Earlier this month the Journeys team delivered Ronda's first international event in this marvellous city in Costa del Sol and we would like to tell you all about it!
The Discover Ronda in Costa del Sol programme showcased THE BEST that the destination has to offer whilst at the same time international buyers met the BEST suppliers of the region.
Journeys, who had the privilege to power this event, organised it in an unconventional way.
In fact this event did not take place in a traditional conference room with table top meetings because we did not want to lock our delegates in a room for two days.
We especially wanted the buyers TO LIVE AND BREATHE the destination so that they could go back to their businesses and sell more confidently to their clients because they have been BLOWN AWAY by the fantastic experiences and established strong relationships and trust with the suppliers of the region.
Why would you want to be in a convention ballroom when you are in such a beautiful destination?
Suppliers became the true hosts and showed the international buyers their traditions and way of life.
This new way of doing business is called the FAM MEET APPROACH. and I am pleased to say that they all truly embraced it and built memories together!
Buyers and suppliers, through a vast array of local experiences had the opportunity to build memories. Memories in turn built TRUST and TRUST formed the foundations of long lasting business relationships.
On the Sunday evening, the event started with a superb welcome reception on the 4th floor of the beautiful hotel Catalonia Ronda. The Restaurante Panoramico has the most breath-taking views over the famous plaza de Toros and one of the most exquisite cuisines.
The next day we all met early to experience the largest and most important arena for bullfighting in Spain, La Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Ronda which traces its heritage back to 1485.
A phenomenal private horse dressage show and an experiential tour allowed everyone to feel its authenticity and relive this very special place.
The first meeting was in full swing whilst we all strolled to the gorgeous Convento Santo Domingo, known for its spacious courtyard and airy galleries where two exciting experiences involving chocolate and ceramic were waiting for us!
Master Chocolatier David Daver taught us all how to make the most exquisite chocolate bars. Both buyers and suppliers fully equipped with a custom-made apron produced just for the occasion, invented the most creative and delicious chocolate bars ever made.
Uta Gruber guided us during a calming ceramics activity, where she showed us how to expertly paint ceramics. It was quite therapeutic talking to potential business partners whilst painting as avoiding eye contact makes discussions more relaxed and personal.
Lunch was 'a first' as it was served for the very first time in its history under the famous Puente Nuevo.
Escudero eventos did a fantastic job at serving all guests with the most delicious food despite having their army of waiters climbing up and down hundreds of steps every few plates - HATS OFF TO THEM!
Our expert ground handler Ronda Taxis whizzed us all off to the beautiful breeding farm of Reservatauro located in a space which is declared a biospheres' reserve by UNESCO, created by the bullfighter Rafael Tejada with which delegates had a personal encounter.
During the afternoon delegates could try their hand at playing castanets or learn a step or two of sevillana dance with Rocio and Isabel of Hispania Flamenco.
After a rest in the beautiful host hotels (Hotel Catalonia and Hotel Reina Victoria), we ended the day in the gorgeous Abades restaurant for a true Andalusian fiesta with Encarni Navarro. a famous singer from Malaga who made us all sing and enjoy the evening. Personally, it was a night to remember where I stood in front of everyone singing to the top of my voice the famous Italian song 'Nel blu dipinto di blu'.
The next day I was raring to go. I knew the day was going to be even more exciting than the previous one. The morning started at the beautiful Bodega Excellencia with Jose Luis and Daniel who, together with their chef Laura, provided all the ingredients to make your own gazpacho in the traditional way.
It was very informative to meet Leo and Alberto from La casa del Jamon. They both taught us what it takes to produce a ham that is truly top quality in a sustainable way as well as trying our hand at carving it to perfection.
During lunch Chef Laura did a beautiful and delicious paella and we all managed to savour our own made traditional gazpacho which was incredible!
The afternoon was spent in LA Organic, which endeavours to disseminate knowledge about olive oil production through the guided tours and oil tasting that they organise at their finca. Not many people know that La Almazara is a project solely dedicated to the 100% organic production of oil, its culture and gastronomy.
Nelly was the perfect host and introduced us all to two experiences, olive harvesting and olive oil tasting which delegates embraced with a passion.
Flavio, the owner challenged us with a competition which involved combining four grape varieties to create the best blend. Needless to say that so much fun was had by all. The wine was judged by four experts (Flavio Salesi, Genma Alonso, Daniel Marin and Miguel Guerrero) and myself. The winning team was awarded 8 extra special wines from Flavio's cellar.
The dinner was catered by El Golimbreo which is one of the most influential culinary training schools in the area. Dinner was orchestrated by the owner Miguel Herrera who served us all the most delicious dinner of the event, paired with wines to die for.
A jazz band accompanied us for the evening and I delivered a closing address from the heart thanking everyone involved and promising to be back!
Wednesday was departure day however before saying goodbye to everyone we had one last, once-in-a-lifetime experience which enabled us all to see from a distance all the places visited earlier that week from the heights of a thrilling hot air balloon.
For me and for many, that was a first, and I could not have wished to have done it in a better place than Ronda, where Journeys inaugural event was born.
Till next time!
A huge thanks to the Journeys team, Turismo de Ronda and Costa del Sol for their amazing support as well as all the suppliers and buyers involved.