Putting & PamperingOctober 17, 2022

Golf & Spa Resorts Facilitate Successful Meetings By
October 17, 2022

Putting & Pampering

Golf & Spa Resorts Facilitate Successful Meetings
Golf and spa resorts offer the best of both worlds for planners looking for the perfect venue. Photo courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg

Golf and spa resorts offer the best of both worlds for planners looking for the perfect venue. Photo courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg

There are many reasons resorts with golf courses and spas provide an excellent base for corporate meetings and events. Charity golf tournaments organized by corporations and providing important fundraising opportunities are an obvious one, but there are others.

Golf courses provide an easy networking venue — a sustained four or more hours where corporate groups can interact with clients, or managers can spend time with their teams and direct reports to assess leadership potential, zero in on problem areas, brainstorm solutions or get to know new hires. Even if there is no official tournament or golf built into the meeting, casual play on attendees’ own time can still offer valuable networking opportunities.

Spa time also has benefits. It can be a perk for employees when meetings wrap up, or for spouses who attend meetings. And when it comes to incentive programs, upscale golf and spa resorts can provide the kind of desired destination as well as the high level of service and amenities that drive employees to achieve the goals required to win participation.

An Excellent Fit

For a client’s annual conference at the American Club in Kohler, Wisconsin, the golf courses are just one aspect, says Lydia Mladenovic, CEO of M Group Events, an event consulting company that helped facilitate the meeting. The client held its annual conference at the resort early last fall, drawing 225 attendees. Mladenovic says the American Club is an excellent fit for her client and its attendees for many reasons, including, “the atmosphere and graciousness of the surroundings, the beautiful golf courses, superb room accommodations, and a wonderful spa and staff who are ready to assist in any way to make attendees feel well taken care of.”

Considering the resort had recently hosted the prestigious Ryder Cup, during which top U.S. golfers compete against top European golfers, it’s not surprising that the golf courses are a draw — but, they’ve always been a draw. “The Ryder Cup has definitely been a bonus. Clients who have played the course can brag about having experienced what the top golfers in the world have played,” Mladenovic says. “But over the many years the conference has been held there, The American Club has added more courses and has kept our golf clients very happy with the opportunity to play the various courses.” For this event, she adds, they were anxious to see and experience the new Par 3 course, The Baths of Blackwolf Run.

While the conference doesn’t include a tournament, Mladenovic says many in the group play. “The conference team was able to match clients that have similar golf skills along with one or two from their team to create a fun experience and a great way to get to know their clients on a more personal level,” she says. “The conference team has some spouses attend as well, and they join with a client and their spouse to create a foursome. Company staff and clients get to know each other’s families, interests, etc., and it creates a wonderful atmosphere that goes beyond the typical business relationship.”

In terms of integrating golf into the conference, Mladenovic notes that golf and other breakout opportunities “allow the conference team much needed time — above and beyond the important business forecasts that are shared at the meeting — to introduce new employees, network and just get to know the attendees much better.”

Having American Club’s two renowned golf courses, Whistling Straits — the 2021 Ryder Cup course — and Blackwolf Run “as part of the experience during our conference was the icing on the cake, Mladenovic says. “However, there are also many other reasons to host the conference at Destination Kohler and The American Club. “There are a nice variety of options for other breakout experiences, such as a cooking class, wellness experiences and walking tours, just to mention a few. Since there are clients with a variety of interests, it’s great to be able to offer world-class golf, a five-star spa, a wonderful range of dining experiences and a variety of breakout opportunities. There is something great to choose for each client.”

The resort’s staff also plays a role in the success of the conference, Mladenovic says. “The staff handling conference needs in the ballroom make any audio/visual requirements very easy for client presentations and speakers.”

In fact, she says, the staff is impressive across the board. “I am personally impressed with how each person that I interact with is so eager to plan and execute the perfect event and conference. From the beautiful golf courses to the food experiences, to the Forbes Five Star and AAA Five Diamond experience, it’s a pleasure to be on-site and to welcome clients that look forward to the conference each year.”

Mladenovic urges planners to strongly consider the American Club for their groups, noting that it’s a rewarding partnership. “Starting with the sales team, along with all the various departments — culinary, front desk, golf, apparel, etc. — I like to become a team member with them to work together and create the best all-around experience for the group. The motto for our company is, ‘It’s all about the details.’ That’s why I love working with The American Club staff — they get it!”

Colonial Williamsburg offers a 33,000-sf spa with 12 private treatment rooms, a full-service salon and more. Courtesy photo

Colonial Williamsburg offers a 33,000-sf spa with 12 private treatment rooms, a full-service salon and more. Courtesy photo

An Over-the-Top Spa

Arizona has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to golf resorts. Boulders Resort & Spa Scottsdale, part of the Curio Collection by Hilton, is among the best. B. Anderson, CMP, facilitated an end-of-the-year recap meeting there late last year for a group from a European company with a New York office. For this meeting, size matters. “For the size of our group and the size of the resort, we felt like we weren’t lost in the shuffle,” Anderson says. “We were on the radar. We also like Arizona for the nice weather.”

Golf wasn’t a focus of the event, though some attendees did play — and those who did raved about the condition of the resort’s course. The spa, however, “was one of the determining factors,” Anderson says. “It was a big plus. We planned a spa day within the meeting plans prior to the team-building event. The spa staff is great and there are quite a few service options to pick from.”

Anderson says the group really liked the large spa facility, which is located a distance away from the hotel. “There’s a nice fitness center, restaurant, pool and yoga studio, and there’s a lot of outdoor space for spa activities as well. For the spa day, some attendees had treatments while others went for a guided hike.”

The resort’s meeting space also factored in, in part because so much of it is outdoors and usable in winter thanks to Arizona’s pleasant winter weather. “All ballrooms have natural light and there is a great amount of outdoor space as well — not all air walls, which was attractive to us. Our meetings were held outside because the weather was great. That kept COVID-19 fears at ease,” Anderson says. “The grounds are impeccable, and the banquet team was very helpful. We did a team-building activity, the Salsa Challenge, that was very fun.”

To planners who may not be very familiar with Boulders Resort & Spa Scottsdale, Anderson has one suggestion: “Be sure to make time in the business sessions for your attendees to enjoy the resort. Have a half-day meeting one day and book golf, spa or excursion options. Also have a dinner on-site at one of the outdoor venues — food at the resort is very good.”

The Boulders is an easy choice for Anderson and this group. “We’ve been there before, and we will come back.”

The Perfect Choice

The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is another of the world’s top golf and spa resorts, and one of the great Golden Age resorts still serving discerning guests. It’s also a popular choice for charity tournaments.

Amanda Crocker, CMP, is manager of special events with Pinnacol Assurance, a Colorado company that has a strong relationship with the resort, built over many years. “The Broadmoor is the perfect location in all of Colorado for our event, a charity golf tournament,” she says. “It has multiple golf courses, event spaces and plenty of rooms for our group. It also has a certain draw to bring in both individuals and top-notch sponsors for this very important fundraising event.”

The Pinnacol Foundation Golf Tournament has been held annually for more than two decades. “This is the perfect style of fundraising event for our stakeholder group,” Crocker says. “Beyond just the golf, this group returns year after year to be at The Broadmoor and enjoy spectacular service, food and beverage and golf-course views.”

Without question, the Broadmoor has the golf facilities, atmosphere and amenities to make it the perfect choice for this group — and for any group wanting to meet at a classic resort that checks all the boxes, including excellent staff. “All of their representatives make a huge difference in our event,” Crocker says.

Crocker has no hesitation about recommending The Broadmoor to other planners. “Lean on the Broadmoor staff of experts — sales team, golf, catering,” she says. “They’ll help make your event perfect.” There’s just one caveat: “Book early, especially if you have specific dates you need. I keep our annual golf tournament contracted five years out.”

The Broadmoor offers exciting, challenging golf courses for players of all skill levels. Courtesy Photo

The Broadmoor offers exciting, challenging golf courses for players of all skill levels. Courtesy Photo

Everything Under One Roof

Wanda Woods, CMP, support services coordinator with PowerSouth Energy Cooperative, says the fact that Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa in Sandestin, Florida is an hour and a half from her company’s headquarters allows employees and other attendees to meet with minimal cost and time constraints, noting that the resort’s proximity to several airports, both commercial and executive, is an added bonus. And, she says, “There are so many things to do on-site and in the area, including going to Baytowne, Grand Boulevard and shopping at the Silver Sands Outlet.”

The company, an energy group, holds five to eight meetings at Hilton Sandestin annually. “We only have one meeting that kicks off with a golf tournament as part of the program,” Woods says. “However, we have other attendees who choose to play in their free time.”

Woods has hosted meetings at the resort since 2007, the year she became a planner. Prior to 2019, the group alternated with other locations, but since 2019, has met exclusively at Hilton Sandestin, and now has contracts signed through 2024.

“This site has been selected for several reasons,” Woods says. “With the addition of the Coastal Ballroom, our group was able to host our general session, breakouts and meals without having to tear down and reset our function space. Also, our attendees noted they like a location with everything under one roof. It allows them the flexibility to run back to their rooms on breaks or during lunch to freshen up, or check on family or guests traveling with them.” She adds, “The facility has on-site dining available for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so you don’t have to leave the property or be exposed to inclement weather. The rooms are very spacious and cost effective. A wide variety of amenities are available from the fitness center and Serenity by the Sea Spa to dining, and shuttle service, and there’s always the added value of being on the beach.”

The spa frequently has been a big hit as well. “Serenity by the Sea Spa offers a wonderful experience for spa lovers like myself,” Woods says. “I enjoy the newly renovated facility’s quiet room every opportunity I get.”

To planners and groups considering hosting a meeting at the Hilton Sandestin, Woods says, “I would suggest a site visit in which you plan an overnight stay to really get the full view of all the services and amenities available at this location.” Additionally, she says, “Request the same event manager for all your company’s conferences so they learn how you work and strategize as well as helping you learn how and when to provide needed information and preferences. It also helps you build a relationship with them and the facility.”

Woods also advises planners to, “Provide as much history and program information from the onset in order to assure all your needs can be met. And reach out to the CVB and use all the resources available through them to enhance your program.”

As COVID might continue to impact meetings and events, Hilton Sandestin also offers a program to groups that want to maintain face-to-face meetings: proximity contract tracing. “Providing groups with the option to include proximity contact tracing as part of an upcoming business meeting, corporate event or general gathering is the next step in creating a safe setting for groups of all sizes as they look to once again reconnect,” says Kevin Rosa, Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa director of sales and marketing. “In addition to our health and safety protocols and secluded location in the northwest part of Florida, we continue to assess ways we can welcome groups to a risk-reduced and relaxing coastal setting.”

Building on the resort’s enhanced cleaning measures and CleanStay protocols, proximity contact tracing offers groups another option for ensuring a safe space in the current travel climate for meetings and events. Provided and managed by Vital Circle, the proximity contact tracing capabilities will be customized to best fit the needs of each group.

Legendary Service and Amenities

Another iconic resort offering world-class golf and spa facilities is Colonial Williamsburg Resorts, which operates six hotel properties, 11 restaurants, a spa, three golf courses, eight tennis courts, walking trails and swimming pools.

The properties include The Williamsburg Inn, which offers 62 guest rooms in an elegant setting for discriminating guests, and which was transformed a few years ago following its most extensive renovation in 15 years; Griffin Hotel, which offers 43 spacious guest rooms with balconies overlooking natural areas, and has flexible meeting space for 15 to 100; Colonial Houses, which offers 81 total rooms with period furnishings and modern amenities; The Williamsburg Lodge, which offers 323 guest rooms in a setting that reflects its Virginia location, 45,000 sf of meeting space that includes the 11,200-sf Virginia Room, and which also underwent an extensive guest room renovation completed in 2018; The Williamsburg Woodlands Hotel and Suites, which offers 299 guest rooms and 12,812 sf of function space overlooking a wooded ravine and waterfall; and The Governors Inn, which offers 128 comfortable economy accommodations located a short walk from the city’s Historic Area.

The resort’s distinct dining venues include the The Rockefeller Room at the Williamsburg Inn, serving as a contemporary fine dining venue and the Inn’s signature dining experience, paying homage to the evolution of American cuisine; The Goodwin & Terrace Rooms at the Williamsburg Inn, which serves as an upscale breakfast retreat, and serves food and cocktails throughout the day; Huzzah’s Eatery, which serves sandwiches, pasta, burgers and made-to-order pizza with a variety of microbrews on tap; and The Museum Café, the perfect spot to enjoy soups, wraps, salads, desserts and even a glass of wine.

As for golf, the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club offers 45 holes of golf among three courses. The Gold Course offers 18 holes designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., which underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation in 2017; the Green Course offers 18 holes designed by Rees Jones; and Spotswood is the resort’s nine-hole course.

Finally, The Spa of Colonial Williamsburg is set in a Georgian Revival building on South England Street, a few steps from the Williamsburg Inn and Williamsburg Lodge. The 33,000-sf spa radiates Southern charm, harmonizes with its historical surroundings and offers 12 private treatment rooms, two suites for couples, a full-service salon, rejuvenating therapies and fitness training quarters with Nautilus fitness equipment, and group exercise classes.

There are many incredible golf and spa resorts across the country, each with its own destination and resort assets. But they all have one thing in common: They offer planners and groups a setting in which meeting, networking, building relationships, reaching goals, relaxing and rejuvenating are all available in one fantastic spot. C&IT

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