I am convinced that this text will be one of the least challenging ones from an expert point of view and at the same time one of the most pleasant ones that I have ever published in this amazing magazine. Those of you who are naughty will have to be disappointed: I will not talk about sex, romance, porn and brothels, so this is the first and last time I mention them here.
‘By Toutatis’, as Obelix would say, what is a sexy congress destination? Is this a place where uniformed, long legged stewardesses walk around (and muscular, young and sweaty construction workers in tight shirts and helmets, to be fair to the ladies)? Where workshops, congresses and conventions last for half an hour and the remaining three days are spent sipping cocktails prepared by luscious female bartenders and eating fresh Norwegian salmon canapés? And we know what the night time brings. Well … not really.
‘Sexy’ has become one of the cutest descriptions over the last decade and tourism professionals use it to describe hotels, places, food, means of transport, everything that they come across. The word is derived from the word sex, that much is true, but our use of the word implies no such activity.
Since this is of course not a technical term, anyone can imagine a sexy destination in their own way. Anglo-Saxon journalists came up with this description and they usually refer to destinations next to a warm ocean with long, sandy beaches, palm trees and top hotels where piña coladas leak out of faucets (or Sex on the Beach, if you so prefer – and I do mean the cocktail, of course). Travelsexy360.com lists the following three destinations: Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, Hawaii’s third largest island, Oahu, and Langkawi in Islamic Indonesia. The same website also lists the best parties happening in Thailand, sexy destinations on Santorini and Ibiza, etc.
Another blog (Jeffrey Baynes on MSN Travel Canada) gave the top spot to Rio de Janeiro, followed by Amsterdam, Budapest, Paris, Mykonos, Las Vegas, Berlin, Negril (Jamaica), Havana, Ibiza, Tokyo, St. Tropez and Barcelona. Yes, even Buenos Aires and Seville. No, Portorož is not on the list. Neither is Bled.
A few years ago Poland became known as a sexy congress destination. This was proven by an increasing presence of the pharmaceutical industry in Warsaw, Krakow, Katowice, etc. But the main reason for this was that the country is (still) relatively cheap.
The five sexiest hotels are said to be Hotel Casa Angelina in Amalfi (Italy), Central Palace in Istanbul, Hotel de l’Europe in Amsterdam, Bleibtreu in Berlin and Fresh in Athens. All designer hotels, to be honest, and I like to imagine that the gatherings in these hotels are sexy as hell.
Sexy congress destinations are the ones that move and seduce you.
But what is it that we know and they don’t? Is Belgrade a sexy destination? ‘Of course it is’, many of you will say. The grey Serbian capital with many crumbling buildings cannot be compared to most European capitals, despite its Balkan charm. But its hospitality, friendliness and warmth, lately even its professional approach to congresses and other events, beats many of them. Not just Slovenian, but many Western congress tourists would rather travel to Belgrade than to ‘been there, done that’ Budapest, Vienna or imperial Moscow. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder, to each heart its own priority list and to each head its own memories. There are some places that will forever remain sexy, such as Paris, Rome and Madrid (you can even add Barcelona to the list if you are an FC Barcelona fan). These cities are connected with love, romance, and sex if you will, as Tony Perrottet wonderfully puts it in his book, ‘The Sinner’s Grand Tour: A Journey Through the Historical Underbelly of Europe’. The book even lists the Vatican as a sexy destination because of Raphael’s almost erotic frescoes.
A sexy destination is therefore another word for a brand name, but much more relaxed and clear. A sexy destination is not desperate to attract us, because we already want to go there. We want to go there to hold our congress or take our incentive trip. Last but not least, a sexy destination is where we want to bring our money and where we want to leave some of it as well. We almost want to come home disappointed by the fact that the business trip had to end so soon. Basically, a sexy destination offers not just excellent meeting opportunities, but brings the joy back into our lives and awakens the hedonist in us, be it in the form of excellent food, company, sunshine, nature and partying, or maybe even an occasional passionate moment (Shhh!).
Forget about those Anglo-Saxon websites for a moment, they don’t realize how amazing, beautiful, nice and exciting our country is.
So, do you think Slovenia is a sexy congress destination?