Teeing up some R&R during the workday Golf and spa services score big with employees

Adding a round of golf or a spa treatment to a day of meetings can work three-fold for meeting planners — it shows employees that they’re appreciated; it relaxes and rejuvenates them so they’re fresh-minded for a hard day at the office; and it’s a great way to build up a team.

For these reasons and more, adding a day at the spa or on the course is growing in popularity among executives who want to score big with their employees.

“Golfing is the perfect environment for communicating and team building,” says J. Craig Sharp, managing director, sales, marketing and communications for the Royal Canadian Golf Association. “A total of four-and-a-half to five hours outside on the golf course with probably 30 minutes of actual ‘hitting’ shots and the rest is an opportunity for interaction, discussion and building camaraderie.”

And there’s no shortage of places to choose from across Canada and south of the border. Here’s a guide to some of the best golf courses and spas that are sure to win over any employee.

Western Canada

The Okanagan Valley is famous for its wineries, orchards and an array of unique recreational activities. Its pristine scenery, coupled with its abundance of sunshine make it the perfect destination in which to hit the links. And at Predator Ridge Golf Resort, meeting delegates can not only get the job done but afterwards they can hit world-famous golf courses and tend to their aching muscles at the resort’s prestigious spa.

Predator Ridge has four meeting rooms that can accommodate groups of up to 60 people. The resort will also organize group tee times and provide tournament co-ordination services for team-building activities. Specialty dining events, customized prizes and tee-gifts can also be provided.

Predator Ridge offers 27 holes of spectacular golf with the Osprey, Red Tail and Peregrine nines. “Each course has a unique style and beauty that will surely challenge both the player and the enthusiast,” says Jennifer Strachan, marketing and community relations specialist.

The course is designed by Doug Carrick and was home to the 2000 Skins Game and is preparing to host the 2008 TELUS World Skins Game on June 16 and 17. It’s only the second time in Skins history that this prestigious event has returned to a course for its second time.

“It is definitely a privilege to play at the resort. Meetings scheduled at the resort are not just adding “golfing” to their agenda. Everyone that is privileged to play at the resort enjoys exceptional customer service offerings such as complimentary valet, power cart rental with GPS, practice facility and complimentary range balls, beautiful clubhouse with a wide variety of dining choices and exceptional views,” says Strachan.

To soothe those swinging muscles, the Rituals AVEDA Salon and Spa is located in the centre of the village at the Predator Ridge Lodge. With more than 5,000 square feet of treatment rooms, a relaxation lounge, full service salon and retail area, the spa is a great place to relax after a round of golf or to dream the day away.

Spa enthusiasts will bask in the spa’s hot stone and couples’ massages, facials, body treatments, pedicures and manicures.

For another hot golfing destination, look to Canada’s only desert. The Osoyoos Golf and Country Club brings together the ideal desert climate for golfing along with the picturesque Okanagan surroundings. To accommodate the workday, the Osoyoos Golf and Country Club has meeting spaces suitable for small groups (for eight to 10) and for larger groups up to 100.

When the meeting is adjourned, delegates can practice their swing at the club’s 36-hole, two full-length championship courses — Park Meadows and Desert Gold.

Park Meadows serves up 18 holes of lush greenery. Delegates will enjoy this “jewel of the valley” with its rolling hilled fairways and graceful willow trees.

Desert Gold offers a breathtaking par 71 course measuring from 4,924 yards to 6,500 yards on four distinct tee decks situated on a desert bench overlooking Osoyoos Lake and the vineyards and orchards of the South Okanagan. The desert course layout offers length and challenge. And if the golfing doesn’t impress meeting delegates, the view surely will.

“There are great views from our dining rooms,” says Randy LaRoche, general manager of the Osoyoos Golf and Country Club. “Our extensive patios and decks all overlook the golf course, Okanagan Valley, lakes, mountains and vineyards.”

Located at the north end of Penticton, the Penticton Golf and Country Club offers a full play golf course with all the amenities, including pro shop, new electric carts, restaurant, lounge and banquet room.

“We are also building a new clubhouse that will be ready for the 2009 golf season,” says Terry Montgomery, general manager of the Penticton Golf and Country Club.

The 18-hole, par 70 course, which was remodeled in 1989 by Les Ferber, is easy to walk but offers up some golfing challenges with its narrow fairways, water holes and well-placed bunkers.


Central Canada is a convenient meeting destination for delegates across the country. Ontario — one of the country’s most popular destinations — is popular for its meeting, golfing and spa opportunities.

Located in Gravenhurst, Taboo Resort Golf and Spa serves up exceptional meeting, golfing and spa services.

The conference service staff keeps in constant contact with meeting delegates from the contract confirmation right through to the actual onsite event. Its up-to-date facilities include complimentary wireless Internet, excellent meeting rooms complete with flat screen presentation access and ergonomic chairs and state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment.

Famous for its world-class golf course, the home course of Mike Weir, Taboo offers 18 holes of breathtaking scenery and granite outcroppings, designed by Ron Garl.

“Adding golf to any meeting kills two birds with one stone,” says Shannon Smith, director of marketing at Taboo. “It creates team building within the foursome, putting four individuals that don’t know each other together on the golf course is quite possibly the easiest and most comfortable environment for them to be in and get to know each other.”

With the exception of Taboo’s spa, that is. After all, who wouldn’t be comfortable taking in Taboo’s Resort Spa’s signature treatment — the cranberry maple body polish — a service that promotes total relaxation, full-body exfoliation and deep hydration.

The Niagara Region is a popular destination for its vineyards and sightseeing opportunities but it’s also known for its world-class golf courses.

Located just five minutes south of Niagara Falls, Legends on the Niagara is a first of its kind in Canada. Legends offers a magnificent golf complex featuring two unrivaled 18-hole championship courses, a nine-hole short course and a 45-acre, 360-degree driving range. It was chosen to host the 2004 BMO Financial Group LPGA Canadian Women’s Open and designed by architects Carrick and Thomas McBroom. Conventions, incentive packages, tournaments and conference space can all be arranged onsite.

“Legends offers its executive board room and award-winning dining experiences with chefs on hand to customize each conference’s needs and the Jim McLean Golf School for lessons and team building,” says Sarah Wood, event and public relations manager for the Niagara Parks Commission.

“By providing meeting space, employee incentives, team-building activities and relaxation, this will improve employee morale, performance and productivity.”

Also, located in southern Ontario in the town of Kimberley, Talisman Resort serves up exceptional facilities for meeting, golfing and taking in a spa treatment or two.  

Talisman boasts 14,000 square feet of meeting space complete with unlimited seating and exhibit flexibility. For convenience, Talisman offers delegates wireless Internet as well as enhanced cellular and BlackBerry service.

Golfers of all levels will enjoy the nine-hole, par 34 – 2,672-yard executive golf course. In addition, Talisman offers tournaments, private, semi-private and group lessons for delegates.

To soothe their sun-kissed skin after a day on the links, The Spa at Talisman is popular for its signature facials, which include a face, neck and shoulder massage. In addition, while delegates are soaking their faces under a facial mask, they will also receive a full arm and hand massage for ultimate relaxation.

Eastern Canada

In Eastern Canada, Humber Valley Resort in Newfoundland, is the perfect destination for corporate, conference and convention travel. The resort is designed to appeal to the creative conference planner with an expansive banquet room, private breakout rooms and pristine outdoor spaces, including its onsite golf course, the River Course.

“The 18-hole, par 72 championship River Course is both challenging and forgiving,” says Lisa Anthony, marketing manager for Humber Valley Resort.

Several holes are played alongside the tranquil Humber River or the shores of Deer Lake and a number of natural ponds and streams meander throughout the course. Breathtaking views can be enjoyed from most of the holes culminating in the 18th where the backdrop rises 400 feet in elevation up to the Eagle’s Perch.

“The River Course stands out for golfers because of the layout and the shot values incorporated in every hole,” says Anthony. “It truly is a well-kept secret — even the non-golfer makes the course a destination simply to take in the extreme views afforded from the course.”

Along with a world-class golf course, Humber Valley Resort also has an onsite spa.

Found Spa, an Aveda Concept Spa, has aligned values in synergy with the environment and sustainability of resources. It boasts more than 30 treatments to choose from, ranging from 45 minutes to full-day services.

South Carolina

For meetings that head south, South Carolina serves up plenty of opportunities for work and play.

Hilton Head Island, also known as ‘The Golf Island’, has made golf a tradition since the first Scottish immigrants to South Carolina organized America’s first golf club in 1786. Today, there are more than 20 championship public-access courses located on Hilton Head Island, four of which consistently rank among the nation’s top 100 in key golf publications.

“All of the local courses have extensive experience with meeting planners for golf tournaments or they can arrange tee times for groups,” says Jack Reed, director of sales for Hilton Head Island-Bluffton VCB. “They can help co-ordinate prizes, scoring, box lunches and more.”

In addition, all of the Island’s public, resort and private clubs offer both group and individual lessons from certified golf-instruction professionals.

Kiawa Island Golf Resort, located just 21 miles from historic Charleston, lies along 10 miles of one of America’s top beaches, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean. This 10,000-acre island is a haven for a plethora of wildlife including egrets, loggerhead turtles and alligators. It’s also a superb meeting destination.

With more than 19,000 square feet of meeting and conference facilities, the Kiawa Island Golf Resort is also home to several unique outdoor function areas. The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island adds another 18,000 square feet of the finest meeting space in the country.

Golf enthusiasts will be amazed by the resort’s five championship courses designed by the world’s leading golf course architects, including Pete Dye, Tom Fazio and Gary Player.

For those delegates who’d rather indulge in a spa day, the resort boasts a 12-room garden-themed spa featuring treatments based upon the ocean, maritime forest and botanical gardens. The spa can accommodate group bookings and serves up a variety of services. However, the spa’s decadent treatment is “the Signature Massage” — a 60 to 90-minute rubdown, which uses heated grain and herb-filled wraps that are placed on key tension areas and major muscle groups to induce deep relaxation.

“Results include relief of muscle tension, increased circulation and a relaxed, nurtured feeling,” says Matt Owen, public relations director for the Kiawah Island Golf Resort.

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