Savoring a Summer Retreat

lighthouseMaineSummer isn’t the peak corporate meeting season, what with vacations and a slower pace generally. But there are exceptions. At the top of that list is the executive retreat—the opportunity to take a handful of top senior executives (possibly with spouses and significant others) to a (relatively) secluded spot for a few days of downtime away from the office.

Retreats allow these C-level execs to focus on strategy and corporate priorities in a scenic setting with (relatively) few distractions. In the Northeast, along the crowded New York-to-Boston corridor, destinations like Newport, Rhode Island; the Hudson Valley or anywhere in Maine come to mind.

The best retreat scenario of all: when the hotel, inn or lodge is small enough to make sense for an “exclusive.” The planner buys out the entire property for the few days of the retreat, meaning the group has run-of-the-house, ensuring a sense of even greater privacy, which in turn translates into the possibility of even greater relaxation for those participating.

A Maine example is the 21-room Chebeague Island Inn, which faces the Atlantic Ocean on secluded Casco Bay. Yet it’s a stone’s throw from Portland and its regional airport. The Greek Revival–style inn—family-owned, dating from the 1880s, but re-launched in 2010—reopens for the summer season in mid-May.


The charming Chebeague Island Inn

A far cry from spartan, the property features a gourmet restaurant and can schedule music brunches, craft beer tastings and so on at the planner’s discretion. Likewise, off-site group activities, ranging from kayaking to cocktail cruises, can be arranged, depending on just how “low key” the planner wants to go. There’s also an executive conference room and Wi-Fi (a necessity today).

A note on spouses/significant others. The thinking here can go two ways. Spouses and significant others on the premises, by definition, makes the event social in a way that may become a distraction in itself. For C-level executives who need to bond among themselves and come up with hard-fought, agreed-upon shared goals, having loved ones on the scene may seem like a good idea, but in the end prove counterproductive.

On the other hand, having spouses and significant others present can soften the mood and simply put stressed C-level executives in a better, more congenial frame-of-mind, when it comes to dealing with some of the tough, often political and partisan internal strategic business decisions. Plus there’s a hard-to-quantify benefit to the company from having spouses and significant others get to know each other better in a more relaxed, retreat setting.


Photo credits: Shutterstock, Chebeague Island Inn

Bruce Serlen

Bruce Serlen

Bruce Serlen is a veteran travel writer, based in New Jersey, who has written extensively on meetings management and hotel operations. Most recently, he was executive editor at Hotel Business.

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