by By Kaylee Hultgren | September 01, 2009
Inside This Story

Dude Ranch Retreats 

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Retreats imply refuge and seclusion, a withdrawal from the everyday. For groups, they can provide new perspectives, foster a sense of community among colleagues and inspire out-of-the-box thinking. Yet, with cost-cutting an imperative these days, it helps to be prepared with reasonably priced options for what companies might perceive as a superfluous expense. Consider these down-to-earth, inexpensive group getaways.

0909 Retreat SedonaSpiritual retreats
A soul-restoring break from the routine is precisely what groups will experience at a spiritual or wellness retreat.

The stunning red rock formations that surround central Arizona's 160-acre Sedona Mago Retreat (800-875-2256; inspire serenity. Managed by the nonprofit Tao Fellowship, the venue promotes ways to live harmoniously with one's environment through holistic healing and experiences with nature. Guests are encouraged to meander through the grounds' numerous hiking trails, gardens, waterfalls and lakes; spiritual-healing seminars and guided tours are offered for a fee.

Mago's group rates start at $111 per person/double occupancy, including three meals a day and use of on-site meeting space (for up to 500 people). Director of sales and marketing Suzette Bruhn recommends adding group tai chi lessons to the package, at $10 per person. "They are very powerful exercises for the mind, body and spirit, ideal for before and after a meeting," she notes.

Technophiles beware: No televisions or phones are allowed on the property. Alcohol is prohibited as well, though the grounds are just 10 minutes from the lively town of Sedona.

For small nonprofit groups involved in social justice or strategic planning, Lifebridge Sanctuary (845-658-3439; in High Falls, N.Y., is run by the Lifebridge Foundation Inc., which supports groups that foster understanding and interconnectedness within their communities. Nature is the retreat's most prominent feature, by way of panoramic views of the Catskill Mountains, the nearby 7,000-acre Mohonk Preserve, and 95 acres of woods, trails and ponds. Not surprisingly, meditation and yoga are popular activities here.

The sanctuary's centerpiece is a vintage 1772 Dutch stone house featuring colorfully decorated rooms (all double occupancy, with sleeping quarters for up to 30), local artwork and hand-built fireplaces. Groups schedule their own activities here, including food preparation. Use of the facility's fully stocked kitchen is encouraged; otherwise, meals can be catered by local establishments. Meeting space and high-speed wireless are on the premises.

"Groups that come here always comment on the atmosphere. It's so calm, quiet and beautiful, and their work is enhanced by that," says Barbara Valocore, president of the Lifebridge Foundation. However, she notes, "We prefer groups who support our mission and who have innovative programs."

The Sanctuary is less than a two-hour drive north from New York City and a half-hour west of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., which has an Amtrak station.