BY CATHY SHOUSE
You would have to live under a rock to miss the fact that Hoosiers love sports, and companies are tapping into that enthusiasm and booking corporate retreats for team building at a variety of Indiana offerings. At a retreat, employees spend company-sanctioned time together going beyond the 8 to 5 routine. The goal: for employees to bond and work better together once they get back to the office.
“One of our fastest growing specialty groups are corporate retreats,” said Jim Pappas who, along with wife Hilary, own Miller Beach Vacation Rentals. “We’ve hosted over 60 businesses, big and small, over the past few years, who seek year-round, luxury accommodations. We provide private, productive, and quiet settings with amazing views of Lake Michigan, unspoiled dunes, and the Chicago Skyline.”
Jim and Hilary infuse discoveries from their own travels into their properties. Located about 40 minutes from Chicago on the Southern shore of Lake Michigan, they are adjacent to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, which will soon become the 60th National Park.
For a retreat, you might see an entire department, or three departments, go on a one-day excursion to try out a zip line, take a hike, or do other activities in a forest- like setting. Or employees might get away together for a few days or longer in a lake setting, where they alternate between business meetings and leisure pursuits.
There’s no question that getting away from the office has multiple
advantages. When you step away from the phones and work duties, your
cares slip away. Now go to the next level and imagine strolling into a vacation rental atmosphere with spectacular views and topnotch amenities. You’re automatically primed to break out of your ruts and make progress together.
The entire experience at any of their five properties is custom designed by the couple, with Jim bringing his engineering and contractor experience to the endeavor as well as his eye for beauty. He took all the photos on the website. Hilary spent many years as an interior designer in Chicago and hand picks the furnishings and finishes.
They exemplify the need for balance. When not hosting guests or building more vacation rentals, Jim enjoys finding obscure craft beers to pair with his favorite cheeses, and running with their Vizsla on the beach. Hilary loves to cook, entertain, and is on an endless pursuit to design their own homes. One of their favorite things is seeing the world through the eyes of their 22-month-old daughter.
“Executives, managers, and staff prefer our intimate and comfortable environment over sterile hotel rooms and conference centers,” Jim said. “After the work is done, there is plenty of space to unwind, entertain, and celebrate.”
To maximize the discounts, companies often book two to four nights during non- peak season, October-May, and mid-week, Sunday-Thursday. Jim said, “We have had many different groups converge on Miller Beach for team-building, awards presentations, learning, celebrating, etc. including finance executives, RV and auto manufacturers, consultants, churches, sales teams, couples, craft breweries, etc.”
Their properties continue to evolve with their newest offering, The Addition at Villa Santorini, which brings the total number of guests they can accommodate up to 70 people property-wide. Choose from hundreds of nearby restaurants, order catering, or participate in cooking classes and wine tastings. “We also offer daily maid service by request and have teamed up with local spas to offer discount massage and spa packages,” Jim said.
TEAM BUILDING Adventures
Indiana offers numerous zip line and outdoor experiences, and you might not realize that some can be corporate retreats up to 200 participants. A unique event shows people you’ve known at work in a new light and bonds you. For the company trying to break into a higher productivity level, a two-hour retreat can be ideal. Plus, the logistics are easily managed by the facility.
As difficult as it may be to picture, “giggling together with co-workers, and having some basic fun can work wonders,” according to Sally Burch, director of operations for Edge Adventures. Discovering who is afraid of heights, and personalities that are revealed can be refreshing.
“Just doing the course itself really brings out people’s characters . . . their guards are down,” Burch said.
Edge Adventures has simple team-building games on the ground that anyone can do, and non-participants “can always watch their teammates and encourage them.” They have three parks around Indiana—Crown Point, South Bend, and Noblesville. They each offer a variety of challenges depending on location, including treetop obstacles, zip lines, hike and bike trails, disc golf, and more.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: 1-800-590-8347 or EDGEADVENTUREPARKS.COM