January 17, 2012

Cover Story

Gary L. Crocker

Gary L. Crocker doesn’t gripe about his days as a broke, Harvard Business Sch...Read More

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Snow Day

Plan a Refreshing Winter Retreat

Heather Beers

January 17, 2012

Let’s say you want to plan a getaway for the executive team. You’d like to stay local, or at least local-ish. You want something different. Really different. You’re looking for a retreat that can clear the mind and help everyone see things in a different light. Maybe you want to throw in a dash of adventure while you’re at it? Consider a few of Utah’s unique offerings. Winter Wonderland Nestled in Midway, Johnson Mill is not far from the Wasatch Front, but it’s worlds away from the everyday. The highly acclaimed B&B was built in 1893, and its 30-acre property lies along the Provo River, so it’s easy to lose yourself in the natural surroundings. During the winter, après-meeting activities can include snowshoeing or snowmobiling right on the property. Or you can shred things up a little with skiing and boarding at any of the nearby resorts (Deer Valley, Park City Mountain Resort, The Canyons and Sundance Resort). When the snow melts at the Mill, spring and summer activities can include golfing at top-rated Summit County courses, such as the Wasatch State Park Golf Course or Soldier Hollow Golf Course. Or you can stay onsite and fish for Rainbows and German Browns stocked in the four-acre lake. With 10 rooms—each with its own private bathroom—Johnson Mill provides just enough lodging for a management team (if folks don’t mind bunking up, you can bring up to 22). What’s more, the staff is attuned to meeting the needs of the many executives they host and can help schedule things like sleigh rides to area restaurants or a drive to Park City for exquisite dining. Lani Lively, general manager at the Mill, says, “Having an executive retreat at the Johnson Mill—a true bed and breakfast—creates an intimate setting for teams to really connect. Here you get to spend good, quality time together, and that will help with the work relationships.” If you’d like to take the adventure a little farther, your team can head to Brian Head Resort. About 30 minutes from Cedar City, Brian Head is known for its powder white snow and clear blue skies. The team can stay onsite at Brian Head’s lodging, meet in the resort’s conference rooms, and later head out for skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. If you’re there in the summer, you can rent mountain bikes, ride the lifts, and plummet down the trails. For those executives less vertically inclined, hiking is a great option—or they can compete on the resort’s disc golf course. If relaxation is more of what you’re after, the nearby Inner Harmony Yoga Retreat may be the best way to unwind and give the team a completely different experience. Roughing It If you want to add even more out-of-the-ordinary excitement, you can plan a yurt excursion. Not familiar with the term? Picture a large circular, industrial-grade Mongolian tent. On the inside you will find everything from fine dining to all-out roughing-it-in-the-backcountry lodging. Arriving at a yurt is part of the experience. Before you enjoy your five-course meal prepared by a chef at the Solitude Dinner Yurt, for example, you snowshoe, cross-country ski or hike nearly a mile from the resort. Backcountry yurts, like the Puffer Lake Yurt in the Tushar Mountain Range (near Beaver), can require as much as a three-plus mile trek. Once there, most backcountry yurts are stocked with supplies such as a propane stove for cooking, wood stove for heating, pots, pans, a few folding chairs, and—if you’re lucky—a chemical toilet outside the yurt. Most yurts sleep six to 12 people—but don’t expect down-filled feather beds, as you’re likely to lay your wee little heads on bunk beds, cots or wooden slabs. Be warned, this kind of getaway is not for the faint of heart, but if your management team is up to the challenge, it will definitely rank up there with the most unforgettable of business retreats. Leave Boring Behind When scheduling your trip, be sure to check for special events that could enhance the retreat experience. Brian Head Resort, for example, hosts occasional town bonfire and s’more events, and it boasts a fireworks display and torchlight parade on New Year’s Eve. If you’re at Johnson Mill during the fall, you may want to catch the nearby Swiss Days or Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Wherever you head for your executive getaway, dare to think beyond the traditional meet-eat-and-sleep agenda and venture into territory that lets you make real connections. Because nothing says corporate bonding quite like snowshoeing to a yurt or breathing your way through a Sun Salutation.
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