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by Herb Rackliff | March 3, 2017

Herb Rackliff, GM of the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & SpaWorking at a property that offers an extensive array of health and wellness options and also being a health enthusiast myself, I am thrilled to see more meeting planners incorporating wellness options into their programs.

Meeting planners should consider several things when coordinating a health-conscious event, from ensuring a versatile and dietary-inclusive menu to creating memorable and active experiences that your group will never forget.

Plan activity options for all fitness levels
When it comes to organizing a wellness activity for a group, it is important for planners to provide options for every fitness level and preference. My suggestion is for planners to select a venue that is able to accommodate a wide variety of activities, from mildly strenuous options such as group walks or stretch classes to more strenuous workouts such as yoga, group morning jogs or advanced classes led by fitness instructors.

Reconnect with nature
Outdoor meetings are becoming more and more popular. Having a gathering outdoors is a great way for groups to get out of the typical indoor meeting atmosphere and enjoy the natural surroundings. For example, at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa, we have more than 25,000 square feet of outdoor meeting space, and a good portion of our indoor meeting spaces have floor-to-ceiling or panoramic windows to allow for natural sunlight and direct patio and outdoor access. We also have the Cottonwood Pavilion, which is nestled within the Rio Grande’s cottonwood forest and designed to easily transform from an indoor venue to an outdoor covered patio terrace.

Outdoor group activities also can be a great way to get your attendees out of a meeting to enjoy nature. For example, planners can coordinate group hikes, geocaching, horseback rides or other engaging outdoor events. Getting your attendees out in the fresh air, being active and soaking in nature contributes to the overall creativity and engagement of the group.

Switch up your setup
I am seeing a trend of planners switching up the way they set up and structure meetings. Gone are the days of basic classroom or theater seating, as planners are now opting for more unconventional setups such as stand-up tables for an active lifestyle or executive chairs to ensure their attendees are more comfortable and engaged. Groups can even consider taking a walking meeting, where they get work done while being active.

An inclusive menu is important
Today, it seems that a priority for most planners is to provide healthier food options for their attendees. Although menus are leaning in a more healthy direction, it is still important for venues and planners to work closely together to coordinate options that are inclusive for every diet. As a gluten-free vegan, I have experienced firsthand what it is like to be asked for my dietary preferences prior to a meeting, only to arrive and find limited options. I recommend that planners work closely with their venue to offer several different menu items that are available for any dietary need. By incorporating inclusive dining options and providing dishes specifically tailored to guests’ dietary preferences, planners ensure that their guests will enjoy healthy and well-planned menu options.

Incentivize health
In order to encourage guests to be active, planners can create an incentive for guests to take part in a wellness activity during their free time. The incentive could be anything from a complimentary activity at the venue or allowing those who are doing a wellness activity the ability to enjoy longer breaks.

In regard to timing, it is also important for planners to make it easy for attendees to get active by building more time into the meeting’s schedule for health and wellness. For example, instead of giving only one hour between the last session and dinner, planners can allow more time and flexibility following that day’s session or provide extended breaks where guests can take part in a fitness activity and enjoy the destination.

Wellness goes beyond the gym
Many planners do a great job of coordinating healthy menus and active options for their guests, but I always recommend that they include other experiences to encompass the wellness of mind, body and soul. Meditation, yoga and relaxation exercises are all great activities that are becoming more popular for meetings. From scheduling group spa outings that feature restorative treatments to meditative sessions in a beautiful setting, these types of activities are great for the wellness and productivity of your group.

I feel strongly that volunteer and philanthropic activities can be an amazing way to give back while benefiting your group at the same time. At Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa, we feature the Tamaya Horse Rehabilitation Program, in which guests can help care for neglected and abandoned horses that are being nurtured back to health. I spend a considerable amount of time volunteering at the stables myself, and I can’t begin to describe how relaxing, grounding and rewarding it is to work with such a great cause and spend time around these magnificent animals. Members of our groups always feel energized after taking part in the program.

Understand your group preferences
Meeting planners have a wide array of health and wellness options they can incorporate into their functions. In the end, it is most important for planners to fully understand their audience and the types of amenities and activities that they will enjoy most. For example, is your group full of fitness enthusiasts that love a group jog every morning, or is it looking more for a relaxing retreat to meditate and reconnect with nature? By knowing the group’s preferences, planners can create and incorporate wellness activities that will resonate with most organizations, and in turn create an unforgettable and health-conscious meeting for guests.

Herb Rackliff is the general manager at Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa in Santa Ana Pueblo, N.M. He has worked with Hyatt Corp. for nearly 30 years.