And though the concept of family-friendly meetings is not something conference hotels and resorts openly promote, meeting planners looking for this option can now negotiate multiple activities with the right properties well in advance.
Leading the pack in the family-friendly teambuilding activities segment in the West are some of following properties.
Great Wolf Resorts opened the 603-suite Great Wolf Lodge Southern California in March 2016, the company’s 13th U.S. property. It features 21,226 square feet of separate and configurable meeting rooms and is located near the Anaheim Convention Center. It is also the home to a 100,000-square-foot indoor waterpark, featuring water slides and attractions, including the six-story Howlin’ Tornado, a multi-level interactive tree house and the body surfing experience Wolf Rider Wipeout.
“While the indoor waterpark primarily attracts our leisure clients, it is a brand differential for us,” said Taren Rathman, corporate manager of group sales of Great Wolf Resorts, based in Madison, Wis. “Planners often look to us not only because they know we deliver on exceptional service and support for meetings, but also because we are a destination for families, which allows meeting attendees to potentially bring their family and combine work with pleasure.”
Rathman said though the lodge’s waterpark can be a complement to a meeting client or it can just as easily have no role or involvement at all, teambuilding activities available include culinary events inspired by popular cooking competitions on TV, challenges on some of the leisure attractions such as bowling, and private parties hosted after hours in the waterpark.
Noting that the lodge is a “full-service resort,” Rathman said there are several suite styles to accommodate the needs of a conference attendee who prefers separate work space from sleeping space, on up to families that travel with children and grandparents at the same time. “We have several on-site dining outlets to appeal to guests who prefer grab-and-go meals to buffets with a wide array of options to full-service restaurants,” she said. “Our catering and banquet teams have also evolved and we create unique and memorable menus to meet the desires and dreams of our clients.”
The JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort and Spa, located 12 miles from Tucson International Airport, features 575 guest rooms, 88,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, six dining experiences, the 20,000-square-foot Hashani Spa, a fitness center, a collection of outdoor water features (including the meandering Starr Canyon River and Monsoon Falls waterslide), the Blur Teen Lounge and Rising Starr Kid’s Club, two tennis courts, access to multiple hiking and biking trails on property, and the Starr Pass Golf Club, which features 27 holes of championship golf designed by Arnold Palmer.
According to Carey Higgins, destinations operations manager, teambuilding options that can be adjusted to be family-friendly (children or spouses) include a human foosball tournament, a Hungry Hungry Hippos inflatable, corn hole/volleyball/ping pong tournaments, giant interactive games (oversized Jenga, giant Connect 4 and giant chess), a low ropes course, teepee building, cooking challenges and off-site options such as a desert jeep rally and a scavenger hunt at Old Tucson Studios.