Why Spring is the Best Time for a Corporate Retreat!

The words “corporate retreat” are usually met with a chorus of tortured groans. Why? Retreats have become practically synonymous with stuffy rooms and droning efficiency experts, but there’s no reason why you can’t revamp the entire concept and come up with something infinitely more effective. Get out of the office meeting room, take your team to the Berkshires, and discover why spring is the best time for a corporate retreat.

It’s Still Winter (Kind Of)

If you head to the Berkshires in March, you can expect highs in the 30s and 40s. That might not sound terribly appealing at first, but think of all the skiing, sledding, and snowshoeing you can do when the snow starts sticking. You can work up an appetite and soak up some fresh air without sweating through your clothes and, best of all, cold weather is perfect for roasting marshmallows or wienies. Light a fire in your lakeside cabin and kickback – you deserve it after a long day talking numbers with your coworkers.

By April, though, temps rise to the high 40s and 50s and May is downright pleasant, with a ton of nearly 70-degree days. Decide whether you want your corporate retreat to take place in the cooler climate of early spring or a month or two later when summer’s peeking around the corner and the landscape is decidedly greener.

You Can Go On In – The Water’s Fine!

Water is everywhere in the Berkshires. Lakes, ponds, streams, rivers – they’re home to a whole host of wildlife but they’re also fitting spots for swimming, fishing, boating, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, and hopping on the ole Jet Ski. You might need a wetsuit (or at least a very strong constitution) if you plan on getting wet early in the spring, but wait until it warms up a bit and it’s a different story. Hoping for something a little more adrenalin-inducing? Berkshire Whitewater takes groups rafting down the Deerfield River from April through October. There are itineraries for all skill levels and you’ll learn a lot about teamwork and the power of a positive attitude along the way.

Al Fresco Dining is Up and Running

Patio lunches might not be completely comfortable until late Spring, but once the chill in the air gives way to warm breezes, there’s nothing quite like an afternoon eating and drinking in the sunshine. Check out the sprawling 2,000-square-foot patio at the Freight Yard Pub and stake out your spot next to the fire pit or under the umbrellas where you can enjoy some Boston clam chowder, a Waldorf salad, or a smoked blue cheese apple burger rain or shine. The 6 House Pub in Williamstown has a cozy outside seating area as well as on-premise catering for larger groups, so you can have a corporate sit-down dinner in the “Publick Room” and then wander outside for a nightcap or two. It’s hard not to love the courtyard at Trattoria Rustica; as if the lovely brick interior and mouthwatering antipasto weren’t enough to keep people coming back, the outside area shows Italian movies to late-night crowds.

You Can Hike in Between Sessions

The vast majority of Western Massachusetts is undeveloped, leaving plenty of unspoiled landscape and mountainous terrain to be explored. Get a group together and head for the hills or rent bikes and traverse the pathways set aside just for cyclists. The 11-mile Ashuwillticook Rail Trail takes walkers, bikers, skaters, and skiers from Lanesborough to Adams, while Bartholomew’s Cobble offers canoe trips and nature programs that take eco-warriors through the rock gardens, wildflowers, and riverbeds. You can spot beavers or read a book on the boardwalk at Mass Audubon’s Pleasant Valley Wildfire Sanctuary or rent snowshoes and traipse through the unexpected late-spring snow on top of scenic Notchview. Bonus: exercise has been shown to have a ton of cerebral benefits including improved concentration, better moods, enhanced creativity, and slower cognitive decline, so the more you get your colleagues out and about the better your meetings will go later on.

Your Retreat Won’t Interfere with Summer Vacations or Holidays

It’s tough asking your employees to go away when their kids are out of school and holidays should be dedicated to family time whenever possible. Save your team from disappointing their loved ones and schedule your retreat for springtime; it’s easy to sneak away over St. Patrick’s Day and March Madness isn’t technically a holy day in most circles. Just stay away from Easter weekend and Purim and you should be good to go.

Baby Animals Are Out in Full Force

Every spring, Hancock Shaker Village is home to a zoo’s worth of baby animals as pigs, cows, sheep, and chickens all birth the next generation of fuzzy, furry, and feathered friends. Take a break from going over last year’s P&L and go meet the little members of the Hancock flock. There are also educational talks about the Shakers, demos at the water turbine, medicinal herb classes, face painting, woodworking and blacksmith days, and an 1830s kitchen on Saturdays, but let’s not be coy – we’re all going to pet the lambs and we don’t care who knows it.

Brainstorming is Better When It’s Done Outdoors

There’s been a ton of research into the benefits of outdoor education and the findings are impressive:Standardized test scores rise,behavior and attendance improves,symptoms of stress and illnesses such as ADHD are minimized,children become more independent, confident, creative, empathetic, and self-starting.The pure joy of learning surrounding by nature boosts interest and enthusiasm,granted, most of these studies involved younger pupils rather than corporate employees, but the principal is the same. Take your team out of the conference room and pop a squat under the bright blue Berkshire sky and see what magic happens.

Active Pursuits are Great for Team Building

Corporate retreats are a chance for companies to bring their employees together. Skip the HR lectures and energize your crew by taking them out and about in the Berkshires so they can get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses in a neutral, inspiring, non-professional setting. A few of our top team-building picks:

Ramblewild: Any place dubbed “the premier tree-to-tree adventure park in the Northeast” is bound to be a can’t-miss experience. Swing from the trees with the greatest of ease at this aerial park and watch as your underlings discover new levels of self-confidence. It takes guts to scramble over a suspended rock wall and it takes a village to get the whole gang through in one piece.
Berkshire Outdoor Center: The BOC comes with its own programs and staff to help guide your team through exercises aimed at building unity and boosting productivity. Some ideas, like their talking stick, are simple and straightforward while others take place on a thrilling challenge course.
TeamBonding: This company offers the most diverse array of team-building packages. From “Escape from Werewolf Village” to the “Wicked Good Chowda Cook-Off” to “Clue the Scavenger Hunt, TeamBonding designs action-packed events that are impossible to forget.
Get Out Mindgames: Want your time to work together or else? Lock them in a room and make them figure out – as a group – how to escape. Instant cohesion!

There are Festivals and Events A-Plenty

Berkshires corporate retreats don’t have to be all business. After the workday is done, check out some of the festival culture that helps make the Berkshires so special. The First Fridays Arts Walk in Downtown Pittsfield brings together a bevy of local artists who present their work to the public from 5-8pm the first Friday of every month. Join a guided tour or wander about willy-nilly, popping into venues such as the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, Dottie’s Coffee Lounge, BerkshireNow at the Berkshire Museum, and The Funky Phoenix to soak up some inspiration. Take a party bus over to Springfield (a scenic 1-hour trip) in mid-May and check out the World’s Largest Pancake Breakfast. Seeing how the community comes together to have some fun and celebrate their town’s history is both uplifting and educational, and it might take an act of solidarity to down your fair share of buttermilk flapjacks. Finally, there’s the Berkshire International Film Festival, an independent film showcase held every year at the end of May. Schedule your retreat the week before and use the screenings as a way to wind down from the managerial training and let your brains relax.

All the Maple Syrup You Can Slurp

March is Massachusetts Maple Month, and the folks at Ioka Valley Farm celebrate in sticky-sweet fashion by inviting guests to visit their Sugar House. You can see how maple sap is transformed into pancake-ready syrup, meet with a real sugarmaker, and visit the “Calf-A”, an eatery churning out farmhouse classics like corn muffins, homemade applesauce, bacon, and sausage. It’s a nostalgic place that will add a bit of charm to your company’s retreat itinerary.

Ready to invest in your corporate future and enjoy a little lakeside magic while you’re at it? Book your team into The Lake House Guest Cottages of the Berkshires and see why people fall in love with Western Massachusetts. Reserve a few cottages for your corporate execs or buy out the entire space and give your employees room to explore, bond, and dream up fascinating new ideas. When you combine luxuries like fully appointed kitchens, en-suite bathrooms, and king-sized beds with the natural beauty of stunning Pontoosuc Lake, you have everything you need to press the reset button and get your hard-working squad back on track.