Waiheke Island has a lot to offer for corporate groups and is well worth considering for an out of town event without a long distance to travel, if your business is located anywhere in Auckland city.
Waiheke Island is an easy 35 minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland with ferries crossing the Hauraki Gulf every hour from 6am until midnight in winter and every 30 minutes in Summer. There are also hourly sailings from Half Moon Bay up until 7pm which works well if your group is located in the Eastern suburbs or South Auckland.
Waiheke has a whistful, relaxing appeal where vineyards, beaches and views stretch as far as the eye can see. The big sign as you drive away from the ferry terminal reads 'Slow Down Your Here' and you can quite literally feel your shoulders drop a few inches as the pace of life washes away the stresses of your day job.
It's been a popular destination for corporate Christmas parties for many years but it's a lot more than that and over time it's developing into a unique destination for all sorts of meetings, conferences and special events, all year round.
As a business located on the island, we're in a great position to offer advice on the best venues on the island for meetings, conferences, events, corporate retreats and everything in between. Sometimes local knowledge can make all the difference, although you're not considered a local, aparently, until you've lived here for at least 35 years!
Here are our tips for the top spots for all sorts of corporate events on Waiheke and some advice on how to make life easy when you're booking an event on the island.
1. DAY MEETINGS AND PLANNING DAYS
A lot of companies choose to come to Waiheke to focus on planning work, away from the distractions of the office. For small group meetings up to 25 pax there are some great, flexilbe options around.
Cable Bay Vineyard, one of the closest venues to the ferry terminal, has a private meeting room called Motukaha. It can hold up to 25 pax and has a modern, high quality feel with sliding doors onto a private deck as well as stunning views across the lawns to the Hauraki Gulf and Auckland city in the distance.
The Oyster Inn is only 4 minutes' drive from the ferry terminal when you arrive on the island and has a private room called The Pearl Room which is on the first floor, overlooking the village and with views of the Pacific ocean across the road. It can comfortably seat 25 pax and has a fresh, bachy feel.
Peacock Sky Vineyard is tucked away at the end of a long private driveway and depending on when you want to book, Connie and Rob, the owner/operators will bend over backwards to make things work for you. You'll have complete privacy and be spoiled rotten with wonderful food. It's the place to go if you want to be out of sight. The venue is flexible and can hold small groups or larger groups up to 80 pax.
Wild Estate is the newly re-branded and renovated Wild On Waiheke. In 2020 they opened a brand new private conference space where you can hold a meeting, conference or special event for up to 80 pax. The space has a rustic vineyard feel with a log fire for a cosy atmosphere in winter and plenty of natural light and views to the lush green rural outlook outside.
2. CORPORATE RETREATS
Waiheke is an idylic destination for a corporate retreat with small groups of between approximately 5 and 20 people. There are some beautiful, high quality private properties where you can combine your accommodation and your meeting space so that the money you spend can stretch further. But just as importantly, the casual set up and nature of a private property provides an ambience and style for your meeting that is totally different from a formal, hired venue so you can really spend time getting to know your team better and unleashing the creative juices that are so essential for effective business planning and development days.
Cable Bay Views is a firm favourite for this type of overnight stay. There's a 5 bedroom main house, a 2 bedroom lodge and 3 studios, so you can sleep up to 10 people, if a couple of people in the main house are happy to share a bathroom. Or you can sleep 8 people if everyone insists on their own bedroom and bathroom. You are only a few minutes' drive from the ferry terminal and the vast lounge/kitchen/diner/snug and two huge decks with stunning ocean and vineyard views means you'll be spoilt for indoor and outdoor spaces for your deep and meaningful work time.
Waiheke Waterfront Lodge are the new kids on the block. Recently under new ownership, Pip and Andy have opened up the doors of this 5 star B and B to provide a unique, private retreat where you'll have complete run of the house, commercial kitchen and all internal and external spaces. Located at Blackpool beach, right on the water's edge and just 6 minutes from the ferry, this is a great option for something special. Add to that the fact that they have a dedicated, custom built disabled suite and a house that's fully wheelchair accessible, this is the smart choice for an inclusive retreat for everyone.
There are a variety of private properties on the island which work well for corporate retreats for different group sizes and sometimes picking up the phone for a chat is the best place to start.
3. LARGE CONFERENCES
One of the challenges that Waiheke faces is hosting large conferences with overnight stays. There are only a few hotels on the island and only 2 venues that can fit over 40 people, staying in their own rooms and sharing bathrooms (for example a 2 or 3 bed apartment with 1 or 2 bathrooms). But don't discount Waiheke for overnight conferences for larger groups just yet. There are plenty of examples of packages that have worked brilliantly for groups and have given the delegates an experience of island life that they've loved wouldn't get elsewhere.
Onetangi Beach Apartments is a collection of studios, one bedroom and two bedroom apartments right by the beach in Onetangi. They can host around 35 people in their own bedrooms (more if people are happy to twin share) and the benefits of being situated right at the beach gives the delegates an opportunity to switch off, walk, swim, run or take part in some water sports during their down time without having to take more than about 20 steps from their accommodation. Best conference options nearby are Wild Estate and there are three restaurants within spitting distance for dinner.
Waiheke Resort at Palm Beach is the other big accommodation option. They can sleep up to 60 people in own bedrooms or 120 people twin share. They have a range of apartments, an outdoor pool, a restaurant that can host up to 100 and the Mawhitipana Room for conferences and events which can hold up to 120. There's easy access to Palm Beach for a walk, swim or water sports. And the bonus of a number of good quality conference and event spaces on site so that you don't have to travel anywhere for the meeting components of your event.
The biggest piece of advice on larger conferences is to book well in advance. Waiheke gets double booked during spring and summer with holiday makers, weddings and corporate bookings so there's little chance of getting your conference booked in between December and April unless you are really well organised early.
If you need the whole package including ferry tickets, transfers, accommodation, conferencing, dining, team building activities and itineraries organised for you (which anyone in their right mind would hand over to the professionals!) then that's where our sister company Let Me Out can add value and save you hours of time. We live locally and know the island well and you'll soon find that it's not as easy as it looks if your not familiar with the nuances of the place.
4. LUNCHES OR DINNERS
There are so many great options for corporate group lunches and dinners, it's impossible to capture them all here. That's a whole new blog in its own right! But some highlights to consider are:
Tantalus that opened its doors a couple of years ago and has quickly become a big name in fine dining on the island. The restaurant is stunning in it's design with no expense spared and the food is outstanding and worth every cent that you'll pay. They also have a fabulous brewery bar for more casual get togethers where they showcase their own craft beers in sight of the brewing area where it's all happening.
Three Seven Two is the new baby of hospo stars Helen and Luke Carter and Chef Bronwen Laight. In their first year running, overlooking Onetangi Beach, they took out the Metro Peugeot Restaurant of the Year Awards 2019 for Best Destination Restaurant and Best New Restaurant - that's great praise indeed but not surprising when you see the quality of the team who've been running great restaurants on the island for many years.
The Shed at Te Motu is everything a rustic vineyard restaurant ought to be. Completely understated, relaxed and filled with the promise of great wines growing on the vines all around you. For corporate groups it's a great choice and you can hire it exclusively for the right number of people. The feedback from our clients who've dined there has always been good and we highly recommend it.
We can't not mention Peacock Sky for its fabulous food. Connie the owner and head chef is a true pro, small in stature but with a massive passion for food which comes across in every dish that comes out of her kitchen.
And for something completely different that only the locals know about you have to seek and find Indy's Curry Pot, a fantastic Sri Lankan fusion food cart that operates from the back streets of Ostend with incredible fresh curries, dahls and fried chicken. Yum! Indy will cook for your group or special event upon request and is great island character.
For more Waiheke venue ideas go to our listings page or contact us for a chat.
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