7 Reasons to Do a Corporate Retreat at Aikens Lake Wilderness Lodge
Jan. 10, 2020
The measure of success for any corporate retreat is return on investment. At Aikens, we’ve been delivering that for 30 years by hosting corporate groups for luxury wilderness retreats in a spectacular setting ideal for creative thinking, quality conversations and team bonding.
It’s easy to get here––fly from anywhere in North America and arrive that same day to watch the sunset on the lake––and once you arrive the Aikens Experience begins. Hand-crafted luxury cabins, five-star service, gourmet dining and world-class fishing for experts and first-timers alike are all part of the memories.
Corporate trips––and repeat bookings––are our bread and butter. At our private slice of paradise known as Aikens Lake Wilderness Lodge, we take pride in providing our guests the best possible group experience and exclusive usage of our lodge. With help from one of our loyal guests, we’ve assembled a list of 7 reasons why you should book a group trip to Aikens Lake in 2020.
Without further ado, here is our list of 7 reasons to take a corporate retreat at Aikens Lake Wilderness Lodge this year.
1. Create Memorable Moments
A good corporate trip produces memories that keep colleagues and customers connected long after the event itself is over. Steve Doonan, who’s visited Aikens multiple times on corporate trips with a group of Illinois-area construction contractors, appreciates Aikens’ ability to utilize its luxury wilderness setting to create unique moments guests would otherwise not experience.
This includes bonfires under spectacular stars, witnessing a moose with her new calf or high-fiving a co-worker who just caught his first fish. Steve’s past visit included a group of co-workers who got an Aikens adrenaline rush by cliff jumping into refreshing lake waters on a sunny summer afternoon.
“Some people went along just to video-tape it,” Steve said. “And they all remember it. When the group is back working at a site somewhere six months later they say, ‘I still think about the time when you jumped off the cliff.’”
Aikens produces special moments that create lasting bonds.
2. Disconnect to Connect
Nowadays, people are essentially attached to their phones. That’s the reality of work life in 2020, but it makes it substantially harder to create those special moments at a corporate retreat or customer trip. At Aikens, guests enjoy a rare chance to truly disconnect from electronics and replace screen time with face time (though we do have select WiFi, a computer and printers available for business as needed).
“When you’re on the boat there are no phones and emails. It separates you from your device and helps you communicate with the people you’re with,” said Steve. “Business has gotten too impersonal. With the influence of email and text messaging, personal contact and visits are going by the wayside. With an experience like Aikens, you realize the people on the other side of that email are people, too.”
The pace of life at Aikens provides space for barriers to disappear and relationships to be built.
3. Laughter is the Best Medicine
It’s much easier to collaborate, share candid feedback and maintain a positive working relationship with someone you’ve shared a good laugh with. That “intimidating” customer or director doesn’t seem so aloof after you’ve shared a belly laugh about a funny game, practical joke or skit that quickly becomes fodder for small talk at future business meetings. Based on your goals set during your pre-trip consultation call with Aikens ownership, our team does all the behind-the-scenes work to prepare fun team activities ranging from scavenger hunts to volleyball games to knee boarding on the lake.
Steve’s group enjoyed a catch-and-release fishing derby to see who could catch the most fish in one day. The contest ended with Steve getting turned in for “cheating” by his guide, who had been secretly put up to the ruse by Steve’s co-workers. The room erupted in laughter as Steve defended his first-place catch by pulling out photos to prove he caught all his fish.
The group shared more laughs each evening at Aikens’ “Big Molly’s Bar” playing billiards, shuffleboard and a dice game while enjoying hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and craft beer.
“You’d hear roaring laughter in the bar,” said Steve “It was really good for everybody to connect like that. We got to know people that are usually just on the other side of an email or a business exchange. Another thing that cracked us up was lifejacket fishing. A bunch of us wore lifejackets, sat on floaties and bobbed in the water while fishing in the back bay. When someone caught a northern pike it would drag them around the lake. It was the funniest thing you’ve ever seen on the lake.”
4. Gourmet Dining
Meal time is an opportune time to relax, converse and connect with others. Aikens offers five-star dining with a renowned chef and full team (we have a separate baker who specialized in desserts) to cater to your group’s tastes and dietary needs. We’ve been known to stock specific cabins with favorite snacks, cigars and specialty drinks, so be sure to communicate any requests you have in advance and it will be our pleasure to help you “wow” your top performing employees and customers.
“I couldn’t tell you what I had last night for dinner at home, but I can tell you what I ate at Aikens each night,” said Steve. “We had rosemary chicken the first night, fillet mignon the second night, pork chops the third night. The shorelunches were also fabulous––they give you such variety in how they prepare the fish.”
Another perk to dining at Aikens compared with big city destinations? No wait times, no reservations needed and no need to worry about your group splitting off to half a dozen different restaurants. Our dining room provides first-class service, drinks and food to your entire group, with west-facing windows overlooking the lake.
5. Upscale Accommodations
Aikens has been called “a Ritz-Carlton in the wilderness,” with luxury hand-crafted cabins contributing greatly to that reputation. Forget about bunking up with people in a “camp;” our modern cabins are spacious, frequently renovated during the offseason and teeming with best-in-class features from fireplaces to vaulted ceilings to lakeside screened-in porches for sunset conversations. Groups of 24 or more are guaranteed exclusive usage of the entire camp, and we can comfortably host groups up to 32 guests at the main lodge.
Unique in the industry, we also offer a private Great Gray Owl mini-lodge across the lake from the main lodge that hosts 6 to 12 people, either independently or in conjunction with the main lodge.
“The cabins are beautiful,” said Steve. “I had been to Aikens before so I told the people in my group it was luxury all the way, but everyone was blown away. They couldn’t believe the accommodations, and they didn’t expect the service levels and the food we got. In no way were they anticipating what they’d be receiving up there.”
6. Easy, Fun & Fantastic Fishing
Of course, Aikens is a fishing lodge, so angling is offered toeveryone––and odds are you’ve never experienced fishing like this before. Our personable and professional pro-staff guides take care of everything you could possibly want as they escort you in our fleet of upscale, 16 to 18-foot Alaskan Lunds powered by 60- and 70-hp Yamaha motors with top-notch electronics, gear and tackle.
They are happy to adopt whatever approach you prefer––from baiting your hook or handing you the pole once a fish is on the line, to letting you dictate the fishing strategy as you pursue the biggest walleye, pike or lake trout of your life.
Aikens Lake is considered one of Manitoba’s best multi-species fisheries, and is best known for its abundant walleyes in the 3- to 5-pound range. Your customers and colleagues will receive commemorative Aikens Lake mugs and framed 8 x 12 photos of every Master Angler trophy fish they catch and release.
“Aikens Lake is not about fishing, it’s about catching,” said Steve, who strategically rotated his group members in different boats throughout the day to ensure key individuals had the opportunity to spend time together. The day is easily divided into morning, afternoon and evening fishing sessions, all of which are optional and arranged around your schedule.
“You learn a lot about who someone is when you fish with them for a couple hours,” said Steve. “What’s your family like? What do you like to do? You talk about these things in the boat.”
7. The Grandeur of the Outdoors
We are privileged to share our beautiful wilderness setting with our guests, and are fortunate to call Aikens home. The lodge is nestled in a boreal forest in Atikaki Wilderness Provincial Park and is only accessible by float plane. The scenic Gammon River flows through the lake, with a breathtaking waterfall just minutes from the lodge.
Dozens of islands dot the lake, which boasts numerous sandy beaches and dramatic cliff walls that contribute to one of Canada’s most scenic lakes. The pressure of the “real world” disappears the moment you step off the floatplane into this pristine world.
Words fail to adequately describe an Aikens Lake sunset, but watching one with a group of friends or co-workers is a singular, memorable experience. The unmatched grandeur of the Canadian wilderness provides perspective, and a chance to connect with those around you over something both simple and vast. You also see the human side of people when you share in the awe of Mother Nature’s great beauty.
“Business in general has gotten too impersonal nowadays. That’s why this trip is important,” said Steve. “You realize the people on the other side of the email have emotions and feelings too. You see them reeling in a great big fish and how excited they got, you see them laughing about it. It humanizes them so it’s easier to work with them. It’s awesome.”