When it comes to workplace productivity, a change can be as good as a holiday. Swap the executive floor for the great outdoors and ideas, inspiration and communication come naturally. Intimate retreats (50 rooms or less) get the best results for smaller groups. With highly personalised service and activities tailored to suit specific outcomes, everyone feels special.
Halcyon House, Cabarita Beach, NSW
Corporates might think they’ve died and gone to Italy at this super-chic Med-themed hotel 15 minutes from Gold Coast Airport. Its charms are many, from the 21 beautifully styled rooms to breezy, bohemian Paper Daisy restaurant (pictured at top), where chef Ben Devlin serves award-winning cuisine founded on prime local produce. Conference specs are first class: the Banksia Room, which seats up to 90, has in-ceiling audio, wireless mics and its own kitchen. Organisers can tailor memorable activities such as meditation, surfing, paddleboarding and snorkelling with turtles.
Wildman Wilderness Lodge, Arnhem, NT
Two hours’ drive from Darwin, next to Kakadu National Park, Wildman Wilderness Lodge offers a transformative Top End experience. With 10 luxury cabins and 15 (non-air-conditioned) safari tents set amid the red earth and melaleucas of Mary River National Park, the lodge is the antithesis of the urban jungle. In this ancient setting, staff can pit their wits against wildlife and get grounded in 50,000-year-old Indigenous culture. Wildman tempers outback conditions with creature comforts such as an infinity pool, bar and 100 per cent Aussie tucker, including roo and crocodile. Bond over airboat rides on the wetlands, sundowners at Leichhardt Point and scenic flights over Arnhem Land.
Spicers Peak Lodge, Maryvale, Qld
Spicers Peak Lodge’s location in the Scenic Rim is reason enough to book this intimate 13-room retreat. The lodge doesn’t charge extra for exclusive use so execs can own the entire property – tennis court, 20-pax boardroom and breathtaking views – for a getaway where privacy’s assured. There’s a relaxed luxury throughout, from the lounge with its open fire and cathedral ceilings (perfect for laid-back brainstorming) to the Relais & Chateaux restaurant. If the five-course dégustation with matching wines doesn’t inspire big ideas, a post-dinner didgeridoo session by the fire pit surely will.
Barnbougle, Bridport, Tas
It’s a measure of Barnbougle’s mesmerising setting that the owners installed blackout blinds in the 70-seat conference room so delegates aren’t distracted by North East Tasmania’s wild beaches. Chartered flights from Sydney or Melbourne put the property in reach of execs seeking an isolated spot to recharge and stretch the legs. The main draws are the links golf courses, Lost Farm and The Dunes. The spa and sports bar are equally alluring, as are Tamar Valley wine tours and rugged local hikes. The pick of the accommodation is the 50-room Lost Farm Lodge on windswept dunes above Bass Strait.
Lake House, Daylesford, Vic
Dreamy Daylesford, the European hill town in Central Victoria, will reinvigorate the most jaded mogul. Lake House’s idyllic waterfront setting is just the beginning; add a fine regional restaurant, lavish spa and elegant accommodation and you have the makings of a motivational stay. The 33 bedrooms are rarely available for exclusive use but an event space with a breakout area in an orchard ensures privacy for retreat attendees. Team- building options include cooking classes, beekeeping, farmgate tours and wine-tasting.