The Azores check a lot of incentive travel boxes. For groups in search of a less-travelled destination, the nine-island archipelago in the mid-Atlantic is a little, but not too far, off the beaten path. Its gastronomy is distinctly local but still familiar (seafood, beef, wine, etc.). It offers a solid selection of soft adventure activities (whale watching, hiking) and unique wellness experiences (thermal waters). Its cities and towns are small and walkable. And the climate is temperate year-round, opening up more date options. This three-and-a-half day FAM gave a group of Canadian planners a good look at what its largest island, São Miguel, has to offer.
DAY ONE – Ponta Delgada &
6:25 a.m. – Overnight Sata | Azores Airlines flight arrives at João Paulo II Airport, which is located a short 10-minute drive from the center of Ponta Delgada, the capital of São Miguel.
7:00 a.m. – Transfer to Grand Hotel Açores Atlântico. Check-in (rooms ready) and individual breakfast at hotel. Widely-regarded as São Miguel’s only five-star property, Grand Hotel Açores Atlântico completed a top-to-bottom renovation in July 2018. It has 140 guestrooms (50 oceanview), including five suites, and three conference rooms. Owner: Grupo Bensaude.
12:00 noon – Lunch at Restaurant Anfiteatro | Modern space in Portas do Mar marina complex. Room features view of the city bay.
1:30 p.m. – Visit Pavilhäo do Mar | 43,000-square-foot exhibition/event venue in Portas do Mar used for concerts, exhibitions and cultural activities.
2:00 p.m. – Walking tour of downtown Ponta Delgada. | Shops, churches, public square, restaurants.
2:30 p.m. – Site visit Teatro Micaelense | Built in 1951, this historical landmark was recently refurbished.
3:30 p.m. – Site visit Coliseu Micaelense | Multipurpose facility built in 1917. Recently renovated, it is suitable for larger group functions, dances, awards ceremonies, exhibitions, etc.
4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. – Vista do Rei | Travel by mini bus to see island’s famous hydrangea fences and stop at viewpoint overlooking one of Portugal’s seven wonders—two adjoining lagoons, one blue and the other green (Lagoa des Sete Cidades).
7:00 p.m. – Site tour of host hotel and dinner.
DAY TWO – Ponta Delgada
9:00 a.m. – Futurismo Azores Adventures | Half-day whale watching excursion, departing from Portas do Mar.
1:00 p.m. – Lunch, Restaurant Cais da Sardinha | Taste local menu with a view over the sea.
2:00 p.m. – Visits to hotels in Ponta Delgada by Tuk-Tuk Azores | Electric power; six people per tuk-tuk
- Azoris Royal Garden Hotel – 193 guestrooms, including one presidential suite, five senior suites and 37 executive rooms; five venues for meetings and events. Owner | Azoris Hotels & Leisure
- São Miguel Park Hotel – 163 rooms and 740 square feet of meeting space. Owner | Bensaude Hotel Collections
- Hotel Marina Atlântico – 184 rooms, including four suites; nearly 3,700 square feet of meeting and event space with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking harbour. Owner | Bensaude Hotel Collections
4:00 p.m. – Visit to pineapple plantation
7:30 p.m. – Site tour and dinner at Hotel Azor – opened in 2016; 123 guestrooms; eight meetings/event rooms; an on-site restaurant (Restaurant A Terra Fornaria) with a panoramic view of the marina and capacity of 190 people; and a rooftop swimming pool (7th floor) with Whale Watching Bar. Brand | Discovery Hotel Management
DAY THREE: Island Exploration
9:00 a.m. – Departure from host hotel to Furnas
9:45 a.m. –Visit to Caldeiras das Furnas – The Furnas Valley (a volcano crater) is home to boiling water and mud springs as well as mini geysers.
10:30 a.m. – Visit to Casino Terra Nostra, Terra Nostra Garden Hotel – opened in 1935; features Art Deco design; 86 rooms, including five suites, 20 Art Deco Cozy rooms, 41 Garden View Deluxe rooms and 10 Garden Terrace Deluxe rooms; event spaces include lounge in Art Deco wing and Terra Nostra Casino, located across the street. Owner: Bensaude Hotels Collection
11:00 a.m. – Terra Nostra Park Thermal Bath Experience & Gardens Tour – Thermal pools (public and private) are thought to have therapeutic benefits. Minerals in the water include yellow iron. Garden features flora from around the world, which flourish in the rich volcanic soil.
12:45 p.m. – Lunch and site tour – Terra Nostra Garden Hotel
4:00 p.m. – Tour of Cha Goreanna and tea tasting with (fifth generation) owner: In business since 1883, Cha Goreanna is the oldest and currently only, tea plantation in Europe. It produces black, green and canto teas, all grown without the use of herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, dyes or preservatives.
7:30 p.m. – Farewell dinner at Hotel Marina Atlântico
Morning at leisure
12:15 p.m. – Lunch at Grand Hotel Açores Atlântico
1:30 p.m. – Transfer to airport