Location, location, location.
When looking for a women’s ministry retreat location there are several things you need to consider.
These are the big five:
- Group size
- Number of nights
If you’re starting to feel a little queasy and worrying that you’re in over your head, hang in there!
I’ve got your hand. We’re going to talk through them one by one.
What amenities is your group looking for? On-site meals? Chapel? Meeting spaces? Technology equipment? Nearby attractions? Pool? Bathrooms for each room? Beds that women won’t need to share? Is a bunkhouse acceptable? Will you need lots of parking? Do your facilities need to be close by due to women with mobility limitations? Do you need/want refrigerators in your rooms? Make a list before you start your search. Divide your list into what’s non-negotiable and what’s “nice to have”.
We’ll talk in more detail about what to charge soon, but for now figure out how much you want to charge women for their rooms and meals. Keep in mind you’ll likely need (or want) to charge them for additional expenses. Most women will be willing to share a room. When you call around to get prices be sure to request a price list for the meals too. Hotel meals are usually more expensive. Get rates for renting any necessary technology equipment, linens, and snacks.
I recommend you venture 1-2 hours away from your church. If you’re asking your women to drive more than 2 1/2 hours, the retreat location needs to be something really special or unique. I would not ask your women to drive more than 4 hours – and that is really pushing it! You need to be far enough away that your women won’t be tempted to drive home as some will not return!.
4. Group size
You need to have a realistic idea of how many women will be attending. Hotel rates should decrease the greater your number of attendees. Do you need 1 rental house or 2? Make sure you have a little more room than you think you’ll need – God may surprise you! Most places will allow you to add rooms, but many require you to fill the minimum number on your contract. You don’t want to get stuck paying for unused rooms!
5. Number of nights
Many facilities will require your group stay a certain number of nights, often depending on the season. Traveling to the mountains in the fall? Expect a two night minimum. Hotels are your best bet if you’re looking to stay just one night.
Types of locations to consider:
- Retreat centers – Christian Retreat Centers bathe their facility in prayer. Public retreat centers provide the opportunity to witness to others. Google “retreat centers” for your state to get started.
- Hotels – Rates vary widely, food prices and meal requirements. Get the details for each place you call.
- Rental Homes – Check out rentals at the beach, lakes, and mountains. Look on VRBO.com. Some owners may be willing to negotiate a little on the price or on the minimum night stay. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
- Campgrounds – Some campgrounds have cabins, hotels, and meeting space. Check your State Park system.
- Christian camps – Christian Camp Pro has a lists over 1000 Youth Christian Camps and Retreat Centers. While many of these may have bunk houses, you’ll often find them to be the most inexpensive retreat option.
- Bed and Breakfast – You may be able to rent out all or most of a Bed and Breakfast. This could be a great option if your group is on the smaller side.
Always ask what their best price is or if they can do any better than what you’ve been quoted. If it’s just a bit over what you’re willing to charge your women, let them know and ask them if they can come down to “x” amount.
I encourage you to think outside the box:
- Does a member have a place at the lake, beach, or mountains you could use?
- What nearby city has some neat sightseeing opportunities?
- Be open to God’s plan – He just might surprise you!
The very first time I headed up a Retreat Planning Team God took us somewhere I never would have planned!
My teammates and I had combed through piles of possibilities. We had looked a various cities, hotels, conference centers, and the like. Several women had asked me if I had checked out The Cove (Billy Graham Training Center in Asheville). I just knew it was going to be booked and too expensive.
After God had several women ask me about The Cove, I decided to call. At least I could tell them it was already booked.
Well, when I called they asked which weekend we were wanting to come. I gave them our usual retreat date – the 2nd weekend in November, knowing full-well they would already be booked. Would you believe they had cancelled the seminar that had been scheduled for that very weekend? Not only was that a weekend that was always filled by The Cove Seminars, but they usually book a year out! Only God!!
Be open to where God is sending you, dear ones! That retreat was special in so many, many ways!
I know I’ve throw a lot of information at you. Please know if you’re feeling overwhelmed right now, building your location list is a process you may only need to do once – at least for a while.
The first time you go through the process is the hardest. You’ll soon be a pro at calling, asking questions, and recording the information. Hold onto all of it for the next time God sends you all on a retreat!
Enlist some team members or friends to help with this process – you don’t have to do it all yourself!
Just spending 10 minutes brainstorming location possibilities with your women’s ministry team should start you off with a great list!
You can do it! Keep going! I’m here to walk you through the process step-by-step!