One Site Does Not Fit All
To get the most out of your team's next retreat, spare no expense and tailor your destination to your goal.
By Tom Price

(Business 2.0) – You've sounded the retreat—to an offsite, that is. Now comes the big decision: choosing the right spot. To get the most from your time away, it's not enough just to pick a lavish space. Think about your goal: Do you want to forge tighter bonds, cook up new products, or lay out a new strategy? Team building, for example, benefits from easy access to the outdoors, while a resort with small, informal meeting spaces lends itself to brainstorming. And don't be penny-wise and pound-foolish. The budget for a typical offsite can run well into the five-figure range, but that's dwarfed by the return you'll get from a group that really clicks.

With that in mind, here are a few of the best places to stage your event. They range from opulent to open desert, but all are within 90 minutes of direct flights, so you can spend less time getting there and more getting work done. — TOM PRICE

TEAM BUILDING

Four Seasons, Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Looking for high-intensity bonding? Last year this hotel hosted a sunrise breakfast for one group up in the Tetons, followed by tandem paraglider rides back down. Yes, you might find the same activities at a dude ranch, but if you care about what happens after your feet hit the ground, you'll be glad you opted for this luxury chain's sole mountain outpost: Most ranches don't have meeting facilitators on call or breakout rooms with whiteboards tucked behind wood panels.

20 minutes from Jackson Hole Airport 307-732-5000; www.fourseasons.com 12 people, 3 nights: $12,000 and up

LEADERSHIP RETREAT

Inn on Biltmore Estate, Asheville, N.C.

Groom the next generation of management by consciously setting them apart—and giving them an experience that's a reward in itself. Here's where to do it: The Inn on Biltmore Estate, housed on business magnate G.W. Vanderbilt's 8,000 acres, makes a specialty of leadership getaways. Gather in one of two boardrooms to find traditional blotter pads at your seats, then continue your discussion at dinner beneath the champagne cellar's chandeliers.

20 minutes from Asheville Regional 877-245-0654; www.biltmore.com 12 people, 5 nights: $15,000, room only

BRAINSTORMING

Rex Ranch, Amado, Ariz.

There's a reason the Rex draws teams wanting to do a "big think." Its nine rustic casitas all have porches that are perfectly suited for sunset ruminations, while a range of indoor and outdoor meeting spaces covers more formal needs. Plan breakout sessions in the Kiva and Mesquite rooms or around the fireplace in the tile-floored Salle Grande, which looks out along the Santa Cruz River valley and into Mexico. Outside, meet under the trees near the Japanese garden. Ranchwide Wi-Fi means that you can IM your breakthroughs from anywhere.

40 minutes from Tucson International 800-547-2696; www.rexranch.com 65 people, 6 nights: $32,000, inclusive

STRATEGY SESSION

Mayflower Inn, Washington, Conn.

To get everyone on the same page, start by putting them all in one room. Walk down the stone stairs from the main house to the 1,200-square-foot Lodge on the Brook and seat your group in the comfy leather captain's chairs—you'll have an instant captive audience for laying out your brilliant plan. Plug into the hidden 60-inch plasma TV to dazzle them with your PowerPoint decks. They won't even be able to break away for lunch: A small kitchen serves working meals.

90 minutes from JFK 860-868-9466; www.mayflowerinn.com 20 people, 4 nights: $34,000, inclusive