One should never underestimate
the importance of a thorough site inspection. On paper, a property
might look like the perfect venue, but without walking through it,
it’s impossible to know if it will be right for the meeting. After
all, the brochure photos don’t reveal peeling wallpaper, awkward
meeting room layouts and lackadaisical service.
Inspecting a resort, rather than a city
hotel, adds a whole new level of complexity. Attendees will depend
on the property for not just their accommodations, but also for
most of their meals and activities. Whereas a walkthrough of a
hotel might be accomplished in little more than a half hour, seeing
every facet of a resort can easily take half a day.
“If I’m sending people to the Peninsula
in Chicago, they’re pretty much just sleeping there, maybe having
breakfast, maybe meeting people for drinks,” says David Jewell,
CMP, the regional vice president, Toronto region, for
site-selection firm HelmsBriscoe. “People use resorts for things
they don’t use hotels for, making it very difficult to rely on
information you get about hotel quality and service levels.”
The following checklist is adapted from
guidelines provided by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide,
based in White Plains, N.Y., and USMotivation, an incentive house
headquartered in Atlanta.
Additional suggestions have been
included from Jennifer Brown, CMP, partner at Meeting Sites
Resource in Irvine, Calif.; Rita Connor, president of Elite Resorts
and Spas, a Redondo Beach, Calif.-based company that sells resort
meetings to groups; Jayne Greenburg, president of San Antonio-based
Motivation Strategies LLC; HelmsBriscoe’s David Jewell; Pam
Ouelett, spa director at Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Banff
Springs in Alberta, Canada; and Michael Tidwell, CHA, director of
sales and marketing for Ocean Place Resort & Spa in Long
Resort properties often are a good deal
farther from the airport than city hotels are. Similarly, off-site
venues are less likely to be within easy walking distance, and
attendees are less likely to rent their own cars. Therefore,
finding a reliable transportation company will be more crucial.
qHow close to the airport is the property? Ask
whether the resort has an on-site destination management company,
and ask if reduced rates or complimentary transfers are possible.
Find out how many cars the DMC has. Also, if there are multiple
DMCs to choose from, approach them all to discuss airport transfers
and local trips.
qIs parking available, and what is the charge?
qWhat type of shopping, recreational facilities and
restaurants are on site or nearby?
qFind out where motor coaches are permitted on property.
Often, they can’t be brought under the porte cochere, and attendees
must go on a hike to find them.
qIf you’re considering an offshore property, ask about the
reliability of the electricity and whether the water from the tap
is potable, and make a note of the water pressure.