Imagine your team of top performers, cocktails in hand, beside an ultramarine pool watching a water ballet as night falls. From there, the group moves on to a delicious buffet dinner to celebrate its success and raise a glass or two. The effects of the recession may be causing employers to cut back on plans for corporate incentives and conferences, but there is no need to consign such scenes to the realm of imagination. Companies know that outstanding performance still merits reward, and that business benefits from bringing people together. Therefore, they are on the lookout for affordable options which allow them to recognise contributions, retain their best staff and boost morale. Such options are available at The Ritz-Carlton, Shenzhen, which opened its doors on March15. Located in Futian district, next to the Shenzhen Convention and Exhibition Centre, the luxury hotel overlooks a large park, and staying there will give staff an experience to remember, while allowing Hong Kong employers to save on expenses for flights. If required, the hotel's 10-person events team can arrange tailor-made activities, such as the water ballet, or discuss anything needed for other imaginative programmes. 'Our Italian restaurant is called Paletto - the palette - and to match the name, we can ask a painter to come and draw individual portraits of the participants as a souvenir,' said Iwan Dietschi, the general manager. He added that it was possible to organise excursions to the Dafen art village, famous for its 200 galleries exhibiting reproductions of old masters' oil paintings by about 2,000 artists. Cooking classes and sessions to learn cocktail recipes are also on offer. The hotel's 608 sqft ballroom and more than 14,300 sqft of meeting space can easily accommodate 350 people, and those attending exhibitions next door will have the assistance of a dedicated conference butler. Futian Shangri-La, which opened last October in Shenzhen's central business district, is the choice for big events. With one of the largest conference facilities in the city (about 48,000 sqft), the 548-room hotel can easily accommodate sizeable groups. An 18,000 sqft grand ballroom, a 5,000 sqft junior ballroom, a 93-seat auditorium and 13 function rooms will satisfy most demands. The hotel's event management team offers a one-stop shop for organisers and can handle outside catering and team-building activities. Helen Fong, Futian Shangri-La's director of sales and marketing, said that leisure activities could include tai chi classes, treasure hunts and an 'amazing race' adventure game. Macau is another potential destination for affordable incentive programmes or corporate get-togethers. The recently opened Sofitel Macau, at Ponte16, is a 408-room waterfront hotel within walking distance of many sightseeing spots. The hotel offers an exclusive service for event organisers. Suggested activities include a food hunt or a cross-border trip to Zhuhai for golf and a seafood meal. On request, the hotel can arrange an 'aircraft acrobat' show. The multipurpose 4,600 sqft conference room has floor-to-ceiling windows and opens to an outdoor terrace which can be used for cocktails or dinners. The Hyatt Regency Hong Kong Sha Tin, which opened last month, has proved an immediate hit with meeting and incentive organisers. The 567-room hotel has hosted regional and medical conferences, and product promotions, with activities such as fashion shows, outdoor cocktails and themed zones in various suites to display different products. The hotel can arrange visits to Sha Tin racecourse, Che Kung temple and other well-known tourist spots. But for real adventure, it is worth considering Bangkok where the Le Meridien will help organise its version of the 'amazing race'. Those looking for something more sedate can take a cruise on the Chao Phraya River and visit the floating market, or take holistic therapy and cooking classes. On Surawong Road in the Silom district, Le Meridien is Bangkok's newest five-star hotel and is just a few minutes from the riverside. More than 200 of the 282 guestrooms are of the same type, making it particularly suitable for incentive groups. Slightly further afield, the luxury Capella Singapore, on Sentosa Island, opens in three days. It is situated amid 12 hectares of bamboo groves and lush forest, and consists of two colonial buildings restored by leading London-based architect firm Foster + Partners, and a modern development designed by the same firm. There is a 24,500 sqft function area with three meeting rooms which, when reconfigured into one, can accommodate 170 people. The hotel's 8,393 sqft circular ballroom has a glass dome skylight, and a custom-designed glass sculpture floating from the dome's centre is a spectacular sight, either in sunlight or at night. Picture windows in the pre-function area look on to lush greenery and help to bring nature into the meeting space. If budgets allow, you could also consider the new Shangri-La in Tokyo. It is unique in that the main meeting facilities are on the 27th floor, offering amazing views of the city. Strategically located at Tokyo Station, anyone using the Shinkansen rail service will find the hotel convenient. The hotel can help to arrange visits to Tsukiji, the world's biggest wholesale fish market, with fresh sashimi breakfast available. Be warned, though, the market opens early as the fish are delivered through the night, so visitors should be there by 5am at the latest. For those interested in culture, the hotel can fix tickets to the Kabuki theatre in Higashi Ginza, about 10 minutes' drive away, and set up visits to the Asakusa shrine and the nearby Noh theatre.