When it comes to MICE venues (that’s Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing, Exhibitions, to the uninitiated) Australia has well and truly come of age in. We no longer have to dread the team getaway like we once did school camp. The new style of corporate retreat knows how to mix business with pleasure, with state-of-the-art conference facilities augmented by original team-building experiences.
So where to go? Heed the advice of Sharron Blundell, executive assistant to GE Australia and New Zealand’s President and Chief Executive, Geoff Culbert, who organises the annual leadership team kick-off event. “A beautiful location, of course. You need sunlight. You’re still in a boardroom set-up but you want to get outside for lunch. And a private dining room is important because it can get noisy in a public dining room, so if you want to do speeches it can be hard.”
Getting away is an important part of getting to know the people with whom you share an office, says Jason Kotkin, a CPA with JP Morgan. “Working for a global firm, it is important to travel to meet with colleagues in other countries... It’s a really effective way to gain an understanding of the way people think, work and to build relationships.”
At these great Australian corporate-friendly locations, the sky really is the limit.
Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort & Spa
In the heart of the Yarra Valley, a leading Victorian wine region yet only an hour’s drive from Melbourne, Balgownie Estate boasts an architecturally striking conference centre and executive boardrooms, all equipped with the latest technology and presentation equipment. Sunny balconies with stunning views of the Estate’s vineyards are perfect for breakouts, and the events team can arrange everything from hot-air ballooning to laser clay shooting.
Mansion Hotel & Spa at Werribee Park
It’s a breathtakingly ornate Italianate mansion dating from the 1870s, sitting regally among amid 10 acres of manicured gardens, but Werribee Park isn’t resting on its yesteryear laurels. Corporate-friendly mod cons include can be found in 10 eight versatile meeting spaces, including a ballroom accommodating 100 people. Employees can unwind with a gentle game of bocce or practice practise their chukkas at a polo demonstration. And all just 30 minutes from Melbourne’s CBD.
A luxury lodge in the Barossa wine region, the Louise is all about the boutique experience. Fifteen suites, all with vineyard views, are augmented by a sun-filled boardroom for up to 24 people with its own secluded breakout terrace. Private dining options at the lodge’s Appellation restaurant include a chef’s degustation and, of course, the famous Barossa shiraz. The clincher: it’s only one hour’s drive from Adelaide (but much shorter if you use the helipad).
Cape Lodge Margaret River
Three hours’ south of Perth on a secluded Margaret River vineyard, this luxury country house hotel of 22 rooms and suites is more like a private country estate, albeit one with modern corporate capabilities. There is a dedicated boardroom and two meeting rooms – and with award-winning wineries such as Vasse Felix as neighbours, the conference team are dab hands at organising private food and wine masterclasses. Book now
Spicers Peak Lodge
Situated in Queensland’s High Country surrounded by World Heritage-listed national park, Spicers Peak is a mountain lodge with a difference: a. A high-end collection of 10 suites and two private lodges, with it features a boardroom and private dining facilities in an expansive modern building capitalising that capitalises on its elevated Scenic Rim location.
Housed in a building as stunning as the its surrounding scenery of Great Oyster Bay and Freycinet Peninsula scenery its floor-to-ceiling windows embraces, this 20-suite coastal retreat puts the local into luxury. Food and drink options are carefully sourced, while time out from the 20-suite property with 24-seat boardroom includes could include boating on Wineglass Bay, an oyster farm tour or visit to the Lodge’s own Tasmanian devil sanctuary.
Groote Eylandt Lodge
Fifty kilometers kilometres from the Northern Territory mainland, the largest island in the Gulf of Carpentaria offers a singularly Indigenous-owned corporate getaway with same-day connectivity to Australian mainland capitals. Dedicated meeting rooms and a breezy conference suite at this 60-room lodge may have a hard time competing with breakout activities including some of the most thrilling sport fishing in the world, Indigenous cultural activities and freshly caught seafood in the dedicated Seagrass restaurant.
NEW SOUTH WALES
Fairmont Blue Mountains
It’s easy to see why this is a corporate favourite that hosts more than 300 events a year, from small strategy meetings of five people to 600-strong conferences. The sprawling retreat 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney capitalises on the surrounding Blue Mountains beauty from and offers 222 rooms and suites, 15 flexible conference spaces for up to 850 delegates, a ballroom that can sit 450 at a gala dinner, and flexible outdoor options. Leisurely distractions? Think laser tag, Segway tours of the 9.5-hectare property, golf, bushwalking and yoga.
Q Station Manly
A unique sympathetic blend of Sydney heritage and modern corporate convenience, this revamped quarantine station surrounded by 30 hectares of Sydney Harbour National Park is a with a difference – all just five minutes from Manly. Choose from 13 beautifully restored meeting rooms, including function rooms with harbour views, or and the rustic Governor Bourke Ballroom. For the ultimate in after-dark team building, try one of the ghost tours – if you dare.
Top image: Q Station Manly