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Top tips for choosing the right venue for your church group break or retreat

15 August 2016

Church Group Breaks - top tips for choosing your venue

Booking a break for even your own family can be a huge responsibility, so doing the same for a much larger church group break can be a daunting task.

As one of the UK’s leading Christian Conference Centres, Hothorpe Hall and The Woodlands have been welcoming Christian groups on retreats and family breaks for more than 30 years, so we think we are pretty good at it! Here are our top tips to consider, and although these may seem a bit ‘strategic’, if you can get them discussed and thought through it will help you with the process.

What is the main objective of your church break or retreat? To agree on this will really help in what you choose and where you might go. Try and establish the main reasons for going on a break or retreat together. Write a list and, if necessary, prune it to down to a workable number of clear objectives. For example, if your key objective is that you want your church to spend time together and with families, it’ll need to be your focus. E.g. you’d want to look for somewhere that has facilities for children, rather than a spa that adults probably won’t get time to use! It’s a great idea to appoint someone in your planning committee to constantly check that key objectives are still being met. 

Location. Before choosing a venue it might help to have a look at where you would like to go. If travelling no more than an hour and half from your church is desirable, draw a circle of that travelling distance round your church on a map.  If it is a day event then a shorter distance and time is perhaps more appropriate, but still choose somewhere away from the church, or at least in a different environment.

Setting.  Are you happy meeting and staying in a venue on an industrial estate or would you prefer a tranquil rural setting? If you are an inner-city church, your church community may welcome a rural retreat. Try and decide this before you consider venues.      

Budget. It is worth making sure you know your budget. Get an idea of what is affordable for those who are likely to want to attend your church retreat, remembering that if it’s a family church break then many will be budgeting for three to five people. Don’t just think about the venue costs, but also extras such as a speaker or coach travel. Talking budgets is nothing to feel awkward about and doing this at the beginning will save you time in the long run. Be realistic – set the amount and then try and stick to it. 

Numbers.  It is very difficult to guess this and you are unlikely to know the exact answer, but you will have some idea of your current church membership. Not everyone will be able to make it, of course, and you may experience good church growth before the event. It is probably best to take a conservative view and book based on that number. It is always disappointing to turn people away but this is better than paying cancellation charges for unfilled places. Take a modest number away and have a splendid time and more will join you next time! It is possible that a venue will have capacity for growth, but don’t rely on this being the case.

Choosing the venue.  This is now your key task and hopefully answering some of the above questions you have come up with an idea about the type of venue and location you’d prefer. Also consider whether you would rather a Christian venue or if you’d consider a secular hotel. Both have their merits and although there are not as many Christian venues to choose from, you should get a great deal of understanding from a Christian venue. Make sure you visit your preferred venue or shortlisted venues before booking as Christian venues vary from basic to the more plush so you’ll want to know what you’re booking! There have been huge improvements to some Christian venues in recent years - most notably from those that cater for secular events as well – so rest assured you don’t have to settle for basic if you’d prefer not.

Hotels are another option, but be careful not to get sucked into a cheaper rate only to find you are not comparing like for like. Hotels will likely offer a good standard and probably good facilities too but bear in mind that there may well be a number of other events going on at the same time, including late night weddings or functions. 

As one of the UK’s leading Christian conference centres, Hothorpe Hall & The Woodlands has a great deal to offer to your church or organisation. The Hothorpe team are experienced professionals and are willing to help advise you on the best options for your event. 

Why do many groups choose to come to Hothorpe Hall & The Woodlands?

A central location – close to the M1/M6/A14 network, and just a short taxi ride from Market Harborough train station, which is on the mainline network from London.

It’s in a lovely rural setting, despite it’s great road and rail links. Expect peace, tranquillity, fresh air and glorious views!

Exclusive use – either Hothorpe Hall or The Woodlands can be secured on an exclusive use basis at a reasonable price, meaning your church group is the only one at that venue. This creates security for families and reduces distractions from others.

There are two venues to choose from which are both of ‘hotel standard’, or for larger groups both venues can be combined.

There’s plenty of outdoor space (12 acres in total) including a multi-use games area and children’s playground.

We have experienced event planners that know their jobs and want to help.

The Woodlands – our new addition which opened in 2015. It’s very different to Hothorpe’s traditional country house and many are finding the woodland village feel of this unique retreat venue is most appealing, especially to groups of 60 people and
under.

If after setting your objectives for a church group break, Hothorpe Hall or The Woodlands looks like it fits the bill, why not visit and see for yourself? In the meantime, take a look at our virtual tour, which gives you a flavour of what Hothorpe Hall & The Woodlands can offer. 

If you would like to have a chat about organising a church group break or retreat, please contact a member of the bookings team on 01858 881500 or alternatively email office@hothorpe.co.uk

We hope to welcome you to Hothorpe Hall & The Woodlands soon, but wherever you choose, have fun planning and we wish you an enjoyable break!

 

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