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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Meet in The Mountains

It’s no secret that “glamping” meetings are the hot trend, but in many ways, the idea is nothing new.

For as long as groups have been getting together, they have been getting away from it all for retreats and planning sessions to draw inspiration from the fresh air and scenery of mountain destinations.

Now, studies have proven that moving around and getting outside not only is a healthy break from our usual office environment but also has tangible results. A powerful 2008 study from the University of Michigan demonstrated that the restorative effects of exposure to nature increase focus, and a 2014 study from Stanford University found that creative output is increased by an average of 60 percent while walking.

Throughout North Carolina and South Carolina, mountain destinations offer opportunities for retreat and relaxation. Here are four mountain towns that make great meeting sites for groups looking to escape the concrete jungle.


Highlands, North Carolina

When it comes to couples planning a wedding in North Carolina, Highlands’ allure is so strong that it’s now second only to Charleston, said Jennifer Cunningham, director of the Highlands Visitor Center. “But even folks from Charleston come here to get away.”

“There’s two to five weddings here a weekend, but if you plan ahead, there’s no problem for meetings to get space,” she said.

The same things that draw weddings make Highlands an enjoyable place for a meeting when you need to get away from it all in a rustic — but not overly so — atmosphere. Of the main restaurants downtown large enough to take a group, five have received the Wine Spectator award of excellence.

Highlands was named one of America’s top 12 small-town ArtPlaces in 2013, and many of the famous arts venues are also available for groups. The visitor center can coordinate a special behind-the-art-scene package that includes taking in a private showing at the playhouse, a reception at the Bascom Center for the Visual Arts and a pottery-making class capped off by a private tour of Highlands’ photogenic waterfalls so groups can make their own photographic art.

If your attendees are driving in, keep in mind that the location can be a double-edged sword. “You can’t drive straight in,” said Cunningham. “We are a remote town. Once you get off any of the main highways, it’s two-lane roads. But that is part of the appeal.”