Summer means school break for kids and vacation for adults. For meeting planners, it also means an expansion of venue options, allowing the opportunity to take all or part of a meeting outdoors.
That's especially true in places like Colorado's Vail Valley. Home to Rocky Mountain destinations like Vail and Beaver Creek, it's known worldwide for its superior winter recreation -- but what many people don't realize is that it's equally vibrant come summer.
"Unless you're a skier or a snowboarder, there's a lot more for you to do here in summer than there is in our winter season," says Kim Brussow, director of sales for the Vail Valley Partnership, a community and economic development organization that serves as the region's destination marketing organization. "The weather, of course, is a lot more conducive to doing things outside...There's horseback riding and Jeep touring and golfing and fly-fishing and hiking and biking -- it's endless what you can do outdoors."
In the Vail Valley and elsewhere across the country, summer ushers in a new wave of fresh breakout options in urban and resort destinations alike. Whether your focus is work, wellness, or team-building, successful planning begins with seasonal thinking. With that in mind, here are three tips to make your summer breakouts shine.
1. Go Play Outside
As Brussow says of Vale, summer's warm weather means groups have ample opportunity to move outdoors -- and there are a lot more activities to partake in outside of a meeting venue than inside of one.
Take Kimpton RiverPlace Hotel in Portland, OR. Although it offers approximately 8,000 square feet of indoor meeting space, it recently rolled out a new menu of group offerings that includes numerous outdoor activities ideal for summer events. Options include sunrise and sunset yoga in the hotel's 1,840-square-foot outdoor courtyard; s'mores roasts; "BrewBarge" and "BrewCycle" excursions that combine boating or bicycling with beer and city tours; and fly fishing. The hotel also has an "adventure concierge" to assist with booking activities like group kayaking and paddle boarding.
Travaasa Austin in Austin, TX, also encourages groups to get outside whenever possible. In between meetings, the self-described "experiential resort" offers outdoor team-building activities such as geocaching and human foosball, just two activities on a long list that includes hatchet throwing, archery, sunrise hiking, and evening fireside chats.
2. Take Advantage of Offsite Venues
Back in Vail, Brussow says one of summer's biggest benefits is the opportunity to leverage offsite venues that cater to unique breakouts. For example, 4 Eagle Ranch in Wolcott, CO, has an Event Center with 8,400 square feet of useable indoor space, as well as a 600-square-foot covered porch that can seat 550 people outside for a buffet dinner. Group activities include horseback riding, luxury camping, hayrides, and a cattle round-up whereby guests on horseback find the ranch's 50 to 60 head of cattle and herd them home.
"It offers a different dynamic than a traditional meeting room," explains Brussow, who says other offsite venues in Vail Valley include the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, which is the world's highest botanical garden, and Epic Discovery. Debuting at Vail Mountain in June, the latter describes itself as a "first-of-its-kind comprehensive on-mountain summer adventure," with offerings such as zip lining, canopy tours, alpine coasters, and wildlife trail exploration.
3. Beware of Outdoor Nuisances
While summer can infuse meeting breakouts with extra fun, seasonal risks like sunburns, mosquito bites, and heat exhaustion can infuse meetings with extra risks. It's therefore important to stress to attendees the importance of health and safety; consider providing sunscreen and bug spray -- as well as able opportunities to drink water -- when engaging in outdoor activities.