is my account of the final full day of the Ovation Trophy 2013. Being an early riser afforded me the opportunity to soak up the early morning sun during a walk which took me around the golf course which hosts the European Masters. I sensed the spirit of Seve Ballesteros on my shoulder whilst walking beneath his favourite trees along the snowed covered fairways. Many professional golfers regard this as one of the most beautiful courses in the world and it’s no wonder! Looking north was a spectacular mountain range where I’m coming back this summer with Lode Beckers and other hiking friends to tackle the high route between Gstaad and Interlaken and climb some peaks with roaring names like the Wildstrube above Crans-Montana, the Bütlassen and the Wilde Frau (what’s in this name?) just above Kandersteg. Switzerland is breathtaking, both in summer and winter.
From Crans Montana to Lavaux
A lavish breakfast was served at the congress centre Le Régent where we viewed Andy’s amazing pictures from the previous day. Le Régent hosts conferences in all fields and cultural events such as an annual jazz festival and rock concerts. The facility has a total of 18 halls, from 40 m2 to 1225 m2. Crans-Montana is the perfect destination for off-site meetings in a unique and spectacular natural setting, for imagining new business strategies, or for hosting an truly exclusive incentive trip. After breakfast keys were distributed and cars, courtesy of Europcar, were ready for the next leg of the rally, a drive down through the valley to the UNESCO world heritage site of the Lavaux vineyard. On the road, we made a brief stop to visit Europe’s biggest underground lake in the village of St Léonard. The first spring sun inspired those of us who drove a convertible to keep the roof open for the entire journey towards the Lavaux vineyard. Our Brazilians guests loved it – snow and sun combined!
Grandvaux, the 3d rally stop, contained two different tasks. One, of course, involved noblesse oblige –wine tasting. A wine expert invited us to a blind tasting in the Caves Jacques & Aurélia Jolly, which of course we wine experts as we are had correct without even tasting it. The colour, the brightness, the sparkle, it was easy to tell the difference between the Chardonnay, the Chasselas and the Gamay. The Caveau Jolly welcomes up to 24 people for wine tasting. For the other task we had to go deep into our creative brain and design a new wine bottle label. Being in the Milk Can team – and only one point behind on the leaderboard – we called our wine Chateau Crème de la Crème, expertly made by the Family Bidon du Lait in the village of Grandvaux. Our wine has 17° of alcohol and contains sulphites. In line with the best Swiss wine making traditions, we will only have a small produce and do not intend to export as we like to drink it ourselves too much. We recommend it with cheese fondue and freshly caught rainbow trout or zander from the lake.
Smoke on the water in Montreux
The Montreux Riviera enjoys a spectacular and central location between Lake Geneva and the Alps, close to Geneva Airport by train (1h30). The destination is ideal for international congresses, conferences or motivational trips. The natural beauty of the surroundings and the charm of the Belle-Époque architecture create a setting of unforgettable beauty. I can fully understand our friend Rémy Crégut of the Montreux Music and Convention Centre who on a regular basis tweets and posts beautiful pictures of Lake Geneva and the dramatic backdrop of the Alps. We were welcomed on the Montreux waterfront by hundreds sun-soaking tourists and locals for Rally Stop N° 4. A live band played jazz and, under the watchful eye of Freddy Mercury, teams had to “name that tune”. It was here that Freddy wrote one of his last hit songs ‘These Are the Days of Our Lives’ shortly before he passed away. It was here that “funky” Claude Nobs founded the well-known Montreux Jazz Festival in 1967. Its stages have been graced by all of music’s greats, from Miles Davis to Ray Charles and from David Bowie to Prince. It was here that Deep Purple wrote ‘Smoke on the Water, the morning after the old casino burned down. Claude joined Freddy and many other great performers in heaven just a couple of months ago.
Farewell at Chillon Castle
Tonight at the closing night dinner in Aula Magna of the lakeside Chillon Castle Urs Eberhardt announced what we had all come to expect – the Bells team had won the Ovation Trophy (that’s twice in a row for Ovation Spain’s Rudolf Rannegar!). This 1000 year old mediaeval castle has hosted many great events since its creation by the Dukes of Savoy. The castle is available for private functions such as candlight banquets, cocktails in the courtyard, wine tastings and other private functions. The quality of the catering services is way above what one can expect and serving staff showed real Swiss hospitality.
For the entertainment element we got up close and personal with Pat Perry, a truly amazing magician. Pat beguiles his audience with new and unexpected magic effects, presented with a flourishing touch of irony whilst everything must be taken with a pinch of salt. A name to remember for future events, Pat likes to travel! Kudos as well to our cousins from Dorier who looked after the Audio Visual support of the night, including the showcasing of Andy’s amazing pictures which may be viewed on www.swiss-image.ch (username ovation, password trophy)
Four Seasons à la Suisse
Back at the glorious Fairmont Montreux Palace resort, situated on the shores of Lake Geneva it was time to contemplate the second Ovation Trophy. Over the course of 3 days, we experienced 4 seasons. Starting off with typical fall weather in Zurich, moving to glacier temperatures and snow in the mountains, to spring in the Rhône valley and finally the first hints of summer tonight, sharing the waiting line to get into Harry’s Bar with ladies in light gala dresses. Switzerland is a destinations for all seasons and this weekend alone has proved it all. Over the 3 days we have interacted with 50 clients and key prospects from countries as far as Canada, the US, Brazil, China, Russia and several European countries.
Big thanks to our partners of the Swiss Convention Bureau, and to Swissair for flying us into this wonderful place!. Special thanks to Barbara and Guendi of SCIB and my colleague Aoife for making all this happen. And to Ovation Bear of course for his/her moral support.
And big thanks to my colleague and friend Hugo Slimbrouck aka Mussels from Brussels who ably took pen in hand to ensure that all readers were afforded comprehensive and complete insight into this amazing destination experience created by SCIB in proud partnership with Ovation Global DMC and Ovation Switzerland.