The most luxurious area of Italy

I was way to lazy to write this post in the last weeks. Although it is already about a month old, I wouldn’t want to miss out on talking about this trip.

Ever had a business trip paid by your company? For the whole company just to have fun in the most expensive way? In one of the most expensive areas of a beautiful country? Me neither!

But this is exactly what just (well, about a month ago) happened.
I might already have said some words about the company I am working for now. They are pretty young and growing very fast, already having five offices all over the world (and just starting one in Dubai). I don’t know much about business development, but with rapid growth like this, apparently it proofs hard to keep a rather flat hierarchy and close to your employees (at least so we’ve been told). So this is why one of the favourite sentences of our CEO is simply “Work hard, play hard!”

And so we did!
As an appreciation of our joined efforts and the good work (I just joined a month before cough) the management promised us an extended weekend somewhere special but secret so far. We only knew when and to pack our swimming trunks.
Just a week before the date appointed on the monthly company presentation, for which I was actually present in the Amsterdam office due to training (see last post), the CEO was wearing a Pirate costume and told us we would go to the island of Sardinia in (or rather next to) Italy. Forgetting that some guys in our office already figured that out (flight search engines ftw) we were psyched now that the trip was just ahead. We still didn’t get much more info than our flight tickets and roughly what to bring, like some kind of pirate themed costume or similar for some unknown occasion.

The flight for the Barcelona office was separated from the rest, as all other offices went to meet up in Amsterdam first and then flew to Sardinia from there all together in one single plane. And this plane was taken over by Byndies!

Our Barcelona office of 12 people arrived about an hour earlier on the island, where we were picked up by some jeeps and brought to the small town of Porto Rotondo. After the rest of the company (over 200 people) arrived in the small town square, we all had some food and boarded a boat that was already waiting for us in the yacht harbor nearby.

This boat took all of us out onto the sea between Sardinia and the mainland and back to a secluded beach, apparently unreachable via street. There were already several tables and chairs set up for a buffet with lunch and drinks. We spend some time on the beach relaxing, but the travel agency organizing the whole trip already had some “team building” planned for all of us. We had to build rafts out of some poles, rubber tires and a lot of rope. During the 90 minutes we had for that task, many different versions of rafts (as well as names for them) came up and made their way into the water. The challenge was to sail around a buoy around 20 meters into the water. This sounds easier than it was, as most of the constructed rafts were merely holding together by a few strings of rope, quite literally. The winners (and everyone else too in the end) won some Gin Tonics and we all went back on the boat soon after that to finally head for the hotel we were promised. And what a hotel that was!

When we arrived at the hotel pier with our boat full of eager but tired Byndies, we walked up to the hotel, first noticing the six pools just in front of it and then the mediterranean mansion-looking building, that was the hotel. I guess it actually was an old mansion for rich folks back in the days.
Obviously when over 200 people try to check in at the same time, the hotel had to prepare some additional check-in desks for us, which were overseen by the not so happy looking hotel manager, We soon headed up to our rooms, which were small but quite luxurious, with all the amenities necessary for a 5-star-hotel.

For dinner we were pushed into several travel busses and brought to a big restaurant with all tables set for us, some antipasti already prepared and pizza in the making for us. For this and all coming group events we were assorted into random groups, so we also meet new people from others offices or departments.

Next day was mostly filled with talks and presentations from the company management with the latest news about the company and new developments. Despite some comical relief in there too, we were all longing for the pool after that. Which we did with some more team meetings in form of so called breakout sessions in random teams again.
The rest of the day we had some time for ourselves, which everyone spend differently, either at the pool or like some colleagues and me exploring the surrounding area. Unfortunately there was not much to see in that area as there are only other hotel resorts and mansions there. The landscape of Sardinia itself is astounding though, which we could also see more of, when several buses came to pick us up again, this time take to us to a nightclub for some snacks and even more drinks after that. This club was probably the most interesting club I’d ever seen, as it was built inside some kind of old ruin with trees wrapped around the stone walls and small paths and staircases everywhere. With a lot of seats between the tree or on top of the ruin, this was place amazing, although it was too dark to see anything from the surrounding area.
We had been given some custom coins to spend for some free drinks, but soon everybody figured out, that these were mostly just to keep us in check, as all drinks were paid for completely for the time the club was booked. At around 2am we were more or less (more less) friendly moved out of the club by the security personnel. Some people went on partying more back at the hotel but many had enough already.

Next morning at breakfast a considerable amount of faces were missing at the tables. Some of us might have considered to go back to bed too after breakfast, but no chance as directly after that, we were brought down to the hotel pier again, where about 20 speed boats were already waiting to let us board piece by piece. Seeing these boats might have shaken up some more stomachs and I am not sure if some just turned around and just went back to seep. The rest of us went out to sea with all the boats in something that seemed like a small armada of boats conquering the sea between the islands. After a short break on the water gathering the boats in one spot and chill there, we went to another secluded beach in a small bay with some drinks and sandwiches and some swimming time.
After some more chilling and swimming at this beautiful beach, we had to go back to the boats a bit earlier, as a storm was approaching. As 20 boats on a small beach cannot be boarded simultaneously, depending on which boat you were, you either stayed just in front of the storm or right inside of it. I was slightly lucky and just got hit by the storm in the beginning but then managed to get out of it.
Not everyone was this lucky though and several of the boats and their passengers arrived soaked at a small yacht harbor. The evening after that was first reserved for another visit to an even more exquisite restaurant with several courses of (I suppose) typical Italian food.  I hadn’t eaten better in ages  and everyone really enjoyed this last dinner, even more after we went back to the hotel, where the lobby area was fitted with a dance floor and free drinks for the last evening. After one last short speech from the CEO, the coronation of the best costume (Guy Fawkes mask for me, software pirate) and some short fireworks. This last evening seemed to be a good opportunity for some to really let loose and so several phones and even hotel employees landed in the pool, which probably just made them look forward even more to us leaving the next day.

Unfortunately we from the Barcelona office, as we again were the only ones taking a different plane, had to get up early in the morning to catch our flight back. Some few others were already up for breakfast, but most of them would probably not wake up for a while, as from the stories we heard (and photos we saw) proofed.
The flight back was short and uneventful and everyone was happy to get home for some well needed rest and sleep, although we all had to get back to the office right the next day.

A lot of photos and videos were made during these four eventful days and some are visible here or on my Flickr page. Sadly though I am not allowed to show all of them freely, not even the drone videos!

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