Getting out of dodge is often a necessary, savvy way to keep the workplace love – and the business itself – alive. Kind of like taking a vacation.
Here in Boston and the surrounding communities there is no shortage of restaurants, hotels, conference centers – and beyond – for offsite meetings and events. But especially for those who already enjoy an optimal work environment, the million dollar question is:
Can you find a space that delivers all of the amenities you’re used to, while delivering a refreshing spin on the familiar?
From our perspective, you can.
Here we spotlight 3 venues around Boston we want to be sure are on your radar: Babson’s Executive Conference Center (Metrowest); Willowdale Estate (North Shore) and the Battery Wharf Hotel (Boston’s North End).
Let’s take a peek at each:
BABSON EXECUTIVE CONFERENCE CENTER. It goes without saying Babson College is a known quantity, certainly a leader in the business community and particularly well-regarded for its MBA program, which is rooted in entrepreneurship and values innovation.
Just this year, when the College expanded their presence in downtown Boston, President Kerry Healey touted the new facility and it’s “innovative convening space for networking, co-working and much more.” Certainly such an approach was grounded in valued experience. According to Sales Manager Nancy Lorusso, the Executive Conference Center on the main campus in Wellesley offers “many untraditional spaces that create a more relaxed setting to foster creativity and collaboration”.
One of our personal favorites is one we share with Nancy – their Woodside Living Room, which really is a living room. Nancy says that “clients looking for a warm, inviting area for a social gathering are immediately drawn here, and the attached walk-out patio is a huge draw for the additional flexibility it lends.” We argue the natural beauty doesn’t hurt either!
Meanwhile because of the school’s reputation, the Center “attracts companies and groups because it’s a place where accomplishment happens – there are no distractions.”
In truth, there are a few “distractions”. All good ones. The inherent energy in the place is one. The food is another. Having worked with their culinary team on wine dinners for clients, we can attest that their team is not only wonderful to work with behind the scenes, but our experience is equal to the feedback Nancy receives: guests regularly report how surprised and excited they were to find the food on-site is delicious.
With over 200 guest rooms, too, Babson’s Executive Conference Center lends itself naturally to an overnight company retreat. Certainly, there is no scarcity of amenities or possibilities in their almost 20,000 sq. ft. of space.
If you can see your coworker tucking into a casual nook to catch up on some work after a morning rich with discussion, or you can see a couple of teammates high-fiving a great idea during an afternoon ‘wine down’ reception in the courtyard, Babson is worth checking out.
Oh, and an impromptu game of soccer? That can happen too.
WILLOWDALE ESTATE. While Babson may be a known quantity, Willowdale Estate is not only a greater Boston “hidden gem” but also a surprise to many familiar with the North Shore. And according to Sarah Boucher, Marketing Director, that’s part of its allure.
Located about 30 miles north of Boston in Topsfield, MA, the property is surrounded by hundreds of acres of state forest along the Ipswich River. (Care to add canoeing or lawn games to your summer outing?) When you wind up the long drive, it’s a wonderful surprise to find the gorgeous, fully renovated and restored property atop the gentle slope at the end. The giant, bright red door with green trim is the happiest of greetings – and behind it lies the friendliest, most capable staff around.
These guys are the real deal.
Whether your team is a bunch of foodies (or just likes to eat!) or you’re focused on the basics, like AV for your PowerPoint presentation, all of the bells and whistles of possibility are at your beck and call. Their full-service operation makes planning a snap. (Case in point: don’t miss this video of Land Rover’s product launch event!)
Their secret? Sarah says that “when your staff has the opportunity to pursue their passions, think creatively, and contribute their own unique strengths to the team you can only continue to improve on your work.” Cheers to that!
With so many of us cooped up throughout the workday (regardless how cool the space), perhaps what makes company meetings and events even more ripe with possibilities at Willowdale is “Tent Season”. Rightfully boasting a custom, handcrafted, Sperry Tent (yes, it breathes!) upheld by spruce center poles, a Willowdale experience is possible outdoors rain or shine. They can even heat the tent if El Niño threatens – and, ladies, there is a covered walk to the restrooms inside.
Prefer to be under the stars and bistro lights? The Butterfly Garden offers additional possibilities. You can “just” host an intimate reception here or opt to follow it with a 4-course wine dinner that’s not only farm to fork, but curated to your specifications by the inventive, award-winning Chef Ben Lightbody.
Trust us, you’re in exceptionally capable hands here.
BATTERY WHARF HOTEL. If your crowd could use a little Boston-culture infusion on top of stunning harbor views and modern amenities, consider what the Battery Wharf Hotel offers.
Located right on the waterfront in Boston’s North End, it’s hard not to add a scavenger hunt component to your company retreat when planning meetings and events at this boutique property. When the U.S. of A. was just getting its legs in the 17th Century, this was where the action was. The nearby Freedom Trail celebrates this past as it gets folks exploring key moments of the American Revolution, by foot, from the North End all the way to Boston Common.
Indeed, today the hustle and bustle of the city is at an arm’s length – easy to access by land and by sea (there’s even a water taxi to/from Logan Airport). And yet, according to Director of Sales & Marketing, Efren Aponte Cortes, the Battery Wharf is the Hub’s own “Urban Oasis”. We couldn’t agree more.
Maybe your colleagues are the sort to hang their legs from the Battery Wharf’s private dock after a day of meetings. Or perhaps they’d prefer to stretch their legs meandering through the parks and past cafés along the Boston HarborWalk. Maybe neither. The thing is, here there’s something for everyone.
Inside the fully renovated property the feeling of ease transcends their partnership with Exhale Spa. The abundance of natural light throughout and the clever development of spaces certainly caught our attention – imagine segwaying from a modern meeting room (surrounded by glass) to a wine reception under the atrium.
Want to step outside?
Try one of their intimate patio spaces. Better yet, enjoy s’mores on the Terrace sitting around the Fire Pit. For those who appreciate a little wow-factor on top of wow-factor, we admit we’re taken with the exclusive Maritime Museum space – perfect for casual exploring while taking part in a sunset wine reception before dinner at Aragosta Bistro.
If you’re looking for something even more custom, that’s possible, too. We’ve witnessed Catering Sales Manager Carolina Villela work with Chef Adamo to come up with a cocktail-hour menu followed by a multi-course dinner that couldn’t help but impress. Their attention to detail starts the moment you begin working with them.
Surely you agree, discovering venues that not only offer those lovable workplace health “creature comforts” but also do so in their own unique ways is hard not to get excited about.
After all, any fully-loaded, flexible space surrounded by natural beauty that excels at satisfying our every craving is hard not to work-ate to - right?