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Why Now Is the Time to Acquire Corporate Retreats

As a means of rewarding employees, building stronger relationships and loyalty and fostering shared experiences, corporate retreats are fast becoming a beacon of good business practice.

When planning a corporate gathering, the venue itself is key to a successful event, whether this be for relaxing and recharging, team building, executive planning or client entertainment. Global enterprises heavily invest both time and money to find properties that provide complete privacy, reflect their company’s values and feature appropriate amenities. Certainly, there are leasable premises that meet these requirements—hotels, resorts and conference centers, for example—but no matter how impressive they are, none can compete with a corporate retreat that is wholly owned by the company itself.

“A company-owned corporate retreat serves as an integral extension of the organization’s branding and strategy,” explains Sonja Cullaro, executive vice president, Christie’s International Real Estate, Northern New Jersey. “Not only does it provide the company with greater control over the experience itself, but it also reflects its ethos and culture in a way that no third-party venue could do. When companies invest in a corporate retreat, they can stamp their personal identity and core values on it.”

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Adds Zackary Wright, executive director, Western and Asia Pacific regions, Christie’s International Real Estate, “Staying in a company-owned property delivers something intangible. I liken it to meeting people at your home rather than in your office. You show them a more personal side.”

Luxury Defined recently revisited the current corporate-retreat marketplace and has singled out six unique global properties that, in addition to being outstanding private residences, can serve in equal measure as an ideal gathering place for business enterprises. Following is a brief armchair tour, moving from west to east.

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A Silicon Valley Icon in California, United States

One of the most remarkable aspects of Green Gables is its expansive grounds, which are a mix of formal gardens and natural woodland filled with native California shrubs and flowers. Giant redwoods, blue spruce, Monterey pines and eucalyptus are just some of the many ancient trees that exist on and around the property.

“Location is obviously a major consideration when looking for a corporate retreat,” says Wright, “and one of the many reasons why Green Gables is such a find is that it provides 74 acres of complete seclusion and privacy, while still being just 20 minutes from San Francisco airport and 15 minutes from Silicon Valley and Stanford University.”

The terraces, gardens and lawns at the Green Gables property provide areas for employees to relax after meetings. Offering total privacy and natural beauty, the estate is only 20 minutes from San Francisco International Airport.

Located in Woodside, California, Green Gables, on the market with Christie’s International Real Estate, is already hosting corporate retreats. “A major Silicon Valley company has held events at Green Gables, and I do see its future as a permanent corporate retreat for a similar global enterprise,” says Wright.

The outdoor spaces at Green Gables are large enough to accommodate tents for evening events. In 1965, the United Nations selected Green Gables as the site of its 20th anniversary commemoration gala.

The 32-bedroom estate has long been a place where great events have been held. It has welcomed European royalty, senators, governors, congressmen and women, business leaders and creative luminaries throughout its 109-year history and seems likely to continue in the same vein. “It’s a superb venue for business but of equal importance are its recreational facilities, which include biking, hiking and riding trails, swimming pools, absolutely beautiful gardens, terraces and a tennis court. I think when a company invites its clients and staff here, they will feel pride by association,” adds Wright.

Green Gables’ meticulously landscaped prospects include beautiful lawns, a lake, a vegetable garden and much more.

“In addition to the experiential benefits of collaboration and team building” says Wright, “a corporate retreat can be a wise investment in an appreciating asset that will become an enduring corporate legacy.”

An aerial view of Green Gables displays its scale and beauty—with its many old-growth trees, landmark Greene & Greene designed main house, Roman pool and guest residences.

A Grand Historic Mansion in New Jersey, United States

On the market with Christie’s International Real Estate, Northern New Jersey, Darlington would be an ideal property to purchase for use as a corporate retreat.

“When George Crocker, the original owner of Darlington, built this majestic estate, he wanted an escape from the rushed and crowded life of New York City,” says Cullaro. “And now, more than a century later, that is still what it provides, in addition to a full suite of luxurious and modern amenities.”

Organizations favoring historic properties close to major cities might want to consider the incomparable 21-bedroom Darlington, New Jersey, which is on the market at a new price of $33 million and listed with Christie’s International Real Estate, Northern New Jersey and only 25 miles from Manhattan yet in a neighborhood that is now zoned to allow for corporate retreats. It is, says Cullaro, “an architectural masterpiece that is on the National Register of Historic Places.” Darlington has exceptional modern amenities—among them a professional kitchen that can serve up to 250 people, an eight-car garage, a great hall with a 30-foot ceiling and treasured Aeolian player pipe organ, a library, a fine dining room and smart appliances.

Darlington’s dazzling interiors make ideal reception areas for memorable corporate events, meetings and special occasions.

It’s also set in 12.5 acres of lush landscape, framed by the Ramapo Mountains,” says Cullaro. “So, the opportunities for recreation are endless. People often go for a run to clear their heads before or after their meetings, and in the evening, they’ll unwind with a game of tennis on the professional court, a swim, a bike ride or a massage in the luxury spa.”

Historic Gold Coast Estate on Long Island, New York, United States

The stately, historic Tudor façade of Laurel Hill makes it an emblematic Gold Coast property.

Moving a bit farther from New York City but still easily accessible on Long Island, we find the Laurel Hill Tudor-style masterpiece. This storied Gold Coast estate—once owned by Abby Rockefeller Mauzé, granddaughter of John D. Rockefeller—is ideally adaptable as a company retreat, boasting more than 14,000 square feet of living space with outstanding and spacious grounds that include two miles of walking and riding paths and spectacular rolling gardens that are shielded in privacy. This property is offered exclusively by Christie’s International Real Estate’s New York brokerage.

This aerial vantage of Laurel Hill dramatizes its expansive grounds, which in themselves offer additional space for events, meetings and recreation.

Because Laurel Hill is only 45 minutes from New York’s major airports, it can serve as a gathering place for nationwide or global corporations, and, with 21 bedrooms overall, can serve as a hostelry for more intimate meetings and events. A major highlight of the main residence is its large catering kitchen with commercial grade appliances.

Long-enjoyed for elegant entertaining, the main residence features a dining room that easily seats 20 while most reception rooms, such as the sunken living salon, open to flagstone patios—some covered and some open air. The first-floor library is a retreat paneled in mahogany with custom cabinetry and with access to the estate’s beautiful outdoors and patios. Other interior highlights—certainly adding to a corporate event or meeting—include a breakfast room and staff lounge, along with seven wood-burning fireplaces throughout. All told, the 57-acre subdividable grounds include a large swimming pool and mid-century pool house, tennis court, guest cottage, gardens and outstanding views of the bay.

Laurel Hill’s sumptuous dining room seats 20 people and is also perfect for business meetings.

Four Star Hotel/Medieval Castle in Piedmont, Italy

Across the Atlantic in Italy’s Piedmont district, this historic landmark, Castello di Pavone, is tailor-made for a corporate refuge, situated as it is not far from Italy’s hubs of industry and commerce, Turin and Milan.

Castello di Pavone sits atop a bluff overlooking the settlement of Piedmont, and at night is splendidly illuminated for all to see.

Offered by exclusive affiliate Romolini international real estate agency, the castle sits atop a hill overlooking Piedmont and dates to around 900 A.D. but has been scrupulously renovated to include modern thermal, air conditioning, hydraulic, plumbing and electrical systems. In its most recent incarnation as a four-star hotel, the 28-bedroom castle boasts an area of some 43,000 square feet with a generous professional kitchen of more than 1,500 square feet.

This warm, luxurious dining area is an inviting space for meals and gatherings amid centuries-old works of art.

Elsewhere the castle plays host to several stunning halls and conference rooms that can accommodate up to 250 guests and a restaurant that can seat 400. It is also home to the Museo d’Andrade, which is the legacy of Alfredo de Andrade, a 19th-century owner who was an architect and is responsible for much of the initial restoration of the castle. His collection of Greek and Mycenaean pottery and other artifacts.

As an operating four-star hotel, this castle can also serve as a hostelry and meeting place for enterprising corporations. Pictured here is the hotel’s ornate “front desk.”

Another indisputable highlight of these historic grounds is a lovingly maintained park with ornamental trees, flowers and palms—all enclosed by the castle walls.

Outdoor terraces and gardens at the castle further expand the space available for receptions and other activities.

Unlike many other historic structures in Italy, this property is one of the few in which there is no obligation on the part of the owner to make it available for public visits, thus making it of added value for a private corporation seeking a secure retreat property.

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Magic Hills in Eastern Cape, South Africa

This magnificent lodge structure is a state-of-the-art accommodation in the savannas of South Africa’s Western Cape, offering 360-degree views.

Continuing to the African continent, we find perhaps the most unusual option for a corporate retreat, yet one that is akin to the American continent’s dude ranch. Magic Hills Conservation Preserve, in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa, takes corporate social responsibility to a new level, as the owner of this property would also serve as a steward of wildlife conservation.

The design of Magic Hills’ facilities creates a fusion with the outdoors to underscore a oneness with nature that this wildlife preserve strives to foster.

The centerpiece of the 49,668-acre preserve is a luxurious main lodge structure that is fashioned of durable, gleaming hardwoods and features rooms with many decks and terraces that look out onto the rugged mountain and savanna landscapes. It also offers lavish common rooms, a spa and pool and kitchen/dining areas. It is but one element of what is known as The Magic Hills Private Collection, which includes two other accommodations in isolated locations. (A fourth accommodation—a luxury tented lodge—is under construction.)

Another, more classical, accommodation at Magic Hills offers a garden-like setting amid the wilds of the South African outback.

The preserve itself is home to what is known in ecotourism as “the big five” safari animals: elephants, lions, leopards, rhinoceroses and water buffalo. But, more important, the land itself serves as a valuable link to biodiversity sites and corridors, allowing the natural movement of wild game that has traditionally been boxed into more enclosed conservation areas.

Other amenities at the preserve include a private airport, a lake, staff quarters and a wine cellar—all ideal corporate retreat complements.

Luxury amenities—even in the land of safaris—are no stranger to Magic Hills, where spa services and gourmet dining are at one’s disposal.

This story originally appeared on Luxury Defined by Christie’s International Real Estate.

 

This article is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.
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