Global Portfolio of Resorts, Hotels and Conference Centers Track Group Trends in 2016

The Woodlands (Houston), Texas (September 2016) – The newly merged Benchmark Resorts & Hotels and Gemstone Hotels & Resorts report a collection of teambuilding trends from across the company’s diverse portfolio of resorts, hotels, and conference centers. Topping the list: destination-influenced culinary, outdoor, and adventure activities that encourage group participation, challenge individuals, and inspire collaborative efforts.


Hawaii’s Turtle Bay Resort draws groups with authentic food and drink experiences, such as their Hukilau program that pushes teams to work together on gathering their own fresh seafood, which is later served up at an expansive luau in true Hawaiian style. Eaglewood Resort & Spa, located just outside of Chicago, adds a competitive flare with their Iron Chef-style cooking competition, presented in collaboration with local partner, Cooking Skills Academy. West Lake, Texas-based Benchmark Hospitality at Deloitte University places an emphasis on wine education with a range of activities that includes blind tastings and food pairings, while Hotel Contessa in San Antonio drives its local culture to the forefront of culinary teambuilding programs that put participants head-to-head in salsa showdowns and chili cook-offs. In Vero Beach, Florida, the Gloria and Emilio Estefan-owned Costa d’Este Beach Resort & Spa offers a night of culinary experimentation. Group attendees will sharpen both their knives and presentation skills in an activity that calls for teams to work together by way of a cook-off challenge. During the program, each group will step up to the chopping block with a selection of ingredients before presenting a finished dish to the resort’s executive chef and, finally, settling in for a family-style dinner.


The Edith Macy Conference Center‘s 405 wooded acres, set in New York’s Westchester County, is an ideal location for meeting guests to reconnect in a natural setting. There, wilderness skills are tested in a comprehensive program that challenges teams to tasks such as blind walk-arounds and constructing waterproof shelters. The “Build a Canoe” exercise at Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs taps into the legacy of Colorado’s Native Americans who built canoes to navigate the area’s powerful waterways; today, teams visiting the resort compete to build their own canoe that can help propel them across the finish line of a 50-yard race in the hotel’s private lake. Willows Lodge, located in Washington’s Woodinville wine country near Seattle, works with nearby Epona Meadows Farms to develop customized leadership programs that involve workshops with horses, with each activity designed to foster individual and team skills.

Further south, Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort in Curacao offers a postcard-esque backdrop as participants explore this southern Caribbean destination via an island treasure hunt. In Florida, meeting-goers can find their competitive edge at Villas of Grand Cypress. This luxury resort in Orlando showcases its 45 holes of Jack Nicklaus Signature-designed golf and award-winning Grand Cypress Academy of Golf with the “Big Break Challenge” that teaches and tests skills such as putting, pitch and run, bunker, iron play, and driver.


Garden of the Gods Club & Resort in Colorado Springs, Colorado, takes teambuilding to new heights with its four-hour rock climbing excursion that explores the landmark peaks of The Garden of the Gods city park. At Benchmark’s Jackson Hole, Wyoming, retreat, Snow King Hotel & Grand View Lodge, meeting attendees will find an adrenaline rush at the mountain’s Tree Top Adventure Park. Here, guests will experience a world-class ropes course that reaches 80 feet into the air and features hurdles such as wobbly bridges, swinging logs, climbing nets, flying surfboards, and 13 ziplines. Hotel Durant in Berkley, California, hosts an “Amazing Journey” that pushes participants through a series of fun physical events, group problem solving activities, and mental challenges modeled after the hit television series, The Amazing Race. Doral Arrowwood Resort in Westchester County, New York, with partner True North, enables conferees to discover new leadership skills through the Escape the Office teambuilding program. Based on the popular “virtual room escape” video games, the Office Escape version at Doral Arrowwood makes the game real by challenging meeting guests as a team to discover how to escape from an actual room. Groups looking for a fast-paced, high-energy experience can engage in the Formula 1 Boston Pit Stop Team Challenge through the Ames Boston Hotel. Staged to feel like a true pit crew experience, teams compete against the clock – and each other – to prep their car for a race around the track.