More than half of meeting planners look for adventurous teambuilding and networking activities, according to a Destination Hotels meeting trends survey. To give attendees a one-of-a-kind experience, Destination Hotels are creating dedicated programming for groups to get up close and personal to native animal species, from iguana feeding in Puerto Rico to cattle herding in Texas.
Set on a 1,100-acre rainforest, Los Sueños Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort launched a half-day bird-watching package for meeting attendees to discover and identify species in their native habitat. Groups will spot 40-60 different indigenous species in nearby Carara National Park while expert guides explain the ecology of birds as well as the physical environment that surrounds them.
Home to a myriad of sunbathing iguanas, the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa encourages meeting attendees to interact with the resort’s native reptiles and take part in daily iguana feedings before heading to the Iguana’s Pub for traditional Puerto Rican fare.
Those looking to get a unique taste of Texas heritage for their meeting breakouts can take in The Fort Worth Herd, the world’s only twice-daily cattle drive that takes place in Fort Worth’s Stockyards Historic District. Composed of 16 Texas longhorn steers, each representing one decade from Fort Worth’s diverse past, the herd is led by a team of drovers outfitted in authentic 19th-century clothing to transport viewers back to the Old West.
Sitting along volcanic coastline on Hawaii Island, Hilton Waikoloa Village offers groups sunset catamaran rides for a one-of-a-kind offsite experience. From November to May, groups setting sail will have the chance to spot humpback whales in their natural habitat.
Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach in South Florida features Sea Turtle Treks where groups can learn about sea turtle conservation and witness turtles safely being rescued on the private beach’s shore.
The Bahamas’ newest luxury resort, Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, boasts a variety of animal interactions for groups, including exotic birds at the Flamingo Sanctuary, turtle feedings on the beach and a sea life sanctuary filled with adopted nurse sharks, stingrays and tropical fish.
Meeting groups in Lexington, Kentucky (known as the “Horse Capital of the World”) can meet the city’s famed championship thoroughbreds — an experience that was previously unavailable to the public. Through the newly created Visit Horse Country, visitors can make group tour reservations at famed horse farms, including Ashford Stud (home to Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh) and Taylor Made farm (where California Chrome resides).
Sandos Caracol Eco Resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico offers guests the chance to come face-to-face with local animals through their Animal Keepers program. With three vets onsite to lead the program, visitors have the opportunity to feed, bathe and care for endangered and rescued animals including macaws, donkeys and white-tailed deer. The resort is also home to “cat cafés,” where guests can feed and interact with native cats found on the property.
Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo’s newest “Just For You” experience brings groups by private speedboat to the Pelagos Marine Sanctuary, where they can learn about marine life conservation from an animal specialist while catching glimpses of humpback whales, sperm whales and dolphins swimming in the Mediterranean Sea.
Nestled in the Finger Lakes Region of Central New York, Farm Sanctuary’s 175-acre animal haven houses more than 500 rescued animals from industrial farming sites across the country. With newly upgraded spacious onsite cabins, Farm Sanctuary Bed & Breakfast allows groups to volunteer together to learn about animal issues while providing a helping hand to the animals on the farm. C&IT