Asheville’s history as a place of healing and wellness has long inspired people from all over the world to experience the serenity of our mountain and forest landscapes. In turn, wellness experts in self-care, fitness, and cutting-edge experiences have also flocked here, cultivating one of the best spas in the world at The Omni Grove Park Inn as well as a wide range of healing products and adventures. As people become increasingly health-conscious, Asheville provides an excellent destination to tap into this still-growing wellness trend with ample opportunities to incorporate group wellness activities like yoga, hikes, spa days—practically anything wellness-related (salt caves! vortex therapy!) can be found here.
Getting your groups out in the Blue Ridge Mountains will deliver awe-inspiring moments—an important goal for incentive and meeting planners aiming to cultivate a once-in-a-lifetime memory. Consider booking with Namaste in Nature, which offers scenic yoga hikes for groups of 5-15 (larger groups can be staggered and/or utilize multiple locations). Their most popular group experience, the Deluxe Triple Waterfall Yoga Hike, incorporates a custom mixture of meditation, yoga, and hiking that provides “an accessible, safe space where they can connect with friends, family, or in this case, co-workers,” says owner Miranda Peterson. For sans-yoga hikes curated by National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Jennifer Davis Pharr, Blue Ridge Hiking Company has ten guides with a goal of keeping a 9:1 ratio (but groups up to 50 can book together), and snacks or lunch can be part of the experience depending on how long the group wants to hike.
Asheville Wellness Tours offers both off-site yoga hikes and forest bathing tours as well as on-site mini-wellness breaks to break up those long conference days for up to 300 people where “participants may remain in their seats, allowing for a smooth, wellness-focused transition between meetings without complicated logistics. A bit of movement and meditation can work wonders for increasing engagement, plus participants learn simple practices that can be taken back to the office!” says Nicole Will. They can also incorporate wellness stations on-site, including sound healing, chair massages, yoga, and an essential oils mood boost bar. Add a tarot reading “to offer an air of novelty but also connect attendees to each other and the culture of the place they’re visiting,” Will adds. They utilize their trusted network of 50+ wellness professionals to deliver exactly what groups need—and make your job easier, of course!
Of course, many planners seek to incorporate uniquely memorable experiences that deliver the wows, so consider booking an Archetype Journey with River Island Apothecary. Up to 12 attendees will find out which scent best fits them to help “tend to their spirits [and] work from a deep, renewable source that in turn inspires and nourishes their employers, co-workers, and clients,” owner Katie Vie says. Go for full sensory overload and pair their olfactory awakening with a private sound healing or drum workshop for up to 30 guests through Skinny Beats.
“Sound healing is receiving a great deal of attention from the scientific community, and is taking strong strides as a proven method of turning on the Parasympathetic Nervous system. In this state of "rest and digest," our breath and heart rate slows, our blood flow increases, and our bodies go into self-healing mode, repairing muscles, organs, and cells, and restoring balance in the body,” explains owner Billy Zanski. Bright and Light Wellness is another great option as they provide workshops on nutrition, health, and wellness for both small and large groups along with clean eating cooking demonstrations such as “How Your Diet Can Make You Stressed” and “Understanding and Using Superfoods.”
Of course, the stress of travel and being on a work trip means your attendees deserve a dose of relaxation--perhaps a corporate party at Sauna House for up to 40 guests or foot soaks for groups of 8 from Wake Foot Spa are in order? “For every dollar spent on corporate wellness companies are seeing a $3.25 - $4.40 return on investment,” says Andrew Nehlig, owner of Sauna House. Their corporate parties include tea and beverage service, chair massages and optional epsom salt foot soaks Or, check out Asheville Salt Cave, where groups of 15 or less can book a private salt cave session that can include sound healing, or massages. “Self-care is heath care. Studies have shown that massage and salt therapy can reduce stress, reduce fatigue, improve sleep, increase creative thinking, boost the immune system, and increase serotonin promoting feelings of well being,” assistant manager Laurel Thompson says.
Want help planning an amazing wellness experience for your group? Tap into Accents on Asheville or Mosaix Group, two local destination management companies with decades-long experience creating customized group activities. Accents on Asheville have helped groups plan experiential activities such as yoga hikes, stand up paddle boarding with local food foraging, 5k fun runs, organic farm tours, and outdoor-focused team building adventures. “Groups are wanting to be closer to the community they’re visiting, [so] activities that involve corporate and social responsibility aspects have been in demand as well,” says Josh Canon, Accents’ Program Manager.
Melissa Murray, Mosaix’s Director of Operations and Quality, echoes this observation: “Attendees want to be engaged. In meetings, on tours, in activities, at dinner. We need to get their attention and make sure they are involved.” Mosaix has arranged wellness tours that include honey, essential oil, and yoga stops as well as coordinating wellness-themed events with a comedy act keynote and oxygen bars.
Asheville also has plenty of luxurious meeting hotels with on-site spas (total square footage of on-site meeting space also noted):
Ready to plan your next meeting in Asheville? The sales team at Explore Asheville is your best first point of contact to find the right fit for your next meeting in Asheville. We’ll save you time and effort by sending your RFP to the hotels that fit your criteria, coordinating your site visits, and will provide insider knowledge into the best venues for any size meeting. You also receive exclusive perks when working with us and your meeting may be eligible for our Have More Fun on Us incentive program.
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“We chose Asheville for our conference not only for the beauty of the setting, but for its rich and diverse culture and support of the arts. As a very walkable city, Asheville provided our attendees a background of entertainment, amazing food, and creative drinks while learning about how to make a living in the field of jewelry and metals. The large amount of galleries in the downtown are provided for a rich exhibition crawl filled with unique and varied exhibitions.
Gwynne Rukenbrod Smith
Society of North American Goldsmiths