BEST HANDS-ON TEAM-BUILDING
Amagansett, New York
Who hasn’t dreamed of catching the perfect wave? If you ask surfers about their time in the water, they’ll describe it in almost mythical terms. It’s their church, their religion and their passion. Now take that sentiment and combine it with the satisfaction of making something with your own hands and you have the idea behind Grain Surfboards. This artisan woodworking shop started in York, Maine, and has since expanded to a former livery stable in Amagansett. Craft a surfboard or a skateboard with guidance in a weekend or day workshop, or opt for a private team-building experience. “We’ve done everything from a one-hour experience to a whole weekend for clients,” says Brian Schopfer, who runs the Long Island shop. “We’ve had everyone from Lululemon and Shake Shack to American Express here and we create a different experience for each group.” Few things match the experience of seeing something built from scratch.
Westerly, Rhode Island
Culinary-minded team-building is ever-popular and it’s likely you’ve participated in a few Master Chef-style competitions, but once you step inside Ocean House’s Center for Wine & Culinary Arts, you’ll never look at a mystery basket the same. This is 3,000 square feet dedicated to food and wine. It’s a stunning sight to behold—designed to resemble an early 1800s tobacco barn. Wide-plank wood floors and rough-hewn beams are juxtaposed against cutting-edge appliances that will make any cook drool. Whether your group wants to relax in the cozy environs and partake in a wine tasting or cooking demo or they’d rather get their hands dirty with a cooking class, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a place better suited to the action.
BEST BOUTIQUE HOTEL IN THE HEART OF IT ALL
Newport, Rhode Island
The best meetings and events take you away from your everyday. With its classic New England coastal charm, Newport is surely one of the best places to get away from it all on the East Coast. In between business, wander through stately Gilded Age mansions or hop aboard a sailboat for a little team-building—or just some downtime. And, when you want to be in the heart of it all, Hotel Viking is there waiting. This elegant boutique hotel combines the warm welcome of an inn with the amenities and services of a large hotel. Set right on famed Bellevue Avenue, the hotel dates to 1926 but before you’re thinking stuffy, a recent refresh has reinvigorated this landmark. Aside from its prime location and plush accommodations, the hotel features a number of indoor meeting/event spaces as well as alluring outdoor spaces (the rooftop bar and kitchen is a hit).
BEST BOUTIQUE SPA RETREAT
Emerson Resort & Spa
Catskills in Mount Tremper, New York
Need a place with plenty of space to think? Head for The Emerson Resort & Spa in the Catskills. Set on over 20 acres, this resort has 53 guest rooms and suites, making it the perfect size for those seeking a buyout. If you’re thinking spas are just for the mother-daughter set, think again. No matter the time of year, there are plenty of off-property activities. Tubing, snowshoeing and skiing are popular during the winter months, while warmer days bring fly-fishing, hiking and even mushroom foraging walks among countless other activities. After a busy day of meetings and teambuilding activities, head to the spa to luxuriate with massages, facials and body treatments.
MOST UNUSUAL GETAWAY FOR MEETINGS/EVENTS
Collective Governors Island, A New York City Retreat
Glamping, or glamorous camping, has caught on in a big way. Designed to offer a one-withnature mood with a lap-of-luxury feeling, most of the retreats are located in national parks, tucked within forests or snuggled next to the crashing shore. But glamping in New York City? You bet! Collective Retreats— which has made a name for itself with other tented properties in Vail, Big Sky, Texas Hill Country and Hudson Valley—has opened its latest, and perhaps most surprising spot yet on Governors Island in New York Harbor. The property comprises a full-scale restaurant and lobby space at Three Peaks Lodge, a collection of bell tents with shared bathrooms, and a series of luxury tents with en-suite bathrooms. Imagine taking the glamorous look and feel of a safari and combining it with views of the Statue of Liberty and you have Collective. Take a quick ferry from Brooklyn or downtown Manhattan and you’ll arrive on this island oasis. Events are held at Three Peaks Lodge or in separate locations around the property. It’s a whole different way to see and experience New York City from an entirely new and unique vantage point.