When planning a business meeting or retreat for senior team executives or board members, a common challenge is how to entertain plus ones and spouses. Groups are now mixed with male and female members of all ages, so activities need to appeal to everyone.
At Le Mas Candille, being the other half of a plus-one doesn’t mean staring at the wall in a hotel room. There are far too many things to do in Mougins for the trip to be a dull one! Since we frequently host business events, we know quite a bit about creating entertaining experiences for mixed gender spousal groups. From our experience, we know that men and women often enjoy many of the same activities, from wine tastings and spa visits to tapenade- or pastry-making and – yes – even perfume-making.
+1 - BUILDING THE SUPPORT TEAM
In the south of France, there is a variety of things to experience. Let them sit in the conference room, cutting deals, brainstorming and moving numbers around spreadsheets. This is the home of art, food, lavender and the turquoise waters of the Cote D’Azur.
Meaning, it’s time to get serious about networking and bonding with the plus-ones of the other executives and board members.
Here is a small taste – un petit gout – of activities Le Mas Candille’s Corporate Events team has arranged and provided for business people and their +1s.
PASTRY-MAKING IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE
For anyone who enjoys a little pastry now and then (or who is cursed with a massive sweet tooth), working alongside a pastry chef in a Michelin-star restaurant would be intimidating at best – and perhaps even outright terrifying.
But Olivier Roth isn’t your ordinary pastry chef. An engaging, friendly young man, Olivier leads groups of novices in creating pastry masterpieces to be enjoyed by everyone later.
Whether he chooses to eat pastries himself or not (he doesn’t), Olivier certainly understands how to give others a taste of the pastry-making art in his domain in Le Candille’s kitchen.
It turns out it is harder to create a perfect cake from scratch than one might expect. Those pretty flowers resting atop le gateau chocolat? Each one is carefully wrapped around a marzipan stem, which is then snapped off. The batter? No machine mixers allowed.
Olivier demonstrates each step of the pastry-making process, which is then performed by your group members – from measuring & mixing the batter, to creating fillings and decorative accents. These sessions, which average 1½ – 2 hours, take you through the entire pastry creation process, and Olivier is happy to answer any questions the group may have.
A fun networking opportunity – and sheer delight for the sweet tooth – along with some clever tricks and skills to take back home. The result?
Wine tastings are the perfect experience to bring people together (or create some debate!). Le Candille’s sommelier, Julien Leroux, frequently hosts group wine tastings on the patio either for executives and spouses or just spouses. Julien’s sense of humour adds fun and lightness to what can sometimes be an overly-serious activity!
Tastings, while entirely customizable, are often split between whites and reds, usually with a rosé added to the mix to tempt all palates. Julien shares his wealth of knowledge, helping novice and enthusiast alike explore the intricacies of wine during a relaxing session on the terrace next to the hotel’s Michelin star restaurant.
But wine tastings aren’t just about the wine! Even if you don’t drink, you’ll have plenty of foods to savour during the tasting session such as local artisanal cheese platters, breadsticks, carpaccio, and tapenade.
If pastry-making or wine tastings aren’t a good fit for your group, we’ve put together something special involving one of the most famous ingredients in the South of France – the olive. It’s possible that you’ve never made an olive tapenade and what better place to learn how to do this than southern France, home of two of the world’s most sought-after olive types (Nyon and Nicoise). Using locally-grown olives, your group can create the perfect tapenade.
THE LERIN ISLANDS
A leisurely day trip away from the hotel provides plus ones with an unusual bonding experience. A short 15 minute ferry ride across the Bay of Cannes is St. Honorat, a small peaceful island with an 11th-century monastery. The monks of the still-active Lerins Abbey are internationally known for their wines – grown and made right on the island.
While many tourists in the South of France miss out on visiting this picturesque haven, your group members can enjoy an exclusive wine tasting experience run by the monks themselves. Another treat: a gourmet picnic lunch can be created by the team at Le Candille to be enjoyed on the secluded shore of St. Honorat.
MAKE YOUR OWN PERFUME IN GRASSE
We’ve found – surprisingly – that despite allergies, supposed lack of interest and whether or not someone wears perfume or colognes, perfume (and the making of) turns out to be a topic that engages everyone in a spousal group.
Grasse – five miles (8 km) from Le Mas Candille – lies directly across the valley and can be seen from the hotel’s terrace. Known as the world’s perfume capital, perfumeries Fragonard, Molinard and Galimard have all made Grasse their home. Each house has its own fascinating museum explaining their individual history and the processes of perfume-making – both modern and historical.
WOMEN DESIGN PERFUMES, MEN CREATE COLOGNES
A unique bonding experience allows individuals in groups to try their hand (or, more accurately, their noses) at creating a perfume, eau de perfume or eau de toilette. At Galimard’s “Le Studio des Fragrances,” those of your group attempting to create the world’s next Chanel N°5 are seated at desks – “perfume organs” – ringed with more than 100 bottles containing different scents.
Bottles are coded to distinguish traditionally masculine scents from feminine scents. Each perfume is created in three steps, consisting of the base notes, the heart (or middle) notes, and the peak (or top) notes. Group members will identify and mix about five fragrances for each step of the perfume creation, likely ending up with around 15 individual components in their personal fragrance.
After the group finishes designing their scents, they are bottled and labelled to take home. (Galimard keeps everyone’s formula on record, you can order your personal fragrance online in the future.)
These are just a small sampling of activities that can be arranged to entertain groups of business executives and their spouses during off-site meetings. Interested in learning more? Contact Le Mas Candille’s meetings & event team.