Destination Report: Board Meetings Without Boredom

These five new resorts and spas offer luxurious comforts and adventurous diversions for corporate board gatherings or executive retreats.

April 11, 2006, 12:00 AM EDT

For a more casual alternative to the Keyah Grande's 12-seat conference room, head out to?the rest's circular fire pit deck.

For a more casual alternative to the Keyah Grande's 12-seat conference room, head out to?the rest's circular fire pit deck.

Getaways for corporate boards and management committees often require special environments. Luckily, a number of exclusive new resorts across the United States cater to such groups' unique needs.

El Monte Sagrado Living Resort and Spa (505.758.3502) occupies four acres of gardens at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Taos, New Mexico. Designed to function harmoniously with the earth, the resort has a green space called a “sacred circle” with cottonwood trees bordered by waterfalls, stone sculptures, and a stocked trout pond.

Thirty-six suites and casitas—each with hand-painted walls, pueblo-style gas fireplaces, private patios, and courtyard hot tubs—surround the sacred circle. The hotel's restaurant specializes in indigenous and organic ingredients, while its spa offers treatments ranging from a “high desert body polish”
to “Egyptian anointing.”

For groups, the resort has plasma-screen TVs, videoconferencing technology, high-speed Internet access, and several meeting rooms. It will also arrange a wide variety of activities, including cooking classes, hiking, horseback riding, white-water rafting on the Rio Grande, kayaking, llama-trekking, hot-air ballooning, and visits to local museums and art galleries.

Keyah Grande (970.731.1160) is an intimate retreat on a 4,000-acre wooded ranch where the borders of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah meet. Each of its eight oversize, luxurious guest rooms has unique decor, inspired by the owners' trips to China, France, Japan, and other foreign destinations. Art and antiques decorate each guest room, which also offer expansive views of the surrounding San Juan Mountains, and feature satellite TV, high-speed Internet access, and whirlpool tubs.

The hotel has an “open kitchen” policy, which means guests can drop in any time they wish for food with organic and artisanal ingredients. The hotel's spa offers treatments inspired by local forests, mountains, and waters.

Activities offered on the grounds include trail hikes, nature walks, snowshoeing, all-terrain vehicle and snowmobile tours, horseback riding, fly-fishing, skeet and trapshooting, and hunting. Off-site, guests can down-hill or cross-country ski, play golf, and white-water raft, depending on the season. For meeting groups, the hotel provides a conference room that seats 12 and has Wi-Fi access, Ethernet, and other connections, and a 24-hour business center.

Keyah Grande, which opened last January, can be taken over by one group. Its staff, which numbers almost as many as the resort's capacity, can arrange activities, including cooking lessons and teambuilding exercises.

Lajitas (432.424.5000), which bills itself as “the ultimate hideout,” is a 92-room luxury resort on a 25,000-acre private estate nestled between Big Bend National Park and Big Restaurants include the Ocotillo, which serves upscale cowboy cuisine; the Candelilla Café, which has Southwest cuisine; and the Thirsty Goat Saloon. Among the many activities offered here are golf, on a 19-hole course (the 19th hole is across the Rio Grande in Mexico); Jeep tours; archaeological digs; fishing; mountain biking; and horseback riding. Treatments at the Agavita Spause indigenous ingredients, including the agave succulent. Bend State Park in the Chihuahuan Desert in Texas; guest room decor schemes range from cowboy to Victorian.

Lajitas caters to groups: It has 6,000 square feet of indoor meeting space and 10,000 square feet of outdoor space; a fully equipped boardroom; and a freestanding executive conference center with outdoor terrace and swimming pool. It will also arrange everything from Learjet charter flights (the closest city, Midland, Texas, is 200 miles away), cowboy cookouts, and chuckwagon barbecue dinners to cowboy action shooting, Texas Hold'em poker tournaments, and ATV treasure hunts.

The Resort at Paws Up (800.473.0601), which opened this past June, sits on 37,000 acres of Montana wilderness steeped in Lewis and Clark history; it is on the Blackfoot River, where the film A River Runs Through It was shot.

Accommodations are offered in a variety of cabins and homes, and even a converted barn; these sleep anywhere from four to 10 guests and contain full-size refrigerators, flat-screen TVs, DVD players, Internet access, and outdoor hot tubs. And a tent, complete with a so-called “camping butler,” features feather beds, electricity, private toilets, and showers. Dining is in a Continental restaurant with a Western flair, and a more casual bistro.

Sports-related diversions are endless: Year-round possibilities include wildlife watching, hiking, and horseback riding (in a 23,000-square-foot riding arena), while seasonal options include clay shooting, ATV excursions, fly-fishing, golf, skiing, ice fishing, and dogsledding.

For groups, the resort has a 10-seat round boardroom, a V.I.P. suite in the equestrian center, and theater. It will also arrange teambuilding activities and overnight horseback excursions, as well as spa treatments, cooking classes, and photography lessons.

The Setai (888.625.7500), which fully opened last summer in Miami's South Beach, combines Art Deco and Asian-inspired decor, with 75 guest rooms and 50 suites, plus a 10,000-square foot penthouse complete with private lap pool, hot tub, and balconies with panoramic views. Guest rooms feature teak floors, flat-screen TVs, espresso machines, DVD/CD systems, and high-speed Internet access.

The hotel's restaurant serves Asian and French-influenced dishes, and offers a champagne, crustacean, and caviar bar. In addition are a full-service spa, a fitness center, a landscaped outdoor courtyard, and three beachfront pools. For groups, the Setai can arrange private yacht charters and plane charters, as well as golf, tennis, and deep-sea diving.

Jane L. Levere

Posted 04.11.06

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