Sure, there’s a lot to do in the St. Louis area. But sometimes, you just want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and head out for the perfect weekend getaway.
Should you tour a winery or stay at a quaint bed and breakfast? How about camp or attend a festival in a nearby town? Finding that perfect weekend excursion to recharge your batteries can be a draining exercise in of itself.
We get it, and therefore we’ve created an all-encompassing guide to help you determine the perfect weekend destinations: A St. Louisan’s Guide to the Perfect Weekend Getaway. In the booklet, we detail 18 different places within Missouri and Illinois, including wineries, bed and breakfasts, state parks, lakes and even a few small towns. And of course, we wouldn’t forget Cedar Creek.
Each page provides an overview of the destination, things to do once you’ve arrived as well as seasonal events taking place. We’ve chosen these 18 places since they each have their own distinct vibe and amenities that will suit every city dweller.
So check out the guide, make your plans and enjoy your relaxing weekend getaway.
The beginning of the year is a great time to get everyone at the company on the same page. Companies often add new employees to the ranks within the first month. New goals have been outlined and the company vision going forward has been set.
Now is the time to get people excited about 2015. But with employees scattered among different offices and priorities shifting constantly in a fast-moving business climate, it can be tough for employees to even get to know one another, much less move in the same direction.
In addition to all-company meetings, many organizations want to incorporate team-building activities into the schedule. These can be a great way for people to learn more about their co-workers, establish rapport and have fun. However, some team building activities are more effective than others. The best have a particular mission attached to them.
Here are some team building activities you might want to look into and the specific objectives they accomplish:
Build an obstacle course either in a large room or outdoor field. Each member of the team will take turns going through the course blindfolded, with the rest of the team members guiding verbally. When going through, prepare to feel confused and bump into things. When guiding, expect to feel frustrated that your message isn’t always getting across.
What the activity accomplishes: Building effective communication skills, learning to overcome challenges.
Break off into several teams. Each team has a certain number of legos and the goal is to make the largest tower possible. Or reach a certain height in the fastest amount of time. Or making the most cost efficient tower. Whatever the end goal, the group likely will need to reconfigure or even start over numerous times.
What the activity accomplishes: Becoming a better listener, learning to delegate responsibility, thinking outside of the box.
The group is assigned to develop and deliver a speech about a specific topic and each person is tasked with writing a specific portion and delivering that portion to the other attendees. The objective is, despite different writing and delivery styles, to make the speech come across as fluid as possible.
What the activity accomplishes: Fostering collaboration, enhancing both oral and written communication.
People are broken off into pairs and given a video camera. They are required to produce a one-minute video about the other person, and then everyone sits down and watches the videos together. The activity doesn’t have to involve competition, but it can.
What the activity accomplishes: Learning about team members more in-depth, building creativity, storytelling.
Sometimes, you aren’t necessarily looking to do these team-building activities in the strictest sense of the word, but are looking for events to get the team together for a fun excursion. Again, have an idea of why you want to do these activities, other than just for “having fun.”
Community service projects are very popular at companies. They provide a great way to reach out to the local community while also getting team members inspired and working together. Research has shown employees, especially millennials, place an emphasis on a company’s do-good image, so these types of projects can also retain talented employees.
What the activity accomplishes: Making a difference, networking, providing a good name to your firm.
We have reservations about this since sports aren’t always a great team-building activity. Some people can’t or choose not to partake, and less-skilled individuals who do end up participating often feel self-conscious. But bowling is often an exception since the majority of people can’t knock down pins to save their life. People can cheer one another on, and the bad bowlers can laugh it off. Plus, there is plenty of time to get to know each other between rounds.
What the activity accomplishes: Friendly competition, getting to know each other better.
A cooking class maintains the balance of fun but low-key. This activity can involve traveling offsite or having a culinary instructor come to the workplace or visit an employee’s home. The instructor facilitates the class but the participants (preferably in groups) create the dish from scratch. Also, you could consider having a cooking showcase in lieu of a class. At the end, people have the opportunity to try one another’s dishes and, if it involves competition, vote for the winner.
What the activity accomplishes: Learning to try new things, building collaboration skills, promoting a healthy lifestyle.
Have more good ideas for effective team building activities? Feel free to drop us a line.
Global business travel spending is expected to reach a record $1.18 billion in 2014, up nearly 7 percent from 2013. Much of that travel will involve traveling and participating in corporate meetings and conferences.
Corporations are clearly willing to host meetings out of town and spend more handsomely on them. But the way meetings have been planned and conducted have gone through significant change. Gone are the days when people travel to some random city and expect to sit through meetings before catching their flight home. In order for meetings to be most effective, they need to be lively, engaging and have some sort of fun group activities.
When planning a meeting and selecting a place to host the meeting, take into account some of the following tips and trends:
- Corporate meeting rooms are not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing: When people think of a corporate meeting room, they often think of a stereotypical corporate boardroom with plush furniture where people sit around in a circular fashion. That works fine in some capacities.
But not every meeting should be that way. Simply put, the type of corporate meeting room should be based on the agenda at hand. If someone is giving a presentation, perhaps a theater-like venue is the way to go. Looking for more cooperation? Perhaps a more open-space venue will do. Looking for more group activities? Look to a place with lots of smaller meeting rooms.
- Neither are meeting venues: Obviously, you must take into account who will be attending this meeting. What might appeal to senior finance executives may not necessarily work with an all-company meeting for an advertising agency. Simply put, the target attendee, as well as the subject at hand, will determine the location and venue of the event.
- It is about the experience: When people go to corporate meetings (especially out of town), people want it to be more than just a business meeting. Rather, they want it to be a part of a larger experience in order to truly make the travel worthwhile.
When planning a large meeting, try to incorporate an all-encompassing experience. For instance, try to give away mementos and prizes focusing on the specific city at hand. If the meeting is taking place at a retreat center, try providing a host of different activities (golf, hiking, etc.) during the evening that allows people to take their mind off work.
- The meeting takes place before and after the “official” meeting: With the rise of social media in every aspect of our lives, people will be talking about the “meeting” both before and after the actual meeting. Not only should you be aware of this, but you should also take advantage of this opportunity to promote your company/organization.
How so? How about a hashtag for the event that people can follow while they travel there. Perhaps a prize may be in order for the best Tweet leading up to the big event? Or even a good-old raffle drawing may do the trick to get people excited.
CAVEAT: If the meeting will be discussing private company matters (financials, M&A, personnel, etc.) it needs to be made abundantly clear that social media will not have a role in that particular meeting. In 2014, you can’t assume that people will keep quiet unless you tell them explicitly, especially if they are not in a role that often requires them to zip their lips.
- Technology, technology, technology: It’s 2014—which means that the technology at the meeting better be stellar. This means high speed Wi-Fi connections should be available throughout the event venue. Make sure that any information that you provide in a large binder is easily accessible through a smartphone or a tablet. Make sure that the projectors and video technology used throughout the meeting are up to date.
But take it further: If the meeting is a large conference, be sure to utilize conference event guide apps. Alluding to point 4, make sure that people have ample the opportunity to connect and share their experience through social media and other apps geared at connecting meeting/conference-goers.
Cedar Creek offers modern conference facilities to accommodate groups large or small. Our thoughtfully designed meeting rooms and break areas provide you with the flexibility needed for informal discussion, committee, lecture, or executive meetings. Need help in the planning process? Download our corporate retreat checklist.
Gone are the days of lavish corporate retreats to faraway cities via private jet – and we don’t blame you. Who ever said you have to spend tens of thousands of dollars just to show your employees some appreciation?
The good news for management in 2014 and beyond: there are plenty of other ways to say “thank you” and “we appreciate your hard work” to your employees without throwing a boat load of cash at the wall. Turns out, it’s more than just corporate figureheads that learned their lesson; the American people had to make cuts too. We’ll even bet that your employees are proud to work for a more money-conscience company. It’s the smarter thing to do.
Join us as we uncover some tips to planning corporate retreats on a budget.
Tip 1 – Your Group Size Impacts Your Cost
A common misconception with corporate retreats: “the more the merrier!” This isn’t always the case with team building in mind, especially if you’re trying to save dollars on your bottom line.
With a niche group of people, perhaps those that you work with on a day-to-day basis, you can achieve a more productive task-focused retreat. Large groups are often unmanageable for several reasons:
- Work and family constraints limit scheduling flexibility
- Large groups equate to more costs, including travel, food, lodging and facility costs
- The larger the group, the less relevant that group of people will be. Define the roles that are essential to success and invite employees accordingly
Tip 2 – Choose A Destination Not Far From Home
There are plenty of great corporate retreat locations right in your backyard. Ok, maybe not literally, but several that are just a couple hours away. For you, that translates to lower costs and more convenience.
Operating in the St. Louis area? Consider taking your team to a nearby lake, state park, small town or winery. You could rent a bus that would accommodate your entire team for much less that packing up the bags and flying out of town. Plus, remote locations and retreats are usually a better fit for small/mid-sized businesses looking to get the biggest bang for their buck.
PS. Sometimes these local destinations throw in bonus items like free wine, upgraded rooms and discounted day excursions.
Tip 3 – Negotiate Price & Get The Deal You Desire
The dramatic shift from big to small corporate retreat budgets means that more and more facilities have increased inventory. You may want to consider throwing in a barter deal depending on the facility in your crosshairs. Offer to include the retreat information in your company’s newsletter or pass the word on to clients. Facility owners understand the power of word-of-mouth. Think of ways on how you can increase the facility’s awareness using your connections, and then offer it up for exchange.
Sometimes you’re not going to get the best deal for what you need. You’re going to need meeting rooms, audio/video equipment, wifi access and probably somewhere to rest your head. All of these factor in to what you’re willing to cut and expand on. Be prepared for what facilities might not offer.
Tip 4 – Consider Hobby Sports For The Masses
One thing’s for sure – your team doesn’t want to sit in a stuffy meeting room all day. You need to have some activities lined up, but not the type of activities that involve 143 hours of training. That means no 5 hour rounds of golf on private courses, no serious tennis matches and especially no quidditch matches.
Consider some hobby sports for your team. These might include things like flag football, fishing, biking, canoeing, hiking or even Frisbee. These sports don’t make less athletic types nervous about their performance, simply because they can choose what they want to do.
Want something truly unique and close to St. Louis? Cedar Creek offers professional team building program coordinators who can help strengthen your team through a series on on-site activities, including our low ropes confidence course. Our program coordinators will work with you in advance to discuss your group’s goals and objectives, your current group dynamic, and your group’s fitness levels to tailor a plan specifically for your team. Each experience is unique, but all are designed to encourage teamwork, taking overall performance to a new level.
Lastly, check out our corporate retreat checklist. It was designed to provide you clarity in your planning efforts, from determining success criteria to identifying speakers to arranging outdoor activities. Not only will it help you plan, it will keep you focused as your corporate retreat is happening.
Pictured: The 2014 gathering members of the Ten Old Broads
Back Row Left to Right- Sandy, Elaine, and Joan
Front Row Left to Right- Joanne, Pat, Sally, and Kay
They’ve been friends for well over fifty years, but every August they converge at their favorite place on the planet—the Manor House at Cedar Creek. These 10 women, now closing in on 80, have gathered every year since 1999. The long-time friends are: Shirley C., Joan C., Jackie B. (now deceased), Pat M., Liz K., Joanne F., Kay M., Pat H, Elaine S. and Sandy A.
Some of these friendships go back to first grade at St. Peter Grade School in Kirkwood. Others joined in during high school at Eugene Coyle, also in Kirkwood, from 1949-1953. ”I remember the nuns seated us alphabetically and we were in the “H” row, said Joan, recalling freshman year. “I looked over at Sandy and said, ‘Well, if we have to sit together we might as well get to know each other.’” Soon Pat (also an “H”), who was sitting nearby, got into the conversation. Sandy eventually brought in Kay, a friend since first grade, and Kay brought in Sally, her cousin. The rest blended in over the ensuing high school years.
After graduating in 1953, they all went on to pursue careers, marry and have families. Liz kept the group together by hosting annual Christmas luncheons, but it just wasn’t enough time for the women to catch up. So Sandy decided to get the group together for a special three-day gathering. The first year, 1999, just seven were able to come, but it was such fun they decided to meet annually. Although most lived in the St. Louis area then, they eventually came from longer distances—from Texas to Kansas, northern Illinois to Colorado. In time, they called themselves the Ten Old Broads.
Their first gathering provided plenty of time for the group to catch up and also to establish the traditions that carry over to this day. Some of the group likes to play Mexican Train, card games or Trivial Pursuit. Others like to hang out at the pool. Or just talk. They have high praise for the food at Cedar Creek and don’t mind a bit if wine is involved! Although they have visited local sites over the years, they mostly prefer to stay closer to “Home.”
The Manor House is their sanctuary, they all agree. Their annual retreats are documented by a Memory Book (pictured on right). The women come every year for a variety of reasons— the solitude, the surrounding nature, the outdoor activities, and of course, the common roots. Many memories have been made while at Cedar Creek, mostly wonderful ones, like the time Sandy surprised the group with a birthday cake for their mutual 75th birthdays. Or in 2012, when they howled at the full moon after being inspired by Elaine’s story about her grandson howling at the moon with his young friends. And then there was the time they ran into a group of Ursuline nuns, who had booked a retreat in Cedar Lodge. “You can run from the nuns, but you can’t hide!” said Joan, bringing a laugh about their Catholic school years.
However, one of the most profound memories that has stuck with the group was on September 12, 2001, just a day after the attack on the World Trade Towers in New York. Miraculously, all ten showed up. After arriving, the group turned to the Manor House TV to watch the coverage.
“Everyone on the property kept coming over to the Manor House because we had the biggest TV,” Joan recalled. It somehow seemed important for all of them to go to a church to pray, so that’s what they did. “It was an unforgettable day that we all share now,” Sandy said, “but somehow it was comforting to us to be together going through that incredible situation.”
Talents vary from sewing, knitting and crocheting, quilting, crafts, reading, music, painting and writing. Pat, a quilter, particularly enjoys looking at the numerous quilts displayed throughout the property. Elaine, the musician of the group, once brought her harp for a private living room concert. And Joan surprised them one year with a Bollywood dance class on DVD and also demonstrated Tai Chi. She even convinced the ladies to try Hip Hop Abs. Sally’s official duty has been to bring swim tubes for water aerobic sessions, which once led to so much laughter that the Cedar Creek staff came out to investigate.
The Ten Old Broads have dwindled down to nine following the loss of Jackie several years ago and this year, one member is in a rehab facility following a stroke and other complications. Another member is out this year due to family activities. “Every year we say that we hope is isn’t the last year. But then, we ARE all now 78 and 79,” Sandy said.
Ten years, Ten Old Broads, and more memories than can be counted. They truly are a “special vintage group,” as Sally says, smiling.
Most recently, we developed a corporate retreat checklist to help meeting and event specialists better organize their corporate outings. As most of you already know, corporate retreats can be one of the best ways to encourage employee interaction, reward employees, better align goals and objectives, hire and recruit professionals, and build skills. Unfortunately, they can be overwhelming and tiresome for those involved in the planning. If you don’t do it right, then it can result in a huge morale kill. We’re here to help prevent that from happening.
Cedar Creek’s corporate retreat checklist is designed to provide clarity and organization in your planning efforts, from determining success criteria to identifying speakers to arranging outdoor activities. Not only will this corporate retreat checklist help you plan, but it will keep you focused as it’s happening.
Now, let’s take a look inside!
Your corporate retreat is nothing without the people, right? The “who” includes your attendees, speakers, facilitators, caterers, and equipment providers and operators. In the checklist, you’ll see that we explore each of these categories in depth. For example, is your equipment provider going to be your in-house IT staff, a meeting planner, a contractor, or the retreat facility itself?
Two of the biggest things to keep in mind include: involve people in the discussion instead of talking at them and make your speakers earn their money.
Talking at people for hours on end never works. And if you make it to Q&A without half of the room sleeping, then we’re sure that the engagement won’t be too high. Try taking all of your information that’s up for discussion and turning it into videos or presentations that people can watch on the plane. You can use all of the time you save to talk about that content. Remember, corporate retreats should be a working session, not an opportunity for executives to prove what a great year it’s been.
Guest speakers can also be tricky to handle. A lot in the industry have plenty of opinions on how much you should pay for a speaker. However, this is an instance when you get what you pay for. An expensive headliner is proof that the company is on the cutting edge of authoritative information, and it’s also part of the retreat that’s guaranteed to get positive results.
The second most important part of the retreat revolves around the “what”? This is the content of the retreat – the goals, success criteria, icebreakers, indoor and outdoor activities and activity outcomes. Is the goal of your corporate retreat to motivate staff or evaluate goals for the New Year?
Out of any of these content-driven layers, icebreakers can set the tone for what to expect, whether it’s thought-provoking arguments or outdoor activities. At Cedar Creek, we guarantee that you won’t fall short of fun, engaging icebreakers. We have plenty of outdoor activities like golf, nature trails, a confidence course, and more.
One of our favorite icebreakers is the human knot. It’s the get-out-of-your-seat-work-together type of icebreaker. Start by breaking your group out into subgroups of ten. Then, tell these subgroups to form a circle, reach both hands in the middle, and join hands with someone else. From this point, the group must work together to untie the knot without letting go of any hands. The result is often a laughter-induced mess, as members of the group crawl under each other or step over arms. The combination of teamwork, problem solving, and laughter is all a result of a memorable and effective icebreaker.
The “when” is pretty straightforward and typically depends on the benefits and drawbacks of each season. Though, this section is less important if you’re traveling to a place where all four seasons are non-existent.
Cool weather seasons open the door to explore of business issues relating to recovery, resourcefulness, heading in a new direction, and getting back on track, namely due to the survival nature that cooler seasons bring. For example, there is no shortage of activities that can flesh out a winter themed retreat. Bring your team to Steamboat Springs, Colorado to enjoy skiing, hot springs, and horseback riding.
Warm weather retreats are our personal favorite, especially if you can plan on a time of year when the air outside is perfect. A summer retreat doesn’t have to be a multi-bedroom lake house. If you’re on a budget, you can find several places – Cedar Creek – that offer tiny, pre-fabricated cabins that won’t bust your budget.
You’ve made it this far, but have you decided on where your corporate retreat will be held? When it comes to indoor spaces, you might choose between conference rooms, ballrooms, party or event facilities, a team-building center, or overnight facility. For instance, you might be traveling and decide to have the business activities take place where you’ll be staying, like a hotel or conference center. Cedar Creek offers plenty of lodging options with meeting and conference rooms to pair.
Looking for spaces in the outdoors? How about an amusement park, spa, garden, or golf course? There are many outdoor spaces that offer comfortable facilities, picturesque grounds, and transformational experiences for all groups.
How many times a year should your company have a retreat and how long should they be? Most corporations might have a retreat up to twice a year, but they might include people in different positions across the company? We suggest defining the goals you want to achieve and your budget before planning too far ahead. This step could influence what isn’t and is necessary. The length of the retreat completely depends on how much you want to accomplish. Is it going to take a weekend or longer? Again, look at your goals and make a judgment call.
New Haven, MO. March 5, 2014 – Cedar Creek posted strong financial gains for 2013 by increasing the number of bookings for conferences, retreats, and special events, which resulted in a 24% increase in gross revenue for its convention business.
“Cedar Creek offers numerous meeting spaces in a variety of sizes to ensure groups are able to accomplish their goals,” said Patrick Vatterott, General Manager for Cedar Creek. “However, I believe it is the area that bring groups back year after year.”
Located in the heart of Missouri’s robust wine country, Cedar Creek is proud to call New Haven home. Perfectly centered between Washington and Hermann, the region is well-known for its restaurants, artisan stores and antique shops. In addition, New Haven is home to Pinckney Bend Distillery and Robller Vineyard and Winery.
Cedar Creek’s hotel leisure bookings such as romantic getaways, family excursions, Oktoberfest celebrations, and overnight stays also contributed to its strong financial gains for 2013 with 60% gross revenue growth over the previous year.
“The Western Town has become quite a draw for residents and visitors alike,” said Vatterott.
Open on the weekends, the Town Hall provides live entertainment and house made fare while the Saloon offers beer tastings of 2nd Shift Brewing, a production brewery specializing in unique hops pairings located onsite.
“Though we’ve expanded what we offer, our excellent customer service has not wavered,” he added.
With customer service an amenities increasing, Cedar Creek is increasing marketing and outreach efforts.
“We offer numerous amenities, which caters to a wide-variety of individuals,” said Jeni Grunzinger, Sales Manager. “We have launched accounts on several social media platforms and are increasing our presence at trade shows. Also, in the last year, we have had an increase in meeting and event planners coming out for private tours of the property to see firsthand what we can do for their clients.”
Purchased in 1978, Cedar Creek was transformed from a private retreat into a family-owned resort and conference center on 200 open country acres. Included on the property is a golf course, hiking trails, a stocked lake, an outdoor movie theater, 49 sleeping rooms, 5,000+ square feet of meeting space, and the authentic, fully-functioning Western Town.
The outlook for 2014 looks promising as well, Cedar Creek has already experienced a 50% increase in weddings over the previous year.
“Brides are looking for venues who cater to rustic and outdoor themed-weddings. With over 200 acres, we are basically a clean canvas for brides to envision their dream wedding,” said Grunzinger.
Cedar Creek will be hosting a Ground Breaking Ceremony on March 12, at 11:00, for its newest banquet facility to cater to the growing demand for destination weddings, corporate receptions, and other social gatherings. The banquet facility will be able to serve 300 guests and provide 5-10 part-time to full-time jobs. Additionally, it will bring additional revenue to the community and area.
For more information regarding this release, please contact Julie Linder, Public Relations for Cedar Creek, by calling (573) 268-0639.
For us, Cedar Creek is a beautiful, special place full of our most cherished memories. As a couple, we’ve been going there since the beginning of our relationship, and although it feels like home, every time we go our experience is even better than the last.
With two kids, it’s hard to have time to slow down and make time for just us. It’s such a treat just to be able to go on a scenic walk, or stay up late and have a glass of wine and site by the fire and talk. There’s a stillness and a tranquility there that brings us back to our roots and our center. Cedar Creek helps bring clarity to the simplicity of life, which allows us to rediscover one another and get back to the strings of our marriage.
Cedar Creek is a gorgeous, relaxing place, but it’s also a lot of fun. Whether we’re playing golf, hiking, or exploring the Western Town, we’re able to laugh and just effortlessly have a blast. Cedar Creek is just magical; going there transports us to a different place where we can truly focus and enjoy one another.
After looking at a handful of destination wedding venues, choosing Cedar Creek was a no-brainer. Jennifer and the team went above and beyond to customize my entire wedding experience. From the food to the setup to the accommodations, everything was tailored to what I wanted and what our large group needed.
As weddings typically go, something of course went wrong. There was a huge storm the night before and setup had to be postponed. However, Cedar Creek’s team rose to the challenge and everything went off without a hitch. As a bride, it was an incredible feeling to know that everything was taken care of and that I could focus on our big day.
The wedding couldn’t have been more beautiful. For the ceremony, I walked across Cedar Creek’s picturesque bridge with the sun shining down and the water gleaming. It was truly a scene out of a movie. The toasts were given with a beautiful sunset as the backdrop, and we were able to dance the night away beneath the stars.
Along with the amazing Cedar Creek team, another benefit was that everything we needed was in one location. Our guests could all stay at Cedar Creek in Cedar Lodge. And, the bridal parties got to stay in the Little Lodge and Manor House, which allowed my groom and I to spend more time with our family and close friends.
I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful, stress-free day, and I have Cedar Creek to thank for my amazing wedding experience.