Words by Renae Spinks
Getting back to nature has multiple health benefits, including stress relief, boosted creativity and improved relationships – all of which you want in your workforce and business dealings. Here we’ve handpicked some team-building activities in the great outdoors to inspire your next convention – and your staff.
Bear-Mapping In Canada
Picture: Getty Images
Clayoquot Wilderness Resort in Tofino, British Columbia, adds a wild concept to meetings with its Environmental Legacy Program, where groups can sponsor and participate in activities such as DNA mapping and habitat research for black bears. The habitat is Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve, the best intact example of a temperate rainforest remaining in the world. Other activities include whale acoustics and raptor rehab. The resort has lots of exhilarating break-out meeting spaces and you’ll be staying in luxury tents, complete with antique furnishings. Feast upon coastal Cascadian cuisine such as locally raised meat from the farms of Vancouver Island, or wine and produce from the Okanagan Valley, as well as traditionally prepared wild pacific salmon.
Heli-Skiing In Colorado
Picture: Dunton Hot Springs, USA
Stay in a restored ghost town at Dunton Hot Springs, USA, in the San Juan Mountains of the Colorado Rockies. It’s peppered with 19th-century, hand-hewn log cabins, a saloon, hot springs and waterfalls. It also includes Dunton River Camp, featuring eight luxury tents. You can hold meetings in the dance hall or break out into the Butch Cassidy Saloon, Pony Express Boardroom or Library. Then take to the skies with your team for a hair-raising helicopter ride to some of the highest elevations in North America. Ski at 4,270 metres with a guide – and don’t worry, they have an avalanche transceiver. Gourmet lunch and snacks are provided.
Coral-Planting In Malaysia
Picture: Gayana Eco Resort
Help restore marine ecology by replanting replenished corals back into the reef at Gayana Eco Resort, which sits at the edge of a lush jungle on a coral reef island off the Borneo coast in Malaysia. This dive activity is part of the resort’s Reef Regeneration Program, run by the Marine Ecology Research Centre, which also works to restock endangered giant clams. The resort also features a day spa, dive centre, pool, restaurants, water sports and free Wi-Fi. Villas are built over the water and offer glimpses of Sabah’s iconic Mount Kinabalu.
Conventions Outside The Box: Hamilton Island
Conventions Outside The Box: Brisbane Showground Precinct
Ice-Fishing in Finland
Picture: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort
Stay in an igloo at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, Finland, with a front-row view of the Northern Lights. What’s more, you can hold your conference in Santa’s Festival Hall, complete with long tables and fireplace – how many people can say they have done that? An ice bar can be custom-built for your extravaganza, and several smaller meeting rooms are also available. To get the team out in the winter wonderland, go ice fishing on Lake Inarinjarvi with a local guide, and search for and empty winter nets (juomus). You can warm up in the smoke saunas when you get back.
Horseback-Riding in Patagonia
Picture: explora Patagonia
Nothing gets you back to nature like horse riding across Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park. You can do this at explora Patagonia, perched on the shores of Lake Pehoe, with breathtaking views of mountains and glaciers. The hotel has its own stable and horses, and rides range from beginner level to advanced. Be sure to try the spit-lamb and sample superb Chilean wine when you get back or wind down with a massage in Spa Ona.
Zebra-Spotting In South Africa
Picture: Bushmans Kloof
Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat sits in the foothills of South Africa’s Cederberg Mountains, which are home to bush art paintings dating back as far as 10,000 years. The boutique lodge has 16 rooms and a private villa, a purpose-built conference room, as well as multi-use spaces for teambuilding lunches, cocktails, brainstorming sessions, sundowners and stargazing. But one of the most mesmerising team activities is exploring the region’s amazing wildlife on nature drives and walks, including spotting members of one of the largest private herds of Cape Mountain Zebra in the world.