Desperate Corporate Spas Now Designing Dangerous And Embarassing "Bonding" Retreats For Execs

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An interesting symptom of the dire effects of the recession on the hotel industry is the bizarre marketing schemes to which luxury resorts and spas are resorting.

You could call it, let’s say, creative. Or you could call it payback.

Spas and luxury properties were hit hard by the downturn-inspired exodus of corporations and execs that usually filled their rooms.

Their new approach is luring clients back to their bedrooms for “must-have” bonding and training sessions that put execs in compromising positions.

Retreats that specialize in corporate getaways have been cooking up programs that encourage extremely awkward and potentially dangerous bonding activities, like fake-trying to kill each other.

Call it the, “You’re putting us out of business? We’re going to push you off tall objects, hike mountains naked with 50 pounds on your back, try to kill each other and make you beg for more” – strategy.

Thing is, financiers love it.

Think we’re kidding? Each of the following activities are real events featured in Corporate Retreat packages or on the sites of team-building companies. They’ve been designed by marketing teams at these “luxury” corporate resorts and lauded by their PR teams to the people at Bloomberg News, among other finance media outlets.

  • At a spa in Tucson – where BofA, Google and Toyota workers have been sent to ‘team-build’ – execs can walk a tightrope or hurl themselves of a 25-foot (8 meter) pole (for $3,000 plus tax), according to Bloomberg.
  • Starwood Hotels is a little more passive aggressive. They offer knitting and awkward DJ classes. 
  • Teambuilding BZ offers firms a ‘Dial M For Murder’ bash, where employees listen to a motivational speaker who then suddenly dies! Well, just pretends to, and then the group has to solve the mystery death.
  • At Joie de Vivre, execs get involved in emasculating bubble-blowing, kite-flying and making s’mores.
  • A child’s circus company invites you to host your annual company picnic at the circus and freak everyone out.
  • Or share all of your libelous secrets around a corporate drum circle.
  • Perhaps the best is the Donald Trump Apprentice workshop for execs who don’t yet realise a degree from the Apprentice workshop is like a guarantee that you’ll never work again.
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The icing on the cake is The Death Race, where co-workers sit for 45 minutes in an ice-broken pond, gulp a gallon of milk (even if you’re lactose intolerant), crawl under barbed wire and sprint up a greased-up ramp.

Finance professionals are eating this stuff up.

Hedge funds are even investing in the market for wacky, niche corporate spas.

The Princes Gate Group, for example, is funding a series of resorts that invite car lovers to visit the first “Tycoonaire Gentlemen Sport Driving Resort,” which is set to pop up on the French Riviera as early as next year, with more locations in the works. This seems pretty vanilla… Until you remember that driving is one of the top ways people die each year.

And resorts with new concepts keep popping up.

Bloomberg reported today that spa resorts have upped the ante with activities like wall climbing, yoga and even carpentry classes with curious names like the “Naked Table Project” (which we were extremely disappointed to learn meant only building furniture from scratch, not a Baywatch-meets-banker style woodwork class).

All this because the luxury resort market took such a battering at the hands of belt-tightening bankers. They’ve created a monster.

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