NOV 2017

ConventionSouth magazine is the leading resource for meeting planners who book all types of events, conventions, conferences and group travel in the south.

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⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 7 w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 26 GOLF, RECREATION & RELATIONSHIPS Williams said, that's not stopping the resort from adding a new twist to this traditional offering by converting some of its 11 courts to pickleball. "I thought that this was kind of a geriatric spin on tennis but it's not like that at all. It is very athletic, very quick, very competitive," he said, pointing out that groups can do a quick pickleball tournament in an hour and "everyone has a ball." The resort is planning to convert two courts to pickleball based on recent experiences with the popularity of the sport. The beach is always a great draw for groups but the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa in Florida has found new, creative ways to take advantage of the powder-white sands and clear Gulf of Mexico waters on its beach- front. "One of our favorite outdoor activities here is our Sandcastle Building Contest," said Recreation Manager Alexis Bass. "Sand- castle building is a classic event that allows participants of all ages to be creative and competitive while having fun on the beautiful Sandestin beach." She noted that the beach provides a unique twist to another traditional sport: volleyball. "Sand volleyball tournaments create an opportu- nity for players to engage in healthy competition while also working together and bonding with one another," Bass said. Big on Adventure Some events call for relaxing outdoors, while others thrive on adventure. The good thing about the outdoors is that meeting planners can use it to meet virtually any mood or level of excitement. Salamander Resort & Spa offers unique equestrian experiences, according to Camp, pointing to the resort's Equi-Spective, a personal discovery program that helps people learn more about their communication and leadership style by connecting with horses. The ultimate goal of the program is to help attend- ees develop leadership expertise, regardless of experience. "Equi-Spective is a perfect fit for corporate management meetings and retreats, families, social groups, students and individu- als," Camp said. "The multi-level, hands-on in- teraction covers groundwork, round-pen exercises and much more. Each phase promises to equip the participant with deeper self-aware- ness and life-changing leadership skills." Bass pointed to the Hilton Sandestin's Resort Scavenger Hunt as one of the most popular activ- ities groups are incorporating into team building. Teams are given clues that lead them to different locations on the resort property, many of which are located in creative outdoor locations, such as the golf course or the wharf across the street. At each location, teams are required to solve a puzzle or complete a task before receiving their next clue. "The scavenger hunt is an active and enjoy- able activity that allows individuals to work together and problem-solve in a variety of challenges and settings," Bass said, mentioning a recent group that was meeting each other for the first time. "Putting a group of unfamiliar faces into a room or office for the first time can be a little uncomfortable, so taking them out on the beach for the day was an awesome alterna- tive to this. They established new relationships and grew as a team through their engagement in beach games and an extensive scavenger hunt." For adventurous groups, Innisbrook offers an outdoor "build your own boat regatta" event. Groups are provided with cardboard and duct tape, then given a half-hour to build a boat. Each boat is then tested in one of the resort's pools with team members in it. "Inevitably the boats sink or don't make it across the pool but people have a lot of fun. They are networking and team building in great ways," Williams said. Adventures come in many forms, Fitzjohn noted, and the opportunities for creativity are endless, as evidenced by Ponte Vedra Inn & Club's Beach Olympics and "The Amazing Race" events, specially curated to each group. n Rainy-Day ACTIVITIES Outdoor experiences can elevate meetings and events of all kinds unless Mother Nature is having a bad day. Here are some creative ways to move the outdoor spirit inside. When the weather keeps groups indoors, Ponte Vedra Inn & Club suggests several activities for groups, including yoga workshops and cooking classes, or spa treatments at the property's award-winning 30,000-square-foot spa. Innisbrook Golf Resort leverages its 14,500-square-foot ballroom, complete with 40-foot ceil- ings, to set up driving ranges, putting contests, swing analysis, basketball courts and wiffle base- ball. Balls are hit against an air wall. A classic rainy-day alternative hosted at Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa is Rainy Day Movies. The resort offers complimentary movies playing in its theater that are open to everyone. Other interactive activities include Lego building contests, indoor scavenger hunts and indoor corn-hole competitions. Salamander Resort & Spa brings the outdoor experience into the kitchen, offering events in its Cooking Studio that are "an unparalleled experience you'll remember for a lifetime," according to Director of Sales and Marketing Doug Camp. n Equestrian experience at Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, Va.

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