Posted on October 10, 2007

By Steve Collins

On Monday we discussed many of the differences experienced when booking a hotel in a resort destination as opposed to a hotel in a metropolitan area, but which is better?  Well, the answer, quite clearly (as with the site selection process for any group), is that it depends on your group and the goals of your meeting or event.  Today what I want to do is go through some of the advantages and disadvantages of holding a meeting at a resort.

One of the major disadvantages of holding a resort meeting is the perception that it can create (especially today when everyone is so concerned about SOX regulations).  After all, how can you have a productive meeting at a reasonable cost in a resort area, right?  I still remember some of the struggles I had on this front when I was a hotel sales manager for various resort hotels in the Aspen/Snowmass area here in Colorado.  For example, I had one non-profit organization actually spend $4000 MORE on their 50 person meeting to hold it in Denver, simply because they did not want to deal with the perception problems of booking a meeting in Aspen.  I know of another hotel in Breckenridge that was going through re-branding, and went to great efforts to avoid using the word “resort” in their name to try to avoid this issue—particularly for government groups.  I even had planners from some state agencies tell me they could not meet in the resort areas—even though we are obviously still part of the same state…..

Another issue that can arise depending on your chosen location is access.  As I had mentioned on Monday, typically a “getaway” resort is, by definition, not located within a major metro area.  When considering a resort destination, you definitely need to consider the issue of airport transfers.  Will your entire group be arriving at once, so you could just charter motorcoaches to bring them all to the resort at once, or will their flights be scattered throughout the day (or over several days)—necessitating individual transfers for each of them?  For a longer event, transfer times are not necessarily as important (if your group is not averse to them), but for a 1-2 night meeting, this additional time might prove unacceptable for your attendees.  Bus transfers might also require some extra creativity to fill that time (for example, I have seen groups actually conduct sessions on each bus during the transfer, or I have also seen bus companies that have the ability to create their own “break” or other F&B function while on board).

Also on Monday I had mentioned that, in some cases, there can be less flexibility on the part of the hotel in a resort setting, and you also need to be sure that the amenities available in the area are appropriate for your group.  For example, if you have attendees who tend to be absolutely addicted to their Blackberries and their EVDO wireless cards in their laptops, an “incentive” to an area without adequate cell phone coverage may not actually be much of an incentive for them…..

I also mentioned seasonality a bit on Monday, and this can prove to be either an advantage OR a disadvantage for your meeting at a resort.  For example, if you are trying to schedule a week of intense brainstorming sessions, a resort during the off season might be an IDEAL place to take your group.  You can get first class facilities at bargain basement prices, and there will be few distractions to pull your group away from their meetings.  Conversely, a golf incentive meeting in the desert in August is probably not going to be much of an incentive for a group, since walking outside during daylight hours at that time involves temperatures that can melt your shoes to the pavement.

Of course, there are some MAJOR advantages to holding your meetings at a resort as well.  As I mentioned on Monday, since the typical booking pattern at resorts favors weekends, a business meeting during the week can actually be quite reasonable.  Plus, if your attendees tend to be the typical “road warriors” who spend a lot of time in hotels, holding your meeting in a desirable resort destination may help ease some of the discomfort usually associated with business travel.  Many resort destinations have short-term rental condominium facilities that also have meeting space available.  Since condos tend to have a much different feel from your typical hotel room (i.e. kitchens, actual living rooms, etc.), booking a meeting at a condominium complex may actually give your more seasoned travelers a welcome break from the routine of business travel.  It may feel a bit more like “home” than a traditional hotel room would.

One final advantage is the added opportunities for really unique theme events that can be available to you in a resort setting.  Just think of some of the possibilities—how about a special event on a movie set at Universal Studios in Orlando?  What kind of impact would it have on your group to ride on horseback or a hay wagon to the top of a mountain on a beautiful summer evening for a sunset barbeque outdoors?  How about taking a chartered yacht over to a private island for a reception on the beach?  Just a few ideas that are possible in resort settings….

In other words, while there may be a few added complications when booking a meeting at a resort, personally I feel that the benefits can FAR outweigh these challenges.  After all, especially for those who are frequent travelers, why hold the same old meeting in the same generic hotel meeting room when you can be just as productive  in a beautiful resort destination—and frequently at a competitive (if not lower…) cost?

Just a thought……

On Friday I will discuss the much maligned resort fee a bit and go into a few of the other idiosyncrasies you might encounter when dealing with resorts.  I hope you will return for that!


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Andi N.

Just stopping by to put in some good word. San Antonio is a very popular meeting destination. Think of the Riverwalk, the Hill Country and the nearby towns like New Braunfels, Boerne, etc.

Our resorts are very accommodating and they make for great meeting and convention memories.

Sure, there are fees... but if they are reasonable for the kind of event that you are putting on, then why not go for it?

San Antonio is also growing. The JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa opens in March of 2010 and will feature 1,002 richly appointed guest rooms and more than 140,000 square feet of customizable exhibit hall and meeting space —far more than any other hotel in the area. It is very close to all the nearby towns where you can find vineyards, beautiful wild life... luxury at it's finest. A fee is warranted but I think as planners, you'll definitely walk away with a sense of having done a great job.


Having attended many meetings in resort settings, I would say it's the perfect combination of business and pleasure. Not to mention that with the economy the way it is right now, one can negotiate the same type of prices as the more conventional venues.

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