Pairing a reward program with a mountain setting has a certain symbolic value: What better place to recognize an insurance or financial firm’s “peak performers,” the sales agents and other employees who have reached new heights in their roles? But selecting a mountain resort is no easy task, given the profusion of these properties among the three major U.S. ranges. A very natural choice is The Broadmoor, the “Grand Dame of the Rockies,” a more than 100-year-old hotel situated in the longest and arguably most iconic range in North America.
Cleveland, Ohio-based professional advisory services firm CBIZ Inc. selected The Broadmoor to host its CBIZ Summit based on the recommendation of the company’s CEO and Board of Directors, who held a highly successful meeting there a few years ago. The Summit gathers about 100 Peak Performers, “an elite group of our employees throughout our company who are among the ‘best of the best’ in the areas of revenue generation, internal cross-selling and embodying our core values,” explains Kelly Moosbrugger, senior executive assistant, CBIZ Inc.
Even if attendees don’t go hiking — indeed, even if they stay indoors — it’s quite easy to capture the spirit of the mountains at such a resort, which is designed to take advantage of mountain views. An example is The Broadmoor’s Lakeside Terrace Patio, which afforded attendees of CBIZ’s Welcome Reception panoramic views of Cheyenne Mountain. “It was a perfect location to start our conference,” Moosbrugger says. The Broadmoor also offers offsite venues that are immersed in the mountain environs, including the Cheyenne Lodge, Cloud Camp and Mountain Clubhouse. CBIZ held its gala dinner at the Lodge, 10 minutes away via The Broadmoor’s shuttle buses. “It provided the perfect opportunity for a unique experience for our group away from the main resort, but with all the quality and service of the Broadmoor team,” Moosbrugger says. “The Lodge afforded beautiful views of the city of Colorado Springs and the mountains surrounding the area. With a large, beautiful outdoor deck and an indoor lodge with all-glass windows, we were able to enjoy the views during cocktails and dinner. The food and service were superb, and the space was large enough for our photo booth and air hockey tables inside. And, even though the weather was chilly, we were able to go outside after dinner for s’mores and cozy fires on the deck.”
Denver, Colorado-based COPIC Insurance utilized the Mountain Clubhouse during its meeting at The Broadmoor, which was a combination annual sales meeting/recognition program for about 120 agents and internal team members. “They drove us up in buses to the private venue,” says Kristin Stepien, CIC, ARM, senior vice president of sales and business development. “They brought in a hawk and an owl during the cocktail hour, and had their falconry people do some demos and tell us about the birds. Attendees were blown away and thought that was really unique. The venue itself was stunning, overlooking the entire Broadmoor campus up on the hill.”
Terrific for Teambuilding
Like beach resorts, mountain resorts offer a natural setting that lends itself to outdoor teambuilding. The Broadmoor Outfitters specialize in designing these programs. Memorable and competitive team activities include archery, ax throwing, laser tag, paintball, bridge building and many more. The COPIC group partook in zip lining, hiking to nearby Seven Falls and falconry, “one of the neatest things I’ve ever done,” Stepien says.
CBIZ opted to conduct its own challenge. “We split our attendees into small racing teams, and their goal was to build a custom ‘Grand Prix’ car for a people-powered race,” Moosbrugger says. “We had intended the event to take place outside on the beautiful lawn of The Broadmoor’s West building, but the weather did not cooperate. The Broadmoor team quickly and seamlessly moved us into a spacious indoor facility — the Colorado Hall — with plenty of room for our teams to not only build their cars, but also to race them against each other on an indoor track. I can’t imagine many hotels would have been able to accommodate that change, but The Broadmoor’s wide variety of unique indoor and outdoor venues enabled our teambuilding event to be a huge success.” She adds,“For meeting planners, it’s wonderful to have all of these experiences available all under one Broadmoor umbrella. Many times, we are organizing activities and events with multiple vendors, which can be difficult, time consuming and opens the door for mistakes.”
Many of The Broadmoor’s accommodations are located outside the main buildings within 13 cabins at The Ranch at Emerald Valley, 22 cabins and lodge rooms at Cloud Camp, and seven cabins/eight bedrooms at the Fly Fishing Camp. The hotel is also well stocked in meeting space. The total of 185,000 sf includes Broadmoor Hall’s 60,000 sf, which is divisible into six sections. The Broadmoor’s newest meetings facility is Exhibition Hall, which recently opened. The Broadmoor Event Center is now comprised of Broadmoor Hall, International Center, Colorado Hall and the more than 125,000-sf Exhibition Hall, which also provides 32 high-tech breakout rooms.
Can’t Go Wrong in the Rockies
Thanks in part to the John Denver-penned song “Rocky Mountain High,” Colorado is the state most identified with the Rockies. Numerous resorts besides The Broadmoor are available for groups that want to experience the state’s natural treasure. Among them is Cheyenne Mountain Colorado Springs, A Dolce Resort. The property’s outdoor recreational highlights include an 18-hole golf course, five pools and 16 tennis courts. Attendees can dine while appreciating the scenic surroundings at Elevations restaurant. When it comes to meeting facilities, the resort offers the quality associated with the Dolce brand: More than 100,000 sf of indoor and outdoor function space includes 38 IACC-certified meeting rooms, supported by onsite PSAV staff.
Located in Beaver Creek, Colorado, the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa is ideal for smaller groups who want to experience Vail Valley and Beaver Creek Village, a renowned ski destination. But the resort is also popular in summer, when adventurous attendees can enjoy activities such as fly fishing, river rafting and 4×4 rides. The property offers 20,000 sf of meeting space and many of its guest rooms feature outdoor balconies and patios. The hotel’s flagship restaurant, 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill, showcases organic, locally sourced ingredients.
A new Hyatt property debuted in Vail Valley last summer, the Grand Hyatt Vail. A rebranding of the renovated Hotel Talisa, the property is Grand Hyatt brand’s first U.S. mountain resort. The resort offers 30,000 sf of indoor and outdoor function space. Artwork and interior design elements pay homage to the Southern Ute Indian tribe. Other property highlights include the Fireside Lounge overlooking Gore Creek, the 58,000-sf Aria Athletic Club and The Spa at the Grand Hyatt Vail, which leads out to the resort’s creek-side infinity pool.
Another Colorado mountain resort with ski-in/ski-out access during the winter is Sheraton Steamboat Resort Villas, in Steamboat Springs. The property offers nearly 16,000 sf of function space, complemented by a heated outdoor pool. It also offers Saddles Lounge, with views of Mount Werner; the Rollingstone Ranch Golf Club, with the Fish Creek Grill in its clubhouse; and the Rocky Mountain Day Spa.
Bordering Colorado to the north is Wyoming, home to Grand Teton National Park. Jackson Hole, a valley between the Teton Mountain Range and Gros Ventre Range, both part of the Rockies, is home to the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole. Birmingham, Alabama-based Protective Life Insurance Co. has partnered with the Five Star resort for two of its incentive programs, and “both of them were off the charts as far as evaluation. People absolutely love that area,” says Lisa Ramsay, CMP, AVP, 2nd vice president of event & meeting management with Protective Life. “It’s got a very mountain feel with the décor. Most rooms have fireplaces, which is incredible. And whether you’re looking out toward the mountains or if you’re looking out from the other side of the hotel, you’ve got beautiful views all around.”
With nearly 11,000 sf of meeting space, the Four Seasons Jackson Hole is ready for business as well as recreation. Offsite diversions are right at hand for attendees between sessions. “There is a lot going on around the Four Seasons because it’s right there in Teton Village, so there are shops and restaurants,” Ramsay says. “And you’re a 20-minute drive from downtown Jackson, which is adorable with all the great shops and places to eat. But if you don’t want to go into Jackson, you still have plenty to do right there in the village.”
Protective Life attendees did much more than shop and dine, however. “We had group activities every day. We did float trips, which were amazing. Every day when we had a group to do a float trip, we saw countless bald eagles. We also did whitewater rafting and ATV riding, which people absolutely loved.” Ramsay partnered with PRA Jackson Hole to help arrange some of the offsite activities, including an open-field dinner at the nearby Grey Barn. “Right before the night ended, as the sun was setting, some local cowboys were moving horses from one area of the field to another; it looked like a cattle drive. The group loved it,” she says.
East to the Appalachians
The Appalachian Mountains and the associated Adirondacks also offer uniquely American cultural experiences. The northern part of the range is home to various historic resorts, including the Omni Mount Washington Resort, in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire; Mohonk Mountain House, in New Platz, New York; and The Sagamore Resort, in Bolton Landing, New York.
A longtime New England retreat for presidents and celebrities, the Omni Mount Washington Resort attracts insurance and financial groups with its Donald Ross-designed golf course. The property’s 30,000 sf of meeting space is nearly matched in size by its 25,000-sf spa and salon. Attendees who build up an appetite exploring the state’s largest ski area have a variety of intriguing dining experiences from which to choose, including the Four Diamond Main Dining Room, Stickney’s Steak & Chop Pub and The Cave, a prohibition-era speakeasy with stone walls.
Mohonk Mountain House, a National Historic Landmark in New York’s Hudson Valley, is a true destination resort with nearly all the recreational activities and amenities an incentive group could want, including a nine-hole Scottish-inspired golf course, horseback riding and carriage rides, boating on Lake Mohonk, a 30,000-sf Spa Wing, ropes courses and much more. A few years ago, the resort introduced the Grove Lodge, which includes six well-appointed guest rooms and a great room that create a secluded environment for small meeting groups. Mohonk Mountain House’s 10,000 sf of meeting space is comprised of 14 meeting rooms, complemented by informal gathering spots, such as the Victorian Parlor.
Also dating from the Victorian era is The Sagamore Resort, originally built in 1883. The property features robust meeting venues totaling more than 52,000 sf of indoor and outdoor space. Event planners can utilize the 15,760-sf Lake George Conference Center, which offers a variety of meeting spaces, in addition to the 11,664-sf Event Center, the 2,520-sf Dollar Island Ballroom, and the Shelving Rock Terrace with panoramic views of Lake George. Groups of up to 80 have the option of a private cruise on the resort’s own 72-ft. replica of the 19th century motoring vessel, The Morgan.
The Appeal of the Poconos
Two diverse resorts can be found in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains: The Skytop Lodge, ideal for small executive retreats, and Kalahari Resorts and Conventions, which is suited to larger, family inclusive incentives and meetings. The former property is distinguished by the 15-room Skytop Executive Center, complemented by numerous teambuilding opportunities, including TreeTop Adventure Course, Archery Tag, combining archery and dodgeball, and rock climbing. Kalahari, which opened five years ago, recently more than doubled its function space. The new total of 205,000 sf includes 33 meeting spaces, a new 38,000-sf ballroom and a new 12,000-sf junior ballroom.
While John Denver is known for the Aspen-inspired “Rocky Mountain High,” let’s not overlook his mention of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the West Virginia state song, “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” An Appalachian range that extends from Southern Pennsylvania through Georgia, the Blue Ridge Mountains form the scenic backdrop for guests of the Omni Grove Park Inn. The Asheville, North Carolina property has an ample 86,852 sf of meeting space, the largest meeting room being 18,000 sf. The newest meetings venue is the 3,200-sf Seely Pavilion, which overlooks the 18-hole Donald Ross-designed golf course and Blue Ridge Mountains. Property highlights also include three indoor and three outdoor tennis courts, a 43,000-sf spa and 50,000-sf sports complex.
North Carolina will be drawing more groups who are enthusiasts of mountain locales with the expansion of Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort. The project, scheduled to wrap up next year, consists of a fourth hotel tower, The Cherokee, which will have a new, 83,000-sf conference center — including a 32,000-sf ballroom and a 33,000-sf exhibition hall. This brings property totals nearly to 116,000 sf of meeting space. Like other Harrah’s properties, there is much to occupy guests’ free time, including an 18,000-sf Mandara Spa, live entertainment at the Events Center and plenty of outdoor recreation across 56 acres.
By purchasing the handicrafts of Cherokee artisans at the Harrah’s property, attendees can pay their own homage to the local Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians. Long before corporate groups were meeting in mountain locales, Native Americans knew the power of these natural wonders to invigorate and inspire. | I&FMM |