A CEO’s Guide to Executive Meeting Venue Selection

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For off-site executive meetings, destination and venue selection is as strategic as the agenda.

Natural Alignment
North of Boston in coastal Ipswich, Massachusetts, Castle Hill on the Crane Estate is a meetings destination for the ages. Commanding a hill overlooking sandy Crane Beach and the Atlantic Ocean, the property’s origins date back to 1637. It features the 59-room Stuart-style Great House (1928) and, for overnight stays and meetings, the historic 10-room Inn at Castle Hill, a luxurious conversion of a mid-1800s farmhouse-turned cottage.

Natural features of the estate include hiking trails and private beach access, and it is classified as one of 116 “reservations” across Massachusetts managed by the Boston-based Trustees of Reservations, the state’s largest conservation and preservation organization. “The Trustees was founded in 1891 by landscape architect and land preservation pioneer Charles Eliot to save and share places of exceptional scenic, natural, and cultural significance for the benefit of the public,” explains CEO Barbara Erickson.

That charter is one influential factor among several that brings New England Biolabs back to the property again and again for gatherings that include focused executive retreats, small corporate outings, and seasonal parties. “The Trustees’ mission is consistent with our core value of environmental stewardship,” says James V. Ellard, CEO of the leading biotech firm, founded in the mid-1970s. “We continuously strive for improvement in our business processes in order to minimize and, where possible, mitigate our impact on the environment. It feels good to hold events at a venue run by an organization that appreciates and shares our passion to tread lightly on our planet.”

Accessibility and convenience are also natural draws—the company, also in Ipswich, is headquartered some six miles away—along with an environment conducive to results.

“We have held corporate retreats for 12 or fewer people in the Tavern meeting room at the Inn,” Ellard says. “This venue offers both a quiet space for focused conversation and creative collaboration, as well as access to the entire Castle Hill property, where the beach, surrounding natural landscapes and salt marsh offer miles of conservation land to explore and enjoy during downtime. Meetings here are always productive and the relaxed setting certainly helps people bond over shared experiences and mutual admiration for nature.”

The “Gatsby-esque” Great House, with its half-mile-long, tree-lined lawn, “offers an ideal setting for corporate functions and events such as our annual holiday party,” Ellard adds. “We have yet to find any venue that compares to Castle Hill on the Crane Estate.”

For executive meetings, as for real estate, location is everything.


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