RICHMOND, VA—Meeting planners have begun thinking outside the box when scheduling their events. No longer is a boardroom or a theater-style ballroom the norm; these days, you’ll find as many meetings with attendees dressed in casual attire sipping from drinks with umbrellas, as you will of meetings requiring business suits.
Kindred Resorts & Hotels, based here, is a collection of 64 independent properties in North America focused exclusively on the groups and meetings market. Each of the properties offer traditional and not-so-traditional spaces for meetings and events, and also offer resort amenities to not only create team-building experiences, but also give attendees a chance to take a break and act as if they are on vacation.
Five properties across the U.S. recently joined the collection to bring that number to 64: Amagani in Jackson Hole, WY; High Hampton Inn & Country Club in Cashiers, NC; Rancho de los Caballeros in Wickenburg, AZ; Sea Island in Sea Island, GA; and Sun Mountain Lodge in Winthrop, WA.
“The diversity of these properties really speaks to the Kindred collection overall, and the vast array of amenities, locations, styles and price points,” said Bree Brostko, managing director of Kindred Resorts & Hotels.
It’s rare to find a collection that puts resorts before hotels in its name. Brostko explained, “Resorts and Hotels was crafted as a nod to our parent company, the Resort Hotel Association. When we created the Kindred brand, we wanted it to be a standalone brand and have a connection to our roots, so we naturally chose Resorts and Hotels. We think that leading with Resorts makes sense, as our 64 properties, for the most part, can all be described as resort properties—both in amenities as well as in location.”
When asked why the brand chose to focus on groups and meetings, she replied, “Our primary goal is to drive awareness for our independent properties and to decrease the cost of acquisition. When we assessed the landscape, the leisure market was already very crowded and the cost to really be effective was too high. We believed, and continue to believe, that through the groups and meetings market, there’s a huge opportunity for us to make an impact. Today’s meeting attendees want not only to make business connections but also to actually connect with the place in which they’re meeting. Because our properties are independent, and have deep ties to their communities, they inherently offer an incredible sense of place. So, we decided to work together to increase awareness of our amazing locations and to tell the story of how our properties can enhance meetings and events, and aid meeting planners in crafting meaningful programs.”
Currently, the majority of Kindred funding comes from its parent company, and membership is currently limited to association members, Brostko noted, adding, “When properties are interested in joining, we talk to them about their group offerings, and their sales and marketing programming—and how Kindred Resorts & Hotels can tie into that to serve as a force magnifier. While our growth to 64 properties over the last two years has been rapid, our aim is to be slow and steady, and to maintain quality standards, ensuring excellent exposure and coverage for all these amazing properties.”
While all five of the new properties are relatively small in room counts, they do have plenty of meeting space, and enough amenities to keep guests busy and entertained.
The 40-suite Amagani, which offers panoramic views of the Teton and Snake River mountain ranges, features two meeting rooms spanning a total of 1,352 sq. ft. Activities include access to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks for tours and hiking; heli-skiing, snowboarding, dogsled tours, snowmobiling, fly-fishing and paragliding.
High Hampton Inn & Country Club is located in the western North Carolina Mountains on 1,400 acres and offers 116 guestrooms, as well as 5,200 sq. ft. of meeting space in five newly renovated meeting rooms. Team-building activities include llama Olympics; sack and boat races; and fly-fishing.
Rancho del los Caballeros, a dude ranch that is a historic boutique resort, features 79 casitas and a number of unique spaces for group events, as well as a dedicated conference center with 8,500 sq. ft. within four meeting rooms. The resort offers team-building activities such as team penning, hot-air ballooning, desert jeep and ATV tours, nature programs and golf tournaments. Guests can also go out into the Arizona desert to hike or meditate.
While considered one property in the Kindred portfolio, Sea Island consists of 392 rooms at The Cloister and The Lodge at Sea Island. Featuring five miles of private beach, three championship golf courses, a shooting school and a yacht club, Sea Island is one of only six U.S. destinations to have hosted a G8 Summit. It offers 51,000 sq. ft. of meeting space among 26 rooms, and specializes in private conferences, executive retreats, receptions and business functions of distinction. Activities include an “amazing race” and beach Olympics for groups.
The 112-room Sun Mountain Lodge, located in the North Cascades mountain range, has five meeting rooms totaling 8,079 sq. ft. Group activities include a resort-wide scavenger hunt, casino nights, cowboy dinners and sleigh rides.
Brostko noted that there will be nothing on property that points to the hotels and resorts as being part of Kindred Resorts & Hotels. “Our goal is to be a behind-the-scenes brand, so we have not required brand exposure, signage, etc., at our properties,” she said. “We are working on digital integration to help to unite the properties and the brand, and to increase search engine optimization.”
Across the Kindred properties, Brostko has seen an interesting trend that should continue in the coming years. “Our portfolio has seen a resurgence in group patterns returning to a half-day meeting, half-day leisure/experiential time,” she noted. “After 2008, companies felt like they needed to spend 100% of their time on-property in meeting rooms, so we’re really happy to see groups returning to the half-day schedule because that’s one of the areas where our properties really shine.”
She continued, “One of the sayings we like to use with Kindred is: ‘Where coworkers become friends.’ We think that is so true, and so vital. Our properties allow coworkers to break down barriers and create connections in a really meaningful way.” HB