I’ve been at my new company for almost 3 months, and this weekend I was able to go to a resort weekend courtesy of my employer, where employees and their families could come out to just relax and unwind in each other’s company. We spent less than 24 hours at Airlie and had a grand old time. I don’t have any photos, if you’ll believe it, so I’ll try to just paint a picture of my weekend with my usual verbosity, aka words words words. (Feel free to check out the resort site for photos of their gorgeous estate, though! It’s a really popular wedding venue for good reason.)
Ben and I headed out on our less than one hour drive and were all checked in and ready to play by 3:30, which gave us about an hour to relax and enjoy the festivities that were set up for 1:30-4:30. (Check-in for our rooms didn’t start until 3PM, which is why we were only there for the tail end.) We enjoyed drinks, snacks, and some deeeeelicious ice cream that was so appreciated given how overwhelmingly humid it was, with storms in the forecast.
At promptly 4:30, Airlie staff started cleaning everything up, including bubble ball soccer! So we headed to the Whistling Swan Pub, where some of my coworkers started to spend the gift cards that our company really generously gave out, on getting a few drinks since the open bar had closed and would not reopen for 2 hours. (Honestly, I would’ve just waited, there was an open bar for nearly the entire day besides those 2 hours.) In the meantime, my teammates and I played a little foosball (I’m sort of terrible) and darts (I’m pretty terrible, but we all were and were a lot better by the end of our game!). I even got to ride the property’s bikes for a quick loop around the parking lot, just to feel the wind in my hair. (And whiz past Ben because sometimes, I am just a child.)
Before we knew it, it was nearly time for our company photo, so we headed back to our rooms to freshen up, change, drop things off, get things for dinner, etc. The photo itself was kind of chaotic for us. We were asked to arrive very promptly at 6:15 for a process that didn’t need to take more than 10 minutes. I got there on time but, of course, several people were late. Which didn’t matter much as we didn’t appear to have a photographer set up anywhere. “Maybe they said 6:15 but the photo won’t get taken until 6:30 and this was just a trick for the latecomers,” I thought. At one point, one of my coworker’s guests started trying to take photos on a camera, and not on a phone as many other guests were, and people immediately started pulling themselves together. “But that’s Steve…” My protests fell on deaf ears, everyone was smiling and sorority leaning. And THEN some folks in matching T-shirts asked us to look at a guy in the crowd (and not with a tripod as I had been expecting) and… the photo was over.
All righty then.
We had a one-hour cocktail reception under a big tent as it began to sprinkle during our attempt to take the big photo. In the tent, we resumed the open bar, where I was naughty and helped myself to TWO – count ’em that’s 2 – Shirley Temples. Oh yes, those red drinks with a cherry in them and maybe more sugar than I needed to have given how much ice cream I had earlier were the envy of all my coworkers. “What was that gorgeous drink you had earlier with the cherry? They don’t serve vodka cranberries with cherries?” “A Shirley Temple,” I’d proudly proclaim to the knowing nods of my colleagues. Ah, yes. Lemon-lime soda + grenadine + a maraschino cherry = a winning combination every time. If there’s an open bar, there’s a good chance I’m ordering one of these. There was also food being brought around on trays, but I was mostly in it for the Shirley Temples and saving room for dinner. This was also my first taste of the aggressively helpful servers.
Dinner was pretty yummy. I loaded up my plate with a lot of salad because I knew I needed to do something to try to balance out how much sugar and baked goods I was eating in general. (And honestly, after all the sugar and baked goods, the salad tasted the best to me out of everything.) It was nice to sit and have dinner with coworkers and their spouses and significant others, especially as I was able to talk to members of my team that sit on the opposite end of the room for me, so I don’t get to talk to them about non-work things as often as I’d like.
After dinner was chilling at the pavilion and listening to our really awesome corporate band, who have won prizes in corporate Battle of the Bands competitions. Their guitarist actually recently left the company, but he came back to perform one last gig with them and he was also one of my favorite people when I joined so I was glad to see him. (Also, he’s kind of a real life rock star, so I may have swooned a little seeing him rock out on stage.) We played games like tiny table shuffleboard, bouncy-house basketball hoops, giant Jenga, ping-pong. I even got to try one of my coworker’s Floboards (aka “hoverboards” that don’t even freaking hover) (they are to Segways what skateboards are to Razor scooters, okay, they don’t hover) and it was kind of a lot more fun than I wanted it to be, given that I thought they were really gimmicky based on how many kids in the mall and Viners I saw whizzing around on them. We waited in line for a short bit for airbrush tattoos, but the artist took such time and care with each one that we gave up and just mingled instead. It was really nice being able to talk to my boss and to the partners of our company, who are all so nice and know me by name.
I tried to find the after party, I really did, but everyone said it was back at the pub and the pub closed at 11:30 and we left the pavilion at midnight and it was raining and my feet hurt. I couldn’t do anything besides break into the pub so I went back to the lodge to rest and watch a little bit of TV before going to sleep. (I heard that some after parties were occurring in individual rooms, I guess, but the pub was definitely locked up.)
The next morning, I got ready and packed up while catching a little The Fellowship of the Ring before heading off to breakfast. Friends, I really love breakfast. I love food in general, but breakfast food really gets me going, literally, whether it’s Chinese breakfast or American fare. Waffles, eggs, biscuits & gravy, danishes, bacon, sausage, crispy hash browns, some Greek yogurt, toast and bagels, and of course fresh fruit. (I’ll let you all guess which items I did not end up eating. That list is pretty short.) And a little more time with my teammates before it was time to return to the real world.
Not to sound too much like I drank my corporate Kool-Aid, but coming back from this weekend retreat with my company (that did not include ANY team-building exercises whatsoever) really made me feel so valued and happy to be with my employers. It’s refreshing considering that I didn’t quite feel this valued as an individual person rather than a cog in the greater machine in the jobs I had prior to this one. I feel like I’m in a good place with my company, and I’m so glad to have spent time with my coworkers in this casual and fun environment.
How was your weekend?
How do your company-sponsored casual events typically go for you?