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Travel + Team Building = A Winning Combination

On your marks. Get set. Race!

If you’ve ever tuned into The Amazing Race on television, you’ve seen the teams race around the world competing in a series of challenges with the hopes of winning the million-dollar prize. It makes for compelling television and offers a glimpse at some exotic locations.

Ever think to yourself as you’re watching, “I could do that”? I got my chance a few years back. And, yes, it was amazing! Let me explain.

A good friend in the travel and events business invited me to participate in a real-life race through Switzerland. My fellow racers were CEOs, VPs, and Marketing Directors from companies all over the world. Our quest was, of course, to finish first. But it was also about experiencing a full-on, 5-day, unforgettable team-building event that set the standard for every group incentive trip our Cruise Dreams team has planned since.

And we’re off: Lucerne


Before the official start, we gathered on a yacht in Lucerne, Switzerland. Over cocktails and appetizers, we got to know each other, with a little bit of sizing up the competition mixed in. The next morning, the race was on. We divided into seven teams; mine was the St. Bernards, complete with small stuffed toy versions we all wore with our team lanyards.

We may have started as strangers, but when the competitive juices start flowing, you get to know each other quickly!

First up, we climbed the 76 steps of the spiral staircase at the medieval Tower Bridge. At the top, we were offered an array of filled chocolates to try. I’m not a chocolate lover, but when in Switzerland… The fillings included Arpen (grass), green tea, passion fruit, and, my favorite, banana and ginger.

Our next clue had us searching for the only Gothic church in town. Our team gained an advantage by finding a local who helped us go straight to the right place. (See what I mean about those competitive juices?)

The destinations only got better as the day went on. The challenges we had to solve, however, became a little more difficult. One stop took us to an elegant jewelry store, where we sipped champagne and were tasked with identifying the real diamond from among a set of beautiful gems. I called upon my childhood memory of the Disney movie, Pollyanna, to prompt my team to look at the stones in the sunlight because true diamonds are prisms. The real one produced a rainbow in the light – our team was clicking!

Next stop: Interlaken


The following day, we hit the road traveling by car through small towns and beautiful scenery to Interlaken, Switzerland. Each team had a rally book with a detailed map of our route, but that didn’t stop our team from a few missed exits and some confusing-but-amusing trips around the roundabouts.

Our challenge had us collecting unique items, like a Swiss cross and cowbells. And, along the way, we also faced tasks, such as identifying local plants and spices and hammering nails into wood with only three swings. (It may sound easy, but trust me, it’s not.)

Upon arrival in Interlaken, we enjoyed a rest at the luxurious Hotel Victoria before traveling by cable car through a tunnel with the hopes of glimpsing the top of Jungfrau, a peak that’s also known as the “Top of Europe.” We were lucky. The fog and rain cleared at the right moment to give us the rare sight of the very top.

We closed out our third day with dinner at an overlook with a glass floor that gave new meaning to the term “lake views.”

Challenge accepted: Zermatt

My team opted to walk to the train station the next morning. What we thought would be a short, 10-minute walk was more like a 25-minute trek. We arrived just in time to see our train leaving the station, complete with the other teams waving to us from the windows.

Like any good travel professional, I took it as a challenge. My team put our heads together and figured out a four-transfer route that caught us up with the other teams in Zermatt, Switzerland. Competitive crisis averted!

Next up, conquering my fear of heights. We went straight from the train to a cable car that took us 10,000 feet up the mountain, where we used metal detectors to search for treasure in three feet of snow. It was a workout, and it didn’t end there. Our next task was group snowshoeing, which requires perfect team unison to stay upright and get where you want to go.


Our competition was finished, so while we waited for the results to be tabulated, we had the chance to experience Zermatt. We traveled – again by cable car – to a picturesque restaurant that sits atop a mountain peak, where we enjoyed an authentic fondue meal. The delicious food paired perfectly with a white merlot from a local vineyard.

That evening we were treated to a backstage tour of Zermatt Unplugged, an annual five-day music festival. Our VIP access included a private concert by internationally known pianist and singer, Peter Cincotti. Simply incredible!

When the scores were tallied, my team, the St. Bernards, came in third. A good finish, but we were all so competitive, we wanted to win! The prizes were designed to help the winners take Switzerland home with them. First prize? Swiss cheese delivered monthly for a year. Second prize? A Swiss chocolate delivery each month. Third prize? A Toblerone chocolate bar!

Next-level team building

From start to finish, this was a trip for memory making. It was also a master class in how to blend travel with team building. As a group, we discovered Switzerland together – a true hidden gem that deserves to be on your travel bucket list. And, the meticulously planned, location-specific challenges that were both fun and competitive cemented lifelong friendships.

At Cruise Dreams, we specialize in custom designing amazing incentive travel and team-building programs to fit group-specific objectives and budgets. We would be honored to work with you to create a team-building Trip of a Lifetime. Call the Cruise Dreams team at (877) 999-4533 or email us at

Waves to you and smooth sailings ahead!

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