One way to make work more agreeable is to think of it this way: You’re working so you can vacation.
To make it even more palatable, how about this scenario: Get work done in a place where the atmosphere is wildly creative and filled with fun.
Memo to work self: Book the next company meeting in the Dells and my next vacation too.
“If you have to work then do it in a place that gives you the required tangibles like meeting space and tech support, but also delivers on the intangibles like positive attitude and energy,” said Tifani Jones, director of sales for the Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau.
Wisconsin Dells may be most famous for its family vacation offerings, but it’s a pretty cool place to hold a conference, convention or corporate retreat too. The meeting spaces are as diverse as the waterparks and attractions. You have convention facilities at the waterpark resorts and Ho-Chunk Gaming, with spaces as large as 100,000 square feet to accommodate trade shows and annual meetings. Mid-size properties like the Wintergreen Resort & Conference Center and Woodside Ranch Resort & Conference Center do a bang-up job in hosting meetings and company events.
Then there are set-ups you’ll only find in the Dells that will keep the corporate team talking up the retreat long after everyone’s back to the office grind. Like Crystal Grand Music Theater, with seating for 2,000 that will make the head honchos feel like stars when they take the stage. Or the Inn at Wawanissee Point atop the Baraboo Bluffs with a 36-mile panorama of Lake Wisconsin and beyond, where you can reserve the entire inn including the board room. Perhaps most unusual is the Cold Water Canyon Pavilion located deep in a shady glen on the Wisconsin River and accessible to visitors only by boat.
We met up with John Van Wie, great grandson of Captain David C. Van Wie, Civil War hero, then logger and riverboat captain, who purchased the Cold Water property back in the late 1800s for the princely sum of $400, to hear about the history of the unusual property. It was a steamy summer day, yet the tree canopy and rock cliffs of the canyon coupled with the thick sandstone walls of the building provided ample natural air conditioning.
John is the ad-hoc family historian and came armed with lots of historic documents and photos. Turns out the land at one time included a rooming house, but that was flooded when the dam went in. Next the family built a restaurant, but that fell by the wayside too. The Pavilion went up in 1939 and served as a souvenir stand for visitors disembarking for a walk through the canyon as part of a river tour. Today the Pavilion is run by Dells Boat Tours®, who restored the historic building for use as a meetings and special event space.
So how does John feel about his family’s property taking on a new life as a meeting venue? “I think it is awesome. Something this beautiful should be shared. It’s a masterpiece,” was his quick reply. “You can have a challenging day and come out here and this canyon lifts your spirits.”
Excerpt from letter dated 7-31-1895 from the then-president of the Milwaukee Athletic Society outlining expectations for his upcoming “excursion party” to Cold Water Canyon:
“Beer – I beg pardon – Watertown Ginger Ale – you must have plenty. I bet my straw hat against a $20.00 Gold Piece of yours that you will not have enough on hand for two hours. I wish you would cut down on the price, 25¢ a bottle.”
What's there to do for spouses?
You'd be surprised.
So, the significant other juggled his or her schedule to accompany the meeting-goer to Wisconsin Dells for a few days. Great! Here are some of the most popular activities for the person not working: