Monday, April 30, 2012

The Getaway

Back when I was in retail management, my mission was to ensure that my staff really went out of the way to give our customers the best experience we possibly could.  It's just a cold, hard fact that in the service industry, you will immediately hear about 99% of the negative feedback from people, and a mere 10% of the positive.  (Update, 24 hours after publishing this post:  my husband just informed me that 99 plus 10 does not equal 100...I never said I was good at Math...)  Okay, I'm making up those percentages, but you get the point - people are quick to complain, and will rarely praise.  I'm always conscious of this. 

I'm not generally in the habit of plugging a business on my blog, and, considering most of my readers are not local this may not make one bit of difference, but I'm gonna do it anyway. 

When my boss, the CEO of the company, approached me nearly a year ago and asked me to look into finding a "getaway" location for employees and our families for a weekend, my first thought was holy crap, no way...I'm not an event planner...  Especially when he presented his somewhat extensive list of requirements (not in the least bit unreasonable, just difficult to find in one place).  I searched and searched, made phone call after phone call.  Finally I bumped into Shenandoah Crossing, in Gordonsville, VA.  I paid them a visit for a few hours in July, and was certain that this was the one.

Fast forward nearly one year and 100 grey hairs later, and the event was just this past weekend.  There were about 200 attendees, including nearly 50 children. 

And it was perfect.

I can't speak highly enough of the resort - the location (on a lake in the Shenandoah Valley), the activities (horseback riding, outdoor heated pools, indoor pool, mini-golf, volleyball, hiking, fishing, boating, etc.), the accomodations (awwwwesome...2-bedroom cabins in the woods, complete with central air and heat, WiFi, full kitchen, tile bathroom with a large jet tub, super-comfy beds, flat-screen TVs, etc.), and, most importantly, the staff.  They were amazing.  From my contact-person that I'd been badgering with a barage of questions every. single. day. to the catering staff at our meals, to the guy who set up and lit our bonfire, got our kegs tapped, iced our wine and even provided us with cups and plastic wine glasses, they were all cheerful, friendly, and so, so helpful. 

Needless to say, it all got pulled off without a hitch.  Or with a hitch, if you include the fun and informative wagon ride, pulled by two horses, all of us huddled under blankets against the cold rain, which only enhanced the experience rather than put a damper on it.

And it looks like we'll be doing this again!

Samantha had a ball!  So one thing I just couldn't figure out this weekend...while Sammi is so often so resistent to getting in front of her class to do something, like write on the white board or read a story (heck, she won't even go up to accept an award, or pick up a paper!), she had absolutely no reservations whatsoever getting up on the stage in front of about 30 strangers before dinner on Saturday night (not sure if it would have worked with the full 200 that showed up for dinner, though), microphone in hand (had to giggle when she tapped it to make sure it was on...), reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing Twinkle Twinkle.  And when everyone applauded, she took a bow. 

What's up with that?

I must say, though, I'm relieved to know that her public speaking career as a self-advocate hasn't ended before it's even begun.

The horses that pulled the wagon.

Jake the Turkey, preening for everyone, loving the attention, and even letting people pet him!  Samantha thought he was fabulous, unlike some of the other children...

The resident peacock.

Bucolic bliss from the deck of our cabin.  The lake is just beyond the lush foliage.  (Sorry, I love the word lush, felt the need to use it here...  Love foliage, too...)

Getting fitted for a helmet for her pony ride.

My big girl!!!  Last time we tried to get her on a pony, about a year and a half ago, she wanted nothing to do with it.  She especially wanted nothing to do with the helmet.  I guess it's all part of growing up.

Toasting s'mores at the bonfire.  Samantha was there just at the beginning, where we helped her to toast one marshmallow before heading back to the cabin to go to bed.  She was not a fan.  Hated the sticky mess that got in her hair, on her face and all over her fingers.  Good thing about marshmallows, though, as I happily discovered, they dissolve almost instantly in water.  Cleaning it out of her hair was a breeze, and it was not necessary to wash her hair.

I'm definitely looking forward to planning the next one, and I highly recommend that any of you in this area to go check it out! 


Than4Keeps said...

WOW, love your pictures & thanks for giving me another place that I can take my children to experience.

Lisa said...

those pictures make me want to go camping! That sounds like a great weekend. It took Cate a couple of tries to get into smores but she is a fan now. Love it that Sammi got up and performed!

Jenny said...

Sounds like it was a blast!! Love the great big smile on Sammi when she is up on the horse :)

Zoey's mom, Heather said...

Well, that looked absolutely,positively like THE most incredible weekend. And seeing Sammi, that smile on her face and hearing she had the time of her life, that made me so happy. For both of you. I just knew, that that girl of yours would continue to blossom and become more confident with each passing day. Advocacy is for sure in that child's future!

Anna Theurer said...

Ooh fun! I love the picture of Sammi on the horse with her helmet on. It looks like she is having a blast!

Leah said...

What a blast! Loved the pic of you together, her on the horse, the LUSH foliage! So glad a great time! And yay for your public speaking enthusiast!

Rochelle said...

Sounds like a fabulous getaway. Way to go Ms. Event planner! ;)

CJ said...

Looks like you certainly made the right choice!! AND another photo of you! :)

ChaCHA online said...

This place looks AMAZING! We may have to give it a shot sometime.

As for Sammi the Entertainer-- isn't it funny how even at an early age we learn to pick and choose our audiences? She knew she'd totally have that crowd wrapped around her finger. ;)

teal915 said...

Looks like fun : ) and seriously, I think that when a little girl hits 5, a love of horses is instinctively born lol. Madison loves them.

Melissa said...

Sammi and the microphone cracks me up. I can see Claire doing that someday too!

Thanks for the glowing reviews of this place. My aunt and I try to take a getaway each year to go hiking. I'll pass this place on to her to look at.

Melissa said...

while I'm on a commenting streak, it reminded me...Since you moderate anyway I would be forever grateful if you would get rid of your word verification. :) Thanks!