In our fast-paced, hyper-connected society, a moment of Zen can be accomplished by simply turning off our smartphones for 10 minutes.
Taking it a step further, attendees can appreciate a planned group diversion that promotes Zen and wellness during the meeting.
In South Carolina’s meetings-friendly destinations, from Charleston to Greenville, planners can bring work-life balance to events by arranging an active outing, yoga class, healthy meal and more.
In Charleston, groups can relax at hotel spas like The Spa at Belmond Charleston Place. They can also stretch their limbs on guided walking tours along the city’s cobblestone streets, or via refreshing kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding excursions.
According to Doug Warner, director of media relations for the Charleston Area CVB, Coastal Expeditions arranges these waterborne pursuits, during which attendees can enjoy views of the city’s skyline and possible dolphin sightings.
Groups can also book an In the Kitchen with Chef Bob Waggoner cooking class, during which a menu made with fresh ingredients is prepared, or reserve a table at Butcher & Bee, a farm-to-table restaurant that partners with local farms and fishermen to create fresh dishes daily.
Charleston also has a variety of hotels with rooftops that are perfect for morning group meditation or yoga,” Warner said. “Think of morning rooftop yoga while watching the sun rise across a backdrop of church steeples and antebellum homes.
Healing waters also await groups meeting in Hilton Head, the first eco-planned destination in the country, where nature takes center stage.
According to Charlie Clark, vice president, communications, for Hilton Head Island-Bluffton VCB, groups are encouraged to plan a kayak or stand-up paddleboard outing.
“It’s akin to a nature walk on water—good for body and soul,” he said. “Hilton Head Island is a natural dolphin habitat and you can get up-close and personal with these amazing mammals.”
Farm-to-table meals can be found on Hilton Head, but as an island, Clark said “it’s all about boat-to-plate group dining.”
Among the group-friendly eateries showcasing ocean fare are the longstanding Hudson’s Seafood House on the Docks, which cultivates its own oyster beds and offers shucking demonstrations, and Red Fish, where attendees can count on a meal made with fresh seafood and local produce.
Pre- or post-meal, groups will enjoy yoga on the beach, horseback riding through the Sea Pines Forest Preserve or bike riding in Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge.
“The Zen of nature is what sets Hilton Head Island apart from so many other beach resort destinations,” Clark said.
Hilton Head is also home to traditional spa settings, including Indigo Spa at Hilton Head Health as well as Heavenly Spa at Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa.
Majestic natural surroundings that inspire wellness are also available for groups meeting in Myrtle Beach, where they can bike ride or hike at Myrtle Beach State Park, including along its popular Sculptured Oak Nature Trail, Waccamaw Neck Bikeway and Huntington Beach State Park.
Additionally, the area boasts 60 miles of beautiful coastline and various water activities, including kayaking, parasailing and surfing.
“Whether you are sitting along the beach gazing at the ocean, walking through the trees at the state parks, kayaking along the Waccamaw River under the grand cypress trees or leisurely wandering through the pristine grounds of Brookgreen Gardens, anyone can achieve a Zen-like state in Myrtle Beach,” said Diane Charno, director of marketing for the Myrtle Beach Area CVB.
Healthy meals are served up at local group-friendly “hook-to-plate” eateries, including Wicked Tuna and Costa Coastal Kitchen and Bar.
For massage therapy and various other detoxifying and relaxing treatments, attendees can check into The Awakening Spa at the oceanfront Anderson Ocean Club or Kiva Day Spa in Myrtle Beach’s Kingston Plantation area.
Inland South Carolina
The Columbia region, home to three rivers and one of South Carolina’s largest lakes, offers kayak excursions and stand-up paddleboard yoga classes to visiting groups.
According to Jason Outman, executive director at Experience Columbia SC, the region is also flush with regional parks and green spaces that are perfect for quiet meditation.
“And with so many trails, gardens and Lake Murray nearby, Zen-like spaces are easy to access from any hotel or conference space,” he added.
Additionally, interested groups will find local meditation centers that welcome drop-ins, including Kadampa Meditation Center South Carolina, and Fit Columbia facilitates aerial yoga classes that mix exercise with teambuilding for small groups.
“Local fitness instructors like Heather Cooper with Fit Columbia can meet groups at their hotel for a guided morning run or outdoor fitness class before the day’s conference activities get under way,” Outman added.
Also in Columbia is Farm to Table Event Co., which works with planners on customized meals at City Roots, Columbia’s urban farm.
In Greenville, the award-winning 22-mile GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail provides a respite during meetings for attendees who would like to get out for a walk or bike ride.
“The scenery as you head out of downtown Greenville, through Furman and into the charming town of Travelers Rest is simply breathtaking, and there are a number of great eateries right along the trail, so groups can park their bikes and grab a quick bite,” said David Montgomery, vice president of sales for Visit Greenville.
Greenville is also home to Zen, a spacious event venue that creates a relaxing atmosphere for any group event, including in its Bamboo Garden, which features lush plants and soothing water sculptures.
“Groups will enjoy Zen’s custom teambuilding programs geared for mind, body and spirit balance,” Montgomery added. “Available activities include private organic cooking lessons with a local chef, tai chi exercises, nature walks and more.”
At NOMA Square, an outdoor space in front of the Hyatt Regency Greenville, groups will find regular complimentary yoga classes.
“There’s no better Zen-like way for your group to take in the beauty of Greenville’s Main Street than upside down staring up at the beautiful trees,” Montgomery said.
To start the day in Rock Hill, groups should plan on breakfast at The Yolk, where Chef Gregory Collier uses local ingredients in his regularly changing menu.
After breakfast, head over to Rock Hill Riverwalk, an area situated along the Catawba River that brings an element of wellness to York County.
Guided mountain bike and group running sessions can be arranged there, as well as moonlight kayak and tubing trips, according to Andy Clinton, group/sports market specialist for the Rock Hill/York County CVB.
“The great part about it is once you are finished exercising, you can walk around the corner to Grapevine Wine Shop to grab a drink and enjoy the ambiance of Riverwalk,” he said.
And at Cat’s Paw Winery, groups can book an intriguing private experience that mixes something called goat yoga with wine tasting.
A certified yoga instructor will lead the group with help from a herd of baby goats, and afterward attendees can enjoy samples of York County’s only local wine. And local Charleston spas, like the one at Belmond Charleston Place, provide sanctuary for busy meeting-goers with a luxurious swimming pool and a menu of relaxing treatments.