Top 6 Corporate Retreats 2014

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Inspirato's Shearwater Villa
Inspirato’s Shearwater Villa

Corporate retreats offer a great opportunity to reflect on your company’s core values, review past performance, and of course, indulge in a little R&R. Where that actually takes place depends on the group, so here’s a wide range of ideas from Four Seasons to the seven seas.

Kessler Canyon
Nestled against the western slope of the Colorado Rockies, 45 minutes north of Grand Junction, Kessler Canyon is an outdoor enthusiast’s idea of Heaven.

“By day, groups can do ATV rides, trout fish, shoot clay targets, hunt upland birds or big game, or just nap in the 130-year-old apple orchard and wake up with a deer standing 10 feet away,” says Bob Edwards, general manager. By evening, the tuckered guests might take a cooking lesson from Executive Chef Lenny, enjoy a gourmet meal and in a wine cave, or relax under the stars as the guitar-strumming chef entertains.

Four secluded cabins and 15 guestrooms in the Lodge are decorated in art, bronze sculptures and carved wood furniture crafted by area artisans. The downstairs trophy room and theater can hold planning sessions, but groups mostly come for the outdoors options, such as a 4×4 GPS Safari challenge.

“I don’t know many locations that can offer hands-on clay target instruction and create a competition at the same time,” says Edwards, a master shotgun instructor, fly fishing instructor and outdoor guide who leads groups as they explore the unspoiled wilderness. “We give them our undivided attention.”

Marriott’s Autograph Collection

Marriott’s Autograph Collection was initially created out of a handful of Kessler Hotels’ properties. Since then, the Autograph brand has exceeded 50 hotels, while expanding the inventory globally with a diverse range of price points and destinations.

For example, both the luxurious 154-room Boscolo Milano and 238-room Boscolo Exedra Roma joined the collection in December, bringing a new level of glamour to the group. The Milan hotel features a large terrace directly facing the Duomo, and one of the largest spas in the city. The Rome property is a 5-star icon, recently refurbished inside a 19th century palace.

In October, the Powerscourt Hotel ended its partnership with Ritz-Carlton to sign with the Autograph Collection. The resort is located 30 minutes outside of Dublin in County Wicklow, offering the signature Irish golf and countryside experience.

The beauty of Marriott’s Autograph Collection is that the hotels are all categorized by experience type, so planners can easily work with Marriott reps to source a venue matching their group’s culture.

INSPIRATO FOR BUSINESS

Last year, American Express partnered with the Inspirato global collection of luxury villas available for private rental. Following that, the new company launched Inspirato for Business, aimed squarely at the high-end corporate retreat market.

“Inspirato for Business completely redefines how companies invest in corporate offsites, employee incentives and executive benefits,” says Brent Handler, founder/CEO of Inspirato. “Companies today understand how crucially important it is to retain dedicated employees…and incentivize their most talented employees.”

Presently, there are over 260 housing options in 67 destinations ranging from Vail to Vietnam. Each is categorized by theme, including Beach, Mountain, Metro, Adventure and Lifestyle, and all them have WiFi and A/V capability.

Inspirato also acts as its own global DMC with concierge services and in-house corporate planning managers who can be hired to organize as little or as much as required.

Four Seasons Punta Mita

The quality of service at Four Seasons Punta Mita in Mexico begins the moment the guest arrives. For Sandy Pizzarusso, senior manager of customer association for Avid Technology, that initial service was just the beginning of a blissful experience for her incentive group of 75.

“When we do retreats it’s all about the experience and how people feel while they’re there and when they leave,” she says. “At Punta Mita, every moment was a 5-star experience, from the fantastic food to the guy who spritzes you with water on the hotel’s private beach, to the whale watching excursion we took on the hotel’s private yacht.”

Punta Mita’s signature event honors Mexico’s most famous artist, Frida Kahlo. The party features a seasonal Mexican menu, dedicated tequila sommelier, colorful decorations and authentic entertainment.

For amenities, there are two Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses, 9,500 sf of total meeting space, four restaurants and three bars, but for Pizzarusso the experience centers on the service. “Even when you’re on the beach, there’s almost one-on-one service.”

 

MSC-Sophia-Loren-Suite

MSC Yacht Club 

A new option for corporate retreats just set sail from Miami on the MSC Divina. While the entire ship can entertain 3,500 guests, the MSC Yacht Club is literally a ship within a ship that offers groups upscale amenities in a private environment.

“I let my corporate clients know it’s cruising like no other experience,” says Dianne Christie, director of group sales for Expedia Cruiseshipcenters DMC Planning Services. “You have the selection of concierge level group rooms, all inclusive cuisine and fine wines, private butler service, The One Pool & Bar and their own exclusive fine dining restaurant, Le Muse.”

The November 20th sailing for the newly-built ship was the first time MSC has departed from an American port and the company’s first time into the Caribbean. There are 69 luxurious suites, including the only luxury suite at sea designed by Italian film legend, Sophia Loren. Christie says for a corporate retreat, the Yacht Club is ideal.

“They never have to leave that level and other passengers can’t access that area. Groups have an exclusive check in at the Concierge Lobby, where they can also hold receptions. It’s the ultimate in pampering.”

Inn at Serenbe

Time doesn’t stop at the Inn at Serenbe, but it does slow to an idyllic pace. There are long country lanes to walk, fresh air, porch swings, and the aroma of award-winning fried chicken wafting from The Farmhouse kitchen, Serenbe’s onsite restaurant.

“Groups have told us that our farm-to-table cuisine, Southern hospitality and the bucolic serenity of being surrounded by 1000 acres of rolling countryside fosters an environment for creative brainstorming,” says Chelsea Owens, event and conference manager for the Inn, located just 40 minutes from Downtown Atlanta.

There are 19 spacious rooms, many with stone fireplaces, spread amongst six buildings, some originally constructed in the 1930s and 1940s. Larger groups will find lodging in the surrounding Serenbe community. The Birch Room, comfortable boardroom setting for 14, is one of four function spaces. The Lake Pavilion at Serenbe is an open-area building overlooking the lake and pastures. Wine and classic Southern cuisine prepared from organic ingredients and served on white-linen tables creates an elegantly casual outdoor feast. Some groups prefer the Hawthorne Room with its 125-inch rear-projection screen and internet capabilities. The room also opens to an outdoor terrace and gardens accommodating 50 pax.

Inn at Serenbe
Inn at Serenbe

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