For decades, business professionals have recognized the need to connect with each other outside of the conference room. While late night ‘wining and dining’ is still a prevalent relationship-building tradition, more business professionals are hitting the greens — making golf and spa resorts a wonderful go-to option for today’s meetings and events.
Heather Herrig, CMP, president & chief event strategist at Every Last Detail Events, says golf and spa resorts can provide truly beautiful backdrops for the right events and meetings, but the key is to make sure you give your attendees an opportunity to hit the links or revel in a spa experience.
“If your agenda provides time for an afternoon activity, these resorts are a fantastic choice. If it’s not possible to build golf directly into the agenda itself, encourage attendees to come in early or stay later to take advantage, especially if you can help organize an optional outing on their behalf,” Herrig says. “The vistas and scenery at golf resorts can be absolutely gorgeous, complementing the environment you’re creating for your meeting or event.”
From border to border, the U.S. offers golfers of all skill levels an array of inviting, challenging and breathtaking courses. From formidable courses that test skill levels at every hole, to wide-open courses with fairways designed for high-handicap, weekend golfers — meeting attendees will appreciate what’s available.
Top level executives, sales executives and business owners use golf as a common ground to get to know their business associates in a more casual setting. Golf was always used to entertain, so that has not changed. However, the level of entertaining has gone beyond golf, food and beverage and selling. It is now an integral part of creating long-term mutually beneficial relationships and partnerships with fellow constituents. In addition, the leisurely pace of golf allows for plenty of discussion and dissection among attendees of what is happening at their meeting or event.
The U.S.’s naturally diverse landscape, which includes rolling river valleys, desert vistas, dense forests and glacier-carved lakes, provides the perfect backdrop for numerous golf resort destinations for meetings and events. As golf resorts continue to be a favorite option among meeting planners, golf course owners and operators recognize the need to customize their offerings to the business professional.
At issue for many meeting professionals is finding golf courses that meet the needs of young and old, as well as skilled and unskilled alike. When business professionals golf together, each person is going to have different needs and want different challenges. Luckily, many golf resorts offer shorter, executive-type courses that are ideal for business people. Here, the fairways are not necessarily the flat, open fairways found at traditional three-par courses. Rather, the executive courses have good terrain, including bunkers, water hazards and trees.
In addition, many golf and spa resorts offer business-focused amenities. Today’s business golfers have access to computers, Wi-Fi, conference services, private dining, lavish locker rooms, catered functions, caddies and/or forecaddies, dual logo merchandise opportunities, fitness programs, concierge services, limousine services, tournament services — almost anything a meeting planner can think of can be provided.
Also, many golf and spa resorts work hand-in-hand with meeting planners to make golf outings special for meeting and event attendees. Amenities such as a personalized coordinator for group outings, group clinics from PGA professionals, prepaid food and beverage coupons to give to attendees, pro shops with merchandise from a PGA Tour stop, catered meals and personalized prize packages, are some of the “must have” components of an event at a golf resort.
So what should a planner do for those in attendees who simply aren’t interested in hitting the links? Herrig suggests offering alternate activity options. Thankfully, many golf resorts have phenomenal spas as well, so non-golfers can relax and unwind in a retreat oasis while others take in a round of golf.
“During your site selection phase, inquire about other opportunities for non-golfing guests. Alternatively, create a fun learning offering for guests willing to give it a try,” Herrig says. “Golf resorts have seasoned pros ready to help — from your attendees who are novice golfers just picking up a club, to your attendees with that too-low-to-be-true handicap. These pros are eager to assist all your guests. You can also consider really fun incorporations into receptions or evening events. ‘Glow ball’ [using glow-in-the-dark balls, pins and clubs] is always a hit after dark.”
During her career as a meeting and event planner, Herrig has found that golf and spa properties really have a lot to offer — not only for structured golf outings and activity options, but also for scenic event venues for day and evening gatherings.
“They make planning that much easier with so much built right into the property,” Herrig says. “Rely on the planning team and golf pros at the resort to offer recommendations and suggestions — not only based on your group’s profile, but also pulling from ideas and successes from other groups they’ve hosted. Lean on their expertise and insights for a winning event every time.”
For meeting planners interested in finding memorable, awe-inspiring golf and spa resort options, there are a slew of golf resort destinations that can satisfy your attendees’ need to hits the links. And better yet, many of these golf and spa destinations appeal to a variety of budgets and interests for golfers and non-golfers alike.
Of course, the high-profile courses of Florida, Arizona and California aren’t the only places to go. Award-winning golf and spa resorts can be found across the country. One such spa resort is Boulders Resort & Spa Scottsdale, Curio Collection by Hilton. Julie Garber, director of sales at Boulders Resort & Spa, says meeting guests are drawn to Boulders for its quiet, natural wide-open setting — all surrounded by surreal boulder formations that make the perfect backdrop for a meeting. “When they leave, they have a sense of taking a vacation or retreat,” Garber says.
Boulders offers creative group activities that allow meeting attendees to really immerse in the flavors of the desert Southwest. In addition, non-stop sunshine, with an average temperature of 60 degrees with low humidity, is ideal for outdoor activities and outdoor venues. “Thanks to our 1,300 acres and unique layout, even when the resort is full, meeting attendees feel like they are the only guests here,” Garber says.
In addition to a plethora of spa experiences in its 33,000-sf wellness spa facility, Boulders Resort & Spa also boasts two on-site golf courses, and they offer event experiences right on the fairway. In addition, seven tennis courts, four pickleball courts and four swimming pools, as well as outside activities such as rock-climbing clinics, offer ample opportunities for non-golfers in the group.
“We now offer new team-building and group learning programs, as well as new golf programs offered at the Boulders Golf Academy,” Garber says. “Group attendees will also enjoy new group tennis and pickleball clinics as well as new corporate wellness programs.”
Recently, a meeting planner from a pharmaceutical company orchestrated an event at Boulders for a group of 75 sales managers as the company prepared to launch a new drug. According to this meeting planner, the layout of the property was ideal for their need.
“Our ballroom and breakout space we had all to ourselves. We truly felt like we were the only group on property,” the meeting planner says. “Spa and golf for our half meeting/half recreation days were great. Not having to leave property and still mixing it up with space selections was convenient and easy.”
Another golf and spa resort that’s a favorite among meeting planners and attendees is The Wigwam in Litchfield Park, Arizona. According to J. Green, resort vice president of sales & marketing, the resort offers, on its sprawling grounds, more than 100,000 sf of flexible indoor and outdoor event space and can accommodate a meeting solution for just about any type or size of event.
“Meeting and event guests seeking wellness offers also come for The Wigwam Wellness program, which offers guests mid-day massages and yoga breaks, team-building wellness activities and wellness menus,” Green says. The Wigwam offers a completely customizable approach to planning meetings based on the meeting planner’s interests.
“If they know that they enjoy wellness activities, we will arrange spa treatments or pool cabanas on their behalf,” Green says. “We can even arrange rounds of golf to make sure they feel appreciated during their stay, and make the time to relax while they are staying with us. Our team is a genuine extension of the meeting planner’s team. Meeting planners know that they can rely on our team as if we were in house. Additionally, our team is always there to give assistance and advice to ensure that their events run smoothly, are well-planned and perfectly executed.”
Convenience is the name of the game for many planners when selecting a golf and spa resort. One of the biggest draws of Trump National Doral Miami is that it is centrally located, minutes from Miami International Airport, as well as South Florida’s beaches and attractions.
“We are also home to first-class recreation for groups,” says Maria Orozco, director of group sales at Trump National Doral. “Groups can enjoy four championship golf courses, including the famous ‘Blue Monster’, which hosted the PGA Tour for 55 consecutive years. We also offer Har-Tru tennis courts, retail shops and a full-service spa.”
Planners will have more than 100,000 sf of completely reimagined meeting space to choose from at the resort, including more than 75,000 sf of outdoor space. From state-of-the-art A/V equipment, to full-scale production services, groups have access to a variety of exceptional services and amenities, including fine dining options and stately accommodations.
“Maintaining our property in pristine condition is our top priority,” Orozco says. “We are constantly working on improving and ensuring that groups have the best experience possible.”
Trump National Doral also advises meeting planners to work hand-in-hand with the property’s dedicated sales team. “Our team is eager to help planners create everything from memorable, creative, out-of-the-box afternoon breaks, to team-building activities such as moonlight golf, golf and tennis clinics, as well as uniquely South Florida-inspired banquet menus,” Orozco says. “We advise planners to build enough free time to enjoy the on-site resort amenities such as the pool and spa.”
When you think about golf and spa meeting venues, what comes to mind? Luxury travel, certainly. Challenging, yet beautiful courses, definitely. And the spas themselves: Tranquil, relaxing respites with fine restaurants, pools, salons and staff that attend to your every whim.
Just off the Georgia coast between Savannah, Georgia and Jacksonville, Florida, the Golden Isles of Sea Island, St. Simon’s Island, Jekyll Island and Little St. Simon’s Island offer more than 2,000 holes of golf on courses designed by the likes of Rees Jones and Davis Love.
With temperatures hovering in the mid-60s in the winter months, these islands are considered some of the best places to hit the links when the rest of the country is covered by snow. The well-known Sea Island Golf Club at Sea Island resort boasts three courses that constantly receive top honors in Golf Digest’s and Golf Magazine’s annual rankings of the best courses in the country.
The Golden Isles also offer several upscale resorts, all of which feature all the amenities any non-golfing meeting attendees could want, including rejuvenating spas, canoeing expeditions and horse-drawn carriage rides.
Located within the Aventura area of Miami is the much-celebrated JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa. With more than 120,000 sf in the resort’s conference center, including 40 flexible meeting rooms, two ballrooms and a wealth of outdoor venues, the Turnberry is ideal for events of all sizes. And when not in meetings, the resort features an array of team-building activities that will inspire and entertain attendees. The 300-acre setting includes two legendary 18-hole golf courses as well as the âme Spa & Wellness Collective, a state-of-the-art wellness and spa center.
Of course, Pebble Beach, California is synonymous with “all things golf.” Beaches, balconies and bagpipers are just a few of the reasons why the world-renowned golf course at Pebble Beach is a winner for meeting attendees. Often called the “greatest meeting of land, sea and sky” in the world, Pebble Beach has been challenging golf’s finest players for decades. Even non-golfers will revel in majestic sunsets from their resort balconies while a bagpiper roams the course. In addition to invigorating spa treatments at the Pebble Beach Resorts, guests can enjoy more than 25 miles of trails throughout the area.
Tucked in the heart of the Midwest, you will find Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa outside the historic river town of Galena, Illinois. This charming town boasts a main street that is filled with well-preserved 19th-century buildings. Featuring charming shops, delightful eateries and history aplenty, Galena feels like you have traveled back in time. Countering this historic charm is the favorite Eagle Ridge Resort, which is a favorite venue among meeting and event planners who are looking for state-of-the-art meeting amenities in a relaxing, yet expansive resort.
In addition to 63 holes of golf, Eagle Ridge boasts unique team-building and recreation programs for groups. From a cardboard sled derby to brain-buster trivia games and a competition modeled after TV show “The Amazing Race,” these activities will have everyone engaged and energized. When it’s time to unwind and relax, meeting attendees can enjoy a wealth of personalized spa treatments and services in the renowned Stonedrift Spa.
When the cold weather hits, there’s no need to stay indoors. In fact, Laughlin, Nevada offers cool season golf and spa retreats set amidst a plethora of gaming establishments. A mere 90 minutes from Las Vegas, Laughlin allows you to enhance your golf and spa getaway with picturesque views of the Mojave Desert and the Colorado River.
With temperatures hovering in the mid-60s in the winter months and with an average of more than 300 days of sunshine each year, Laughlin is considered one of the best places to hit the links when the rest of the country is enduring frigid temperatures.
One of the preeminent locales to soak in the sun while hitting the links is Laughlin Ranch Golf Club, a master-planned golfing community surrounded by dynamic desert views. The world-renowned day spa offers several signature treatments.
There’s something to be said about meetings held in mountainous regions. The majestic setting is ideal for making an impact on attendee experiences. Set in the Cheyenne Mountains in Colorado Springs, Colorado, The Broadmoor is the perfect locale for golfers and non-golfers alike to explore all the property has to offer. Recently, The Broadmoor introduced a new luxurious trade show and exhibition hall, which includes more than 110,000 sf of exhibition space and associated breakout rooms.
Of course, The Broadmoor’s two iconic golf courses are ranked among the best golf courses in the world. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Donald Ross, these award-winning courses are ideal for golfers of all levels. After hitting the links, attendees can enjoy steam rooms, oxygen rooms, innovative spa treatments and pink Himalayan salt walls in the spa.
Another exciting venue is El Conquistador Tucson, A Hilton Resort, which offers SpaWell. It features treatments such as the SpaWell Signature Facial, Vibrational Singing Bowl Therapy, Balance-Restoring CBD Wrap and Eternal Youth Facial. As for golf, El Conquistador offers three championship golf courses — The Conquistador Course, The Cañada Course and the Pusch Ridge Course — featuring 45 challenging holes of golf.
Loews Ventana Canyon Resort is also a top-notch venue offering pampering and putting for attendees. Lakeside Spa & Fitness Center offers panoramic views of the Catalina Mountains as well as eight treatment rooms, a Relaxation Lounge, an adults-only Serenity Pool and hot tub, and more. Golfers will appreciate the resort’s two Tom Fazio-designed championship 18-hole golf courses — the Mountain Course and the Canyon Course — located just steps from the front lobby. Both courses blend into the Santa Catalina Mountains’ natural features, weaving through desert cacti and scenic canyons, the courses embody the character of the Sonoran Desert landscape, as well as a unique variety of desert fauna. The Canyon Course winds through the inspiring beauty of the Esperero Canyon and incorporates the massive rock formation known as Whaleback Rock.
Sanctuary Camelback Mountain, A Gurney’s Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona, offers The Sanctuary Spa, an award-winning, indoor/outdoor Asian-inspired facility. At 12,000 sf, it offers 14 treatment rooms, a meditation garden, a shaded 25-yard outdoor lap pool, a therapeutic Watsu immersion pool and a state-of-the art fitness center and movement studio. There is a selection of services from facials to acupuncture. Attendees who prefer a few rounds of golf over luxuriating at the spa can play the game at several nearby courses.
The resort offers 10,000 sf of event space, which includes The Views Ballroom, at 3,204 sf and is connected to the The Views Terrace. The terrace offers panoramic views of Sanctuary Resort’s sparkling infinity pool and the surrounding mountains. Outdoor space also includes Paradise Views, which offers 2,340 sf of space and can accommodate 150 attendees. Finally, there is Paradise Views Lawn, which can accommodate up to 200 attendees and offers views of the mountains, desert and Paradise Valley. It is ideal for team-building exercises and themed parties.
Another Gurney’s venue, Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa, offers diverse wellness treatments steeped in the spirit of its seaside location. Distinct wellness traditions and innovations include seawater and marine-based therapies, hydrotherapy and contrast bathing, advanced skin care and therapeutic body work. C&IT