Successful corporate retreats require a restful setting far from the office, with lots of natural light and fresh air, custom workspaces (views optional) and novel activities to spark the mind and test the mettle. It’s a rare resort that handles big groups well but Australia is blessed with some exceptional larger properties (51 rooms or more) that cater for work and play with equal skill.
Elements of Byron Bay, Byron Bay, NSW
Why can’t every workday start with yoga overlooking Cape Byron Lighthouse, Australia’s easternmost point? At Elements of Byron (pictured at top), a 22-hectare retreat on NSW’s Far North Coast, it can. Opened in 2016, Elements blends beachfront vibes with the latest conferencing facilities and 121 bedrooms for delegates (the total capacity will be 600 when 99 new villas open later this year). The resort has 12 event venues, including a 400-pax pavilion, and can cater for poolside cocktail parties and beach barbecues. The R&R roster features hinterland food tours, kayaking with whales, brewery tours and surfing. High- flyers can heli-transfer from Ballina and Gold Coast airports.
Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort, Port Douglas, QLD
Fresh from a $43 million makeover, this huge landmark property makes a persuasive pitch for doing business in Port Douglas. Sunshine and swaying palms aside, the Sheraton has 17 event spaces – from the 850- seat Glade Pavilion to a private island (and a private beach) – tailor-made for get-togethers. The accommodation consists of 294 rooms set in tropical gardens or by the two-hectare lagoon. The clincher? Two World Heritage sites – the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree rainforest – are right on the doorstep.
Novotel Barossa Valley Resort, Rowland Flat, SA
With Jacob’s Creek and St Hallett as neighbours and more than 100 cellar doors in the region, Novotel Barossa Valley Resort offers many compelling reasons to schedule an off-site here. There’s the serene bushland setting, 140 rooms and nine function spaces suitable for everything from group powwows to gala dinners. There’s also new on-site restaurant The Cellar Kitchen, which showcases prime South Australian ingredients in partnership with artisan producer Saskia Beer. Not to mention the heated pool, day spa, tennis and basketball courts and, right next door, the championship Tanunda Pines golf course.
Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort & Spa, Yarra Glen, Vic
Vineyard views and wine-tasting are the perks of the job at this popular 70-suite retreat in the heart of the Yarra Valley. Chardonnay and pinot vines are a constant, whether attendees are working in the 130-seat conference centre, lazing in the on-site spa or learning to blend wine with local oenologists. Team-building options run from Segway tours and archery to hot air ballooning and human foosball in an inflatable arena. Discounted cellar-door sales help to seal the deal.
Pullman Bunker Bay Resort, Naturaliste, WA
After a welcome to country by the Noongar people and sundowners on the terrace of the Sugarloaf Rock conference room, corporate guests might struggle to concentrate on the tasks at hand. But Pullman Bunker Bay Resort works hard to balance the best of the Margaret River region – stunning beaches and wineries, craft breweries and shredding surf breaks – with boardroom meetings (complete with ocean views) and team-building over lawn bowls and beach cricket. This resort between Bunker Bay and Cape Naturaliste sleeps up to 330 guests in one-, two- and three-bedroom villas.