by Matt Alderton | February 01, 2016
Meeting planners invest untold hours in selecting an appealing meeting destination for their group. But sometimes their hard work goes to waste when attendees find themselves holed up inside a stale, nondescript meeting room identical to the ones they left behind at work.

Fortunately, there's a cure for this brand of indoor-meeting malaise: outdoor activities.

"Attendees really want to come away with a feeling for the location. So when planners can orchestrate group events or teambuilding activities that both accomplish their business objectives and provide attendees with that sense of place, everyone leaves with a richer experience," says Bree Brostko, managing director at Kindred Resorts and Hotels, whose portfolio of 58 independent hotels and resorts offers a wide array of outdoor activities for groups, ranging from the relaxing to the riveting. "Our resorts really celebrate their sense of place and some of the most unique and memorable activities stem from experiences you can't recreate everywhere."

Outdoor activities aren't just memorable; at their best, they're also productive. "By moving the meeting outside, attendees can draw energy and inspiration from the natural environment -- stimulating teamwork and further developing attendee bonds," continues Brostko. "These activities capture the attention of participants, break down barriers, and drive collaboration."

If you think the combination of fresh air and teamwork could reenergize your group and reinvigorate your meeting, here are five incredible outdoor group activities to consider, some of which are drawn from Kindred's portfolio.

Winter Sleigh Dinner

Kindred Resorts member Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky, MT, has offered a seasonal sleigh ride dinner for the past 35 years. Under moonlit skies, attendees are transported via horse-drawn sleigh to a log cabin where they're treated to a prime-rib dinner served family-style. Because there's no electricity in the cabin, guests dine via candlelight while staff cooks their meal on a 100-year-old railroad cook stove. A crackling fireplace and live cowboy music provide finishing touches.

Eco Kayak Tours

Ocean Reef Club
 in Key Largo, FL, a Kindred member, offers an eco kayak tour that it says is its most popular nature program. After a morning of structured meetings, attendees learn the basics of kayaking, then refresh their minds and bodies while meandering by kayak through the Florida Keys' famous mangroves, bird rookeries, and crystal-clear waters.

Heavy-Equipment Adventures

Adventure attraction Extreme Sandbox gives groups in Hastings, MN, the chance to play in a 10-acre "sandbox" with real-life construction rigs, including excavators, bulldozers, and skid steers. After meeting in the venue's onsite conference facilities, groups ranging from under 10 to more than 100 can engage in activities such as "golfing" with an excavator and crushing a car (with supervision from expert instructors, of course). The company, which appeared on the Jan. 5 episode of ABC's Shark Tank, recently announced a national expansion; it will open its second facility in April at Tanglewood Resort and Conference Center in Pottsboro, TX, an hour outside of Dallas.

Team Orienteering

 Kindred member Woodstock Inn & Resort offers a "team orienteering" competition for groups of six or more in Woodstock, VT. Teams guide themselves over the countryside -- usually on foot -- to locate mapped points at nearby Marsh Billing Rockefeller National Historic Park. Unlike individual competitions that test physical fitness and navigational skills, Woodstock's team orienteering event is designed to promote bonding, innovation, problem solving, communication, and cooperation. Led by orienteering instructor John Wiggin, a former Navy Seal, competitions are held year-round (with groups outfitted with snowshoes in the winter) and can be either a half or full day, depending on the meeting agenda.

Car Racing

In Las Vegas, "getting a feel for the destination" doesn't involve hiking, snorkeling, or sleigh rides. It involves speeding around a 1.5-mile supercar track at speeds of up to 135 miles per hour, courtesy of SPEEDVEGAS, a 100-acre motorsports complex opening in March. After meeting in the venue's event center, which will open by May with capacity of up to 1,000 attendees, groups can view racing demonstrations, experience simulators, and drive a collection of the world's most sought-after exotic and muscle cars, including a Shelby GT, a Lamborghini Huracán, a Ferrari 458 Italia, and a Porsche Cayman S, to name a few.