Retreats and Conferences in Vermont, like Inns and Hotels, come in all shapes, sizes and configurations.Regardless of small or large, pleasure or business, it’s important to know the goals and objectives of your retreat to ensure your chosen venue really hits the mark. All retreats seek a setting for enjoyment and realization of the key goals – for example if you’re opting for a romantic retreat, selecting a business-style hotel on a major highway with breakfast from 6 to 7.30 am may not be wise, given a usual goal of such getaways is to relax and enjoy leisurely time together!
Business retreats typically have many objectives from team-building to stimulating out-of-the box creativity which can rarely be achieved in the normal workplace environment. Finding a venue that allows this to happen and motivates attendees to really look forward to their time away cannot be over emphasized. Venues that offer interesting recreational opportunities as well as relaxing and functional meeting facilities are key and in the ideal world such venues should bear little resemblance to the attendees’ typical day to day lifestyle. For example if your company operates from a modern office block in the city “retreating” to a nearby similar modern, purpose built hotel is unlikely to be very motivating or thought provoking for getting those creative juices flowing.
Another factor to consider in a business retreat is the involvement of partners. Several years ago, I attended the last couple of days of a corporate retreat in the beautiful town of Coeur d’Alene in Idaho. My husband had already been there for 3 days and partners were invited for the last two days to share in the experience. Our common bond of being partners was the only link we had. Over the weekend we not only got to know each other through group hikes, a little retail therapy and some great local food but we too became a team with a better understanding of the company’s future goals and what that would mean to our significant others. Bottom line through this short getaway we all bought into the company’s growth plan and felt a part of its future. We in turn were motivated to support our partners in any way we could. A priceless benefit for a very small investment.
The Perfect Small Retreat – what to look for
- A destination that matches the travel budget. Do you want to fly or drive? Retreats that are within driving distance typically keep the cost down and can have the added advantage of attendees travelling together thus creating another opportunity for team building. While distance is not important, the destination needs to be far enough away from the corporate base to ideally be unfamiliar to most but easy to reach. For example, if your business is based in the greater Montreal, Boston or Hartford areas, Vermont is an ideal destination.
- Lifestyle Necessities. While the goal is to find a destination which says from the moment you arrive “this is not your typical day at the office”, it is important that WiFi and Cell Phone Service are available. Retreats where a key sale was missed because the email could not be retrieved are not memorable in the right way.
- Recreational Opportunities. Great retreats balance work with play. Remember “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. For summer retreats look for golf, hiking and tennis opportunities. Everyone can hike! Also consider a team building activity such as tubing down a lazy river, learning to kayak, glide or even parasail. In winter look for skiing or snowshoe areas where there’s plenty of fun to be had by all plus some nightlife for those seeking to relax further! Again snowshoeing is easy and a good option for even the least athletic.
- Exclusivity. For a 10-30 person retreat, seek country inns and larger bed and breakfasts in the destination area you are focused on. Choose a venue that matches your group size. You’ll thank me. Having exclusive use of an inn makes attendees feel “special” and the management will want you to feel special too! They’ll go above and beyond to help make your retreat memorable in all the right ways, adapt to your needs and provide you with the thought provoking, confidential environment that creates great future direction for your business. Because they are also experts on the area you have selected, pick their brains. They will likely share tips and suggestions that are not easily found on Google or the web.
- “Stir Crazy”. In planning your retreat be aware of the “stir crazy” syndrome. Everyone likes to feel they can get away from their colleagues, however well they get along. Breakfast and a working lunch in one place is enough. Finish each day allowing sufficient time for personal recreation and plan to regroup in the evening for dinner at a nearby restaurant. Those who need a little space will enjoy this time while many will simply use it to further relations.
- Great Food. Dinner gatherings on retreats tend to be both social and quietly part of the creativity process. Attendees who are somewhat quiet during the day often become braver in the evening and venture an idea that they were previously reluctant to share. Most of all this is a time for enjoyment and motivation, for thank-yous and “let’s kick butt”! Excellent restaurants will be enjoyed, poor restaurants will ruin the evening. Take advice from your venue.
- Partner Activities. If your retreat is including partners, it is important that some activities are planned to ensure their enjoyment. Ideas include visits to local spas and health clubs, a morning yoga class, culinary class with a local chef, golf, tennis, organized excursions to interesting local shops, museums and attractions
- Extended Stays. While ideally your partner gets to join in, you can always extend your stay and have them arrive at the end of the business focus. Most Inns are happy to extend any special rate to attendees deciding to relax and unwind for a day or two more.
So now you are prepared for organizing the best retreat ever. Select dates, finalize the agenda and call us… you’ve just found the perfect destination at the Tucker Hill Inn.