Orchard Air’s second post in the Retreat Tips series gives a tick-list to help any leader choose a great venue. The right venue is central to your retreat, so read on to check you don’t miss anything!
First considerations when choosing your retreat venue
1) Location: Consider ease of travel for you and your guests, then what type of area would complement your retreat theme in terms of natural beauty, specific activities or places of interest.
2) Bedrooms: Your planned group size will inform the number of beds required. After bed numbers, you’ll need to know the configuration of the bedrooms (singles/doubles/shared rooms) and that facilities and décor in them will suit your group.
3) Exclusive V Shared Space: Are you looking for a venue to yourself or would you be willing to be in a shared space with other groups or individuals?
4) The property: The building(s) itself will really affect the feel of your retreat. It needs to look and feel good and needs to match your particular group type. Do you want cosy or spacious, modern or traditional, luxurious, grand or homely?
5) Communal areas: Check what type of communal areas there are (including dining area), their size and if they offer what you need for your activities and relaxation plans.
6) Grounds: The outdoors may be a prominent feature of your retreat, either for activities or just for relaxation. If so, find out what they consist of.
7) Facilities: Details of the activity space/yoga studio? What equipment is provided? (yoga mats?) Swimming pool/hot tub? Bathrooms? Parking?
8) Catering: Are you looking for an in-house caterer, will you cater yourself or will the group be involved? What options are possible at this venue? Can they cater to dietary requirements? What costs are involved?
9) Cost: If you already have an idea of the price bracket you’ll charge your guests, you probably have an approximate venue cost in your budget. Alternatively, you may be scoping venues in advance to help you look at costings. Whichever it is, there is no getting away from the fact that cost will be an important factor in your decision. Check what is and isn’t included in the price.
10) Availability: Check the venue is free for the dates you have in mind.
Now finalise your retreat centre choice
11) Transport: Pinpoint the location on a map and research transport options. Depending on type and length of your retreat, it may be adversely affected if it is very difficult to get to, only accessible by certain transport methods or complicated to find.
12) Nearby activities: Do you require extra activities to add to those you’ll be offering at the venue? Are there nearby walks or places of interest where guests can occupy themselves in any downtime? Does the venue itself run or have access to people who run local excursions, tours or activities?
13) Comfort: Many things affect comfort and will make a difference to your guests’ stay – think about quality of light, furnishings, beds, noise, temperature.
14) Provisions: What do the venue provide with regard to catering equipment and consumables, cleaning provisions, linen and towels?
15) Values: Do the values of the venue owner match your own?
16) Staffing: Does the venue seem to be well-run? When you talk to the manager, does he/she seem to be helpful and on your wavelength? It is a partnership so you want to be able to work together well.
17) Testimonials: Can you see previous guest reviews?
18) Payment: When are the deposit and balance due? What is the deposit?