Company retreats are an opportunity to develop corporate relationships, inspire creative strategizing and stimulate motivation. But a successful retreat doesn’t just rely on the content; the environment, edibles and time for fun is equally, if not more, important. To keep your attendees engaged, we’ve picked our top tips for planning a unique corporate retreat…
Create a home away from ‘the office’
Nothing makes you relax like feeling at home. If you’re unable to have exclusive use of your venue, try and source a privatised wing or separate building which feels completely your own. Pick a space with a games room, casual seating areas and communal living spaces where attendees can relax and chat in their own time. For a small group we love The Fish Hotel’s Farmhouse which can be hired exclusively away from the main building. 6 bedrooms sleep 15 guests with a separate lounge for cosy meetings.
Keep it informal
Take away the feeling of a conference by streamlining a relaxed programme and atmosphere. Provide a shared kitchen for attendees to catch up whilst making a hot drink and a pantry with help yourself snacks throughout the stay. Take meetings away from the trestle table by hosting talks in casual settings such as a library or around the fireplace. We love Foxhill Manor’s brightly coloured Media Room, a perfect space for some creative thinking with a big screen and beanbags for presentations.
Make food an occasion
We all know that food and drink is as social activity as much as it is necessary, so why not make it a memorable part of your corporate retreat? Get guests excited with the arrival of a food truck – think pizza vans, dirty burgers and tacos – or get them involved in the preparation of an evening meal. Lucknam Park’s onsite cookery school means groups can learn first-hand from Head Chef Ben Taylor, rustling up a speedy supper to enjoy family style around the table. You can also run masterclasses or offer localised treats such as Stapleford Park’s onsite pork pie making and whiskey tasting in Seaham Hall’s original cellar.
It’s easy to associate meetings and corporate events with stuffy indoor spaces but that doesn’t have to be the case. Most retreat venues are located within at least a few acres of lush green land so get your group outside for some much needed nature. Take walking meetings or organise a quick stroll before a presentation, discover your surroundings with complimentary bike hire or pick a venue by the sea for some ocean air views. We love The Scarlet’s tranquil eco-friendly escape on the Cornish coast, about as far from the office as you can get!
For more natural encounters, get your guests outside with activities in the open such as Armathwaite Hall’s forest bathing, a Japanese practice whereby you take in the surrounding forests through your senses. They additionally organise alpaca walking and alfresco yoga on the magnificent shores of Bassenthwaite Lake. Yoga and meditation can also be found at Whatley Manor, or for a more adrenaline fuelled activity, take to the sea at Headland Hotel for cliff jumping, swimming and climbing with their onsite surf school.
Keep it green
Lead the way with a sustainable retreat, inspiring your guests to do the same in their daily lives. Promote no single-use plastic by providing reusable cups, water bottles and crockery. You could even treat the group to a welcome gift of eco-friendly products such as bees wax food wrap, metal straws, or 100% cotton shopper bags. Get guests involved with a CSR friendly activity such as a beach clean-up or local volunteering. Ultimately, pick a sustainable venue such as Daylesford Farm, who has a whole blog dedicated to their efforts including using locally sourced produce, onsite tree planting and running educational bee workshops. You can find a full list of our favourite sustainable venues here.
Team build outside the box
Get creative when it comes to your group’s downtime. Rather than bringing in activities that can be hosted anywhere, make the most of your venue’s local offering. At luxury Ellenborough Park groups can join a Husky sledding experience come snow or sunshine as well as learn to fully assemble their own hot air balloon before flying above the grounds. Whatley Manor also works closely with nearby Beaufort Polo Club who offer a 90 minute polo experience for complete beginners. Over at Calcot Manor, have a hand at Disc Golf or go horse riding in their 220 acres of historic meadows.
Make it memorable
As well as leaving your guests with fond memories, provide a tangible gift that connects them with their stay. This could be joined with an activity such as creating your own gin or local cheese tasting. Seaham Hall works with nearby Seaham Beach to take groups sea glass hunting. After collecting bags of beautiful stones, they are then sent to a local jeweller, turning each individual’s selection into a piece of jewellery sent to them a week later.
If you’re looking for assistance with your next event, don’t hesitate to contact the Banks Sadler team on +44 (0) 207 424 3333.