When shopping around for a venue, there are so many great options out there. Often, planners try to weigh the amenities offered in order to pick. Which is fine, but every retreat center offers something great. A starting point would be to look for some venue dealbreakers to help narrow down the list quicker.
Size matters. You may not have your true numbers just yet, but you should have some kind of idea as to how many people you expect to attend. Any venue that either won’t or may not have enough space for you should be scratched. You can always make a big space smaller, but not the other way around. This includes number of lodge rooms (because only so many people can sleep in a room), meeting space capacity (it won’t do your group much good if they have to be split up because one meeting room can’t hold everyone), and recreation space. Especially if you are hosting a youth event, there has to be room to run. Every venue will have their capacity and dimensions, so be sure to ask early.
Cleanliness. This is something you will learn by touring the venue. Ask to see a lodge room, meeting space and dining room, as well as what the policy is on housekeeping service. You wouldn’t stay in a dirty hotel room, and a retreat facility is the same way. How can your guests relax and enjoy themselves if they are distracted by the living conditions?
Bed type. Speaking of living conditions, bed type is important to many guests. A senior ladies retreat is not going to enjoy a dorm facility with only bunk beds. Normally dorm rooms do not include linens, so guests would also be responsible for bringing their own bedding.
No Meals. Some groups like to prepare their own meals. But for those who don’t want the hassle, staff, and cost of trying to make all your own meals for the group, make sure your facility provides food. Venues that build meals in your retreat package make the process even easier. Some facilities even offer a meal in your tour.
No A/V/L. Worship services and meetings aren’t as effective when no one can see or hear who is speaking. Ask your venue what type of equipment they offer and make sure to get the price! This is a cost that often sneaks up on people because during the event they are more apt to take what they need without checking a price. You can always opt to bring your own, but that too runs the risk of forgetting something, damage during travel, or not having a back up when a cable or mic just won’t work.
Difficult staff. The staff of a venue is a huge factor in the pleasantness of an event. From the word go, if you are having issues with rude staff members, that should quickly cross that venue off your list.
Not a Christian Venue. For the best church retreat, you need a Christian venue. Ones that cater specifically to churches are going to have everything your event needs, plus the values and atmosphere to make your event the most effective it can possibly be.
Every venue has something nice to offer. But to help quickly narrow down the list, look at some dealbreakers. If you find one of these problems early in the planning process, then there is no need to inquire further. They are not going to change or get better before your event. There are plenty of venues out there that would be happy to host your event, so don’t feel tied down to one that doesn’t meet your needs.