Break down corporate walls with these retreats

This list of work getaways is sure to inspire even the most cynical of staff members. We’re looking at you, Steve.

Get outdoors with your work colleagues. Image credit: Alan Keohane
Get outdoors with your work colleagues. Image credit: Alan Keohane

About a decade ago, a mammoth scale-down of corporate spending on luxury resort work trips, coined the “AIG Effect”, was in full swing.

The Global Financial Crisis had hit hard and work retreats took a back seat, but over the past few years, companies have become much smarter with their spending, swapping out the over-the-top mega-mansion resorts for smarter travel options.

Travel in general seems to be gearing towards more conscious, simple, and activity-based spaces. Combine that with a strong pre-planned objective and you have a winning combination.

Take a look at a few unique offerings around the world where you can ditch the campfire sing-a-long and trust exercises for more engaging, sustainable options.

Dunton Hot Springs – get moving in a restored ghost town

Ditch the office walls for some fresh, country air at this restored 19th-century ghost town, tucked away in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. The town was originally a mining camp established in 1885, peaking at 300 people some three decades later.

By 1918 the town was deserted and then purchased by long-time residents, who turned it into a cattle ranch, until it was bought in 1994 by current owner Christoph Henkel and restored back to its original mining history.

Dunton Hot Springs offers 13 private log cabins capable of sleeping up to 44 guests, with central heating, Wi-Fi, and a private landline.

There are also four large halls suited to hosting large business meetings in a functional yet rustic setting, including the Dance Hall, which has video conferencing capabilities, allowing you to stay connected to the office if need be.

Why not go fly-fishing along the Dolores River, or explore the property’s 1500 acres on the multitude of horseback, hiking, cross-country skiing, biking, and snowmobile trails available.

Come back after a day out in the wilderness to enjoy a hot springs soak and cocktails paired with dishes sourced from local and regional ingredients, including some from Dunton’s own farm and vineyard.

Itineraries can be entirely developed by staff to take the stress out of organizing the daily schedule, or customized to suit your group.

Six Senses Douro Valley – all things wine

What better way to work through some strategies than by linking arms with your colleagues and participating in some good old-fashioned grape stomping in Portugal’s Douro Valley? Best part is, you get to enjoy a glass or three once your done.

The experience is just one of the many “wine-influenced” activities on offer at Six Senses Douro Valley, including wine tasting tours across the region’s most historic wineries and the chance to be a winemaker for the day.

The Douro ecosystem is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site with more than 300 botanical species thriving in the area. Six Senses is committed to improving its carbon footprint and becoming more sustainable by mineralizing its water on-site and partnering with a local farmer to grow vegetables and a fruit orchard to become more self-sufficient.

Six Senses also offers several spaces to conduct small business meetings and presentations, with options for breakouts, included on-site activities, and dining.

Breathtaking scenery surrounds Six Senses. Image credit: Chris Caldicott
Breathtaking scenery surrounds Six Senses. Image credit: Chris Caldicott

The Chai Talay Estate – revitalize your team on Koh Samui

Nestled on the south side of Thailand’s picture-perfect Koh Samui is The Chai Talay Estate, which offers not only great Wi-Fi connection, but also a glorious white sand beach and perfect sunset views.

Groups of up to 25 people are encouraged to use the three villas for office space, which can then be further facilitated by staff to include specific IT requirements, entertainment bookings and exceptional food and beverage packages.

Each villa has its own full-time chef, who creates healthy options using the best local produce. Each of the three villas also has its own swimming pool, pool bar, and in-house Thai massage offerings.

To make the most of your surroundings, Chai Talay offers a range of programs including personal training programs and swim retreats, which can be tweaked to suit each group.

Kasbah Du Toubkal – spark creativity in the mountains of Morocco

 Kasbah Du Toubkal in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Image credit: Alan Keohane
Kasbah Du Toubkal in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Image credit: Alan Keohane

Rocks and other building materials were carried up the steep hills of Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains in the 80s to help restore this ruined Kasbah into the secluded retreat it is today.

Just a short drive from Marrakech, the 14-room Kasbah Du Toubkal integrates local Berber culture into its every action, from hiring local staff and management, to initiatives which align sustainable tourism practices with nearby villages.

In addition, five per cent of all bills or money paid at Kasbah goes towards community development, including tree planting and building a school.

If all that wasn’t enough, the lodge also features conference rooms for business travelers and a range of activities to get the creative juices flowing, from hikes to day excursions and yoga retreats.

Collective Retreats – sleep in luxury under the stars

Setting up camp doesn't have to be a big issue, in fact, Collective Retreats do it all for you. Image credit: Patrick Chin
Setting up camp doesn’t have to be a big issue, in fact, Collective Retreats do it all for you. Image credit: Patrick Chin

Ok, we know. We poked fun a little earlier at campsites and the whole singalong mentality it is so often synonymous with, but stay with us for this last suggestion, it’s a good one.

Collective Retreats makes it their mission to scour obscure locations to find the perfect spots to pitch their tents, spread out the 1500-thread-count linens and attach the over-bed chandeliers, ready for when you arrive.

The team at Collective Retreats set up in Manhattan, Texas, Hudson Valley, Montana, and Colorado.

With rain-style spa showers, bathrobes, and daily turn-down service, you would be forgiven for forgetting you’re out in the wilderness; that is until you sit out on your tent’s deck, coffee in hand, taking in the remote surroundings.

With Wi-Fi available at communal spaces, the aim here is to unplug and reflect on your company’s goals and achievements so you’re ready to hit the ground running when you’re next in the office.


Amy Mitchell-Whittington

Amy is an Australian journalist living in Berlin. She covers a range of topics, with a special interest in tech and science.