Planners have a variety of teambuilding experiences to choose from in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, each of which can cater to a group’s makeup and interests.
“Groups of all sizes enjoy our out-of-the-ordinary options,” said Susan Smolarek, group sales manager for Visit Lake Geneva.
Opportunities here include culinary events, waterborne excursions, ziplining, scavenger hunts and a personalized game show. Following are just a handful of choices, each of which fosters communication, cooperation and creativity among attendees.
A teambuilding activity with Crafty Kitchen, including cooking instruction and the preparation of a four-course meal, takes place in a picturesque setting on the shoreline of Lake Como.
According to Julie Tominaro, personal chef and owner of Crafty Kitchen, attendees enjoy getting better acquainted with each other beyond the stress of a work environment.
“Crafty Kitchen supervises each team, giving tips and techniques as the recipes are being prepared and cooked,” she said. “When the four courses are completed, guests are invited to sit down with a glass of wine.”
During this typically three-hour event, participants discuss what they’ve learned and which ingredients they may have never tried before. During a recent event, for example, one employee was gluten-free/vegan so Tominaro created a menu considering those restrictions.
“Guests had a lot of ingredients they had never considered trying, like hearts of palm and coconut palm sugar,” she said. “When we finished, they said the food was not only very healthy but really tasty.”
Lake Geneva Canopy Tours, which resides on a 100-acre property just minutes from downtown, offers customized experiences that consist of an appropriate level of physical challenge and aim to fulfill a specific learning outcome.
“We have assembled a pool of professional facilitators who have the background, experience and training to help groups make direct connections between their teambuilding experience and their day-to-day realities back at their workplace,” said Eric Howden, teambuilding coordinator and course manager.
Programs, which start in the recently opened Welcome Center, include low and high ropes courses, paddling, a zipline canopy tour and a digital scavenger hunt that makes use of the site’s wooded hiking trails.
During these collaborative activities, groups will tap into problem-solving and creative thinking, with an emphasis on expanding on what is working for the group and leaving behind those aspects of the group’s behavior that inhibit success.
Grand Geneva Resort & Spa also offers a variety of customizable teambuilding activities for 10 to 2,000 attendees, including scavenger hunts, putt-putt and building challenges, a paint-and-sip event, cook-offs—including a guacamole and mojito mix-off—and game nights.
At the resort’s Adventure Center, guests can choose from a lineup of exciting outdoor activities such as mountain biking, archery, disc golf, sand volleyball and horseback riding, said Brad Lyles, the resort’s director of sales and marketing.
“Our goal is to spark morale, facilitate camaraderie and bring teams together in a refreshing way,” he said. “We want our guests to return to their workplace inspired and better connected than before their retreat.”
Rosewood is a peaceful location on 7.5 rural acres featuring both outdoor and indoor space that is both elegant and rustic. Known as one of southeastern Wisconsin’s premier event destinations, the focus here is on entertainment and built-in technology.
The possibilities are endless, according to Patricia Bladow, director of events and communication, and include various competitive activities, live music, farm-to-table cuisine and something called Game Show Gladiators.
“Imagine all the bells-and-whistles of a broadcast-quality game show complete with lighting, staging, individual or team player buzzers, microphones and a 12×8-foot video wall with an audience to follow all the action of their favorite game show formats like Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, Hollywood Squares and Family Feud,” she said.
Bladow added that the best part is the questions and content can be tailored to each group, and that integrating the organization’s data, training or product information truly captivates attendees.
“So few have opportunities to play a game like this,” Bladow said. “The takeaway is one that becomes the topic of conversation over and over again later down the road.”
Corporate teambuilding events at the Lake Geneva School of Cooking begin with a toast of sparkling wine and passed parmesan popovers, and is then followed by a discussion about the night’s menu.
According to Chef John Bogan, owner, the group is then broken into teams and each receives a recipe for an assigned course, as well as a chef hat and an apron.
After a group lesson in basic techniques and safety, teams prepare the meal with the guidance of the culinary staff and then enjoy each course paired with a delicious wine.
At the end of the evening, participants take home a packet of the recipes so the meal can be re-created at home.
All attendees, regardless of physical abilities, are able to participate in a Lake Geneva Cruise Line teambuilding event, which combines GPS technology with challenging puzzles.
“The brains of the team, the GPS god or sprinter—there is something for everyone,” said Clare Mulcahy, charter sales manager. “The Geneva Geo Challenge is not only an effective teambuilding tool, it also brings groups out onto the No. 1 attraction in the area: Geneva Lake. You can’t beat that refreshing atmosphere.”
Mulcahy added that attendees enjoy learning about each other on a different level, as the event taps into knowledge of various fun facts that wouldn’t ordinarily be explored in the workplace.
“Many times our captains overhear team members say, ‘How did you know that?’” she said.
Communication is key in order to escape the Lake Geneva Clue Room, according to Kathy Speaker, the attraction’s owner.
“It’s different than most other teambuilding activities, and basically is a lot of fun,” she said. “There is too much for one person to do on their own.”
She added meeting planners will see various personalities emerge during the event as attendees work together to solve the puzzles and escape the room.
PLANNER’S PERSPECTIVE: HEATHER HEIN,
OFFICE ADMINISTRATOR, CANTEEN, BLOOMINGDALE, ILL.
Briefly state what your job entails.
I manage a variety of tasks for all offices in the Midwest Division: HR, IT, meeting/event planning, payroll, audits.
What type of meeting did you hold in Lake Geneva?
This was our Annual Midwest Division meeting, held at Grand Geneva Resort & Spa. We hold our meetings in different locations throughout the Midwest.
Was anyone particularly helpful in executing your event?
Susan Smolarek from Visit Lake Geneva was instrumental in connecting me with Maureen Slater at the Baker House. Maureen pulled together all the details for a private evening reception, which was the highlight of the meeting.
What did your attendees seem to enjoy the most about Lake Geneva?
The Baker House reception and golf at Grand Geneva Resort & Spa was much talked about. The ladies in our group were excited about the spa, shopping and quaint downtown Lake Geneva.
Are there any group-friendly attractions/experiences that you would recommend for groups meeting there?
There are a lot of opportunities for those who like golfing, or miniature golf for folks like me. We also considered the dinner cruise/boat tours, and Tristan Crist Magic Theatre.
How does Lake Geneva compare to other cities where you have hosted meetings?
I was skeptical of hosting our meeting for 70-plus people in Lake Geneva, since it’s a small town. I was concerned we wouldn’t have a choice of restaurants large enough to host a dinner/reception, or entertainment, or transportation to/from airport, resort/downtown.
But after connecting with the right people there was no reason for concern. Everything worked out with no additional effort on my part. The event at the Baker House was the best we’ve hosted in many years.
Would you return/recommend Lake Geneva to other meeting planners?
I would. Lake Geneva is a small quaint town away from the big city. We were able to focus during our meeting each day without the distractions of a big city, and enjoy some R&R.
LATEST + GREATEST: MAY 2018 HOTEL AND RESORT UPDATE
Grand Geneva Resort & Spa in June 2017 completed a renovation and now offers 29 all-season villas featuring a full kitchen, fireplace, flat-screen TV, washer and dryer, patios, grilling area, fire pit area and swimming pool.
The Abbey Resort in 2017 updated guest rooms throughout the resort, remodeled the Waterfront Restaurant and added Immersion Virtual Entertainment Center, a cutting-edge virtual reality gaming center. Among the changes scheduled in 2018, the resort will add a new outdoor tent and update its lobby and Geneva Lake meeting rooms.
Benchmark added the property to its management portfolio in March 2018.
In 2017, Lake Lawn Resort improved Wi-Fi connectivity throughout the resort in guest rooms and meeting spaces; underwent golf course improvements, including the addition of over 225 newly planted trees; and added two large landscaped lakeside bricked patios with Delavan Lake views.
The Ridge Hotel recently invested in modern upgrades, including a tech-savvy lobby with an open floor plan and multiple gathering spaces, a new anchor restaurant/cocktail club, Crafted Americana and enhancements to the Aspen Ballroom and fitness facility.
Comfort Suites Lake Geneva East completed a renovation this year that included a remodeled lobby area and remodeled meeting rooms, new furniture in guest rooms, a new large outdoor fire pit patio area, and a new outdoor picnic area with grills and tables.
Harbor Shores renovated its guest rooms, and meeting and banquet spaces in 2017, and this year will update its outdoor pool furniture, fire pits and whirlpool, which will be open year-round.
Lodge at Canopy Tours opened in August 2017 with several meeting spaces, including a conference room for up to 12 people and an outdoor patio with a brick fire pit for up to 50 people.
CVB CONTACT INFORMATION
Visit Lake Geneva