• Choose the Right Venue to Build your Team

    FROM THE Winter 2016 ISSUE
  • Choose the Right Venue to Build your Team

    FROM THE Winter 2016 ISSUE
  • Choose the Right Venue to Build your Team

    FROM THE Winter 2016 ISSUE
  • Choose the Right Venue to Build your Team

    FROM THE Winter 2016 ISSUE
  • Choose the Right Venue to Build your Team

    FROM THE Winter 2016 ISSUE
  • Choose the Right Venue to Build your Team

    FROM THE Winter 2016 ISSUE

With all of the lively team-building activities offered by Michigan venues, even the finest-tuned team may decide it needs some tweaking. Our state’s team-building sites offer activities as diverse as strudel-stretching, scavenger hunting on pontoon boats, communing with horses, midnight golf putting and zip lining through the treetops.

Of course, there’s more to a successful team-building outing than the choice of activity. Does your group just need a fun outing with a nosh afterward, or do you need to dig into why your team isn’t clicking? Some venues facilitate a deeper dive into group mechanics than others; the key is to clarify your goals and find the spot and event that will best help you meet them.

Kaleidoscope Learning Circle, Birch Run

At Kaleidoscope Learning Circle, every group starts with warm-up activities intended to help group members get acquainted, and then has a meet-and-greet with the horses. “Then we talk about what that experience was like and how it matched to what they expected,” says founder and owner Tracy Weber.

Weber, who has a Ph.D. in leadership and has done equine-centered team-building activities around the world, says that talking about the introduction to her four-legged employees is meant to start creating selfawareness among participants by helping them identify their beliefs.

“If you misinterpret the horse’s body language, chances are you’re possibly doing it with humans as well,” she says.

Those who schedule sessions at Kaleidoscope should be prepared for an in-depth preassessment; Weber uses the results to create an open session for everyone, she says. She will even take her horses on the road, as long as there’s a suitable area to work with them.

Larger groups can be split into teams of up to 12 people, and sessions are staffed by leaders trained in experiential learning. Horse-related activities take place outdoors or in a heated arena; participants may also meet without the horses in KLC’s temperature-controlled conference room. Food and more fun are nearby: KLC is just a few miles away from two destination cities, Frankenmuth and Birch Run.

ZingTrain, Ann Arbor

Most people who have been to Zingerman’s know what service is like from an engaged, customer-oriented team. The Ann Arborbased company shares its approach to business matters like leadership, training and customer service via ZingTrain.

One of the first questions trainer Timo Anderson asks a potential client is what he or she wants to get out of a team-building session.

“If you just want to have fun, that’s a totally legitimate reason,” he says. “But if you want to change outcomes, you need to share that.”

A new, four-hour session that ZingTrain is piloting internally focuses on “group organics” and how a new team, an old team with a new boss or an existing team with built-in frustrations can learn to function well.

ZingTrain can accommodate up to 60 people in its training space and provide catering from Zingerman’s Delicatessen or Roadhouse, Anderson says. Staff can also help large groups of up to 350 at Zingerman’s Cornman Farms (where there’s a full kitchen); groups of up to 25 at its Bake! location (where possible activities include strudelmaking); or at a client’s own location.

Bay Pointe Inn, Shelbyville

Bay Pointe Inn and Terrace Grille offers teambuilding activities that range from outdoorsy to cozy, making it a good choice for any season.

Bay Pointe’s event pavilion accommodates up to 200 guests seated (or 300 standing), and its fire pit offers a spot to gather after lawn games, a beanbag toss tournament, or a cardboard boat-building challenge. Yankee Springs State Park is across Gun Lake from the venue, and offers hiking and snowshoeing. Teams can rent pontoon boats and kayaks for a water-based scavenger hunt, and compete to see who can identify water features and other landmarks.

The inn has 39 guest rooms, an indoor pool, a hot tub and a meeting room with a full audio-visual system that can accommodate up to 72 people. The separate Boat House Villa is a home with four bedrooms and a loft for sleeping, two bathrooms, a kitchen and a basement game room; it can sleep up to 15 people.

Bay Pointe chefs offer cooking demonstrations, or can oversee teams assigned to make a food item in its banquet kitchen.

Bay Pointe also can arrange wine or beer tasting classes, enlisting experienced wine representatives or its own knowledgeable staff.

Boyne Resorts

If you’re seeking team-building fun in a resort setting, consider Boyne Resorts.

Matt Alagna, sales director, says Boyne offers unstructured team-building mostly at Boyne Mountain Resort, in Boyne Falls, and at Boyne Highlands Resort, in Harbor Springs. Boyne’s third venue, The Inn at Bay Harbor, focuses on golf, the most stalwart of team-building activities.

A fun icebreaker is nighttime putting, with a golf ball and flagged hole that glow in the dark, he says.

“And you don’t have to be a golfer to enjoy that,” Alagna says. “It’s nice laughs; it gets competitive.” Futhermore, world-class golf and skiing instruction can be tailored to groups of all sizes.

Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands are just 28 miles apart, and, combined, have just over 400 rooms and up to 40,000 square feet of meeting space. Alagna suggests booking business groups Sunday-Thursday for the best value.

If golf and skiing don’t tickle your group’s fancy, the resorts have other activities, such as scenic chair rides up to a mountaintop restaurant, mountain bike riding, zip lining and world-class trout stream fishing.

“We enjoy putting these things together,” Alagna says. “We want to partner with our meeting planners. We want to go above and beyond what their expectations are.”

The Adventure Park, Frankenmuth and West Bloomfield

If your group would enjoy physical activity, the aerial challenge courses at the Adventure Park may be for them.

“I don’t want to sell this experience as pure zip lining,” says Thomas Knuth, the park’s general manager. “It’s an obstacle course on steroids.” Not to mention, it’s in the treetops.

Knuth explains the parks have groups in for team-building almost daily, including college athletes (like the male and female tennis teams at the University of Michigan), amateur teams and even employees from the business office of the Detroit Red Wings, who have been there two years in a row. He says both parks use the best safety equipment available.

The parks are open May 1 to November 1; managers are recreation professionals with college degrees; and participants zip line in all sorts of weather. For those who prefer to cheer from the sidelines, wood-chip paths underlay the aerial courses.

The West Bloomfield location is on the campus of the Jewish Community Center, which has meeting rooms and offers catering. In Frankenmuth, nearby Sullivan’s Black Forest Brew Haus and Grill can provide food and has banquet rooms. Drinking alcoholic beverages on the grounds of either park must be coordinated through the office, and is restricted until after participants are done zip lining.

Richmond, the capital of Virginia, is a city rich in history. It’s here, in 1775, that Patrick Henry famously declared “Give me liberty or give me death.” And while the extensively renovated Hilton Richmond Downtown can’t trace its roots back quite that far, it is housed in the historic former Miller & Rhoads department store, which dates back to the end of the 19th century. 


Every planner wants to create experiences that make meeting attendees feel they’re on top of the world. If you’re planning a meeting in northwest North Carolina, you can achieve that with a visit to Grandfather Mountain. Soaring 5,946 feet and estimated to be 300 million years old, with some rock formations dating back 1.2 billion years, the peak off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, is accessible by vehicle and by a paved road.


Sheraton Dallas Hotel has introduced a new outdoor event space under its new event programming, Dare to Outdoors. The hotel’s catering team has partnered with Pacific Plaza Park, a 3.7-acre green space in Downtown Dallas. The park features a 31,950 square-foot lawn space and permanent seating, as well as night-sky friendly lights for star-watchers. Three food truck power outlets are available and standard outlets are located throughout the park.