We asked our team, (which has grown in 2023 from 4 to 10 people working from around Europe to keep that amazing fire alive!) what were their biggest learning of a year of hosting retreats and here is what came up:
1. Timely Arrival.
On retreats that last several days it is essential to time arrival properly. It takes time to get your bearings in a new space. Try to avoid guests arriving late at night as they will be tired and disorientated the next day and will ultimately have a less focused start the next morning. Make sure to organise and communicate not only the day of arrival but the idea time window during the day as well.
2. Make the most of that morning energy
It is true that we all are either early birds or night owls (with the occasional constantly exhausted pigeon) but in general from 9 am to lunch is the time when most of us have the best capacity to concentrate. Plan your important workshops earlier in the day and reserve the afternoons and evenings for physical activities that are about bounding and creating connections and demand less cognitive energy.
3. Start with what matters most
Have your most important sessions at the start of the retreat, when people are most "fresh". Over the course of the days, their attention span will decrease as they get numerous inputs from their colleagues and the nature around. You will then need to transition to activities that need shorter attention span but that are more focusing on bonding and collaboration. So plan accordingly.
4. Have a "release" party.
It is not because you are going into nature that alcohol and partying have to be prohibited. Many people will hope for an opportunity to celebrate through dance, music and a few drinks. But there again, be smart about it. Try to keep your evenings calm and relaxed until the last day and plan the "peak release" on the last evening to avoid losing half a day of workshops and activities due to hangovers. The last night is the best time to squeeze out all energy that is left with a party or another fun activity such a theater improv or a cooking class followed by a dinner outdoor.
5. Set it on fire.
We know we are biased but a bonfire is always a good idea. When asked about their favourite moment most of our clients go back to that feeling of connection chatting and sitting around the fire at night.
6. Suits have a heart too.
Some of our client are a bit worried that our set ups might not be "formal enough". To which we often respond: "suits have hearts too". Jokes aside, even our most formal companies have experienced deep emotional moments Even with the most formal company, you can be sure that people will melt their hearts and show their inner selves when gathering all together in nature
7. Welcome the unexpected
unforeseen events during retreats can be stressful but we have learnt from experience that they eventually always bring something good. nothing always happens exactly as planned. Embrace it.