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World's Best Conference Resorts

© Courtesy of Aspen Meadows Resort

With perks like 22,000-square-foot event spaces, team-building golf games and post-meeting sunset cruises, these resorts make memorable business destinations.

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It’s no secret that the best way to nurture teamwork and innovation at your company’s big annual conference is to hold inspiring, productive meetings. For most organizers, finding that conference sweet spot is a matter of inviting the right speakers, engaging in dynamic presentations and employing various technological bells and whistles.

There are times, though, when a change of venue goes a long way toward creating company cohesion. After all, if treating your executive team to dinner boosts morale, just imagine what capping off a day of meetings with a group game on a Jack Nicklaus–designed golf course—on a secluded Hawaiian island—might do.

It’s for this reason that, as the world economy finally starts to emerge from the Great Recession, companies are once again investing in destination conferences. Meanwhile, business-friendly resorts around the world are responding to the uptick by adding services, updating meeting and event facilities and allowing companies to customize every aspect of conference planning, from boardroom layout to downtime leisure activities.

At Sunriver Resort outside Bend, Ore., for example, some companies have opted to hold living room–style meeting sessions at the property’s firelit, timber-and-stone Great Hall; others have asked to transform the resort’s golf clubhouse into a workspace where quick breaks can be enjoyed at the driving range. Outdoor team-building adventures—ranging from canoe trips to dogsledding expeditions—have all been arranged, too.

Having the full-immersion experience of an offsite conference, says Andre Fournier, senior vice president of sales at Destination Hotels & Resorts (which manages Sunriver Resort), allows for the rare pleasure of “everybody emerging from a full workday refreshed and relaxed.” That’s not so hard to imagine when you’re hosting your conference at a 16th-century Irish castle, an island hideaway on the Great Barrier Reef or a luxury Aspen mountain lodge.

But for David Wiener, the senior vice president of sales at Loews Hotels and Resorts, it’s the service as much as the location that conference organizers look for when booking a resort. “Complete customization is the name of the game these days; it’s the number one value-add our clients are looking for,” he says. In order to meet the specialized business needs of visiting companies, the hotel group recently created the Loews Immediate Needs Coordinator program—which allows dedicated staff to attend to conference-related issues within minutes.

And there are other perks resorts are offering to entice conference bookings—like extending group rates so that attendees’ families and friends can fly in for a few days of fun on the front or back end of a conference.

Need inspiration for where to hold your company’s next big event? Check out our list of World’s Best Conference Resorts (we did the brainstorming for you).

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