10 Work Retreat Ideas That Won't Break the Bank

work retreat ideas won't break the bank business team building exercise

When the people on your team and in your company are happy and engaged, productivity goes up about 20 percent, sales go up about 37 percent, and stock prices of companies in the “100 Best Companies to Work for" have shown increases of 14 percent per year. 

Company retreats are one way to boost morale, team build, and improve communication for your company as a whole or for different teams, whether they be managers, a project team, or even board members. 

But what are the best work retreat ideas, you ask? The ones that won't break the bank!

To get you started, we've put together 10 of our favorite affordable business retreat ideas that are worth the investment. Keep reading for inspiration in planning a corporate retreat and then look into the ones that stand out for you.


Work Retreat Basics

The key to your retreat is to get away from regular life for a night or two so you all can let everything go and connect. With barriers and stress gone, people are free to be in the moment and focus on each other and new ideas if that's your goal.

Speaking of goals, it's important to set the purpose of your retreat. Many simply boost morale and team build.

Some retreats are designed to focus on work in a new environment where fresh ideas can percolate and flourish. Everyone works, thinks, and brainstorms better when relaxed and not feeling the pressures of the daily grind.

Whatever the purpose, be sure to schedule it in. Speaking of schedules, planning is key. Once you pick your location, theme, and activities, book and plan well in advance. 

Even if it's a work retreat, try to get team building in there. It'll probably happen naturally if you pick a fun and chill spot and/or activity. Your retreat should also include fun, laughter, and the opportunity to "play."

Everyone should leave grateful for the experience. Think of it like a gift that will give back to your company and everyone there.


1. Amusement Park

Nothing says "we're a team" like screaming and clutching the handlebar of your rollercoaster car together as you careen down the tracks, and then laughing afterward.

Or how about floating down a waterpark lazy river together? Or looking out over the landscape and feeling above it all together in a Ferris wheel? Or having fries, floats, and other junk food together on the benches under a shady tree?

Most amusement parks have hotels nearby with great group business rates, conference rooms, and all-you-can-eat brunches. Book two nights with one day and night to play on the rides.


2. Local Tourist

Is there a fun local tourist spot near the office? You may have to look online because often times we save the touristy stuff for when we're halfway around the globe on vacay. But most places have something interesting nearby that would make for a novel work retreat. 

You can ask everyone to throw ideas into a hat to start. Think quaint nearby towns with a Main Street, local fare, and boutique hotels. Think about museums. Think national parks. Think about anything in the great outdoors. 

If the timing's right, you might find a local festival. Think the Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California, the Wilton Blueberry Festival in Maine, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and Renaissance Faires. 


3. Retreat Under the Stars

How about a nighttime hike? Or a nighttime obstacle course? Or campfire? During the day, you can brainstorm and focus on those amazing ideas bubbling up inside inspired by the great outdoors.

Rent a bit house or some cabins near an outdoorsy spot, like the mountains, woods, or beach. If you have a lot of people, find a hotel nearby and use your business account to get that corporate rate. 

Another option for a large team is to find a spot that has a big room where you can congregate and spend time together and rent a few different vacation rentals close by. Then everyone can meet up together for activities. 

A roaring campfire is key if you can swing it. Hiking is too. Don't forget to pack the marshmallows and tuck a few ghost stories away in your back pocket.


4. Retreat Under the Stars Local Camping Style

Rough it a little more by doing a camping retreat. Find a local spot where you don't have to drive far but where you can either camp in tents or stay in rustic cabins.

Glamping (glamour camping) is also an option. These spots have cabins that have all the comforts of a nice hotel. Read giant bathtubs, a kitchen, and heat or air-conditioning.

Having to set up tents together and wake up and cook breakfast together are instant team builders. And we haven't even mentioned starting a fire! Who remembers how to do that? It's likely someone on your team does. 

Sound like it's going to be too rough? Hire someone to come along and help with all the outdoorsy tasks. That way people can either do it themselves or just relax.


5. Retreat Under the Stars Backyard Camping Style

Backyard camping is a great option if someone on the team has a huge yard or property. If not, look into vacation rentals that have space for you to set up tents (and the approval from the owner).

Either way, this one won't cost an arm and a leg and you can still do a lot of camping fun. Also, you'll have nice indoor facilities so it's a little more glamping style. 


6. Toast of the Town

No one can resist a weekend retreat that features the creature comforts of food and drink. And your team will love a winery getaway complete with hikes and pow wows during the day and lazy afternoon wine tasting. 

Breweries offer an equally delicious option. For both, you can bring in cheese or chocolate tastings and nonalcoholic bevies for those who don't care to imbibe the more potent spirits.


7. Metropolitan Inspiration

You don't have to fly your team to London, Paris, New York, or Toyko for an elegant retreat that brings out the best entrepreneurial ideas in your team. And it doesn't have to be a top-class resort for it to be hip and posh.

Instead, find a great local boutique hotel. Or one in the closest city. And book a block of great rooms. 

They key is to find a spot with a theme. This makes it rich in flavor and classy. Take the Eliza Jane hotel in New Orleans. It's located in the renovated publishing building of The Daily Picayune newspaper.

Eliza Jane Nicholson was the publisher and the first female U.S. newspaper publisher. How's that for inspiring? Also, it's set near great eats. 

Plus, these boutique hotels usually have a reasonably priced conference room amidst the flavorful decor for you to get to it during the days. 


8. On Your Marks, Get Set, Go

Playing fun games. Setting up competitions. And splitting up teams to play against each other is another fun option. 

Find a comfortable and clean but no-frills spot to stay that has outdoor space, and put your efforts into the activities rather than a fancy location.

Set up a bunch of games and make playing mandatory. If people really don't want to play, they can referee.

Reach back to those birthday parties for some doozies like the egg toss competition, egg-on-spoon race, burlap-sack jumping race, and the good 'ole foot race. 

And get creative with other options. Think charades. Think about a cook-off. Think scavenger hunt. Think hot dog eating contest.

And you can have some fun prizes too. You got this! 


9. Learning Something New

Focus your retreat around a fun new learning experience like cooking classes or fishing or taking care of farm animals.

First, pick the activity. You won't please everyone but you can probably guess what most people will like. And if some don't like it, it'll probably end up being most amazing for them because they will have to stretch themselves. 

Next, find options for teachers. If you find a school that is affordable and has lodging, great. But the lodging part probably will drive up the cost. Instead, find a budget hotel or vacation rental nearby where everyone can stay.


10. Laughs and Play

When you think of improv, you probably think of people on a stage telling jokes or Saturday Night Live. But improv is people together doing pretend play that somehow manages to come out funny every time.

It's also an amazing way to let the creativity flow. We're thinking major brainstorm session with awesome results.

Laughter loosens everything up and no one has to try to be funny to make that happen. Improv builds confidence and can help each of your team members find their most amazing voice and express it. 

First, find a company that specializes in business improv. If you don't live in or near New York, Chicago, or L.A., you may have to bring them out. Then book nice and affordable local lodging for your team for one or two nights.


Affordable Work Retreat Ideas for You

Now that you have some inspiration for affordable work ideas, you can get started by researching the ones that seem appropriate for your firm. Did any pop out at you for your team and business? We hope so! And that's the best place to start. 

Start thinking about team building opportunities. You'll be having fun and that's a top team-builder right there, but maybe there's room for other options. Explore some of the other areas of the blog for more business news and tips.

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