20 February 2023
My Top 5 Retreat Destinations
As I have mentioned before, there has been a rise in retreats with a demand for more varied options for a team away day or a friends/family get together. Going on a retreat in an amazing location really can be the perfect solution as it offers something for everyone and allows options in both work and leisure. What has been a big request from companies is the need for space to work and be creative as well as space to relax and reward, and retreats offer just that. Many of the gorgeous spaces I have worked with have incredible spaces to brainstorm, review and plan and then have other on-site activities to facilitate team bonding, wellness and relaxation. A perfect mixture, and an appealing option to employees and managers alike.
There are some really special venues out there, most in the countryside, which adds to the overall experience as gone are the days of sitting in a uninspiring, stuffy conference room (thankfully!). People are, rightly, demanding more stimulation and reward, especially in light of the past two years.
This summer, I have two retreats for a client, one for their London office taking place at Center Parcs Woburn Forest for 500 people, and then the other for 200 people from their Manchester office taking place at Darwin Lake Village in the Peak District. I love organising retreats and curating an itinerary specifically for the clients’ needs and goals for the time. Some are more work-focussed, others more relaxation, and getting the balance for both is a wonderful and rewarding challenge.
I have visited a large number of venues on my events travels over the years, and there really are some very special ones out there. Here are 5 of my favourites:
This family-run farm nestled in the Cotswolds is where we hosted Connect Ventures in autumn last year. They absolutely loved this place thanks to the luxurious accommodation across their 5 converted barns that can house up to 38 people and its stunning setting. Being in the heart of the Cotswolds, there are so many places and a variety of activities to explore, together with world-class caterers being on the doorstep to come in and provide you with a top notch interactive dining experience.
This is a very special spot! Again, in the Cotswolds, The Lakes By YOO is a 850-acre sustainable estate with interior design-led homes looking out onto absolutely stunning lakes. With a mix of cabins, apartments and luxury houses to choose from this is a perfect place to really get away from it all, with the huge focus on sustainability a big pull for clients.
This is one of my absolute favourites! Sustainability being high on the agenda here, Wasing is only offered on an exclusive hire which makes your retreat even more special. I worked with an American client to host a Founders Retreat for 55 founders of a variety of start-up companies from all over the world here last year. We had guests not only staying in the beautiful bedrooms onsite, but also 25 luxury glamping bell tents that we set up in one of the fields providing lovely ‘green’ views as they woke each morning. Alongside the client’s business presentations, we organised some amazing workshops and activities for guests including an African drumming session, a moonlit walk, and a wild swimming and sauna session each morning followed by candlelit yoga….
Another wonderful sustainable venue, Crumplebury in Herefordshire really is a delight for the senses and offers a state of the art, modern events venue with 11 bedrooms, a celebrated restaurant with produce grown on-site, all set in 1500 acres of rolling Herefordshire countryside. The variety of grounds onsite provides many options for team offsites, retreats and client entertaining, and with their super attention to detail guests are always ensured a fabulous time.
I’ve only recently come across this absolute hidden gem in the Hampshire countryside, but can see the wonderful opportunities available here for retreats. A working farm providing meat and other ingredients that guests can have for their stay, Gambledown provides a complete escape from the hustle and bustle. Offering comfy home-from-home accommodation across three barn conversions, together with a large studio ideal for meetings, dinners, yoga classes, and anything that needs to be inside really! With acres of land for country walks, trail running and outdoor fitness, this is the perfect spot for a retreat (wellness, fitness, team or otherwise), or a small team offsite – the options are endless. In a quiet corner of the farm, with stunning views across the Test Valley and the Salisbury Plains, are the five African style safari tents providing the complete exclusive glamping experience.