Benchmark, Gemstone Share Top Teambuilding Trends of 2016

Forget the classic "human knot" exercise of yore. When it comes to teambuilding, today's groups want to engage in experiential activities like cooking, camping, and rock climbing, according to the newly merged Benchmark Resorts & Hotels and Gemstone Hotels & Resorts, which yesterday released a list of the top teambuilding trends from across their portfolio of properties. Topping its list, it said: destination-influenced culinary, outdoor, and adventure activities.

For culinary activities, Benchmark and Gemstone highlighted Hawaii's Turtle Bay Resort, whose Hukilau program pushes teams to work together on gathering their own fresh seafood, which is later served up at a traditional Hawaiian luau; Chicago's Eaglewood Resort & Spa, which hosts Iron Chef-style cooking competitions with local partner Cooking Skills Academy; West Lake, Texas-based Benchmark Hospitality at Deloitte University, which promotes wine education with activities such as blind tastings and food pairings; San Antonio's Hotel Contessa, which engages meeting attendees in head-to-head salsa showdowns and chili cook-offs; and Vero Beach, FL's Costa d'Este Beach Resort & Spa, which offers a cook-off challenge during which participants must assemble a finished dish from a selection of provided ingredients.

For outdoor activities, Benchmark and Gemstone pointed to the Edith Macy Conference Center in New York's Westchester County, which tests attendees' wilderness skills in a comprehensive program that includes tasks such as blind walk-arounds and constructing waterproof shelters; Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs, CO, which has a "Build a Canoe" exercise where teams compete to build their own canoe that subsequently carries them across the finish line of a 50-yard race in the hotel's private lake; Willows Lodge in Washington's Woodinville wine country, which works with a local farm to develop leadership workshops with horses; Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort in Curacao, which offers an island treasure hunt; and Villas of Grand Cypress in Orlando, whose "Big Break Challenge" teaches and tests golf skills like putting and driving.

Finally, for adventure activities, Benchmark and Gemstone spotlighted Garden of the Gods Club & Resort in Colorado Springs, CO, which offers a four-hour rock climbing excursion; Snow King Hotel & Grand View Lodge in Jackson Hole, WY, whose Tree Top Adventure Park features an 80-foot-tall ropes course with wobbly bridges, swinging logs, climbing nets, flying surfboards, and 13 ziplines; Hotel Durant in Berkley, CA, which hosts an "Amazing Journey" based on the hit television series "The Amazing Race"; Doral Arrowwood Resort in Westchester County, NY, whose "Escape the Office" teambuilding program is a take on the popular room escape games currently sweeping the nation; and the Ames Boston Hotel, whose Formula 1 Boston Pit Stop Team Challenge mimics a pit crew experience by asking teams to compete in order to prep a racecar for a race.

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