The best holistic, eco-friendly hotel or center to hold a 2-3 day healing retreat or workshop that can accommodate up to 120 people.
And you see that number – 120 – that’s the difficult part. There are LOTS of eco, granola-cruncher style retreat centers (and even some more upscale ones) that can accommodate 20-50 people. But get into the larger numbers and all of a sudden you’re flooded with large, corporate-style hotels where you’re forced to sit in a window-less, air-conditioned ballroom for 2 days solid – no thanks! How could I hold a healing workshop in a space designed to make people feel ill?
I centered my search on California since the climate would work year-round and it’s also accessible to a large number of my readers/clients.
I also did a quick scan of room reservation rates, just to give me a general guideline of what I’d be looking at in terms of general cost, before I got into the nitty-gritty with a conference liaison. The room rates listed here are for either a king size or 2 double beds (although some offered 2 queens) per room and they are just the regular posted rate that anyone would be charged (i.e. they are NOT a special, negotiated conference/group rate)
So here is my shortlist of conference / workshop hotels that also met a large number of my “healthy environment” standards:
– salt water pool, fridge in each room, really gorgeous hotel, great spa. But the website looks like it hasn’t been updated since 2007 (judging by the customer letters). And their online information is not well organized – you have to click on a lot of different tabs (some of which are in obscure places that you don’t even notice) and pull the info together from numerous different sources, which makes it difficult. So while I got excited looking at the site, there wasn’t enough info for me to make any kind of preliminary “purchasing decision” so I kept looking. I will phone them later to follow up though and find out if any of their meeting spaces have windows, and whether we can open those windows. Also, I don’t know if the sheets are 100% cotton. And it only has wireless internet (radiation anyone?). However, after checking the room rate, I will definitely be going to the extra effort of phoning for more details! This looks like a luxurious hotel, I can’t believe the room rates are so cheap. Update: After phoning Gaia I learned that ALL of their meeting spaces have windows and natural light, so that’s great. The downside is the closest international airports (Oakland or San Francisco) are 1 hour’s drive.
Rate: April 2-5, 2 adults = $89/night
– Unfortunately, only the smaller meeting rooms have windows and even then, there’s not too many. But if you don’t need or like windows, then this one has a lot of amenities and a the rooms are nice (fridge, natural toiletries, but again, only wireless internet). This has a big, busy-resort feel to it (from the website), but they have a LOT of activities and special activities for kids, so if your conference is going to cater to families, this one is worth checking out.
Rate: April 2-5, 2 adults = $199/night
– Gorgeous oceanfront location. Great info on their website and a good variety of meeting rooms, including fabulous outdoor spaces. The hotel rooms are really nice. Only consideration is the room rate is fairly high. So if you were going to do a high-end, luxury conference, this would work splendidly.
Rate: April 2-5, 2 adults = $335/night
– Okay, this one has it ALL. Fully detailed info on their website, that got me so excited, I called and quizzed both the front desk and the spa. Their Grande Room looks perfect for my needs with lots of big windows. The pool and hot tub are both salt water (no chlorine!). They are the only hotel to offer both wired or wireless internet. The rooms have natural toiletries, 100% cotton sheets and every room has either a window or a balcony that opens – how can you be healthy if you don’t have access to fresh air? The spa uses only natural, organic products for both the facials and the massages, and their steam room has double-filtered water (so it’s like mineral water) to which they add essential oil of Eucalyptus. Can it get any better? Oh yes, it can, cause you get all this for a reasonable room rate. The grounds are also lovely.
Rate: April 2-5, 2 adults = $169/night
Now, during the course of my search I did find these two that – although not in California – they looked good enough to keep on file for future reference:
– This one has the most glorious large meeting space – see the Silverbell Pavillion – and the forested grounds are spectacular. The rooms are really beautiful and like some of the others listed here, they offer rooms with 2 queen size beds, so if people wanted to room-share they could really bring the cost down (which is very reasonable to start with!). If I wasn’t stuck on California, I would definitely check this one out. The Silverbell Pavillion is the best workshop space I’ve seen yet. I would post some photos here to show you, but the Einstein who did their website programmed it so that virtually none of the photos can be saved or downloaded.
Rate: April 2-5, 2 adults = $155/night
– This is also a nice venue with a large meeting room with windows overlooking the rural setting. Lots of greenery and rolling hills, trees, mountains. The guest rooms have a ski resort feel to the decor. Compared to the other hotels though, their room rate is a bit high for what you get.
Rate: April 2-5, 2 adults = $167/night
Okay, that’s it for now. The Gaia Napa Valley Hotel and the Estancia La Jolla are on my shortlist and I will research both further. If you know of a hotel, retreat or conference center that you think would qualify for my list of possibilities here (remember it has to fit 100+ people), please let me know!
p.s. the fact that it took me 9 hours to find these hotels/conference centers means they know diddly-squat about search engines and keywords. I eventually found most of them by going through the certification submissions for a ‘green hotel’ program! So please, someone target these businesses and get their SEO going – and spare us this misery!