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Resorts: Pamper your group

Photo courtesy White Mountain Hotel and Resort

Do you love the idea of those European river cruises that allow your travelers to see it all while only unpacking once? Bank groups can translate those benefits at these domestic resorts that offer not only abundant amenities but also days of sightseeing and exciting activities right around the corner.

White Mountain Hotel and Resort
North Conway, New Hampshire
Famous for sensational skiing and mountain views, the White Mountain Hotel and Resort also gives groups the option of more than a dozen guided sightseeing tours that extend into nearby Maine and Vermont.

“Groups can enjoy an afternoon on the Conway Scenic Railroad, a sightseeing cruise on Casco Bay, visits to a cheese factory and more,” said Kimberly Clarke, the resort’s group sales coordinator. “Our most popular prepackaged tours include a fall foliage trip and a summer sail-and-rail tour. We do our best to live up to our reputation as an ideal hub-and-spoke destination.”

Clarke said that bank groups usually fly into one of three nearby airports and stay for five or six days to take advantage of the tours.

The property also offers guests amenities that include a year-round outdoor heated pool and Jacuzzi, Finnish saunas, a professional-length golf course and walking trails to Echo Lake.

“We are also five minutes from the center of North Conway Village, with over 200 tax-free outlets and specialty shops,” said Clarke.

An additional bonus is that groups eat breakfast and dinner at their leisure while enjoying views of Cranmore Mountain.

Gary Sullivan, whose family owns Collette Vacations, built the hotel.

“Gary has been in the tour business for over 30 years,” said Clarke. “He personally designs our tours, serves as the tour guide on many trips and introduces many of our nightly shows.”

(800) 533-6301, ext. 415

Best Western Inn of the Ozarks
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
The Best Western Inn of the Ozarks began life as a campground in the 1930s when tourists began arriving in those “newfangled” motorcars, according to sales manager Terry Barry.

“We evolved from tent spaces and cabins to one of the premier resorts in Eureka Springs. We sit on 35 beautiful acres,” said Barry.

The inn is only one hour from the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville and President Bill Clinton’s first home in Fayetteville and two hours from the historic towns of Van Buren and Fort Smith.

“Bank groups can not only enjoy Eureka’s Great Passion Play but take a day trip to enjoy nearby Branson, Missouri,” said Barry. “We work with a receptive tour operator who is an expert on Branson. Any attraction in Eureka Springs can be included in our package plans — we’ve been packaging Eureka Springs for 35 years.”

The resort’s restaurant, Myrtie Mae’s, is an award-winning family-style restaurant. “Don’t miss their fried chicken and possum pie,” Barry said.

The inn also has a swimming pool, a hot tub and a miniature golf course. Bank groups can also have a round of golf at Holiday Island Country Club, a nearby course boasting views of the Ozark Mountains.

(800) 552-3785

Red Cliffs Lodge

Moab, Utah
Colin Fryer, the cowboy-owner of Red Cliffs Lodge, located on a working ranch at the foothills of Red Rock cliffs, is the inspiration behind this resort property.

Courtesy Red Cliffs Lodge

“This was my dream to get back to ranching. And then I fell in love with the inspiring lodges in this part of the country,” he said. “We’re surrounded by thousands of acres and government land. We’ll never have a neighbor out here.”

The lodge offers views from every suite and cabin, a pool, a spa and a volleyball court. The Colorado River, which provides white-water rafting opportunities, runs through the property, which is also home to the Moab Museum of Film and Western Heritage and Castle Creek Winery.

“The museum features displays on early cowboy ranching and local movie memorabilia. The major motion pictures filmed in this area include Geronimo, City Slickers and Thelma and Louise. Our winery has produced over 30 award-winning wines,” said Fryer.

Fryer added that horseback riding is a premier attraction at Red Cliffs. “You’ll never ride a better horse in more scenic territory — the same environment John Wayne rode in during the 1960s.”
Numerous national parks, including Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, and state parks, such as Dead Horse Park and Goblin Valley State Park, are nearby, and the lodge offers a variety of scenic itineraries.

Fryer summed up his dream-come-true venture: “We’re a cowboy joint with style. The food and wine are good, and the beer is always cold.”

(435) 259-2002

The Broadmoor
Colorado Springs, Colorado
The Broadmoor resort has been honored with a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Award for the 50th consecutive year, the only property ever to achieve this status.

Courtesy The Broadmoor

Located on 3,000 acres beneath Cheyenne Mountain, the Broadmoor offers a spa, a fitness center, two swimming pools, three outdoor hot tubs and a lap pool. After dining at one of the Broadmoor’s 18 restaurants and perusing its 24 specialty shops, visitors can play tennis or choose from three championship golf courses.

Directors may want to gather their golf groupies and make plans to visit when the resort hosts the U.S. Women’s Golf Open in 2011.

Consider staying at the Cottages, new additions to the resort. The six cottage buildings offer two to eight bedrooms apiece, extravagant homes that offer all the hotel services.

The scenic area includes Pikes Peak and the Garden of the Gods, which offers hands-on lessons in geology and Native American culture, and tours of the U.S. Air Force Academy are group favorites.

(866) 837-9520

Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center

Grapevine, Texas
More than 1,500 guest rooms at the Gaylord Texan overlook 5 acres of indoor gardens and winding waterways that are intermingled with fine and casual dining opportunities and offbeat shopping experiences that reflect the Lone Star State’s personality.

Courtesy Gaylord Texan

A 25,000-square-foot day spa and fitness center is an option for pampering and exercise, and the Glass Cactus nightclub is a favorite in the evening. Golf enthusiasts are welcome at the adjacent 18-hole championship Cowboys Golf Club.

Groups relish the entertainment choices in the area that combine the small-town charm of historic Grapevine with its shops tucked in old brick buildings and the neon lights of nearby Dallas-Fort Worth. The Grapevine Mills outlet mall, featuring hundreds of the best names in outlet stores, is right around the corner.

(817) 778-2000

Cheeca Lodge and Spa
Islamorada, Florida
Framed by the Atlantic Ocean and Florida Bay, home to more than 600 species of fish, the Cheeca Lodge and Spa is a water sports and game fishing destination.

Storytellers and world leaders have found inspiration in the barefoot elegance of the traditional Florida Keys architecture surrounded by nature on 27 private oceanfront acres. The Cheeca has been a hideaway for celebrities and politicians including Ernest Hemingway and President Harry Truman.

“In addition to the resort’s classic 525-foot wooden fishing pier, saltwater snorkeling lagoon, nature trails, Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, flatboats with local guides, ecotours and more, bank groups can travel minutes away to enjoy the History of Diving Museum, Theater of the Sea Marine Mammal Park, Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park, Indian Key Historic State Park and Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park,” said Cheeca spokeswoman Megan Sterritt.

The Cheeca’s four-story Main Lodge was reconstructed with its original chic West Indies decor and porte-cochere entrance after a December 2008 fire.

“Because of the resort’s historic significance, an administrative variance was enacted to make sure it was as before, only better,” said Sterritt.

(305) 664-4651

The Hotel Hershey
Hershey, Pennsylvania
Appropriately referred to as “The Sweetest Place on Earth,” the Hotel Hershey is a part of Hershey Resorts, which also includes the Spa at the Hotel Hershey, the Hershey Lodge and the Hershey Country Club.

Courtesy Hershey Entertainment and Resorts

In 2009, the resort unveiled the Grand Expansion, part of the hotel’s 75th anniversary celebration. Visitors will notice upgrades to the front entrance, 10 new luxury cottages, a multipool swimming complex, a year-round ice skating rink, a new restaurant and seven new boutique shops.

The 1930s property, with historic photographs and original artwork throughout, offers golf options for every skill level and seven dining options, among them the AAA Four-Diamond-rated Circular Dining Room, which not only serves gourmet cuisine but offers an unobstructed view of lush gardens for every diner.

Hershey’s location is ideal for day trips through the rolling hills to visit the State Capitol and the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg; the Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg; the food, museums and cultural attractions in Amish country in Lancaster County; and York, home of the original Harley-Davidson factory, which offers factory tours and a motorcycle museum.

And possibly a bank group’s favorite activity, shopping, is just 60 minutes away in Reading, the site of the original factory outlet stores.

(717) 533-2171