Destination – Venice, Italy

Venice, renowned as the “Queen of the Adriatic,” has a magnetic allure that beckons travelers from all corners of the globe. The architecture and art is stunning, the history rich, and the experiences leave nothing to be desired. The city offers an atmosphere that captivates the senses and leaves an indelible mark on the hearts of those who visit. While often associated with romance, Venice is a captivating destination for groups.

History tells us that Venice was created as residents of the mainland fled the chaos following the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD. They sought refuge on the marshy islands in the Venetian Lagoon, which over time became organized settlements.  These islands were naturally protected by their geography, making them relatively inaccessible to the invading barbarians who relied heavily on land-based military tactics.

The inhabitants took advantage of the lagoon’s unique geography, building platforms on wooden pilings driven into the marshy ground, creating a stable foundation above the water level. Eventually, the city-state, made up of 118 islands, became a significant trading hub with immense wealth and influence. Its distinctive position within the Mediterranean enabled it to develop an extensive and intricate trade network, facilitating the exchange of goods and cultures between the East and the West.

St Mark’s Square

Today, Venice’s atmosphere is unparalleled. Its opulent history and cultural heritage are evident in iconic landmarks that should be included on group agendas. Guided tours, both by boat and on foot are a great way for groups to get an introduction to the city. More in-depth tours can be arranged for some of the most famous sites. 

St. Mark’s Square is a vibrant gathering place that serves as the social, religious, and political center of Venice. St. Mark’s Basilica (Basilica di San Marco), located on the Square, offers an exquisite example of Byzantine architecture.  Its stunning mosaics, marble columns, and golden decorations make it one of the most magnificent churches in the world.

One of the halls of the Doge’s Palace

The opulence of Venice’s past is further exemplified by the Doge’s Palace located on the eastern side of the Square. This grandiose Gothic building served as the seat of the Venetian government. Richly adorned with art and historical artifacts, the palace offers a glimpse into the city’s former political power and artistic splendor. It is available for private group tours where rooms and chambers that are normally closed to the public can be seen.

Traveling by boat along the Grand Canal is a also popular way to see the city. Buildings that line the Grand Canal include Ca’D’Oro, Palazzo Grassi, and one of Venice’s most famous images, the Rialto Bridge.

For evening events, dine-arounds near the Piazza San Marco are always popular and there are many venues and museums that can be privatized for groups. A Masquerade Ball in a private Renaissance setting is the perfect welcome event. Guests choose their own costumes for the gala, with the setting being one of the city’s most beautiful palaces.

Visits to at least one of the lagoon islands of Venice should be considered. Each island boasts its own unique charm, history, and attractions. Delightful destinations await those wanting to see other sides of Venice.  Visitors will experience a more tranquil and authentic experience away from the bustling crowds of Venice’s main tourist areas.

One of the most popular islands is Murano, renowned worldwide for its exquisite glass craftsmanship, glassblowing workshops, and showrooms. Visitors can witness skilled artisans creating intricate art, and there are many opportunities to purchase beautiful glass souvenirs. Besides glassmaking, Murano also has charming canals, historical churches, and lovely squares.

On Burano, visitors can watch artisans create lovely hand-made lace and wander through neighborhoods of brightly colored homes.

Island of Burano, Italy

The exclusive luxury hotels in Venice further enhance the city’s appeal for discerning incentive groups. From grand palaces converted into five-star accommodations to boutique hotels offering unparalleled views of the Grand Canal, the options cater to every taste. Aman, Belmond, Kempinski, St. Regis, and other brands have properties here. Luxury hotels included on Andaré range in size from the intimate 18-room Palazzo Venart Luxury Hotel, a Leading Hotel of the World property that is also included on Condé Nast’s Gold list, to the 266-room JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa.

The Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel

Water taxis, which can accommodate up to 10 passengers, are often used for high-level incentives to transport attendees when venues and sights are not within walking distance. As they are smaller than water coaches, they can dock at any hotel or venue with a docking facility, making transportation a breeze.

Water coaches, or large motorboats, can transport groups with up to 120 but they are subject to traffic regulations and therefore they can only dock in front of a limited number of hotels, most of which are on the smaller, more isolated islands. Hotels such as the JW Marriott, the Kempinski and the Hilton Mulino Stucky fall into this category. Guests staying at hotels located on the intricate canal network in the heart of the city may have to walk to authorized boarding points but these are typically less than a 10-minute walk from any hotel.

Gondolas, traditional Venetian watercraft, can hold up to five passengers at most. Rather than being used as transportation, groups usually arrange gondola rides as activities.

Spring and fall are pleasant times to visit Venice as temperatures are in the 60s and 70s (15 – 21C). In the spring, rainfall is common, so it’s a good idea to bring an umbrella or raincoat. In the crowded summer months, temperatures are typically in the mid-80s (30C), with high humidity, while winter months are chilly with temperatures in the 40s (4C). During high tides (Acqua Alta), especially in late autumn and early winter, parts of the city can become flooded. It’s essential to check the tides and plan accordingly if your group will be visiting during these periods. Museums and restaurants may offer shorter hours so be sure to keep that in mind.

Venice’s Grand Canal

Non-stop flights from New York and Philadelphia are about 8 hours, while from Atlanta, it will take a little more than 9.5 hours. Other major cities in the US may require a connection. The flight time from London’s Heathrow is just over 2 hours. Once at Marco Polo airport, plan on a 30-minute to one-hour trip by boat to the hotel.

Venice’s allure is not merely rooted in its attractions but also in its ineffable charm, which arises from the interplay of history, art, and culture. The city’s enchanting essence permeates every corner, making it a place where travelers can immerse themselves in a timeless world of beauty and wonder.

Thanks to our partner in Venice: Ovation Italy DMC